Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BB Chronicles Holiday Sampler 2012 - No Rest for Ye Merry Gentlemen

No Rest for Ye Merry Gentlemen
A BB Chronicles Holiday Sampler

(A collection of different versions and variations of 'God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen', performed by a variety of artists in a variety of styles)
Various Artists
mp3 @ 192-320

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays everyone! Here I have this year's Holiday collection, but this one is something different. I know that many disdain the annual holiday-themed music blitz, but as I've said before, I love Christmas and holiday music, and one of the things I love about it is hearing all the different and varied versions of some of the same perennial holiday classics. When an artist can provide a new and interesting interpretation of a familiar and well-worn standard, while still maintaining the qualities we love of the original song, it is just a joy to hear. With that in mind, what I decided to do for this year's compilation was to show some of the many different styles and interpretations of a single traditional Christmas Carol, that I find very appealing. Yes, that's right, this collection consists of a single song, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, done many different ways and styles. So, here we have 7 vocal and 7 instrumental version of that famous song, from the traditional to the bizarre, ranging from orchestral to solo guitar, accapella to choir, classical to jazz, and then some, but each with some very appealing and interesting aspects. I realize that this won't appeal to everyone, and might seem tedious to some (the same song over and over), but I really think that these are all good, some even great, versions, and it is really amazing just how varied and different the same song can be. OK, so this may not be a collection you want to consistently play straight through all the time, but certainly there are multiple different versions that you can really enjoy. Now, there were many traditional carols that I could have used for this type of exercise, but I chose GRYMG because it seemed to have among the best variety of different types of versions and styles (at least that I was familiar with), from the traditional vocal to the jazz improvisations, yet this is probably not one of the very 'top' or most famous of the carols, that is, it is not one that simply everyone does.
      But first, before we start, a little about the carol itself. This is a 'traditional' English carol, thought to have been written sometime around the early-mid 1700's by an unknown author (sometime before 1760, which was the first known published version). There has been some confusion over the meaning of the title and first line, 'God rest ye merry, gentlemen', as there should be a comma after merry. Thus, it does not really refer to 'merry gentlemen', but rather that God should keep you merry, followed by gentlemen, with 'rest' here referring to 'keep or make'. Another interesting note is that in the original published versions in the 1700's, the lyric was 'you' not 'ye, and it appears that it was changed to 'ye' in more modern times to give the carol a more quaintly old-fashioned feel. 
Anyway, hope you enjoy these. Go through and pick out your favorite (and least favorite) styles and versions. And are there any other versions you know of that you like better than these? Let me know.   

Tracklist: Artist - style
(All songs are variations on 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
1. London Symphony Orchestra w/Chorus - Traditional Orchestral (with choir)
2. The Whiffenpoofs (Yale Accapella group) - Traditional vocal (Accapella)
3. Acoustic Christmas - Instrumental (Acoustic instruments)
4. Aimee Mann (2006-12-11 - KCRW) - Contemporary vocal (Pop-rock)
5. John Fahey - Instrumental (Solo guitar)
6. Barenaked Ladies (w/ Sarah McLachlan) - Folk-Rock vocal
7. Chuck Leavell - Instrumental jazz (Solo piano)
8. Chicago - Pop vocal
9. Smokey Mtn Christmas - Instrumental (bluegrass-appalachian)
10. The L.A. Gospel Singers - Gospel-R&B vocal
11. Steve Laury - Instrumental (Smooth Jazz)
12. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Pop-soul vocal
13. Chick Corea Elektric Band - Instrumental (Jazz)
14. Brian Setzer Orchestra - Instrumental (Big Band Swing-Rock)

BBChronicles Holiday Sampler-2012_No rest.rar

BTW, my personal favorites of these are: Barenaked Ladies, for vocal version (I think this swingin' folk-rock version (w/Sarah M.) is the best overall version I've heard. It just has a very cool updated 'Kingston Trio' style to it with the upright bass, guitar and great vocals); and Chuck Leavell's (Former keyboard player for Allman Brothers and his own band Sea Level) beautiful solo piano version (Check out his excellent Christmas album "What's in That Bag?", that features several jazzy piano instrumentals of classics, as well as some funky, rollickin' vocal and original tracks, too. One of my favorite Christmas albums). Also alot of fun are John Fahey's solo guitar track (also from a very good Christmas album: The New Possibility), and Brian Setzer's swingin' Big Band versions.   

1 comment:

Edward said...

thanks a bunch, terrific collection