The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
By Al Kaufman
Now that Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is really only a speed bump on the race to Christmas. And what that means is the holiday music comes out in full force. One of the most anticipated offerings this year comes from Scott Weiland. It’s not anticipated in the same way that the pre-teen girls are anticipating Justin Bieber’s, but in more of a “What kind of Christmas music is a former heroin addict and lead singer of two loud rock bands (Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver) going to make?”
Apparently the answer to that question is an old-fashioned CD. Weiland showed a bit of a softer side on his last solo CD, Happy in Golashes, but here he has channeled his inner Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams as he croons his way through such string-arranged standards as “The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland,” among others. At first listen, it’s the most unintentionally hilarious Christmas CD since Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart, but after a few listens, many of the songs just sound boring. Surprisingly, Weiland’s voice lacks the power and flavor to inject anything new into these tried and true songs.
He tries. He adds a calypso beat to “Silent Night,” and “O Holy Night,” as weird as this may sound, actually works over a reggae beat. He swings “What Child Is This?” and Michael Birnbryer adds a grooving flute solo. His one original song, “Happy Christmas and Many More,” is a happy, upbeat number that makes great use of the kettle drum, an instrument that really doesn’t fall into the sleigh bell department in terms of Christmas.
So there are enough interesting arrangements on here to make this sound not exactly like your grandfather’s Christmas album. But Weiland’s vocals are not up to the task to make it anything more than that. The most obvious example of this is on “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” in which it sounds like Weiland is trying to do the world’s worst impersonation of Sammy Davis Jr., or maybe he was just singing with cotton in his mouth. Either way, it doesn’t work.
This is a Christmas CD your parents will like. After they listen, pop in Stone Temple Pilots’ Core for them, tell them it’s the same guy, and watch their jaws hit the floor.