Recorded in 2002, this Ventures Christmas album -- it's not the first -- puts their trademark crisp and stripped guitar instrumental arrangements upon a bountiful helping of Christmas standards. Indeed, most of the program is given over to the most overplayed of holiday classics, including "Sleigh Ride," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Silent Night," and "Winter Wonderland." In its defense, it does stick to the Ventures' traditional signature sound, with lean, twangy guitar lines and a no-nonsense, straight-ahead driving rhythm section, though the keyboards and synths (by guest David Carr) sound a little too slickly modern in places. Occasionally they insert quotes from past hits like "Walk Don't Run" and "Perfidia" into the Christmas tunes to remind you it's the Ventures. Those non-holiday references aren't limited to their own discography: "Deck the Halls" starts with a quote from the Jackie DeShannon/Searchers "Needles and Pins" riff. As for more contemporary material, the disc ends with a cover of José Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" (which has some snatches of actual vocals from this usually all-instrumental group), and the sole band original, the moody title track, has (shaky) vocals throughout. This disc isn't terrible, and it's faithful to the sound the Ventures cultivated in the 1960s. But it's not good, either, and if you're looking for just one Ventures holiday record, you might prefer The Ventures' Christmas Album, recorded in the group's 1960s prime.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger