Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 11/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first volume of A very special Christmas was incredible, but this follow-up is just as good and even more eclectic. Now, I have wide musical tastes but I can't believe there are too many people who enjoy listening to Randy Travis (singing Jingle bell rock here) and also enjoy the music of Run DMC (rapping Christmas is). Country and rap just do not mix, even though the Bellamy brothers once recorded a song called Country rap - it was a good try but didn't really work. And even if you are in the minority that enjoy both Randy Travis and Run DMC, will you also enjoy Michael Bolton, Debbie Gibson and everything else here? Probably not. In my case, I can tolerate one rap track for the sheer brilliance and diversity of the rest of this collection.Tom Petty sets the standard with the opening track, Christmas all over again. Darlene Love, one of the stars of the Phil Spector Christmas album, reminds us all how Christmas rock music really began, here to be heard singing a cover of Rocking around the Christmas tree. Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown bring a touch of the blues to the collection with their rendition of Merry Christmas baby. Santa Claus is coming to town features Cyndi Lauper and Frank Sinatra, though this is not a true duet - Cyndi's vocals were overdubbed on Frank's original recording. Jon Bon Jovi does an excellent cover of the Eagles classic Please come home for Christmas.There are so many superb songs here, brilliantly performed. It may not be possible to like every track, but if you enjoy most of them (I enjoyed almost all of them), their quality will more than make up for the others."
Excellent Holiday CD
S. Martin | Los Angeles | 11/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I received this CD as a gift and put it away. I was asked to bring some music over for a holiday party my friends were giving. I put it one as an after-thought and to my dis-belief people stopped talking and started listening to some of the tracks. There are some great duets in this version and it is well worth having. Now my friends borrow it all the time. The sounds are refrshing and put a new spin on the old holiday songs. I am going to buy the other CD's in the series as well."
Worthy Sequel to the Original
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 12/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you release a Christmas Song that is good, you can make your mark on the music industry for years to come - especially when the Holiday Season comes around in December. The 1987 release, "A Very Special Christmas" would take some of the biggest stars in the music industry, have them record some Christmas songs, and then release a CD where the proceeds would go to a charity. This would become a big success. As a result, in 1992 a second CD was made that would continue the momentum of the first CD. This sequel, "A Very Special Christmas 2" would do a lot of the same as the original - take a combination of Classic Christmas Songs, some new spins on some old Classics, some live songs, and some original Christmas songs. The result is a very good collection that should find its way to your CD player come December.
"A Very Special Christmas 2" doesn't quite have as strong a lineup of artists that the first CD had, but it is not short on quality. Even though I am not a fan of all of the artists, there are some that surprise me with their contributions. This collection delivers 19 songs and most of them are pretty good. While the original "A Very Special Christmas" had only two original songs, this CD delivers 4 original songs as well as 5 of what I would classify as "Modern Remakes". The best way to look at this collection is to review each of the songs. Another strength is that this collection brings a solid set of studio musicians who also help contribute.
"Christmas All Over Again" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: This is one of the original songs. I actually am disappointed with this song as I don't think its that great a song, nor do I think it brings out the best in Petty. However, this is an original song. Jeff Lynne (Petty's fellow Wilbury alumni_ lends Bass, Timpani, and Vocals as well.
"Jingle Bell Rock" by Randy Travis: This is one of the "Modern Remakes". I think this is better than the Hall and Oates version. The best part is how Randy does an "encore" at the end of the song. The Country-Western Twist is great too.
"The Christmas Song" by Luther Vandross: I always thought this was a dull song, but Vandross delivers a terrific smooth jazz version. Gerald Albright plays Sax on this track.
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper: This is a terrific version of the classic. Frank is classic Frank and Cyndi Lauper is sensational in this Orchestra twist to an old favorite.
"The Birth of Christ" by Boyz II Men: This is the 2nd original song. Boyz II Men dedicated this song to their late manager. I'm not a big Boyz II Men fan, but this does have some originality as far as Christmas songs go.
"Please Come Home For Christmas" by Jon Bon Jovi: This time Jon contributes a song as a solo artist. This was written by Charles Brown. I'd categorize this as a "Modern Remake". Jon does a great job on the vocals of this song.
"What Christmas Means To Me" by Paul Young: One of the best songs of the collection. This is another "Modern Remake" of a Motown song (Stevie Wonder did this). Don Was is the producer and gives the song a "feel good tempo" and will have you toe-tapping and hand clapping.
"O Christmas Tree" by Aretha Franklin: Not my favorite Christmas song, but Aretha seems to be the perfect diva to deliver this classic tune. Toto's Steve Porcaro plays Synthesizers.
