John Holt

The Reggae Christmas Hits Album

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There's just something inherently wrong with a Christmas album built around a beat born in a land that's never known snow. But assuming one can get past the concept, this album offers up a selection of festive fun, all set to a light reggae beat. There are the classics, of course, including "White Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," and, with New Year's Eve just around the corner, "Auld Lang Syne," which aptly closes the album. However, when Holt titled this set The Reggae Christmas Hits Album, he meant that literally, and much of the record is given over to covers of seasonal songs that jollied up the U.K. charts. This goes some way towards explaining the otherwise surreal inclusion of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." More appropriate Christmas fare comes from George Michael, Chris De Burgh, Mud, Slade, and Greg Lake. The entire album features the typically lush production of the day, which is as shiny as the star over Bethlehem. Regardless, it's the guitarist who steals the spotlight from the keyboard strings, an intriguing touch. But in reality, there's a Dali-esque quality to the whole thing; it's all so incongruous that you can barely believe what you're hearing. It's evident that Holt took it seriously, though, and warms the songs with his most heartfelt vocals, which just adds to the bizarreness of it all.

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