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A Swingin' Christmas

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Album Review

Michael Bolton was still sporting a full mane of hair and recording for Columbia/Sony when he released his last holiday album — This Is the Time: The Christmas Album — in 1996. Now, a sheared Bolton has moved to Concord, a jazz label, and has taken another stab at the holiday album on A Swingin' Christmas. The album's strongest selling point is that it gets right to the heart of the holiday song tradition, avoiding self-penned novelties and obscure carols for holiday favorites that everyone knows and loves. That means that fans who appreciate Bolton's vocal style, from his quiet rasp to his over-the-top dramatics, will now have his versions of ten classic Christmas songs in one place. Despite these qualities, however, some listeners may wish for something a little more invigorating. While Bolton may be inspired by the material, the production and arrangements are by the numbers, and while the title — A Swingin' Christmas — conjures up visions of jazzy big bands from yesterday, the result more often reminds one of a big band from a late-night talk show. Perhaps the biggest detraction for fans, however, is how short the album is at just 33 minutes. In other words, by the time one has poured the eggnog and cuddled up beside that significant someone, it will be time to get up and put another album on. Hardcore fans, however, will probably be unperturbed: repeat buttons, after all, were made for a reason. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Biography

Born: 26 February 1953 in New Haven, CT

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Michael Bolton had an extensive (though not very successful) career under his real name, Michael Bolotin, before emerging in the mid-'80s as a major soft rock balladeer. He first turned up on RCA Records in the mid-'70s, singing cover tunes and his own blue-eyed soul songs in a gruff, Joe Cocker-like voice. Neither record buyers nor critics were much interested by the result. He then became the lead singer of Blackjack, a heavy metal band that made two albums for Polydor before...
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A Swingin' Christmas, Michael Bolton
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