The Bottom Line
Although not quite on a par with "The Beach Boys Christmas Album," this first solo holiday album from leader Brian Wilson continues his mini-renaissance of sorts in songwriting, vocalese, and production.
- A good way to hear the Beach Boys genius tackle some Christian hymns.
- The two new songs here are quite enjoyable, if not classics.
- Features the same backing band as Wilson's 2004 "SMiLE" remake.
- Remakes of songs from "The Beach Boys Christmas Album" seem rather pointless.
- Bonus tracks
Guide Review - Brian Wilson: What I Really Want For Christmas
First things first -- if you're any kind of Beach Boys fan, meaning any kind of Brian Wilson fan, you'll probably buy this CD just to hear his golden choir of overdubbed voices tackle Christmas classics not covered by the Boys' 1964 mini-classic, simply entitled "The Beach Boys Christmas Album." This stocking stuffer, further evidence of the critical renaissance Wilson's been enjoying over the past two years, is less secular than that release. Meaning that Wilson's harmonies, instead of gracing "White Christmas," "Frosty The Snowman," and "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," now brighten up the more austere hymnals of "O Holy Night," "The First Noel," and "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear." Wilson also makes a rather heavy nod to the Beach Boys' album by unnecessarily reprising the originals "Little Saint Nick" and "The Man With All The Toys." (He even ends the CD proper with "Auld Lang Syne," just like before, although a few "bonus tracks" follow.)
There are, however, two very solid new originals: the title track, written with longtime Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin, will probably be the song radio stations gather 'round, but the Jimmy Webb collaboration "Christmasey" is a choral delight that will evoke fonder memories for BB fans. This CD is not quite the Beach Boys' classic, just like BW solo albums are not quite Pet Sounds and the recent "SMiLE" reworking doesn't quite live up to its legacy. But it's a worthy successor, and that's saying something.