Various Artists

Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas

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The variety of holiday music has improved dramatically over the years and every "type" of music seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. Not only are there holiday rock recordings, but now there are holiday rock guitar recordings. While the music here is a mixed bag, it turns out to be a refreshing change from the contrived offerings that other rock artists have produced. Kenny Wayne Shepherd kicks things off with a rousing version of "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," while Eric Johnson proves to be the most technically proficient of the players assembled here. There are other strong offerings from Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Brian Setzer. However, the performances turned in by Joe Perry, Richie Sambora and Hotei do not measure up. Despite the uneven moments, this is worth picking for anyone who truly needs to rock around the Christmas tree.

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