When I opened the envelope with The Blind Boys of Alabama and Taj Mahal’s “Talkin’ Christmas” , I was reminded that the holiday season is almost upon us. My first thought was, “Do we really need another Christmas album?”. After all, there are a ton of them out there by almost every artist that has ever recorded. My old group, the Tuna de Cayey, who just celebrated their 50th anniversary (Congrats!) has produced a plethora of Christmas albums over the years.
So, with some skepticism I slid the CD into the player and I was pleasantly surprised by the “raw” nature of this CD. Let me explain… This music is exquisitely simple and rough around the edges. It feels like the voices of everyday people celebrating the basic, fundamental concept of what the Christmas holiday is really about, seasoned with a notable love of music. It is not a super-charged, glitzy, commercial production, but deep, gospel, bluesy, spiritual music for everyone.
These musicians didn’t just do the standards, but brought quite a few of their own original compositions. Before I knew it, I was singing along and really feeling the music. The integrated voice and guitar of Taj Mahal with the vocals of the Blind Boys of Alabama is a perfect blend. The supporting band members did a solid job but the spotlight is on the featured artists.
Here is the set list:
- Do You Hear What I Hear?
- Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn
- What Can I Do?
- Talkin’ Christmas
- Merry Christmas To You
- Silent Night
- There’s A Reason We Call It Christmas
- The Sun Is Rising
- No Room In The Inn
- Jesus Was Born
- Who Will Remember
- Merry Christmas!
Let’s have a look at some of my favorite tracks:
- “Do you Hear what I Hear?” is not the song you were expecting; this tune is a classic blues progression.
- “Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn” has got an old-timey shuffle that is adorned with some banjo bits; my grandma would have wanted to dance to this one.
- “What Can I Do?” is a statement of the Christmas spirit of helping those in need that transcends the holidays and reaches through the entire year.
- “Talkin’ Christmas” fires up a funky bit with some nice B-3 Hammond support. This is another song that makes a statement about the real power of Christmas.
- “Silent Night” …This is a simple, sweet rendition with acoustic guitar and a lead vocal supported by the chorus. Nice gospel feel to the interpretation on this classic song.