Personnel: Carly Simon (vocals, acoustic guitar); Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Billy Preston (vocals, Hammond B-3 organ); Judd Miller (acoustic guitar, mandolin); Dean Parks (acoustic guitar); Mark Goldenberg (electric guitar); Joel Shearer (dobro); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Rob Mathes, Adam MacDougal (piano); Benmont Tench (Wurlitzer piano); Deron Johnson (keyboards, synthesizer); Chris Chaney (bass); Jim Keltner (drums); Arnold McCuller, Ben Taylor (background vocals).
Recorded at Parr Audio, Martha's Vineyard, Maryland & The Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills, California. Includes liner notes by Carly Simon.
Personnel: Carly Simon (vocals, acoustic guitar); Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Burt Bacharach (vocals, piano); Ben Taylor , Billy Preston (vocals); Joel Shearer (guitar, acoustic guitar); Judd Fuller (acoustic guitar, mandolin); Dean Parks (acoustic guitar); Mark Goldenberg (electric guitar, 12-string guitar); Andreas Vollenweider (harp); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Adam MacDougal, Rob Mathes (piano); Benmont Tench (Wurlitzer organ); Deron Johnson (synthesizer); Jim Keltner (drums).
Audio Mixers: Don Was; Ed Cherney ; Jim Parr; Carly Simon.
Liner Note Author: Carly Simon.
Recording information: Carole's Studio; Martha's Vineyard, MA; Parr Audio, Martha's Vineyard, MA; The Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.
Photographers: Max S. Gerber; Peter Simon; D?de D?rst.
Arranger: Carly Simon.
Christmas albums by major veteran pop stars long past their commercial prime are usually not highlights of their catalogs, and for the most part this isn't an exception. There are, too, some of the failings common to these kinds of projects: unmemorable treatments of songs that have been heard too often (like "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night") and some bland, middle-of-the-road arrangements. Yet for at least some of the time, this is definitely an above-average holiday offering. Don Was' presence as co-producer ensures some creativity and diversity to the sound, as do the contributions of top session players like Jim Keltner, Billy Preston, and Benmont Tench. Simon's vocals are strong, and most surprisingly, one of the two originals, "The Land of Christmas (Mary)," is not only pretty straight-ahead and gutsy, but sounds a lot better than most of the contemporary material she did on her secular records in the 1980s and 1990s. Some mild blues gospel overtones make it into "Twelve Gates to the City" (the one song to feature Billy Preston, on organ and vocals), and a reggae beat is set to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." A couple of unclich?d selections make it into the program with Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper" (on which Nelson himself duets with Simon) and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)." It's not an exciting release by any means, but it's not as immediately forgettable as many holiday efforts by similar performers are. ~ Richie Unterberger