December People attempt twist on holiday playlist again

December People
Rattle & Humbug
Magna Carta (MA-9125-2)
Grade: ***

By Michael Popke

Somewhere between traditional Christmas carols and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra reside the December People. They’ve been hiding for nine years, which is when they first turned holiday music into prog epics on 2001’s “Sounds Like Christmas.” Now, on “Rattle & Humbug,” group leader and journeyman bassist/vocalist Robert Berry returns with musicians whose resumes include Sammy Hagar, Boston, Y&T and the Tubes to rework such classics as “Carol of the Bells,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “What Child Is This” to sound like Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and U2.

The arrangements seem too contrived, though, with Magna Carta’s website actually listing the artist that most influenced each rendition. As if we couldn’t figure that out ourselves: “Joy To the World (Jingle Bells)” incorporates The Who’s famous intro to “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/The First Noel” opens the same way as Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time.”

That said, this is bound to put a twist on any holiday playlist. Pass the cheese, please.


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