Blackmore's Night
Winter Carols


3.5
great

Review

by Divaman USER (166 Reviews)
December 14th, 2016 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "It's Christmas Eve/Bells will ring/Through the town we gather to sing."

There's something about Medieval and Renaissance music that feels naturally connected to Christmas. It's probably the combination of the flutes and recorders, the gentle acoustic strings, and the tambourines and bells. Whatever the reason, it's definitely true that Christmas songs and albums seem to come more organically to folk rock bands such as Jethro Tull, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, who already have one foot in the Renaissance world, than they do to most of their harder-rocking brethren. So sooner or later, it was inevitable that Blackmore's Night, a band that was conceived specifically to pay homage to the Renaissance era, would try their hand at a Christmas album.

Blackmore's Night, for the uninitiated, came into being when British guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore, known for his work in such bands as Deep Purple and Rainbow, met former radio deejay Candice Night, and they discovered that they had a mutual affection for the days of knights and fair maidens. They released their first album, Shadow of the Moon, in 1997, and have since gone on to create ten studio albums and various live and compilation albums, all to a greater or lesser degree heavily influenced by music of the Renaissance period. Winter Carols, their sixth studio album, was released in 2006.

So how did they do? Pretty damned well, in my opinion. I rated the album 3.5 out of 5 stars, which according to the big book of Sputnik means "Great". And although David Letterman is no longer on the air (and to be honest, I wasn't that into him when he was), here is my Top Ten list of the Top Ten Reasons for why I gave Winter Carols a "Great" rating:

1. I love Christmas music. Always have and always will. I have an extensive collection of Christmas albums, and inevitably, I play some more than others. This is one I make sure I listen to every holiday season.

2. The clear, beautiful voice of Candice Night. I just can never say enough about her vocals. Yes, her voice is powerful, but it's also exquisitely lovely and precise. Even during live performances, she tends to be note perfect, so naturally her recorded work is always spot on, and oh so appealing.

3. The magical instrumentation of Ritchie Blackmore. He plays a variety of (mostly acoustic) stringed instruments on this album, including guitar, mandola, nyckelharpa and hurdy-gurdy, and he even provides some of the percussion. Here's a guy who is a genuine rock guitar god who obviously loves to demonstrate that he's as proficient on quieter acoustic numbers as he is playing heavy rock riffs.

4. Night and Blackmore have a fine backing band on this album, including both Pat Regan and Bard David of Larchmont (aka David Baronowsky) on keyboards, Sir Robert of Normandy (Robert Curiano) on bass, the Sisters of the Moon, Lady Madeline (Madeline Posner) and Lady Nancy (Nancy Posner) on harmony vocals, Sarah Steiding on violin, Anton Fig (who used to play in David Letterman's band, see, I knew we'd make a David Letterman connection somewhere) on drums, Albert Dannemann on bagpipes (God, I love bagpipes!), and Dannemann, Ian Robertson and Jim Mannguard on backing vocals.

5. Beautiful cover artwork by Karsten Topelmann. The picture is an adaptation of a snow-covered street in Rothenburg ob dur Tauber, Germany, and you can practically feel the warmth of the fireplaces emanating from die Häuser idyllisch (that's "the picturesque houses" in English. I think. Hope you're impressed, because it took me twenty minutes to look that up).

6. Being old school (or at least middle school, since I replaced most of my original vinyl), I tend to own most of my albums on CD, keeping only the ones I like best on my iPod. For Winter's Carols, I've currently got eight of the 12 songs from the original CD release on it. Two-thirds likes isn't too shabby.

7. A nifty original Christmas song in "Christmas Eve". It's nothing too fancy, just a catchy little ditty, but as a lover of Christmas music, I can tell you that I love it when someone adds a decent new song to the twenty or so classics that get played repeatedly every year. And unlike, say, that wretched country song about buying Mama some shoes so she'll look pretty when she meets Jesus, this one is actually respectable. Plus, as an added bonus, they throw in "Winter (basse dance)", one of those graceful little instrumental originals that Blackmore's Night seems to tack on to each of their albums.

8. A slow, poignant cover of "Emmanuel" with a quiet, elegant vocal by Night, who also adds some shawm (a medieval woodwind instrument) to the mix, plus some dandy acoustic stylings by Blackmore.

9. A few unusual covers, including "Ding Dong Merrily on High", a traditional song that isn't one of those twenty or so usual Christmas songs that I mentioned earlier, and a medley of "Lord of the Dance", which you usually only hear on albums of Celtic music (even though it's based on an American Shaker hymn) and "Simple Gifts", which is an old Shaker dance song. And finally, the tenth reason why I rated Winter Carols a three-and-a-half out five:

10. I love eggnog. OK, I admit it. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the album. But you can't have a Top Ten list with only nine points, so cut me some slack here.

Anyway, if you hate Christmas music, this album obviously won't do anything for you. However, if you love Christmas melodies like I do, and you also tend to enjoy folksy, Celticy, Renaissancy types of music, you should really add this to the mix of stuff you listen to while putting up your tree and hanging up your stockings. Just ask David Letterman!



