1. The Christmas Song
2. Christmas Spirit
3. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
4. Let There Be Peace On Earth
5. O Come All Ye Faithful
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. O Holy Night
8. What Child Is This
9. Silent Night
10. Christmas Mornings
11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
12. White Christmas
Richard Marx – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Backing Vocals
Jerry McPherson – Guitar
Matt Scannell – Guitar
Mark Hill – Bass
Steve Brewster – Drums
Will Sayles – Drums
Michael Omartian – Piano
Jason Webb – Piano
Kenny Loggins – Lead Vocals (“Let There Be Peace On Earth”)
Sara Watkins – Lead Vocals (“Silent Night”)
Sara Niemitz – Lead Vocals (“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”)
Producer: Richard Marx
I’m a sucker for Christmas albums and Christmas in general. I don’t care who knows it. I’m also a sucker for Richard Marx. Great voice, great songwriter, he’s written some of the greatest rock/pop songs of all time. Everyone should at least own one of his greatest hits compilations.
Anyway, when I found out Richard Marx was releasing a Christmas album, I knew I had to check this out. There are some artists that toss out a holiday album as a cheap & lazy way to cash in on the holiday cheer of an unsuspecting public but that’s not what we get with Christmas Spirit. To be fair though, “Christmas Spirit”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” & “Alleluia” all appeared on Marx’s The Christmas EP in 2011.
The album is named after one of the album’s original Marx-penned songs. And it’s a good one. In fact, “Christmas Spirit” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s upbeat and sounds like something that could’ve come from Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album. It’s a contemporary Christmas classic, in my opinion. The second original track, “Christmas Mornings”, sounds like a classic Marx ballad to me.
The rest of the album is full of holiday standards which are sometimes played traditionally and sometimes not. “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” becomes even more of a haunting ballad in the hands of Richard Marx. There are now two truly great versions of this song: Bing Crosby’s and now Richard Marx’s. “Little Drummer Boy” is another song that has received a soft rock/pop makeover. This is really the only song on the album I find myself skipping over. It’s way too “light” sounding for me (and, yes, I know I’m discussing Christmas songs here).
Other songs such as “The Christmas Song”, “White Christmas”, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are played pretty faithfully but still done quite well. I don’t mind hearing traditional Christmas songs played straight. For me, it has more to do with who is singing the song and it’s great hearing Richard Marx put his stamp on these timeless classics.
Christmas Spirit is a new holiday classic that is sure to get a lot more play in my house around the holidays as the years go on. Even radio seems to agree with me as I’ve already heard “Little Drummer Boy” numerous times on one of the local stations that is playing Christmas songs up until the New Year. I think they’ve played “Christmas Spirit” as well. The album is well worth picking up.
There is also an exclusive edition at Target that includes four bonus tracks: “Blue Christmas”, “Silver Bells”, “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.
Highlights: “The Christmas Song”, “Christmas Spirit”, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Christmas Mornings”, “White Christmas”
Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World
(2012, Universal Music Enterprises)
1. Wide Awake
2. Our Ship’s Sinking
3. I Hate Myself
4. You & Me
6. A Sign of Life
7. My Last Heartbeat
9. Love Screws Me Up
10. I Found You
12. One Way Street
Rick Springfield – Lead Vocals, Guitar
George Bernhardt – Guitar
Tim Pierce – Guitar
Dan Strain – Guitar
Matt Bissonette – Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Rodger Carter -Drums
George Nastos – Guitar
Richard Page – Vocals
John Waite – Vocals
Producer: Rick Springfield & Matt Bissonette
One of the biggest surprises of the year for me has been Songs for the End of the World. Sure, I know a handful of Rick Springfield’s hit and while I’ve never had a problem with them, I never felt truly compelled to seek out any of his albums. Well, I was aware this album was coming out but still wasn’t too interested in checking it out. Then I came across some extremely high praise for this album online and decided that I needed to see what the big deal was. My conclusion? This is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.
Now, I’m not someone who has followed Rick Springfield throughout his career so perhaps his fanbase already knew what to expect from Rick but for anyone who remembers him for “Jessie’s Girl’ and being an ’80s heartthrob on a soap opera, there is nothing retro or ’80s about this album. Springfield has crafted a near perfect masterpiece of modern rock/pop with Songs for the End of the World. If this album had been released by an artist half (or a third) his age, we’d probably have some big radio hits to talk about here. Sadly, that’s not how the music business works these days but at 63 years old, Rick’s voice is fantastic, the lyrics are excellent, the production is amazingly well done and the songs themselves dig their way into your brain and decide to make themselves at home.
If Rick’s back catalog is even half as good as this album, I’ve really really been missing out. I’ve seen a number of critics online stating this is easily his best album since returning to recording music in 1999 and some sites are even going as far to say it’s one of his best albums PERIOD.
The first four tracks are outstanding: “Wide Awake” is a great opener, “Our Ship’s Sinking” and “I Hate Myself” are fantastic anthems that should go over HUGE with a live crowd and “You & Me” is the type of pop/rock ballad that should be all over radio.
“My Last Heartbeat”, “Depravity”, “I Found You” all have a very modern, dark heavier edge to them. “I Found You” especially. A band of twenty-somethings should wish they could write this good. “Love Screws Me Up” is yet another classic anthem that is sure to go down great in a live setting.
“One Way Street” and “A Sign of Life” are good songs but they are the only songs that song a bit less modern but not in a “oh, that sounds like an ’80s song” kind of way. Maybe “timeless” is the correct word? The only two tracks that fall flat with me are the ballads “Joshua” and “Gabriel”. I just can’t get into ’em.
If you’re a fan of melodic rock, you really have to pick this album up. I’m converted based off this album alone.
Highlights: “Wide Awake”, “Our Ship’s Sinking”, “I Hate Myself”, “You & Me”, “My Last Heartbeat”, “Love Screws Me Up”, “I Found You”, “Depravity”