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Various Artists

No Wrapping Required: A Christmas Album – 2001 (Lyric Street)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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For example, Lyric Street's 11-song sampler brims with tasty holiday treats. Some sweet, some fat and well-rounded. Unlike many compilations, this one comes with but two previously released selections, Aaron Tippin's "Jingle Bell Rock" and SHeDAISY's "That's What I Want For Christmas."

Elsewhere, Ricky Skaggs kicks the album off with a plaintive "The Reunion Song," a Christmas song with meaning and not just another silly seasonal ode. Likewise, Sonya Issacs chimes in with three songs, a sultry "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)," a healthy dose of goosebump gospel with "What Do You See" and "Mary, Did You Know?"

Simply stellar.

Oh, if only the bulk of the album compared. From SHeDAISY's powder-puff vocals to Kree and Rosie O'Donnell's (say what? Rosie on a country album?) useless "Do You Hear What I Hear," way too much piffle powered its way under this tree. Please, don't even mention Rascal "no, we're not ÓN Sync in disguise...honest!" Flatts. That said, newcomer Kevin Denney fares well - though sounds a bit too close to Garth Brooks - on "White Christmas." Still, Lyric Street deserves a bountiful holiday season for the inclusion of country legend Porter Wagoner. His rendering of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman's "Tennessee Christmas" bespeaks a legend who's not yet out to pasture.

Let's see: Skaggs, Issacs, Wagoner and Tippin...beautiful presents all.