A quarter century of Mannheim's Christmas sounds
Reviewed December 2009
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas 25th Anniversary Collection
By Mannheim Steamroller
American Gramaphone: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
It's hard to remember that Mannheim Steamroller wasn't always synonymous with holiday releases, that the project of Chip Davis used to release non-Christmas albums. In fact, along with Tangerine Dream, the Steamroller was one of the first electronica New Age acts, back in the mid-'70s, releasing a series of albums titled "Fresh Aire."
But once the first Mannheim Steamroller holiday release, "Christmas 1984," sold 5 million copies back in 1984 ... well, beginning in the early '90s Davis has been content to reserve the Mannheim Steamroller moniker strictly for his holiday projects, releasing nearly everything else under his own name.
For those who delight in Mannheim Steamroller's steampunk mix of lush orchestration and modern electronic sounds, this new two-disc "best of" collection will be a fave, collecting as it does tracks from the more than a dozen holiday sets issued since that first one a quarter-century ago.
Their distinctive version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is here, as is the guest spot Johnny Mathis did for a lovely reading of "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts").
There may even be a new track or two in here the liner notes don't credit which albums these tracks are drawn from. If you've already got all their Christmas albums, this might be overkill. But for those who love hearing Mannheim Steamroller on the radio each holiday, this set is not only introduction but probably as complete a collection as you need.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).