Liner Note Author: Timothy Shriver.
Recording information: Blackbird Studios, Nashville, TN; Germano Studios, New York, NY; JYPE Studios, Seoul, Korea; Sunset Sound Studios, Hollywood, CA; WDW Contemporary, Orlando, FL; Westlake Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Photographers: Rick Diamond; Richard Corman.
This is not an anniversary reissue of the original Very Special Christmas, a landmark charity album from 1987. This is a new album, one leaning toward the mainstream much more than the frequently quirky 1987 platter. This opens with Train and closes with Christina Aguilera, making stops along the way for Jewel, Michael Bublé, Dave Matthews Band, Jordin Sparks, Rascal Flatts, OneRepublic, Jason Mraz, and Vince Gill. Most of the cuts here march to a stately beat and are produced so they glitter like frozen snow, so this winds up feeling seasonal without quite seeming festive. This sobriety makes Wonder Girl's ebullient dance-pop "Best Christmas Ever" and Cheap Trick's hamfisted but kind of fun rewrite of "I Want You to Want Me" as "I Want You" stand out, and the same goes for Martina McBride's bluesy reading of "Please Come Home for Christmas" and, to a lesser extent, Jason Mraz's sing-song scatting on "Winter Wonderland." The lack of variety makes Very Special Christmas: 25 Years a little sleepy, but it's hard to hate on an album that's for a good cause. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine