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Hear Paul Gilbert give I Saw Three Ships a bluesy, slide-heavy makeover

Paul Gilbert gets into the Christmas spirit
(Image credit: Jason Quigley)

Christmas, believe it or not, is rapidly approaching once again. Who better to get you in the spirit (if you celebrate) then, then electric guitar master Paul Gilbert?

We reckon that if Gilbert's brand-new, bluesy cover of I Saw Three Ships doesn't get you in a Christmas-y mood, nothing will.

You can check out the cover – the third single from Gilbert's upcoming Christmas album, 'TWAS, following Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and the Gilbert original Every Christmas Has Love – below.

With the help of a quartet of session aces based in Gilbert's HQ of Portland, Oregon – Dan Balmer (guitar), Clay Giberson (keyboards), Timmer Blakely (bass) and Jimi Bott (drums) – Gilbert turns this classic carol into a baptism of blues-rock lead guitar fire, complete with stinging slide stabs, a healthy helping of massive bends, and, of course, some oh-so-Gilbert-like moments of fretboard-melting speed.

“It was 104 degrees in Portland, Oregon, on August 12, when the band and I recorded I Saw Three Ships," Gilbert said in a press release. 

"I was trying to get extra sounds from my A/DA Flanger by attaching a foot-operated, mechanical knob-turning device. But the device kept coming loose, and I kept getting angrier and angrier at it. I finally decided to give up on the knob-turning, and convert my frustration into pure guitar playing energy. 

"The result was a slightly worried band, subtle flanging, and a good take! Thanks to Nat King Cole and George Thorogood for the arrangement inspiration. And thanks to England for the song.”

Set for a November 26 release via The Players Club/Mascot Label Group, 'TWAS features 10 Gilbert-ified Christmas classics and two Christmas-themed Gilbert originals.

You can check out the record's cover art and track list below, and pre-order the album via Gilbert's website.

The cover of Paul Gilbert's upcoming Christmas album, TWAS

(Image credit: The Players Club/Mascot Label Group)

Paul Gilbert – 'TWAS:

1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
2. Frosty the Snowman
3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 
4. The Christmas Song
5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
6. I Saw Three Ships 
7. Every Christmas Has Love 
8. Three Strings for Christmas 
9. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
10. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
11. Silver Bells
12. Winter Wonderland

Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at guitarworld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.