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Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Lost Christmas Eve

After many years of rabid anticipation by fans of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the final CD in their Christmas trilogy, The Lost Christmas Eve, is finally here. Does it live up to expectations? It depends on your personal preferences. In my opinion the answer is yes and no. The instrumental portions are fabulous as usual, although at this point in their career they've become a little predictable. Then again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Since 1996, when TSO first appeared on the music scene, I've yet to hear a band/artist that can touch what they do for traditional Christmas carols! This album opens with a song called "Faith Noel," which is based on the song "The First Noel." But, there are many original parts, with wailing guitar solos, bits of other traditional carols and some pretty awesome instrumental orchestrations thrown in.

The story begins with the title song, "The Lost Christmas Eve," performed with tremendous emotion by J. Mark McVey. The music has a dark quality to it that lets on this isn't going to be a light, happy all the way through, type CD. The no part of my opinion comes in here. Although well thought out and written, the story takes it's sweet time getting to the point this go round. The core story is heart wrenching and glorious, but there are too many unnecessary side trips along the way. I'm not sure if the music required a longer story, or vice versa, but either way, I think it's dragged out for too long. With 23 tracks, old ground gets covered in the instrumentals, with variations, but it's still old ground. Some of the older original songs are back, but a few are tying up loose ends from the previous albums. There also seemed to be more classical themed instrumentals and vocals, even with the rock band included to "modernize" the songs.

However, just when I thought I wasn't overly impressed, I heard this total jazz piano intro and James Robert Lewis chimed in with "Just another night in New York City/ Snow comes down/ Looks real pretty . . ." in this gravelly, bluesy voice and I'm mesmerized! This has to be one of the best original songs since "This Christmas Day." It's called "Christmas Nights In Blue" and I swear you can almost see Cab Calloway (mentioned in the song BTW) at the piano and singing then moving out front to serenade " . . .As the night rolls on/ Till it's carolized/ Carolized/ Carolized/ Carolized/ Carolized/ And on this tree. . .All lit up this night/ Electric Blue." This song is followed by a brief acoustic called "Christmas Jazz" then "Christmas Jam" by the full band with everyone taking off into short solos, some wild wailing guitars, a driving bass line, great percussion, keyboards, and strings that meld with the guitars. "Siberian Sleigh Ride, " another instrumental, follows and I really enjoyed this original piece as well. This section is WAY cool!

If you know a Scrooge, Robert Evan does the original song "What Is Christmas?" major justice with his complaints about everything Christmas. Then, Daryl Pediford performs one of the most beautiful songs on the album, "For The Sake Of Our Brother," which combines the carol "O Come All Ye Faithful" and the original number. Mr. Pediford, a long standing favorite on the TSO albums and the East Tour, passed away at the beginning of November. He will be sorely missed by his band mates and fans alike.

As with all TSO albums, the story is an integral part of the experience. The songs are linked by a poem that is written between the lyrics in the liner notes and there is a synopsis of the story in the beginning of the booklet. Instead of trying to tell it this time, I advise going to the band's web site and reading it for yourself, since they have made the synopsis available. It's obviously much better if you own the CD and are reading along with the music and lyrics and the poem in between, but you can get an idea what it's about from the site. I'm reviewing the music.

The other song that really grabbed me big time was "What Child Is This?" It's done in a way I never imagined hearing it. . . dramatic, emphasized by chugging guitars and bass during the verse, melancholy but beautiful instrumentals in the chorus, an original part added that 's directly related to the story, some of the original song's words changed to fit the father in the story, backing vocals during the original parts added, another fantastic performance by Robert Evan (this time loving and emotional) and an abrupt end. This is followed by a brief acoustic of "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Christmas Cannon Rock" with the full band and female vocalists handling the voice overlay verses rather than an a capella children's choir as on previous projects. The album ends with an acoustic version of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" and represents the Postscript to the story.

Overall this is another awesome Christmas tribute by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I may be over critical just because I've followed their progress from day one and it's my job to be impartial and pay attention to the pieces as well as the whole of an album. Most people will be completely bowled over by this album and TSO deserves major props for what they're doing for traditional music - Christmas, Classical, Jazz, Blues and Rock. I definitely recommend the album as an addition to your holiday music collection.

Added: November 21st 2004
Reviewer: Mary Ellen Gustafson
Related Link: Visit Trans-Siberian Orchestra Online
Hits: 3255
Language: english


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