Album Review : A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997 Special Olympics International Ltd.)

The Special Olympics is a mirror image of The Olympics, although the athletes face even greater challenges. They may be physically or mentally impaired in one form or another, but all have that inner drive to be the best at whatever sport they compete in. One of the biggest challenges is finding the funds to make it possible to participate. This  series of cd’s was put together to help fund Special Olympic athletes. In this season of giving it reminds me of a  Special Olympics event I watched in which the winning athlete waited at the line to cross hand in hand with the 2nd place athlete.

I Saw Three Ships (Sting) – A quiet song with powerful vocals. Of note on this one is the appearance of Sting’s daughter Mickey on the flute.

Christmastime (The Smashing Pumpkins) – The powerful vocals of Billy Corgan are at the forefront on this original. The orchestra in the background is really cool too.

Children Go Where I Send Thee (Natalie Merchant) – The sax and organ are the backbone of this song. The amazing back and forth vocals of Natalie Merchant and Schiavone Mcgee mixed with the New Testament Missionary Baptist Choir make this a song not to be missed.

Santa Baby (Run Rev & The Christmas All-Stars featuring Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt N’ Pepa, Onyx, Keith Murray) – A wonderful version of 90’s rap. Many of the names have changed, but unlike some of the songs of that era, this one still sounds great today.

Oi To The World (No Doubt) – This song originally done by The Vandals is a great mix of bass, drums and guitar. It doesn’t hurt that Gwen Stefani is singing either.

Blue Christmas (Sheryl Crow) – I always think  of Elvis when I imagine this song, but this sexy, sultry, smoky version by Sheryl Crow will make you forget the blues. The guitar and harmonica work are really well done here.

Christmas (Blues Traveler) – You just know the musicianship will be top notch here, led by amazing guitar and harp work. This one does not disappoint. The interlaced lead and background vocals in the back half of the song are really great.

Oiche Chiun, Silent Night (Enya) – Another quiet song featuring the powerful Irish Gaelic vocals of Enya.

The Christmas Song (Hootie & The Blowfish) – This band is no longer since lead singer Darius Rucker has gone off into solo Country music. I was tired of this band back in the 90’s  since they were all over the airwaves. After years of not hearing them, it seems I have missed them a little more than I would have expected.

Ave Maria (Chris Cornell with Eleven) – I wasn’t sure how this song would hit me. This is a song that chokes me up, and since I am still reeling from the shocking loss of Chris Cornell, it’s a double whammy. The background music from Eleven is distracting to me. Also there are unnecessary background vocals from Natasha Schneider. It’s almost like a circus song. I would have preferred if Chris had done this one A Capella. A must have, rare song for any fan of Chris Cornell. This song just reminds me that we will never hear new music from him again, and that makes me sad.

Christmas In The City (Mary J. Blige featuring Angie Martinez) – Another rap song featuring a mix of harder edged vocals with the wonderfully beautiful voice of Mary J.

Santa Claus Is Back In Town (Jonny Lang) – A rockin’ blues song is always a nice addition. With Jonny Lang and company, you know it will be done right. The axe work is not surprising the star on this one.

Christmas Song (Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds) – I will admit I am not a big fan of Dave’s voice. I find a lot of his music to be annoying. This one was recorded live at the Paramount Theatre, Denver Colorado on Feb. 18, 1997. The wonderful acoustic guitar work by Tim Reynolds, and the audience cheering are the stars for me here. Dave’s voice doesn’t really bother me here, so I can appreciate this song.

Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand (Steve Winwood) – Steve seemed to fall off the face of the earth for me after his amazing 80’s albums, Back In The High Life, Chronicles, and Roll With It. Perhaps those albums were so great, it was tough to reach those great lofts in the 90’s. His version of this traditional is amazing. His voice seems deeper here than what I remember. It almost has a Jethro Tull feel, and I like it.

O Holy Night (Tracy Chapman) – Her vocals are chilling and beautiful. This song is every bit as awesome as Fast Car. You will not grow tired of this one.

We Three Kings (Patti Smith) – The “punk rock laureate” ends this one off on a high note. The mix between spoken word and subtle, but powerful vocals make this one to make you sit up and take notice.







7 thoughts on “Album Review : A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997 Special Olympics International Ltd.)

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