Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Lost Christmas Eve (2004)

FrontCover1The Lost Christmas Eve is the fourth album by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It was released on October 12, 2004, and is the last album in their “Christmas trilogy”, with Christmas Eve and Other Stories (1996) and The Christmas Attic (1998) coming before it. All three albums, as well as their The Ghosts of Christmas Eve DVD, were featured in the box set of The Christmas Trilogy. In 2012 Trans-Siberian Orchestra toured a live production of The Lost Christmas Eve for the first time and performed the Rock Opera in over 100 arena shows across North America. In late October 2013, TSO released a narrated version of The Lost Christmas Eve much like they did in 2012 with Beethoven’s Last Night.

The Lost Christmas Eve was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in five weeks,.[4] On March 27, 2013, the album was certified Double Platinum for shipment of two million copies in the United States since its 2004 release. As of November 2014, The Lost Christmas Eve is the twentieth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the SoundScan era of music sales tracking (March 1991 – present), having sold 2,380,000 copies according to SoundScan.

The Lost Christmas Eve is the final installment In TSO’s Christmas trilogy. “The record continues the tradition of its two predecessors by telling a musical tale of loss and redemption, this one encompassing a rundown hotel, an old toy store, a blues bar, a gothic cathedral and their respective inhabitants, whose destines are intertwined by a single enchanted evening in New York City.

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The story starts with a teardrop of infinite sorrow falling from the heavens towards a business man who forty years prior had abandoned his newborn son to a state run institution, and how there is something about Christmas Eve that allows humans to correct mistakes we have made in our lives.

In this symphonic tale, God’s youngest angel is once again sent on a mission to bring his Lord the name of the person who best continued his Son’s work on Earth. However, unlike his other journeys, the angel could only use his wings twice, once when he descended to Earth and once more when he left. Looking for a likely place to search, the angel decided to land in New York City.

As soon as he touched the ground, he notices a street performer weaving a story about the Imperial Wizards Ball of Winter to a group of children. He then entered a hotel, and as he enters the ballroom, he encounters inhabitants from the future and the past. Then he leaves and walks into a blues club, where a jazz band is playing music, eventually the whole bar gets together and starts singing along with the band, except for one man who leaves without a word refusing to be involved in this yule tide cheer.

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The angel noticed that the man left a trail of blood. The blood came from a wound in the man’s soul combined with unwept tears that only an angel could see. As he followed the man, who had been the walking home from work, the angel peered into the man’s heart to find the reason behind the man’s wounded soul.

As the angel delved into the man’s past, he saw that he had not always hated Christmas and in fact loved it like any other child. His family was a good Christian one, and he had been taught that all men are created in God’s image. He eventually got married, and his wife became pregnant. On the night of the birth, things were going as planned and normal. However, the man then noticed that there were many doctors rushing to his wife’s room, but there were none leaving.

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The doctor told him that during the birth, she had hemorrhaged and that, unfortunately, they were unable to save her. When a nurse, in an effort to console him, gave him his son who had survived, the infant appeared sickly. The doctor explained that because the mother had hemorrhaged blood so badly, the baby had been cut from oxygen for so long that he suffered permanent brain damage; he would be unable to function as a normal person in adulthood and would be lucky if he learned to walk. Enraged by this outcome, the man screams towards heaven, that if man is made in God’s image that he saw nothing of God in his son. The man gave the baby back to the nurse and asked if the child could be placed into a state facility.

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After seeing this, the angel let go of the man, who did not notice the angel peering into him. He later encountered a young girl, dressed in a Russian Imperial style winter coat, in front of a toy store. The girl claimed to be staying with her parents on a twelfth floor room of the hotel across the street. She asked him if he had any children. The man responded with a short and gruff “No,” but he knew that he lied, and for the first time in decades he thinks about him and the son. The man told the girl to go back to her room in a nearby hotel, where she claimed she was staying on the twelfth floor room twenty four, then called a cab and set off to find his son.

Eventually, he arrived at a hospital, similar to the one where his son was born, and asked about his son. A nurse took him to a room where the son, now a grown man, was rocking babies born to crack cocaine addicted mothers to sleep. When the man asked if his son could talk, the nurse, realizing that it had been a while since they had met, said, “No, but he’s a good listener.” After so many years, father and son are reunited.

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The father asked his son to move out of the complex he lived in to stay with him, to which he agreed. They then took a cab to the hotel near the toy store to find the girl and asked for the girl’s room. However, strangely enough, there was no twelfth floor to the hotel, nor had there even been any children there the entire week. Confused, the man returned to the cab with his son. The man then took out his briefcase and spilled its contents out on the sidewalk including a folder containing his son’s possessions including a picture of his wife as a little girl that he had never seen before. The son gave a puzzled look, to which the man explained that he was going to quit his job to get a job at the hospital where his son worked. The son gleefully smiled.

