HUB REVIEW: Diana Ross’ Wonderful Christmas Time

HUB REVIEW: Diana Ross’ Wonderful Christmas Time

By Michael P Coleman

Entertainment legend Diana Ross is enjoying a busy holiday season.  She headlined last week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and she’ll be one of the featured performers at the upcoming NBC’s Christmas In Rockefeller Center.  

dianaross christmastime coverRoss has just released a lovely “new” holiday collection, Wonderful Christmas Time, that’s racing up the holiday charts.  What are those quotation marks about?  Well, Ross’ collection is entirely comprised of recordings she made in 1994. 

Only Diana Ross, the diva who turned a rained out Central Park concert into a worldwide cultural event, and enjoyed #1 records earlier this year with decades-old songs, could generate buzz about Christmas music she recorded almost a quarter of a century ago! 

The good news here is that, as good as the 74-year-old Ross sounds today, she was in her prime in 1994. Most of these holiday recordings showcase the best of her crystalline soprano.  Recorded with full symphony orchestras, Wonderful Christmas Time sparkles.  No Grinch this side of Whooville will be able to resist it.  

Ross’ versions of standards like “Silent Night,” “The Christmas Song,” “The First Noel,” “Oh Holy Night,” and “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” are stunningly beautiful.  Similarly, her subdued take on Stevie Wonder’s “Someday At Christmas” adds an emotional heft to the song’s poignant lyric, and it stands among the very best that the lady has ever recorded.

The album’s surprises include Ross’ moving live version of “Amazing Grace” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”  If you’ve ever doubted the Motown legend’s vocal heft, dim the lights and play the former.  You’ll find yourself just a little closer to God.  Another surprise is Ross’ urgent version of Dionne Warwick’s “What The World Needs Now.”

No Diana Ross album would be complete without one or two misfires, and Wonderful Christmas Time adds a few lumps of coal to that sequined stocking. I’m not sure Paul McCartney, the song’s writer, should have tried to add “Wonderful Christmas Time” to the holiday canon, and Ross certainly should have left that one alone.  Her “Ave Maria” showcases the star’s penchant for exaggerated rolled R’s, and is a little too overwrought.  When she lends that “talent” to the end of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow,” to emphasize her “Brrrrrrr,” it left me wishing for an early spring. 

Those missteps aside, Wonderful Christmas Time is a great addition to Ross’ discography, and a reminder that her voice was among the loveliest ever recorded.  The album’s a great stocking stuffer for the music fan in your life. 

Diana Ross’ Wonderful Christmas Time is available at Amazon and all major digital outlets.

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Freelancer Michael P Coleman is hoping Santa will bring him at interview with Diana Ross.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com, of follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP