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Christmas Rock Night: The Live Experience
Artist: Various
Label: ICC (UK)
Length: 14 tracks/55.16 minutes

Many American Christian artists's first experience of Europe is at Germany's Christmas Rock Night, an annual event which occurs each December and brings in bands from across Europe and the USA. To celebrate the festival's twentieth birthday a number of artists were recorded at the 1998 festival and this resulted.

The event specializes in the harder end of rock, and while there is nothing particularly extreme here, Bride, Grammatrain, Guardian, and Snubnose do their best to entertain the moshers. There are exceptions to the hard-rock focus, as the move from Grammatrain's "Flying" to the Electrics's "Party Going On Upstairs" illustrates. The Electrics are a firm favorite at the festival and along with German reggae group Heaven Bound, whose "Two Hands" works much better here than on the album of the same name, they make for some light relief amongst the denser sounds. The collection is topped off with a couple of tracks from another firm favorite at CRN, Split Level, who contribute "Everything" and "Julia".

Those who have either Grammatrain or the Electrics's recent live albums will already have a few of the tracks featured here, and the forthcoming Split Level live recording was mostly captured at CRN 98. The recording is well done with a fair bit of energy being evident, especially at higher volumes. However, live compilations don't tend to flow too well and unfortunately, that is the case here.

An unusual cross-section from an important event, this album would probably have worked out stronger were more artists featured. Those wanting to preserve memories of CRN, or for those already fans of a couple of these artists, this would be a worthwhile investment, but it's not for everyone.

James Stewar  2/26/2000

Track listing:

Bride - "Psychedelic Super Jesus"
Guardian - "Shoe Shine Johnny"
Grammatrain - "Flying"
The Electrics - "Party Going On Upstairs"
Split Level - "Julia"
Snubnose - "Confused"
Heaven Bound - "Christianman"
Grammatrain - "Jonah"
Guardian - "Bottle Rocket"
Heaven Bound - "Fisherman"
The Electrics - "Get To Heaven"
Split Level - "Everything"
Snubnose - "Questions"
Bride - "I Live For You"

The Phantom Tollbooth has previously reviewed the live albums by Grammatrain and the Electrics, which were recorded at this event.

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