Blue Rodeo – A Merrie Christmas To You

A gift from my lovely wife for this year’s Christmas, I am a bit torn. I surely do love me some Blue Rodeo. But I don’t tend to like Christmas music. How will I do with this one?

First up is Jesus Christ, a Big Star song. I’m not an overly religious guy, but I can respect those who believe in this stuff. It’s an OK tune, nice to hear Greg Keelor’s voice, as usual. The tune plods a bit, but no matter. A decent opener.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas  is next, and the boys keep it soft and gentle. Simple arrangement, low-key instruments and a great piano part. Jim Cuddy’s voice stands out on top, and that’s a great thing, here.

Up next is Merle Haggard’s If We Make It Through December. Blue Rodeo was built to play this song, and it’s a pleasing country run through. Gotta love Merle.

We move on to Joni Mitchell’s River, with its Jingle Bells teaser intro. This really is a beautiful version. Pretty hard to muck up a Joni song, they’re built strong.

And now it’s my favourite-titled Christmas tune of all time, O Come All Ye Faithful. Yes, ye faithful, come as often as ye can! Give ‘er! Ahem. Anyway, they rock this hymn up, Blue Rodeo style. Cool enough but I’m not likely to play it much. I have lots of other songs of theirs built like this that don’t have a church hymn as the lyrics.

Now we’re hearing Paul Simon’s Getting Ready For Christmas Day. You should know, I generally dislike Paul Simon’s music. And it’s a Christmas song. That’s two heavy strikes against it. And how is it? It’s a fairly straight-on rock tune with lots of the BR instrumental accents, but it doesn’t change much so it’s a bit monotonous. It’s alright.

Now we have a remake of Glad To Be Alive (from Palace Of Gold). It sounds like… well, it sounds like Blue Rodeo. Imagine that! Very nice, it’s one I’d play again. I don’t own Palace Of Gold, but I surely should. [I’m actually missing several of their albums, so I need to get on that!]

And here is a new song written for this collection, Home To You This Christmas, and it’s Jim Cuddy in front of a mid-tempo BR song, with piano and steel guitar accents. This is actually quite awesome. Even the “doo doo doo doo” solo at the end, haha!

Gordon Lightfoot’s Song For A Winter’s Night has a special place in our lives, at our house. It was one of the songs that would help our daughter calm down when she was a baby and we had to put her in the car and drive her around to get her to sleep. Keelor makes a decent job of it. I can still only hear Gord’s version. The song is so GORD, a cover seems almost superfluous. Still, good on them for including it.

And last is Robbie Robertson’s Christmas Must Be Tonight, which they turn into a Blue Rodeo song, basically. Again with the Jesus in the manger lyrics, but there you go, that was Mr. Robertson’s choice.

In Sum:

The boys are stronger on their own stuff. Some of the covers are good, some just OK, but one still gets the sense they’re aware it’s a cover tune so they’re approaching it that way. Yes, they make them sound like themselves (how could they not), but it’s when they’re playing stuff they’ve written where they really stretch their legs and sound comfortable. I (personally) still have a hard time with the Christmas side of it. I just don’t go there with all those bible stories. Again, that’s my own lack of need for it, you’re all welcome to believe whatever you like.

This is a very good CD. Reading this back myself, I may have seemed a little critical of it, but as I prefaced this whole thing, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas music to begin with, so that is a factor here. And you have to know by now that even fair-to-middling Blue Rodeo is ten times better than a lot of other music that’s out there. These guys are a superlative band, there’s no questioning their abilities as players. I liked this, but I’ll probably reach for other BR first.  Maybe next Christmas I’ll give it another spin!

19 thoughts on “Blue Rodeo – A Merrie Christmas To You

  1. mikeladano says:

    I’m loving this. I’m surprised by the remake of Glad To Be Alive, I’m not sure why? Maybe they felt the song fit the theme of the album, so go for it?

    I think my favourite song is Oh Come All Ye Faithful. They totally made it a rockier Blue Rodeo song, and I like how they threw in some classic rock hooks in there.

    The only shame is that I really like this album a lot, but I’m likely to only play it a couple times a year. Too bad.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Maybe the GTBA was just them being thankful to still be doing what they’re doing after everything, and after this long.

      Yeah the OCAYF is cool, but the content still hurts my head. Again, personal preference.

      Yeah, it’s definitely seasonal. Ah well, maybe them getting together to do this has lead to other ideas getting recorded and sooner rather than later we’ll have another WHOLE NEW ALBUM OF NEW SONGS! That would be optimal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mikeladano says:

        I’m sure these guys are constantly writing new music. Look how prolific they’ve been. Their last studio album was only 2013 and somehow I’ve forgotten it. I have it here but I can’t remember a thing about it. I have found their output, post Palace of Gold, to be not as memorable. That double album aside. That thing kicked ass.


            1. keepsmealive says:

              I can’t even imagine reviewing some of those old classic records. Good luck to you!

              I feel like a bad Canadian, not owning all of their records. It’d be like… not owning all of the Sloan or Hip, or something equally unimaginable!


              1. mikeladano says:

                It’s understandable though because they have SO MANY records. The classic first five are all musts, beyond that it can get a little murky.

                However I MUST recommend their double live “Just Like A Vacation” as essential; like that 4 Nights is essential for that first period of Sloan. Any Blue Rodeo live albums are worth having.


                1. keepsmealive says:

                  Thing is, I like murky! I always like to try to figure out what a band was trying to achieve on records like that!

                  I definitely like the sounds of the live album. Looks like I have a new project for the New Year! A BR blitz!


                  1. mikeladano says:

                    Two of my favourite BR records are “murky” perhaps and they all kind of sprouted from the early 90’s Five Days in July period. The sessions spawned songs for the next two albums Nowhere To Here and Tremolo, and both are very hard to penetrate. And also completely different from one another except that they share a similar 60’s-70’s meandering jam feel. And those are my favourite two Blue Rodeo records. Tremolo is probably my #1 currently.


                    1. keepsmealive says:

                      Well, I was just digging in the ol’ iTunes, and I stand corrected. I have everything up to FDIJ (thanks to you), this new Christmas one, and The Days In Between. Nowhere To Here and Tremolo are not here, and nothing of the later years. It’s OK, I think I can grab ’em up fairly quickly! 😉

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. mikeladano says:

                      The Days in Between was the first Blue Rodeo I failed to fall in love with. But maybe you will? Worth a shot!

                      I’ll have to get you that double live. In fact, leave it to me: I want to be the one to get it for you, OK?


                    3. mikeladano says:

                      Haha yup! Just like you are responsible for my double live Rollins, I want to pay it back…double live Blue Rodeo will be a gift from me…I wanna be responsible for that 🙂 It’s soooooo goooooood.


                    4. keepsmealive says:

                      Well sir that is a beautiful thing, my many thanks in heaps! If it comes that highly recommended from Lebrain (par with the Palais Sloan? DAMN!), it’s gonna be surely welcomed here! Man that Rollins live is so damn good – can I imagine the BR is a little less punishing? Hahaha!


                    5. keepsmealive says:

                      Well, to be fair, it may not take too much, these days, to get Neil to poop his pants. Haha! I love those songs where the guitar stretches out and gets all Neil… I can only imagine how awesome that’d be in a live setting!

                      Mentioning the Christmas thing, I saw that they packaged the new one with the Greatest Hits disc, must’ve been a Christmas promo…


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