Elvis, Willie Nelson and More
This holiday season Santa is getting in the mood with five new titles in Legacy Record's The Classic Christmas Album series. Each release features favorites and rarities culled from a beloved artist's entire career.
Denver focuses mostly on well-known songs here; "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas," "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" and "Oh Holy Night" are included but so are the late pop star's originals "Aspenglow" and "Christmas Like a Lullaby." There's also a little ditty to give you something to think about as you reach for another cup of spiked egg nog; "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)."
It seems that no one can ever remember all the words to "Auld Lang Syne" but since Kenny G's jazz is all instrumental, you don't have to. The sax man works with an orchestra here, running through a set of tried-and-true tunes like "Silver Bells," "Joy to the World," "Silent Night" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
Now you know how Rudolph got his red nose; apparently the reindeer has been getting into Nelson's stash. Here the country legend freely spreads holiday cheer with versions of "Frosty the Snowman," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland" along with originals "Pretty Paper" and "Christmas Blues." Sister Bobbie Nelson appears on two cuts.
What would Christmas be without Elvis? "Merry Christmas Baby," "The First Noel," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)" are included as is the obligatory "Blue Christmas," a second version of which is performed (through the magic of studio wizardry) as a duet with Martina McBride. Studio magic also allows Carrie Underwood to duet with the King on the album's lead track, "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
Want to have a soulful Christmas? Luther's ready to help with renditions of "My Favorite Things," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" performed live with Chaka Khan and a take on perennial favorite "The Christmas Song." But most of the songs here are Vandross originals like "At Christmas Time," "May Christmas Bring You Happiness" and "This is Christmas." Darlene Love appears on "I Listen to the Bells."
(*S. Claus is also known as antiMusic's Kevin Wierzbicki)