The Trans-Siberian Orchestra rocks!

Apparently the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been around since 1996, but I just stumbled across them the other day and I have to admit that I’m already a fan.

I happened upon them because I’ve actually started to listen to commercial radio again, at least until after Christmas. A local radio station, WNIC 100.3 to be exact, has decided that they are going to be playing nothing by Christmas music until after the Holidays are done. I’m not certain when they started, but I think this is the first year they’ve tried this. Now I’m a big fan of the holidays and have been known to break out my Christmas CDs with the first serious drops in temperature in September so this move on WNIC’s part drew me in like flies to honey. It was on this station a day or so ago that I happened upon a rendition of Carol of the Bells, my all-time favorite Christmas song, by the TSO and I was just amazed at the intensity they put into the song.

A quick search in WinMX for the MP3 turned up a number of Christmas songs by the group and a quick Google search turned up their official website. So far they’ve done two Christmas albums. The first is called Christmas Eve & Other Stories and the second is called The Christmas Attic. They also have a video called The Ghosts of Christmas Eve available on either VHS or DVD and which I just happened to catch on the local PBS channel this evening before sitting down to blog.

These guys are amazing in that they’ve taken a lot of old Christmas tunes along with some original compositions and turned them into a rock opera featuring the singing talents of a wide-range of performers from Jewel to Michael Crawford. Being an atheist I tend to lean more toward the secular aspects of Christmas and I tend to prefer the non-religious variety of Christmas music, but I have to give credit to TSO for taking songs I normally don’t care for and giving them a fresh new twist that made them very enjoyable. If you haven’t checked these guys out yet then you should do so, especially if you enjoy the Holiday season as much as I do.

38 thoughts on “The Trans-Siberian Orchestra rocks!

  1. Hello,
    My name is Eric Gregory.  I am doing a research paper on “Carol of the Bells”.  It is one of my favorite songs and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s arrangement is the best.  I appreciate the hard work that you have put into performing “Carol of the Bells”.  I was woundering if you could help me with my research paper by answering one or two question for me.

    What does this song (Carol of the Bells) mean to you? and/or why did you do this song (Carol of the Bells.)

    Thank you in advance for your time.

    Eric Gregory

  2. I am listening to TSO’s Beethovens’ Last Night for the 1000th time and I have to say it is by far one of the best CD’s I have ever heard and even my father who listens to nothing but classical music says this is one powerful album and wants it for himself.

  3. Kyle, if you’re referring to TSO’s rendition of Carol of the Bells that Les mentions at the start of this post, it’s on their Christmas Eve And Other Stories album, which Les has linked to.  It’s Track #8 on that CD, Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24).

    For any one else that might care, I highly recommend you see TSO live in concert, if you ever have that opportunity.  Their CD’s are among the best I own, yet they are junk compared to the live performance.  You don’t get the full experience of the “rock opera” until you’ve seen it complete with the narration, the light show, the actions of the performers, and everything else that goes with it.  The producers make sure to choose high caliber musicians to support the original group members, people who really understand the music and can express that understanding to you.  And I don’t know if they do this everywhere, but at our venue last year the entire group stayed afterwards to sign autographs for everyone who wanted them.

    For being a story highly based in religion, I find that the message in TSO’s works extends above and beyond religion, and are true without it.  Maybe the writers just decided to go with a theme most people would at least be familiar with, I don’t know.  You just have to have the ears and the heart to “listen” to what they’re really saying, beyond the words.  Anyway, even being someone who really doesn’t care much for “religion” right now, I still love these albums and really believe in the simple truths they convey.

    In fact I’m listening to them right now, in preparation for the concert on Saturday!  Last year’s was amazing, I was in awe for over two months, and this year I’m looking forward to savoring every moment!

  4. I’m a good friend of Joe Cerisano, who is one of the featured vocalists in TSO East touring group.  Joe sings “Dream Child (a Christmas Dream)” on The Christmas Attic CD.  In the live show he sings “Ornament,” and “This Christmas Day.”  The TSO fans want to hear “Dream Child” this time around; we’ll see.  In fact, Joe is the one who initially introduced me to the music of TSO.  I’d never heard of them back in ‘99 when I got back in contact with Joe (who I’d attended school with back here in West Virginia).  I didn’t check into the CD until later on during the holiday season of that year.  He got the call from Paul O’Neill to be on their second tour in 2000.  TSO did a small mini tour of around 6 shows the year before.  In 2000 the TSO machine was growing so as to put the two touring groups out on the road.  Going to see them has become a holiday tradition for my family.
    Joe has had a real interesting career as a singer/songwriter.  He has ranged from backing up Michael Bolton to singing lead for Blue Oyster Cult (on their Imaginos album).  During the mid 80s he was the top male vocalist on TV commercials…sung this one: “Be All You Can Be…The Army,” sung and sold everything from GI Joe to McDonalds…  Now he does TSO, occasional session work, and his own music and production.  His brand new Christmas CD “Give Love (for Christmas)” is a KILLER!  It is Christmas music with soul, passion, and integrity.  Check it out at:
    http://www.cerisano.com or http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cerisano3

  5. The Christmas albums are certainly good stuff. I still need to pick a couple of them up and have hopes to do so this holiday season.

  6. All I’m looking for is Carol of the Bells by this orchestra. But it is the one thing I cannot find.  It was listed in your songs on GoogleSearch.  Do you have this song? Do you know where I can find this song?  Can I hear this song on the computer? Any of it? Can you help me, please email me

  7. Is it true that trans siberian orchestra recorded carol of the bells and mad russian cristmas with metallica?

  8. Jonas, the website for TSO doesn’t say who they may have recorded any of their particular songs with, but the group is known for working with the best performers from a variety of musical genres so it’s entirely possibly that Metallica helped out on TSO’s renditions of Carol of the Bells and Mad Russian Christmas, but I can’t say for certain that is the case.

  9. Jonas: I assure you that TSO and Metallica have never collaborated on any of their material. I am connected with the band (primarily due to their being the alter ego of Savatage, with whom I’ve been involved for nearly 11 years).

    If you’re interested in seeing live photos of TSO, check out the more than 500 pro-quality photos I’ve shot at:

    http://www.casabrian.com/concerts.shtml

  10. Brian, that’s an awesome set of photos you’ve got of TSO. Thanks for sharing them with us! While you’re at it, if there are any other rumors about TSO you’ve been itching to dispell, feel free.

  11. If trans Siberian Orchestra never recoreded Carol of the bells with Metallica, then why are there so many references to it on internet download places and other sites.?

  12. Because some idiot decided that’s what it sounded like they did and attached Metallica’s name to the filename of the bootleg MP3 and everyone else just assumed it was correct.

  13. … Or probably bcos the song title ‘Carol of the Bells’ sounds similar to Metallica’s song ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.
    Whatever! A bootlegger’s main aim is to attract as many prospects to take his stuff. Using (the established brandname)MetallicA probably gives it a advertised kinda advantage.

    But sure wud b cool to c the two bands collab. Metallica have had a famous symphonic rock performance with Micheal Kamen (RIP) conducting the San-Franciso Symphony Orchestra.
    If the two were ever to pair… it wud b one Helluva ‘Tempest’ performance!
    (Dream on!)

  14. I heard a local radio station a few years ago say that Metallica did it with them… They may have been wrong though.

  15. TSO are probably the most amazing musical outfit I have ever heard. My girlfriend introduced me to them with their CHRISTMAS EVE AND OTHER STORIES album, and I was hooked. That same Christmas, I reciprocated the favor by getting her THE CHRISTMAS ATTIC, BEETHOVEN’S LAST NIGHT and THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS EVE on DVD. This Christmas I’m giving her their newest release THE LOST CHRISTMAS EVE, and we’re going to SEE THEM LIVE Dec. 23rd, Pepsi Arena, Albany NY.

    TSO does not just “rock”, man, THEY FREAKIN’ OWN!!

  16. I just got tix to their 2005 show in Lexington, KY…. I am so stoked.. Looking forward to maybe hearing some new stuff from their new album, Nightcastle due out in 2006!!

  17. for the old ? of who did carol of the bells with whom. All my research goes back to Gary Hoey. Who also has does a number of awsome christmas CD’s.

  18. I’m going to agree on the fact that Metallica collaberated with TSO to create Carol of the Bells … I’ve heard radio stations annouce it, I’ve heard others talk about it, I find it completely far-fetched that one lame/idiodic “bootlegger” – as you said – change the whole online media stream to feature Metallica’s name.  If it were not true they worked together, there would be multiple copies not featuring ‘Metallica’ in the title on online services like Napster, Itunes, and most illegal ones. Approx. 90% feature the name Metallica somewhere in the title or description, the other 10% are the ones that seem to be in peoples music folders already and are just the title. So, you can think whatever you want to think – Don’t believe someone because they say they have a close-personal relationship to the TSO, because I certainly don’t believe him … besides, Metallica told me they collaberated with them, I live down the street from James.

  19. Well, Getus, you can believe whatever the hell you want. You’d be wrong, but you are still free to believe otherwise.

    In a 2001 interview with Brian M. Loux of MIT’s newspaper The Tech TSO’s founder Robert Kinkel revealed that they’ve never worked with Metallica:

    The Tech: There have been reports from some radio stations that Savatage and Metallica have worked with the Orchestra in the past.

    Robert Kinkel: No, not Metallica. But Al Petrelli, who’s been taking up the West Coast Tour this season was in Megadeth for a while and also Alice Cooper.

    Also being that I own the CD and have looked through the liner notes for any mention of a collaboration with Metallica on the song and have come up empty I think it’s safe to say they didn’t have a hand in it.

    Now word has it that Metallica did do a rendition of Carol of the Bells live with the San Francisco Symphony once, but that’s not the same song as Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24).

  20. I have been to the TSO concerts several times, and both times they made announcements about doing a Beethoven’s Last Night concert.  However they never have done one, does anybody know anything about whether or not they are going to do one?

  21. Actually, on launch.com there is a music video of TSO and Metillica doing Carol of the Bells. So you are wrong Mr. Knowfuckingeverything.

  22. Don’t know if anyone is still interested in the origins of this song, written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich in 1916, and originally having nothing to do with Christmas, but rather the story of a swallow flying to a household and announcing the bountiful new year they will have.

    My choir performed this song for a couple of Christmas concerts, and everyone liked it.  For me, it has a similar appeal (and the same modus) as the Queen classic “Another One Bites the Dust”- a simple figure, repeated until you’re hypnotized.

  23. I can see a couple of videos for it over on Launch.com, but nothing with Metallica in it. The point still stands that the song was written, recorded, and released without Metallica’s participation. It’s always possible that Metallica later performed the song with TSO, but the version that most folks are familiar with Metallica had no hand in.

  24. I have the Carol of the bells that Metallica supsoidly helped do… i am a fan of metallica and TSO both so i got out There christmas cd and it is the exact thing as there Christmas Eve (Sarjevo 12/24) track number 8 and it says nothing about metallic featuring in it on the case or in the book   So i dont know they may have or may have not   i was looking for the same answer.

  25. Gracenote isn’t proof. That info is submitted by the users of Gracenote which pretty much means you can say Howdy Doody performed with TSO and it wouldn’t challenge you on it.

  26. Hey Les…I have been trying to find the version of Howdy Doody and TSO collaborating on the Howdy Doody theme song…only Metallica and Buffalo Bob come up on my search…  tongue rolleye (kidding)
    I had the great pleasure of seeing TSO this past Wedneday…they were incredible! I was researching some of them…and a lot of the members are from Savatage (80’s hair band).
    If you ever get a chance to see this group live…do not hesitate to get a ticket…I took my 15 year old daughter and her jaw was dropped for the entire show. Thanks for the laughs reading the on going battle with carol of the bells…
    Kim

  27. HI all.  New here.  Just wanted to add my two cents here.  I too heard Carol of the Bells a couple of years ago on a local radio station.  It was so poserful and moving I actually started to cry.  I saw the band this past Christmas and was amazzed.  No other band has held me this mesmerized since I sat front row for Queen in 80.  The Carol of the Bells actually first appears on Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead album of 1995.  One of the greatest concept albums I have ever heard.  I like Floyd, but they are not edgy enough for me.  Savatage reminds me a lot of early Uriah Heep, with metal edginess linked to guitar melodies that just blow one away.  Throw in the Heep Moog synth of the early days, and there you have it. 

    I highly recommend the Savatage stuff if you want a true history of the TSO sound.  Savatage may not have the string sound of the orchestra, but the substance and build of the music is right there.

    Phil

  28. BTW, there is a nother version of Carol of the Bells by Manheim Steamroller.  A much softer version of the original song.  I do want all to know that TSO calls the song Christmas Eve(Sarajevo 12/24), the same that Savatage calls in on the Dead Winter Dean album.  And on that album the writing credit is Olivia/O’neill/Kinkel.

    Phil

  29. Xorrection carol of the bells did not first appear in 1995 it was origonaly a peice of classical music called the african bell carol figured i would clear that up

  30. Correction carol of the bells did not first appear in 1995 it was origonaly a peice of classical music called the african bell carol figured i would clear that up

  31. Let me clarify what I said earlier.  I know that the “Carol of the Bells” is a much older song.  And I did state that there is a version by Manheim Steamroller, which is more trur to the original.  But the Savatage/TSO version, “Christmas Eve(Sarajevo 12/24), is originally from the Savatage “Dead Winter Dead” album from 1995.  With the writing credits of Olivia/O’Neill/Kinkel.  Wheter or not you believe me, I could care less.  All of my information I have right in front of me in the form of the aforementioned bands albums.

    Phil

  32. Smarter Than You doesn’t look too smart when you realize he/she is responding to a thread that is over 7 years old now and was written before the Wikipedia entry ever existed seeing as it wasn’t created until June 2, 2006.

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