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This holiday season, music lovers will have a lot to celebrate, because The Blind Boys of Alabama and Taj Mahal will be Talkin' Christmas!
Talkin' Christmas! is a summit meeting of two American music icons. It includes new versions of Christmas standards, covers of hidden gospel gems and seven brand-new holiday songs, six of which are the first Christmas songs ever penned by the Blind Boys themselves.
The new original songs include the title track "Talkin' Christmas!," a funky tribute to the power of Christmas featuring Money Mark on keyboards, and the compassionate "What Can I Do?," which features Taj Mahal on vocals and is one of two songwriting collaborations with Stax Records soul legend William Bell. The album also features a hand-clapping rearrangement of the usually-slower classic "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and a refreshingly intimate, acoustic version of "Silent Night."
This is one you've gotta cue up for all you end-of-year holiday events and parties.
This first-ever Blind Boys x Taj Mahal album collaboration was a joy for Taj. "There are just some wonderful tunes that allow me to find a totally different way to play on this album," said Taj Mahal. "It's exciting to be a part of something that is such incredible music."
The album also finds the Blind Boys back at the historic Capitol Studios in Hollywood and reunited with producer Chris Goldsmith and engineer Jimmy Hoyson, who have been associated with all five of the Blind Boys previous Grammy-winning projects.
The analog recording techniques and "live band" approach to the tracks capture an organic blues-meets-gospel sound that is hard to find among the average highly-produced Christmas-season fare.
With Mahal fully integrated into the musical landscape of the album on guitar, banjo, ukulele, harmonica and lending his vocals, Talkin' Christmas! is an inspired meeting of two musical giants. The result is a refreshingly humble approach to the holidays, focusing on the true spirit of the season with pure joy, great voices and the 'all-are-welcome' message that has been the signature of the Blind Boys' albums in recent years.
"A lot of Christmas music is focused on Santa Claus and what gifts we might get during the holidays," said founding Blind Boy Jimmy Carter. "We wanted to bring the emphasis back to what Christmas is really all about, a celebration of God's unconditional love, which is demonstrated every year when millions of people do nice things for others instead of thinking only about themselves. When you think about it, the kind of love for others that Christmas brings out is the real miracle of the season."
|1. Do You Hear What I Hear|
|2. Christ Was Born on Christmas|
|3. What Can I Do|
|4. Talkin’ Christmas|
|5. Merry Christmas to You|
|6. Silent Night|
|7. There’s a Reason We Call it Christmas|
|8. The Sun is Rising|
|9. No Room in the Inn|
|10. Jesus Was Born|
|11. Who Will Remember|
|12. Merry Christmas!|