Last week, we looked at Amy Grant’s first Christmas album, which marks its 35th anniversary this year. Today, we take a look at a Christmas album celebrating its 30th anniversary: the various-artist Sparrow release, simply titled, Christmas.
What makes this album work even to this day is that although it brought together the various styles of Sparrow artists of the time, it nicely blends those styles together cohesively while still allowing the artists to remain true to their form.
And this is considering that the album had several producers (though Billy Smiley is the primary producer).
For example, the brother-sister gospel duo Bebe and Cece Winans’ version of “Silent Night,” which opens the album, flows well with the contemporary various-artist original “Home for the Holidays” and then nicely into the slow-burn of Whiteheart’s dramatic “Little Drummer Boy;” and then into Michael Card’s soft, sleepy rendition of “What Child is This?” and then into the pop beat of Denise Williams’ “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Side 1 finishes with Steve Taylor’s tongue-in-cheek “Winter Wonderland,” complete with a mariachi band to boot.
Side 2 (for those of us who should have bought it on CD but didn’t), was a little more naturally congruent with artists like Margaret Becker who gave us a dramatic “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” Steve Camp’s nicely done “O Holy Night,” Tim Miner’s R&B “The First Noel,” Geoff Moore’s bring-down-the-house “Jingle Bell Rock,” Steven Curtis Chapman’s country-ish “Away in a Manger” and a various-artist rocking rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High” as the project’s big finish.
Like Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album, this tape was one that went everywhere during the Christmas seasons throughout the late 80s and early 90s (and beyond). It wasn’t Christmas without this cassette playing when you went Christmas shopping, put up the tree, or just wanted to soak in the season. Though it ran the gamut of soft and rock, it was still merry and Christmassy, and just right for the average teenager and college student. Heck, it’s still just right for us now-middle-aged, old-timers.