Darlene Love, whose full-bodied voice has graced songs for The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and a host of other luminaries has entered the Christmas season of 2007 with her own collection of Christmas covers from later periods, and not earlier classics re-rendered. Instead, she sifts through songs like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” “Christmas Must Be Tonight,” an outtake from The Band, “2000 Miles,” from The Pretenders, and “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas,” by the gospel band, The Staples Singers.
It’s Christmas, Of Course from Darlene Love is a newer tack on holiday songs. Straying from the traditionals like “Silent Night,” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” as well as wintry favourites like “Jingle Bells,” and “Frosty the Snowman,” Love angles with pop/rock star creations from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Selecting known but little used material as the basis of her first Christmas album is a bit of a gamble as many folks have a penchant for those old classics. Newer creations are nice but need years to nurture, many never gaining much in the way of respect.
Darlene Love hopes to remedy that with her ‘off the cuff’ release of holiday music as she puts her rich vocal touch onto many of those newer songs. “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” a song that has gained plenty of respect and is quite prevalent even today, is done very well here. She makes the song musically interesting after her vocals have finished singing in a gospel style, and, in a sense reinventing the song.
All of the songs carry a definite R&B flavour and are nicely done. If you’re in the mood for something a little different in the way of holiday music, then Darlene Love renditions of XTC, Stevie Wonder, Billy Squier, John Lennon, NRBQ, Tom Petty, and The Staples Singers songs could be what makes your Christmas time shine a little brighter.