december 2008

The Charlie Daniels Band
Released: 2002

All Charlie Daniels had to do to look like Santa Claus for the cover shot of his 2002 Christmas album was to put on the red suit. The music this right jolly old elf produces here is for the most part suitably mellow, good humored and always deeply felt. "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Christmas Song" get languorous treatments featuring Charlie in his most engaging crooner's mode with his long-time ace keyboardist Taz DiGregorio adding a some bluesy fills along the way. Never one to be contained for too long, though, Charlie and company cut loose a couple of times with some blazing Southern rock, most impressively on a fierce interpretation of "Blue Christmas" and on Charlie's self-penned, album closing mean woman blues, "It's Bad to Have the Blues (At Christmas Time)," both songs featuring stinging, protesting slide guitars wailing all around Charlie's gritty, gutsy vocals. These are effective changes of pace, but the reflective moments are the ones that linger in memory, none moreso than a striking instrumental version of "What Child Is This," with Charlie supplying an evocative acoustic guitar lead over a somber orchestral backing. Good work by one and all on this most worthy addition to the country Christmas canon.—David McGee

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024