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Various Artists

Believe: A Christmas Collection – 2000 (Giant)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Various Artists

Christmas music can inspire when done well. Just listen to Sinatra's snow-capped tunes sometime. Nothing here compares with Old Blue Eyes, but such artists as Don Williams and Kenny Rogers are no wilted roses in the snow either.

Spread through 11 tracks, 2 each for Williams ("Pretty Little Baby Child" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"), Neal McCoy (including a so-so "Merry Christmas Darling"), Clay Walker and bluegrassers The Johnny Staats Project, the album sporadically reaches high for that ever elusive shooting star in the night.

Though silly, Keith Harling's honky-tonkin' "Santa's got a Semi," may prove to be the album's year-to-year staple. Staats' "What Child is This" comes close. Much as Bill Monroe's 1950's re-make of his own "Blue Moon of Kentucky," Staats splits the song, starting slowly then picking up the tempo to a roaring finish.

Rogers' "The Christmas Song" limps along as Walker's steel guitar 'n' fiddlin' "Blue Christmas" purrs pure country - though not nearly with the character of Ernest Tubb's classic rendition. Which mostly sums up the album. Nevertheless, as Christmas compilations go, this one manages more highs than most.