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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n50 (12/16/2010) » Section: Left of the Dial

Various Artists - In the Christmas Groove

It’s that time of year again, and love it or hate it, you are bound to be overwhelmed by a barrage of Christmas classics and flash-in-the-pan renditions of standards you’ve heard a million times before. The antidote is Strut Records’ foray into the genre of Yule-tidings with their incredible new compilation. In the Christmas Groove unites 14 rare soul, funk, and blues cuts rediscovered by the ghost of Christmas past. AM rock and soul of the 19760s and 1970s arguably got the ball rolling for all of the bearable Christmas hits of our day. This compilation proves it while blowing everything else out of the water and giving the holidays the dose of soul it so desperately needs.

Shelby Lynne - Merry Christmas

There are two mistakes that many artists make with Christmas records. One is radically reinventing and reinterpreting the classics, and the other is stacking a set with half-baked yuletide originals in what almost always ends up a failed attempt to craft holiday chestnuts that will last years. (Usually we want to forget them after the first listen.) Thank goodness that singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne is too good to fall into either trap. Lynne closes out a top-notch 2010—following the album Tears, Lies and Alibis and “Tragedy,” a duet with Peter Wolf on his Midnight Souvenirs, which is the song of the year in my book—with Merry Christmas, a collection that serves up pretty much everything you could want out of a Christmas album.

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