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Just what the world needs—a symphonic rock Christmas Box with all the bombast of Queen, the sanctimonious mysticism of a Christian Pink Floyd, and the illiterate sentimentalism of people who think there aren’t enough heart-softening holiday redemption stories involving angels, grumpy bartenders, and little girls lost in the snow. Certainly there aren’t enough set to music, although the six taste-impaired members of TSO aim to rectify that. The liner notes tell the story plainly, or as plainly as can be told something that reads a little rushed and ill-thought-out and involves the situation, “an angel walks into a bar.” As if this isn’t kitschy enough, the ensuing song-cycle tells the deathless tale again, sometimes in original symphonic rock of the truculent Hear Ye school, sometimes in old tunes retrofitted with new lyrics, because sure “The Holly and the Ivy” is hummable, but it doesn’t rhyme “lamb” with “understand.” (This fusion also gives rise to the bizarre credit “O’Neill/Wesley/
Mendelssohn”; unless this Mendelssohn fellow is an uncredited TSO member, they’ve got their attributions wrong.) Then there’s “The Silent Nutcracker (Instrumental),” “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” (also pinched from Tchaikovsky), the tribute to “Sarajevo 12/24,” and a song titled “Ornament,” in which the title object is the aforementioned girl lost in the snow (“somewhere she glistens where no one can see”). At least when the members of Queen acted like pigs, they weren’t pretending it was in the name of our salvation.
—Arion “Away in a” Berger