Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas on Highway 101 DVD - Highway 101

Excellent country versions of classic Christmas songs

Christmas on Highway 101 DVD
Artist: Highway 101
Uptone Pictures and Pure Flix Entertainment (www.pureflix.com/highway101)
Running time: Approximately one hour

Christmas on Highway 101 by the country music group Highway 101 features excellent pop renditions of classic and inspirational Christmas songs. These are highly accessible versions of “Joy to the World,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Holy Night,” “Six Gold Coins,” “Away in a Manger,” “Let it Snow,” “We Three Kings,” and “Jingle Bells.”

This production has the band miming studio recordings at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina. The only exception is a brief live version of “Let it Snow” performed around a piano. “Six Gold Coins” is an original song that tells a story, which is fleshed-out by actors in a music video. The setting for the other songs is the lodge, which is beautifully decorated with lights, trees and ornamentation.

In between the songs, band members share brief and humorous Christmas recollections. Old home movies and scenes of Christmas lights are also woven into the stories. The tone is upbeat throughout. The band members are relaxed and clearly enjoying the opportunity to do this project.

The studio recordings sound superb, but watching the band perform to the tracks can be slightly distracting if you notice any syncing that is off. It’s well-done, but I wonder if playing the songs live would have been better.

The content does not delve much into the spiritual side of the holiday aside from the songs, which speak for themselves. It’s definitely family-friendly, suitable for all ages.

Wynonna Judd makes a curious cameo (she is seen for just a few seconds) and does not sing.

Highway 101 has been together for over 22 years, winning two CMA Awards and two ACM Awards for Vocal Group of the Year along the way. They have been on Billboard’s Country Chart more than 15 times. Best of all, they make these Christmas songs instantly likeable with a country flavor that sounds fresh.
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