New Albums Review: Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby
Freddie Matthews writes from London: This is the first official Christmas album of the festive season I’ve reviewed and bizarrely it’s by the 100 million plus seller Rod Stewart. After 48 years in the business, Rod has decided it’s time to sell himself out to the Christmas classics (yawn…sorry), although he has bothered to write one original song.
By writing a Christmas song of his very own, if it’s successful, he won’t have to hand the royalties over to anyone else, other than himself and his writing team of Foster and Amy Foster. Red-Suited Santa is the original song in question, a medium tempo cheesy ballad that could have been written anytime in the last 50 years. It sounds a little Springsteen in places but is totally harmless and will no doubt be added to many a Christmas radio station playlist over the coming five weeks. What’s key for any new Christmas release is whether or not it will be popular enough the first time around to stand the test of time for people to want to play and hear it next Christmas, the year after and for the next 50 years etc. etc.
Also on ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It was first performed in 1944 by Judy Garland and is still played to this day by one or more of the many artists who’ve covered it during the last 68 years. That familiarity and staying power is what every writer should strive to produce from any new festive song and I imagine original writers, Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin, left a huge fortune upon their passing.
Rod Stewart is the first of a long line of performers to release an album this Christmas. He’s upped the ante and put in some effort by bringing in the credible music elite to duet with him including, Cee-Lo Green & Mary J. Blige. Rod even performs a virtual duet with the late Ella Fitzgerald, despite the fact that she died in 1996. What Are You Doing On New Year’s Eve? sounds a little strange in places, although I’d imagine that was at Rod’s request so as not to be upstaged and outclassed by a country mile. Added to the list are: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; White Christmas; Winter Wonderland and Silent Night and this is an album Rod Stewart should be ever so slightly proud of.
Despite it being ‘just another Christmas album’ there’s a commitment to try something different. It’s not just singing to a backing track and it certainly doesn’t sound like karaoke in the slightest.
If you were looking for a fun, slightly different album which still delivers many of the Christmas classics, then Rod Stewart’s ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ won’t be the worst buy of the season. It’s released a little early, 12 November, either to be the first of its kind or more likely because of Rod’s high profile appearances on British TV specials in the run up to the, ever so dull, Christmas scheduling.
I’d happily ask my father to play this in the background this Christmas.