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    The Oak Ridge Boys offer their third Christmas album here in the form of Country Christmas Eve.  This CD offers about the same things as the first two Christmas albums...and that's not a bad thing.  You have four fantastic voices who have mastered the art of harmonizing near perfectly.  What else could you possibly ask for when it comes to Christmas classics and better yet, new songs about this joyous time of the year?

    This CD starts off with the smooth voice of "Ace", Duane Allen singing "Pretty Little Baby Child", a nice mid-tempo song about the birth of our Christ our Savior.  From there we're treated to the soulful voice of Steve Sanders giving us his rendition of "Blue Christmas".  Then, "Manger Medley" takes us back to the basics with a few classics intertwined that certainly bring back childhood memories to even the most seasoned of Oak Ridge Boys fans.

    Joe Bonsall writes and sings the gem of this collection in "Daddy's Christmas Eve", s beautiful, heartfelt song sung as a bit of a prayer telling God The Father how painful it must have been for Him to be separated from His Son on that first Christmas.

    Duane also offers us a humorous little number entitled "Mrs. Santa Claus" that offers Ol' Saint Nick's wife some comfort as she worries about him every Christmas Eve as he's flying around delivering toys.

    The one song that could (or should)  have been left off of this CD (but was included due to record company pressure) is "Thank God For Kids".  Liberty/Capitol records requested that this song be re-recorded and included, and this was a mistake.  As wonderful as Steve Sanders' voice is, it just doesn't work on this song.  We all fell in love with the original version, and the signature voice of William Lee Golden delivering it to us like only he can.  The reality is that Steve and William Lee's voices are so completely different, despite Steve singing this the best he possibly could, there was no way he could measure up to the original on this song.  Had we never heard the original version, we would have all probably gone crazy over this version. However, the original recording is far superior, and it's unfortunate that Steve was somewhat forced by the record company to attempt to compete with it.

    This CD does end on a very high note with re-recorded version of "Jesus Is Born Today".  Even though this song appeared on the album Christmas, this version is actually better, as it had been performed over the years and "perfected", if you will.  This reviewer is a big supporter of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and that was my opinion of the original 1982 version of this song.  However, I was pleasantly surprised, and this new version, while very very similar, is actually better than the original.

    It's certainly a matter of opinion as to whether or not this CD is better than previous Christmas albums by the Oaks.....that is a decision you will have to make.  All I can say is that when you combine the Oak Ridge Boys and Christmas music, you have a quartet that is rooted in gospel music, and therefore the message of Christmas is sung from the heart, then you add in the Oaks' unblemished harmonies, and there is no possible way you can go wrong here!

Outstanding Cuts:
Daddy's Christmas Eve, Jesus Is Born Today
Cut Outs: Thank God For Kids

                                                                                                                                                     ---Edward Wille


    A well-produced CD with a combination of classics and contemporaries. The gem of this album is "Daddy's Christmas Eve," written by ORB tenor, Joe Bonsall. A touching story of being a father at Christmas, Bonsall says that this is his favorite song of all that he has written. Other highlights include "Pretty Little Baby Child," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," a Springsteen-like "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and an updated version of their eternal classic, "Thank God For Kids."

    An interesting note: "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" features Christmas wishes by each of the Oaks during the intro, as well as a reference to their signing with Liberty Records. However, by the time the album was released, the label name had changed from Liberty to Capitol. The record company never altered that line, and Liberty Records got one last plug before merging with Capitol-Nashville.

                                                                                                                ---Kyle Boreing