The Animals' Christmas

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The Animals' Christmas
Studio album by Art Garfunkel
Released October 28, 1986
Recorded December 23, 1984 –
December 12, 1985
Genre Pop, Christmas music
Length 41:27
Label Columbia
Producer Art Garfunkel
Jimmy Webb
Geoff Emerick
Art Garfunkel chronology
The Art Garfunkel Album
(1984)
The Animals' Album
(1985)
Lefty
(1988)

The Animals' Christmas is the sixth solo album by vocalist Art Garfunkel, released in October 1986 by Columbia Records. The album was written by Jimmy Webb and features vocals by Garfunkel, Amy Grant, and Wimbledon King's College Choir. The Animals' Christmas tells the story of the Nativity of Jesus from the perspective of the animals present. The album received positive reviews, with one writer calling it "one of the best Christmas albums of the '80s."[1]

Background[edit]

During the early 1980s, Jimmy Webb began writing the songs that would become The Animals' Christmas, based on a children's book about the Nativity of Jesus by Anne Thaxter Eaton.[2] Garfunkel became interested in the project because he felt it was "born out of the love of a musical person to make music." In his 1989 book, Still Water: Prose Poems, Garfunkel wrote about his experience with the project.

The Animals' Christmas took up the middle of the Eighties for me; it finally came out in Christmas of '86 after four years of my performing it and then recording it. In the early Eighties, in September of 1981, Paul Simon and I did a concert in Central Park. We followed it by touring the world; a European tour, an Australian tour, a Japanese tour, and finally a baseball-stadium tour in the U.S.A. in the summer of '83. As that baseball-stadium tour was finishing with two Swiss shows and two shows in Israel, I knew that the future was mine. I was open to what would come next. That's how I began to write what became this book. And I also started The Animals' Christmas. In '83, my friend Jimmy Webb showed me a piece he was writing, a cantata for children's choir and small orchestra for his local church in Tuxedo, New York. And it being a noncommercial endeavor, I was particularly interested in it, because I had become cynical about the fact that the record business will professionalize one's musical attempts in a way that can hurt them. And I followed Jimmy's rehearsals in Tuxedo and loved The Animals' Christmas. I told him I wanted to get involved. By the next year, he had written an extension, doubled its length and wrote various sections for me as solo singer, narrator and the angel Gabriel. He added a woman's part—the Virgin Mary. We all performed it with orchestra, children's choir, boy singer, girl singer, at St. John the Divine Cathedral that December in New York, and also at Festival Hall in London. We made a live recording of the shows, which later seemed to me too loose. So we planned to record it in the studio, the following Christmas. I started in London in '85 and recorded the London Symphony Orchestra; we added the choir from Wimbledon that winter; come the spring I was in Montserrat doing my vocals with Geoff Emeric; I traveled to Nashville to get Amy Grant's vocals on the album, then came to New York for some percussion overdubs—Steve Gadd on drums, and others. I had it finished by Christmas of '86, which I gather is when it came out. It's a gothic cathedral of an album; it's very ambitious. It was the type of project that would have been done by papal commission long ago.[3]

Production[edit]

The Animals' Christmas was recorded between December 23, 1984 and December 12, 1985. The orchestra was recorded at CTS Studios in Wembley, England. The boys' choir was recorded at St. Paul's Church in Wimbledon, England. Vocals were recorded at Air Studios in Montserrat, West Indies. Amy Grant's vocals were recorded at Bullet Recording in Nashville, Tennessee. The organ was recorded at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Overdubs were recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City.[4]

Packaging and artwork[edit]

The original album contained a 12-page booklet with lyrics in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and German.[1] The album cover art was created by Abby Levine.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [1]

Writer David A. Milberg called The Animals' Christmas "one of the best Christmas albums of the '80s."[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Jimmy Webb, except where indicated.

  1. "The Annunciation" – 2:38
  2. "The Creatures of the Field" – 2:31
  3. "Just a Simple Little Tune" – 2:54
  4. "The Decree" – 3:25
  5. "Incredible Phat" – 4:59
  6. "The Friendly Beasts" (Traditional, Jimmy Webb) – 3:24
  7. "The Song of the Camels" (Elizabeth Coatsworth, Jimmy Webb) – 2:46
  8. "Word from an Old Spanish Carol" – 3:41
  9. "Carol of the Birds" – 2:00
  10. "The Frog" – 5:15
  11. "Herod" – 4:21
  12. "Wild Geese" – 3:33[1]

Personnel[edit]

Music
  • Art Garfunkel – vocals, producer, remixing
  • Amy Grant – vocals
  • Jimmy Webb – piano, producer, composer, arranger
  • Carl Davis – conductor
  • Michael Jenkins – choir director
  • London Symphony Orchestra – orchestra
  • Wimbledon King's College Choir – choir, chorus
  • Stephen Bayly – vocals
  • Del Costello – vocals
  • Nicholas Dykes – vocals
  • Jonathan Jenkins – vocals
  • Paul Halley – organ
  • Rob Mounsey – synthesizer
  • Elliott Randall – electric guitar
  • Eric Weissberg – banjo, acoustic guitar
  • George Young – saxophone
  • Joe Osborn – bass
  • Steve Gadd – drums
  • Gordon Gottlieb – percussion
Production
  • Geoff Emerick – producer, engineer, remixing
  • Roy Halee – engineer
  • Jon Kelly – engineer
  • Stuart Breed – assistant engineer, remixing
  • Nicole Graham – remixing
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Elizabeth Coatsworth – composer, text
  • Anne Thaxter Eaton – compilation
  • Christopher Austopchuk – art direction
  • Abby Levine (www.abbyart.com) – artist[1][4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Viglione, Joe. "The Animals' Christmas". Allmusic. Retrieved October 27, 2012. 
  2. ^ Eaton, Anne Thaxter (1966). The Animals' Christmas. New York: Viking Press. 
  3. ^ Garfunkel, Art (1989). "Still Water: Prose Poems". New York: Dutton. Retrieved October 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c The Animals' Christmas (Media notes). Art Garfunkel. Columbia Records. 1986.