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A Merrilly Christmas

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Album Review

Former Arrows frontman Alan Merrill may forever be associated with being the first to record "I Love Rock 'N Roll" back in 1975, but he has made some high-quality music since those days. His expressive voice and excellent backing band are a perfect fit for a rock & roll Christmas album, and sure enough he has managed to make a pretty good one. His specialty is soulful ballads, and he sure can deliver. His beautiful keyboard parts flow wonderfully with guitarist Jon Tiven's tasty licks, making songs like "Christmas Without You" and "Christmas in Love" that much better because of the excellent playing. Of course, he can rock out too, as he proves on the awesome "Alcohol," a hard drinking anthem. Merrill does not include many of his own songs here, but his excellent "Holiday Heroes" is a feel-good anthem that floats on a Booker T-style organ part and a popping bass part. The album is not all as good as these tracks. In fact, "Make Somebody Happy This Christmas" starts off great but is far too long to sustain interest longer than the first two minutes. And his duet with Jim Carroll, "Jessie," is a good but not really great rocker that is just too loose and disjointed to be effective. These minor disappointments do not drag the album down too much; in fact, they really do not affect the overall quality much at all. Like any good soulful rocker, Merrill simply takes what he knows and performs it without needless experimentation or complicated arrangements. This is a good holiday album for anyone who enjoys passionate original music with a rock & roll bend. And ignore the silly cover, it makes the album look a lot cheaper and thrown together than it is.


Born: 19 February 1951

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Alan Merrill has had a long and varied career as a pop musician on three continents. Born Allan Sachs, the son of singer Helen Merrill and horn man Aaron Sachs, singer, guitarist, bassist, and songwriter Merrill played in several bands in Greenwich Village as a teen before moving to Japan, where, as a member of the group the Lead, he signed a recording deal with RCA Victor Tokyo in 1968. The Lead had one big hit in Japan, "Aoi Bara," before breaking up, leaving Merrill as a solo act. He recorded...
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A Merrilly Christmas, Alan Merrill
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