When the angel returned to Heaven, to report to his Lord the angel at first gave the name of the man’s son, but then after a moment of hesitation added the name of the story teller, the jazz player, and all of the other people he had seen, even the father. It was at this point that the angel realized that everyone continues the work of his Son when they, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” (by wikipedia)

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The story that unfolds during Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s third Christmas CD deals with angels visiting New York City, which gives this orchestrated rock group a chance to draw upon a wide variety of modern music. The jaunty “Christmas Nights in Blue” sounds like it was influenced by Louis Jordan and is the coolest moment the orchestra has ever offered, while the driving “Christmas Jam” is Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” with some sleigh bells. Not that the group was ever “traditional,” but the songs here sound less influenced by the old Christmas standards, and they’re generally more fun and uplifting. The quiet numbers are delicate and beautiful, and there are a number of them in the album’s fourth quarter.

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The problem with the album is it’s nearly choked with too much material, with a great number of the songs existing solely to move the story along. That’s when the album gets too emotive, too forced, and too Electric Light Orchestra without Jeff Lynne. Good new is, whittle out the dreck and you’ve still have plenty left to enjoy. Even though it won’t win them any new fans, The Lost Christmas Eve is rumored to be an “end of the trilogy” album. If so, the trilogy ends with a big, theatrical bang, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra fans wouldn’t have it any other way. (by David Jeffries)

And we hear a lot of kitsch, a lot of heavy metal …. what a crazy mix !

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Personnel:
Chris Caffery (guitar)
Angus Clark (guitar)
Robert Kinkel (keyboards)
Jane Mangini (keyboards)
Paul O’Neill (guitar)
John O. Reilly (drums)
Al Pitrelli (guitar, keyboards)
David Z. (bass)

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Jeff Allegue (bass)
Tristan Avakian (guitar)
John Clark horns)
Carmine Giglio (keyboards)
Amy Helm (whistle)
Mee Eun Kim (keyboards)
Johnny Lee Middleton (bass)
Jon Oliva (keyboards)
Takanori Niida (drums)
Jeff Plate (drums)
Alex Skolnick (guitar)
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lots of strings and background vocals (including a gospel choir)

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Tracklist:
01. Faith Noel (Reading/O’Neill/Kinkel) 4.32
02. The Lost Christmas Eve (O’Neill/Pitrelli) 5.33
03. Christmas Dreams (O’Neill/Kinkel) 3.54
04. Wizards In Winter (O’Neill/Kinkel) 3.06
05. Remember (O’Neill/Kinkel) 3.25
06. Anno Domine (O’Neill) 2.13
07. Christmas Concerto (O’Neill) 0.42
08. Queen Of The Winter Night (Mozart/O’Neill) 3.11
09. Christmas Nights In Blue (O’Neill/Pitrelli) 4.18
10. Christmas Jazz (O’Neill) 2.16
11. Christmas Jam (O’Neill) 3.47
12. Siberian Sleigh Ride (O’Neill) 3.08
13. What Is Christmas? (O’Neill/Oliva) 2.51
14. For The Sake Of Our Brother (Reading/O’Neill/Oakeley) 3.10
15. The Wisdom Of Snow (O’Neill/Kinkel/Oliva) 2.00
16. Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness) (Liszt/O’Neill) 3.42
17. Back To A Reason (Part II) (O’Neill/Oliva) 4.52
18. Christmas Bells, Carousels & Time (O’Neill/Oliva) 1.00
19. What Child Is This? (O’Neill/Kinkel) 6.00
20. O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Traditional) 1.30
21. Christmas Canon Rock (O’Neill) 4.57
22. Different Wings (O’Neill/Pitrelli) 2.44
23. Midnight Clear (O’Neill) 1.31

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve and Other Stories (1996)

frontcover1Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the debut album by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

It was released on October 15, 1996, and is the first album in their “Christmas trilogy”, with The Christmas Attic (1998) and The Lost Christmas Eve (2004) coming after it. All three albums, as well as their The Ghosts of Christmas Eve DVD, were featured in the The Christmas Trilogy box set.

The story is about a young man who wanders into a bar on Christmas Eve where he encounters a mysterious old man who tells him a tale about the magical effect of Christmas Day on the human race. The album takes familiar classical pieces and adds to them new songs and arrangements from both classic and progressive rock influences for which the group is known. The album also contains a mix of vocal and instrumental songs. The primary musicians on the album are all members of the progressive metal band Savatage (Paul O’Neill, the producer of the album, is Savatage’s longtime producer). Jon Oliva, one of the principal songwriters on the album, is also a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and original vocalist in Savatage. (Oliva is also the voice of Mephistopheles on Beethoven’s Last Night.) Cover art created by Edgar Jerins.[2]

As of November 2014, Christmas Eve and Other Stories was the ninth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the Nielsen SoundScan era of music sales tracking (1991 – present), with sales of 3,430,000 copies according to SoundScan.[3]

On November 28, 2011, Christmas Eve and Other Stories was certified Triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of three million copies in the United States.(by wikipedia)

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What would happen if members of Savatage decided to write some Christmas songs? Easy: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This “supergroup” is the brainchild of Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill (respectively the leader-keyboardist and the producer of Savatage). They hired Al Pitrelli (Asia, Savatage) to play guitars, Robert Kinkel to help with keyboards, John Middleton (also a member of Savatage) on bass, and Jeff Plate on drums. Lead vocals are shared by six vocalists, while some of the backing vocals are handled by Savatage lead singer Zachary Stevens. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is a concept album: all the songs are built as chapters of a book, each telling part of a larger story. The plot here is of a young angel sent down to Earth to find and bring back to the Lord “the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day.” The angel’s quest takes him all over the world, through Russia and Sarajevo, until he finally hears the prayer of a father. This last piece is the strongest moment on the album and makes for a miniature story within the larger story.

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It is basically told in a trilogy of songs: in the first, “Ornament,” we hear the father’s prayer, explaining how he hasn’t seen his daughter in many years. In “Old City Bar,” the angel finds the daughter, standing alone outside a bar, and talks to the bartender who, out of a random act of kindness, takes all the cash from his register drawer and gives it to the girl so she can go home. The third song, “This Christmas Day,” has the father praising God, thanking him for bringing his daughter back to him on this night of all nights. It is a very touching story, pondering the thought that “If you want to arrange it/This world you can change it/If we could somehow make this/Christmas thing last/By helping a neighbor/Or even a stranger.” Musically, the band has taken some traditional Christmas songs (“O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night,” “The First Noel”) and mixed in some modern rock music. The result is stunning and very impressive. It is filled with energy that simply blows you away. The already classic “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” is a gripping instrumental based on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (although you might have to listen carefully to hear it). Fans of progressive music should like this one. And if you’re into the more recent works of Savatage (like Handful of Rain or Dead Winter Dead) you’ll really love this. (by Alex S. Garcia)

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Personnel:
Robert Kinkel (keyboards)
Johnny Lee Middleton (bass)
Jon Oliva (keyboards, bass)
Paul O’Neill (guitar)
Al Pitrelli (leadguitar, bass)
Jeff Plate (drums)
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Solo vocals:
Zak Stevens – John Margolis – Marlene Danielle- Michael Fawcette – Thomas Faresse – Ken Williams – Babi Floyd

gackground vocals:
Zak Stevens – Nancy Jackson – Peggy Harley – Latasha Spencer – Danielle Lander – Jeffrey Stackhouse – Timothy Carosi – Peter Valentine

Child choir conducted by Anthony Piccolo:
Joseph Murray – Adrian Ross – Nigel Tangred – Warren Wilson – Beth Butler – Cabiria Jacobson – Rachel Rosenfield – Caroline Ross

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Chris Caffery (guitar on 08.)
John Clark (french horn)
Mary Wooten (cello)

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Tracklist:
01. An Angel Came Down (Gruber) 3.57
02. O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night (instrumental) (Wade/Oakeley/Reading/Adam/Dwight/O’Neill/Kinkel) 4.19
03. A Star To Follow (O’Neill) 3.49
04. First Snow (instrumental) (O’Neill) 3.53
05. The Silent Nutcracker (O’Neill) 2.22
06. A Mad Russian’s Christmas (Tchaikovsky/Kinkel/Oliva) 4.42
07. The Prince Of Peace (Mendelssohn/Wesley/O’Neill) 3.33
08. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 (O’Neill/Kinkel/Oliva) 3.25 (*)
09. Good King Joy (Mason/Kinkel/O’Neill) 6.36
10. Ornament (O’Neill/Oliva) 3.37
11. The First Noel (Traditional) 0.55
12. Old City Bar (O’Neill) 6.18
13, Promises To Keep (O’Neill/Kinkel/Oliva) 2.41
14. This Christmas Day (O’Neill/Oliva) 4.20
15. An Angel Returned (O’Neill/Oliva) 3.52
16. O Holy Night (Adam/Dwight) 2.39
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.16

(*) = (same recording released in 1995 by Savatage)

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