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Soul Christmas has its moments

Slow Jams Christmas, Volume 2
Slow Jams Christmas, Volume 2
By various artists

EMI-Capitol Records: 1997

This review first appeared in the December 6, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

The Slow Jams series of CDs from EMI/Capitol specializes in easy-listening soul and rhythm and blues. This year sees a second Christmas Slow Jams release. As with far too many holiday releases, it has a few top-notch songs surrounded by a lot of dross.

On the plus side, you have Al Green singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Al Jarreau on Mel Torme's classic "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" and Lou Rawls breaking your heart on "Auld Lang Syne." There's also a neat version of Charles Brown remaking his own long-ago hit, "Merry Christmas, Baby."

But tempering those classic performances are the utterly soulless Alexander O'Neal, the forgettable (and forgotten) Rotary Connection and the bland (not Bobby "Blue" Bland, unfortunately) Darryl Tookes.

This is a nice enough set of holiday fare for cuddling in front of the fire, but too much of it is willing background music.