Various Artists

A Blues Christmas [EMI]

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Everything on A Blues Christmas may indeed be seen as blues renditions of holiday favorites, as you'd probably expect, but that's where the comparisons end. Just to give you a quick idea about how diverse this collection is, consider some of the artists: Canned Heat, B.B. King, Count Basie, and Leadbelly, just to name a few. Sure, these may be blues artists, but their styles are quite different. And that seems to be the most noteworthy aspect of this album: Yes, this is blues music and, yes, these are holiday favorites, yet there's much more diversity than you'd expect. And it's a welcome sense of variety considering how generic holiday music can often sound. For example, just look at the track listing: "White Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," and so on. It's fairly standard fare -- there's no debating that. Thankfully, the often shocking variety of performances keeps this album interesting and makes it far from your ordinary holiday collection despite the ordinary material. This adventurous blend of varying styles of blues may be a little too eclectic for some, yet on the other hand, anyone with a taste for adventure and surprise should enjoy A Blues Christmas for this very same reason. It's not often you find a single collection with so much to offer, even if the generic album title might lead you to believe otherwise.

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