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user ratings (8)
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
manosg
Emeritus
December 14th 2016


12709 Comments


Always nice to read a Blackmore's Night review and a very enjoyable one. Great job Diva, pos.

I will definitely jam this one again these days as it is one of my favorite Christmas albums.

e210013
December 14th 2016


5205 Comments


It's very nice to see this reviewed here. I always was a great fan of Ritchie Blackmore and of a beautiful female voice. Here we have the two main ingredients. And, like you, I always loved Christmas time and especially Christmas music. So, I'm very pleased that you mentioned on your recommendations by the reviewer the album of Anderson, "The Jethro Tull Chrsitmas Album". Especially in this ocasion, after all, we are in Christmas time. I also liked your references about Jethro Tull, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and especially about Medieval and Renaissance music. I always loved those historical periods, maybe because I'm an European, which is not your case, I think, despite your love about those times.

About the album, I'm not sure about the quality of it to rate it in this moment. I must confess that I have a CD copy of it, but I'm not sure about it, because I don't listen to it, for a long time. Anyway, I promise to listen to it, soon as I can. But as you can see, with three or four reviewes per week and my professional and personal life is really hard to me to do that.

However, I read and I liked your review. I think it represents a question of good taste to review an album like this, a Christmas album with an undeniable musical quality brought by Ritchie and Candice, as far as I remember.

Cheers bro and have a great pos and a great Christmas time. Merry Christmas.

Divaman
December 14th 2016


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys, and Merry Christmas to you both.



Yes, e, as you can guess, The Jethro Tull Christmas album is another one I enjoy every year. You're right, I'm American, not European, but I've always enjoyed Elizabethan and Renaissance music, and the majority of my favorite bands are British.

e210013
December 14th 2016


5205 Comments


Great man, as you my favourite bands are British prog bands too, despite I'm not British. You're not European but I'm sure your roots are probably European. Anyway, you certainly are a fruit of Western Culture, a son of the Christian/Jewish civilization, like me.

DungeonBoy
December 14th 2016


9726 Comments


Very good review! I'm familiar with Blackmore and I love Christmas music. Listening to this now. It's very cheerful and enjoyable, my parents would really like this as well.

Divaman
December 14th 2016


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah e, I'm a mixture of Irish, German and Welsh. Haven't been to Germany or Wales, unfortunately -- I'd love to take one of those Rhine River cruises, but maybe someday.



Thanks Dungeon Boy. Yes, Blackmore's Night is definitely parent-friendly.

Jethro42
December 14th 2016


18281 Comments


Yeah, this is a well crafted Christmas album. ''Wish You Were Here'' is one of the first Blackmore's Night songs I've heard. I was surprised to hear that one here. Song is from their first album, I just saw it. I've already heard couple of their latest albums, but I still have to relisten in order to rate them.

Great job on the review, Divaman, and Merry Christmas!

e210013
December 14th 2016


5205 Comments


@ Divaman

Yeah, I'd love to take one of those Rhine River cruises too. I'd never been in Ireland or Wales too, but I've been in Germany already, Berlin and Dresden. Berlin is a fantastic city to go, I recommend it very strongly. You can see pratically all European history of 20th century in only one place. It leaves us a very strong feeling about the things that appeared in the world in those btimes, I mean WW II and the Berlin wall and its fall. Unforgettable, indeed. If you can, don't lose that trip.

Divaman
December 14th 2016


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Interesting story, e, I was actually at a Jethro Tull concert in New Jersey on the night the Berlin Wall fell. My friend who I saw the concert with and I were just talking about it last night, and how we both said we'd always remember where we were that night. It was Tull's "Rock Island" tour.



Been to Europe twice, once a cruise mostly to different spots in Italy (although we briefly made it to Cannes, Monaco, Barcelona and Dubrovnik), the other on a trip through Scotland and Ireland.

Divaman
December 14th 2016


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Jethro. A very Merry Christmas to you too.

manosg
Emeritus
December 14th 2016


12709 Comments


"the other on a trip through Scotland and Ireland."

Lived in Scotland for a year and it was fantastic. Beautiful country and great people. I can only imagine that Ireland is beautiful as well.

Divaman
December 14th 2016


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

They both are, though in slightly different ways. Edinburgh was amazing. Lots of climbing up steps, though. Really would have liked to have caught some live music in Glascow, but we were there for way too short a time.

manosg
Emeritus
December 14th 2016


12709 Comments


haha yes, true that with Edinburgh and the steps. I also loved Inverness, so much beauty and very atmospheric.

e210013
December 14th 2016


5205 Comments


Fantastic, Divaman. Great rememberings and places too, I'm pretty sure about that.

I always thought that Scotalnd is a very special place. Nice to you manosg.

manosg
Emeritus
December 14th 2016


12709 Comments


Thank you e21.



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