Various Artists

A Rock N' Roll Christmas

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PolyGram Special Markets' 1994 budget compilation A Rock 'N' Roll Christmas is a nice little find. Elton John's relentlessly joyful rocker "Step Into Christmas" is the standout because this album is the easiest to find and most inexpensive source. Old-fashioned rock & roll is represented by Bob Seger's (technically Bob Seger and the Last Heard) "Sock it to Me Santa," which borrows more than a little from James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Part I"; George Thorogood and the Destroyers' "Rock and Roll Christmas"; and Chuck Berry's bluesy "Merry Christmas Baby." The Moody Blues are often slagged for their elaborate, orchestral brand of pop and progressive rock, but this approach is perfect for "What Child is This?" Fellow prog rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "I Believe in Father Christmas" is apparently a newly recorded version, because it's not the stunning take on Works, Vol. 2, nor the equally familiar single that's heavier on the orchestration and choir. Elvin Bishop's funky arrangement of "Silent Night" is a surprisingly gutsy rendition of this beloved traditional standard. The meaning of Christmas is given thoughtful, yet lighthearted treatment on the Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" and the Kinks' "Father Christmas." Billy Squier's cheerful sing-along "Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You" is another hard-to-find treat. The Thorogood, Squier, and Berry tunes are CD-only bonus tracks.

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