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love: Darlene Love was a studio musician on several tunes on the first album. Now she headlines with Ronnie Spector on another Classic "Modern Remake". Jon Bon Jovi plays acoustic guitar.
"White Christmas" by Michael Bolton: It's no Bing Crosby version, but it's not bad.
"Christmas Is" by Run D.M.C: Run D.M.C were the stars of the first album with "Christmas in Hollis". While this song isn't as strong, it is still is an enjoyable original tune.
"Christmas Time Again" by Extreme: This is an original song and the best song on the collection. Gary Cherone's vocals are perfect and there is a terrific mix or organ and harmonies on this. I'm shocked this hasn't become a modern day classic.
"Merry Christmas Baby" by Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown: Terrific blues duet. Charles Brown steals the show with his unique vocals on this tune.
"O Holy Night" by Tevin Campbell: Tevin Campbell was a rising vocalist around this time. He delivers an incredible vocal performance to this classic tune.
"Sleigh Ride" by Debbie Gibson: I'm far from being a Gibson fan, but Debbie hits a home run with this performance. Darlene Love is on hand again for some great background vocals.
"What Child Is This" by Vanessa Williams: Another riveting vocal performance of a Christmas Classic.
"Blue Christmas" by Ann and Nancy Wilson: This isn't one of my favorite songs, but it does seem well suited for the Wilson Sisters to do vocals.
"Silent Night" by Wilson Phillips: Wilson Phillips does a terrific job on harmonies that put a nice modern spin on a traditional song.
"I Believe in You": This is a "Modern Remake" of a 1979 Bob Dylan song. I don't think this was intended as a Christmas song, but it does fit in with the season. Sinead O'Connor surprises me this one - she does a good job. Charlton Pettus of Tears For Fears plays acoustic guitar.
The liner notes do give all of the musical and production credits to all of the songs. There are not any lyrics included. This is a solid collection and like the original -- it's worth owning. Like the first album, once December 26th comes along, you put them back on the shelf until next year."
Great version of O Holy Night!
Dan Knight | Bay Area, CA | 12/10/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 2 fits right in with a great series of Christmas music. Most tracks are fun to listen to and its a great CD for Christmas parties. Tevin Campbell's O Holy Night is excellent and stands out. The first 3 tracks (Petty, Travis, and Vandross) are great leadoffs. Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper's Santa Claus is Coming to Town is also fun."
A Better Mix Makes it Better the Second Time Around
zeni | Tennessee | 12/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I liked the first installment of the series, A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (see my review), but I like this second one even better.I was glad to see the inclusion of country (Randy Travis), soul (Aretha Franklin), and oldies (Ronnie Spector) artists. I think the mixture made this effort supercede its predecessor.Some of the more notable songs for me included Randy Travis's fun country swing on "Jingle Bell Rock." I was expecting a slick, glossy, and forgetable version of "The Christmas Song" from Luther Vandross; but I think he did a fine job. A surprising duo from Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper was a delight. Lauper's voice fluctuated ever so slightly between a nice, mature singing style and the off-beat kiddie voice she's most known for; but she held her own.Paul Young gives a rendition of "What Christmas Means to Me" that is worthy of much hand clapping and toe tapping. Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown do justice on the bluesy "Merry Christmas Baby." And Ann and Nancy Wilson tingle the senses with their version of "Blue Christmas," a cross between a blues style and a knock-down-drag-out country torch song!I was a little disappointed with Boyz II Men's "The Birth of Christ" and Michael Bolton's "White Christmas." As usual, BIIM's harmonies were beautiful on their acappella offering, but somehow it just didn't matter. Michael Bolton has a nice voice, in my opinion, but on this song, he sounded as if he was trying too darn hard.But the winner hands down, in my opinion, is the Queen of Soul herself: Aretha Franklin. Aretha is my all-time favorite female artist, and she literally sent chills up and down my spine with her rendition of "O Christmas Tree." Her execution of the song is not flawless. I could do without the spoken word part, and there are a few phrases where she doesn't seem to hit it quite right. But in most places, Aretha's vocals practically soar, and she turns this Christmas chestnut of a song into a majestic, triumphant work of beauty. Maybe it's the contrast between Aretha's gospel-soaked vocals against the strains of the orchestra, and all the emotion she puts into the words and her voice climbs and descends, ending in a soft hiss as she sings "how lovely are your branchesssss."Anyway, Aretha's song is worth my getting this CD, no doubt. But even without "O Christmas Tree," this CD would be a good addition to any Christmas music enthusiast's collection."