on June 10, 2003
I would actually give this album four-and-a-half stars. Barbra's second Christmas album (her first was 1967's masterpiece A CHIRSTMAS ALBUM) is not only one of the best holiday recordings in recent memory, but it is also Streisand's best studio album in years - even a notch above her trio of excellent albums released in the nineties. She avoided the typical holiday sap that ruins most Christmas fare, and selected a series of intelligently-written songs that are a perfect complement for her voice and singing style.
The production (largely by Streisand and William Ross) is more tasteful and inventive than anything she's done since the mid-eighties, and her voice sounds fantastic. Along with 2000's live TIMELESS, I would say that Barbra's voice hasn't sounded this lovely since 1985's THE BROADWAY ALBUM. Barbra expertly covers some Christmas standards ("I'll Be Home For Christmas," "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?"), as well as some perfectly selected lessor-known material ("Snowbound," the semi-title track "Christmas Mem'ries"). Two of the best songs come at the very end - newly-written "Closer" (which puts a different spin on Christmas time and relationships) and the thrilling, timely "One God" (which Streisand originally on a 1950's Johnny Mathis record). Barbra even manages to add another Stephen Sondheim composition ("I'll Remember," a brilliant recording) to her ever-growing cannon of the composers work.
Fans responded to the disc, sending to #15 on the Hot 100 (very impressive for a Christmas recording) and all the way to #3 on the Seasonal Album Chart. The album was certified Platinum in sales before the end of the year, and even managed to spawn a minor radio hit with the delightful "It Must Have Been The Mistletoe" (#24 Adult Contemporary). Considering that all of the songs are slow to mid-tempo, CHRISTMAS MEMORIES has a more vulnerable, poignant feeling that most holiday albums lack. A very beautiful, somber recording, CHRISTMAS MEMORIES is exactly what we needed in winter of 2001.
on April 3, 2003
Hmmm... Don't understand what anyone would have against the concept of UNITY and the idea of us all being under ONE God in one of the reviews here. I personally stated that I didn't expect 2 religious type songs on what was supposed to be a "pop" album about Christmas, but since they are there, I think the idea of our all being "One", and not separated should be even more enforced.... not RESENTED even in a song... as seemed to be the case....
And yes, I do agree if one wants a more religious Christmas album, that they SHOULD look elsewhere as was suggested. Anyone who would pick up this collection of songs instead, would be forewarned just by reading the list of songs, and reviews and promos, so why resent that there aren't MORE religion oriented songs! I knew I was going to be stuck with two of them before even having the album, but to expect even MORE songs like that on an album that isn't being offered as such a genre, is irrational...
Now, Off the beaten path for a moment.... Does anyone recall Barbra in her Timeless concert making an intro to the song "Alfie" about having sat in a car hearing it being sung by a female artist, and finding it a lovely song, wondering why she never recorded it..... then later when investigating, found that it WAS she herself singing that very song on the car radio. Does anyone find that insincere and ingenious. HOW can anyone not recognize their own voice.... especially a PROFESSIONAL SINGER, and one of this magnitude, whom everyone in the entire WORLD can instantly identify by just her first few notes! Just a little fib conjured up by her writers, perhaps? One large strike against Barbra which insults the public's intelligence in expecting us to have believed such a story.
on January 29, 2003
I bought this cd when my former boyfriend was visiting me here in milan during Christmas time 2001.
I thought it would have been nice having a christmas songs compilation to listen to and to fit the moment.
Turns out on this package there are not many conventional christmas songs i know of (they mostly appear on her first holiday season's album, but i'd find that later on).
Even more so, this album has become a true memories-filled CD whenever i take a listen to it these days.
I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is the sweetest tune off the album, you won't help but snuggling closer to each other on the couch as soon as the melody strikes...
IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE is truly a Christmas uptempo, if ever there was a definition like that.
We listened to it while a raging snowstorm was going on outside our bedroom window...and we really did have a snowball fight on the following day...so much for an inspirational song!
CLOSER and ONE are the two previously unreleased track of this set.
They both have very deep, meaningful lyrics and a gentle melody.
You will be falling in love with the piano background of the former.
Despite my reasons of liking this album, i do believe all of you will find reasons to like it as well..
on January 14, 2003
Shame she doesn't even like Christians.
on January 3, 2003
I've been a Barbra listener for 20 years or so now, but her latest albums have had me running in the other direction, often screaming as loud as Babs herself. "Higher Ground" was, to me, absolutely unlistenable, and "A Love like Ours" featured fine singing but drippy, dippy, sappy songs with treacly lyrics. I got this CD unsure of what to expect.
