Hippo Manchester
December 15, 2005

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CD Reviews: Steve Lukather & Friends, Santa Mental

C+

First impressions of Santa Mental will lead you astray from the album’s true identity. First off the album title suggests a Quiet Riot/Megadeth tone. Then take the album cover, which features a deranged-looking Lukather in a straightjacket, entangled in Christmas lights (aren’t we all victims of those lights each year?).

But this album is more than metal.

While the opening track, “Joy to the World,” is indeed a metal version of the classic, songs like “Greensleeves” better represent the album’s tone. This instrumental version does feature Lukather’s metal-driven electric guitar. However, that heavier sound is complemented by jazz piano and saxophone riffs.

That same jazz feel can be heard in “Jingle Bells,” which features a sampling of Sammy Davis Jr. singing.

If you’re looking for a heavy Christmas album, don’t look here. But, if you’re looking for impressively arranged songs, which blends modern-day music with sounds from Sinatra’s day, Santa Mental is worth a listen.

 — Richie Victorino