Scott Weiland – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (2011)

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Music

In case you haven’t noticed your neighbor’s outdoor lighting or the masses of poorly parked cars at the mall – Christmas time is here.

While I’m mostly a ‘Scrooge’ when it comes to the grandest of holidays, the one thing I look forward to is the sleigh-full of new holiday releases that hit the music scene each and every year. The majority of these albums come from the obvious sources – jazz and pop artists. But if you look deep enough into the bottom of the stocking you can usually find one or two unexpected surprises.

You may remember Scott Weiland. As the front man for Seattle grunge band Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland burst onto the music scene in the early 90s with a ‘fuck-all’ attitude and a couple of absolutely brilliant albums. Core and Purple (led by the hauntingly wonderful song “Plush”) carved an immediate chunk out of the ‘grunge’ sound and had Stone Temple Pilots quickly rising to the top of the scene. With catchy songs and amazing live performances, the band was set to re-write the history books of alternative rock. It didn’t exactly turn out that way, though. Legal problems and, specifically, Weiland’s penchant for heroin and other narcotics derailed the band at their height of popularity, and his attempts to return to the top of the music scene has been a roller-coaster ride in and of itself.

After STP broke up in 2003 (they have since recently reunited) Weiland found himself in and out of both rehab and jail – and mostly irrelevant. He did land the gig as lead singer for Velvet Revolver, but found a way to screw that up as well, being removed from the lineup in 2008.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Weiland’s solo album of holiday songs arrived on my desk (I actually had to fact-check to make sure he wasn’t dead. He’s not.) I remembered his late night appearance where he sang “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2006, and the fact that I even remembered that appearance made me curious to give this album a listen.

If you think you are going to get a balls-out rocking good time or a tongue-in-cheek romp through these holiday classics, I have bad news. For whatever reason, Weiland puts on his crooner hat and plays these songs pretty close to the chest. While I never really thought of Mr. Weiland as a troubadour in the same vain as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, or Harry Connick Jr., he puts his best foot forward along the way here. The end result is an album of tasteful renditions of some timeless tracks.

Granted, some are better than others. A few are so well done you will easily be able to pass them off as classics to your unsuspecting relatives. “The Christmas Song,” “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” are arguably as good as the originals, and only the most discerning ear would be able to pick up the nuances that make them Weiland’s.

But it’s not all sweater vests, eggnog and roaring fireplaces. Weiland uses a little creativity on the island-vibed “Silent Night” and “Happy Christmas and Many More” as well as a full-blown reggae rendition of “O Holy Night” that would put both Jacob AND Bob Marley in the holiday mood.

The only real mis-step on the record is a slowed-down version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” – which sounds like it was recorded shortly after treatment at a methadone clinic (although Weiland has been supposedly drug-free for years). The pace is just too lethargic, and the vocals slur along at such a snail’s pace that you can’t help but skipping ahead. Other than that, though, the album is the perfect marriage of unforgettable classics and hipster sheik.

It’s bound to be deemed too ‘safe’ from the loyal rock fan base, but that’s okay. There are eleven other months out of the year to get your rock on – December is for Santa, and snow, and gingerbread houses and wrapping gifts. And if you want to bundle up in a nice, warm Christmas album that has a pretty good layer of ‘cool’ to it, give this one a spin. It even warmed the heart of this Grinch…

8.5/10

Tracklist:
01 – The Christmas Song
02 – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
03 – White Christmas
04 – Silent Night
05 – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
06 – What Child is This
07 – Winter Wonderland
08 – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
09 – Happy Christmas and Many More
10 – O Holy Night

Buy at: Amazon

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link

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