Art Garfunkel / Amy Grant

The Animals' Christmas

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Writer David A. Milberg calls The Animals' Christmas, the 1986 album by Art Garfunkel with Amy Grant, "one of the best Christmas albums of the '80s [featuring] 'Carol of the Birds.'" This elaborate package contains a 12-page booklet, including the lyrics in four different languages: English, Spanish, French, and German. It's a unique concept and quite a different Christmas album in presentation and feel. The London Symphony Orchestra backs up the vocals of Amy Grant and Art Garfunkel alongside co-producer and lyricist Jimmy Webb's piano. Conducted by Carl Davis with the Kings College School Choir, the album fuses pop legends with classical musicianship to good effect. On the upside for consumers, none of these tunes are familiar "Christmas classics" hammered into the consciousness during the holidays. The churchlike feel of the project keeps "The Creatures of the Field," "Just a Simple Little Tune," "The Friendly Beasts," and other titles from being able to break out on seasonal radio next to tracks from Phil Spector's Christmas Album, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, and the other perennials who show up on the airwaves around Thanksgiving time and beyond. Webb adds music to a 12th century carol as he does to the poetry of Elizabeth Coatsworth, Bas-Quercy, Ruth Sawyer, and his own words. Interesting as well as good brain food for grownups and children alike.

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