"Great compilations provide the best holiday music in so many ways. First, they purport to select the winning tracks from past albums--the cream of the crop. In this respect, the compiler effectively pans for treasure, presenting listeners with the resulting gold nuggets. Second, music fans who are new to a particular genre are unlikely to know which artist(s) to choose, and the compilation provides a glorious buffet of options. Sometimes, when the compilation is good enough, it may not even be necessary to delve beyond the compilation into the individual releases.
For me, 2007 has been the year of the harp guitar. Just in the past few weeks, I have reviewed excellent harp guitar releases by Muriel Anderson and Gregg Miner (Miner plays on more than just the harp guitar--take a peek at the review). If you enjoy the wonderful warmth of acoustic instrumentals when that special season rolls around, then Christmas Past: Holiday Harp Guitar Classics should be an obvious top choice. If you are not certain what a harp guitar is or sounds like, just think acoustic guitar with an extra neck holding harp strings for plucking.
Christmas Past sports five harp guitar talents, all very well regarded artists (I personally own recordings by four of the five, and now I'll have to find out more about the fifth!). William Eaton, Stephen Bennett, John Doan, Gregg Miner, and Stacy Hobbs are the fine musicians here, and the 16 recordings date from 1991-2002. Eaton only contributes one piece to this compilation, but his We Three Kings is the longest (well over five minutes); this mystical marvel also features R. Carlos Nakai's haunting Native American flute. This instrumental compilation is beautiful throughout; each piece is special. My personal favorites include Doan's superb Jolly Old King Wenceslas with its sweetly syncopated opening, and his intensely ethereal Carol of the Bells. Bennett's heartfelt Silver Bells, which gradually adds instrumental layers, and Miner's rollicking and transformative Christmas Time Is Here.
This album is a terrific introduction to the world of harp guitars, and even if you care not one whit about harp guitars, but want outstanding acoustic instrumentals for the holidays, then look no further. Christmas Past: Holiday Harp Guitar Classics is all the information you need! Just wonderful." © Carol Swanson, christmasreviews.com