First, the good news - with some exceptions, this CD is not "oversung" as her recent works have been ("Ave Maria" is a notable exception, and a sheer MESS that set my teeth on edge.) While I was pleased to hear some different "Christmas-y" songs and not the usual suspects, I once again found myself questioning Streisand's taste on a couple songs. "The "Snowbound" song and the title track I felt were pretty lame. "Closer" and "One God" were a little better, but not terrific.
Two standouts are "Grown up Christmas List" (given the best treatment I've heard, head and shoulders above Amy Grant, Natalie Cole, etc.) and the slightly rewritten Sondheim tune "I Remember." Barbra sounds gorgeous on this song, except for one note where, inexplicably, you hear a little throat scrape. What's that all about? Also there's an odd microphone (or voice) click at the very beginning of the ghastly "Ave Maria". With Barbra's record for perfectionism, I was shocked to hear these two very distracting moments! I'd like to think she's easing up on the control with passing years, but who knows?
At any rate, diehard Barbra fans will and must get this (and no doubt already own it). As for the rest of us, it's not truly horrible - the two songs I like will definitely get put on a Christmas tape, with a few more songs that may be included. Not a disaster or a joke, like Neil Diamond's god-awful Christmas disc - but not great either.
on December 30, 2002
This follow up to Barbra's first Christmas album comes years later, 34 years after the first one. A lot has changed here, Barbra's voice is more burnished, the album richly orchestrated, the theme here romance. The songs are not all traditional, one song, "I Remember," is a Stephen Sondheim song slightly re-written for Barbra to fit the theme of the holidays. The production of this album feels almost "superficial" and Barbra's vocal a little distant, as if to suggest a routine album. Even the non secular "Ave Maria" sounds a bit like a love song. Overall, Barbra's vocal is pretty but careful, the arrangements big but not bombastic, a nice, smooth album to have as background to a romantic dinner.
on December 26, 2002
First, the material! This Christmas album is not the same old rehashed Christmas material that we have heard many other singers sing over our lifetime. One can only hear so many versons of 'Frosty the Snowman' etc. Christmas memories is new and fresh and makes one think of the Christmases past where we, as children, would look out the windows and watch the snow falling and savor the smells emanating from the kitchen. It takes one to a more peaceful and secure time of ones life.
Second, is the voice! Streisand's voice is like a well tuned instrument; one that doesn't age. The notes are so pure and golden and one can sense that she is living in the moment. It takes the listener on a journey to another time and place as one can picture the words and relive the feelings that she is conveying in her music. It seems that she is singing to just you and you alone.
Thirdly, this album of music is timeless. Streisand continues to break new ground. She is never one to follow, but takes the lead. This album, like the singer, is eternal. Sit back, relax, and go along for the ride. Enjoy!
on December 17, 2002
Barbra Streisand's newest Christmas album CHRISTMAS MEMORIES is a must have. Never has she sounded this good. The production is top notch. Her voice is pristine and focused on the material. She has chosen some truly memorable music that fans of Streisand are sure to love. She sings many classics such as "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "It Must Have Been The Mistletoe", "What Are You Doing New Years Eve" and more. As well we have new songs that are bound to become classics, like "Closer", a beautiful song about missing someone who is not with you at Christmas. Her rendition of "Ave Maria" is nothing short of amazing", and the closing "One God" is another beautiful track. Barbra truly shines on this album, so get this album, sit by the fire with some popcorn and wine, and just enjoy the beauty of this music as it fills your heart with Christmas joy.
on December 15, 2002
What a load of egotistical garbage. Apparently Ms. Streisand believes that during the Christmas holidays, we all want to hear about her love life. You can almost hear the "me, me, me" in the background. Hey, Babs, Christmas is about OTHERS. Pass on this one, gang.
on December 13, 2002
Admittedly, those who are not already fans of Ms Streisand will not agree with me, so you individuals may scroll down to the next review.
I think this is one of her best albums to date. With the possible exception of the Ave Maria (generally speaking, I don't like pop treatments of sacred classical arias, especially ones I've sung myself), each song in this album is a testament to Ms Streisands perfectionism. Arrangements are clever, orchestrations stirring, variety in abundance, and vocals (as always) powerful and moving.
Barbra Streisand sings with so much energy, care, and appreciation for music that I cannot feel anything but joy when I hear this album.