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Roger Smith

Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection

My god, how does the woman do it? Ann-Margret turned 64 this year, and I swear that she still possesses more fired-up sex appeal and stylish glamour in her little pinky than Britney Spears has in her entire carcass. Wow. The star of "Bye Bye Birdie," "Viva Las Vegas" and "Tommy," Ann-Margret has the patented purr, the delightfully kittenish intonation, the verve, the everything that a legendary icon of her status should have.

Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection is exactly what a fan would hope for--and even better than one might expect. After all these years, Ann-Margret's voice remains sweetly seductive and remarkably intact. She exudes satin with a hint of huskiness on eleven holiday favorites and one "Bonus Song" ("Jesus Loves Me"). The Jordanaires (www.jordanaires.com), the world-famous "doowop" group that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2000, provides impressive back-up vocal support on four tracks. The band's accompaniment provides just the right touch--smooth, very professional, and not too intrusive. The mood is playful, yet sophisticated, throughout; the tempo is often luxuriously languid; and there is an occasional country kick.

This delightful album opens with Ann-Margret's gentle, yet sultry, interpretation of "The Christmas Song." Soooo sweet! She really ramps up the energy on "Jingle Bells," an upbeat treatment that had me swinging in my chair. Perhaps my favorite track is "I'll Be Home for Christmas," which vividly showcases Ann-Margret's magnificent strengths. For the most part, these arrangements are tasteful and traditional, in a jazzy sort of way. There are, however, occasional surprises to keep the project bubbling; for example, playful orchestration pumps a little surfer excitement into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." The Jordanaires are in especially fine form on "Go Tell It on the Mountain," providing rhythmic harmonies that electrify the well-known gospel tune.

For her legions of loyal fans, buying Ann-Margret's Christmas Carol Collection is a no-brainer. And for those who are somehow not familiar with the amazing A-M, consider making this classy assortment of Christmas carols your very own this holiday season. You won't be sorry!

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by Carol Swanson

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From Christmasreviews.com

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