Elvis Presley - The Classic Christmas Album
You wouldn't expect Presley to be recording any hip-swiveling music for a Christmas album but there is dance music here, like the meant-for-a-snuggly slow dance "Blue Christmas" and the twangy mid-tempo favorite "Winter Wonderland" where Presley briefly switches to raucous mode at the end. There are also a couple of blues numbers like the lusty "Merry Christmas Baby" and a swaggering blues take on "Santa Claus is Back in Town" along with a rockabilly version of "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)." But mostly this set offers sedate tracks, perfect for cuddling by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa, and includes classics like "Silent Night," "White Christmas," "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
Dean Martin - The Dean Martin Christmas Album- (Red vinyl)
Martin's fun-loving personality always came through in his singing and here you can almost see the twinkle in his eye as he croons "Marshmallow World," which like many cuts here is rich with orchestration and female background vocals. On Dino's take on "Jingle Bells" it's easy to picture the star cruising along on a sleigh with a dame on each arm and a flask in his pocket. Most of the cuts here are well-known chestnuts like "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," "Silver Bells" and "Silent Night" but there's also the lesser-known "The Things We Did Last Summer." Strictly speaking the cut is not really a Christmas song although its melancholic and reflective mood fit right in with the season.
A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records - (Various Artists)
Disgraced producer Phil Spector remains in prison on a murder charge but that's no reason to ignore the significant contribution to pop music that he made, some of which was immortalized on his own record label, Philles Records. Here artists that recorded for Philles offer holiday songs with the most notable contribution coming from Darlene Love who is represented with takes on "White Christmas," "Marshmallow World," "Winter Wonderland" and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." The Crystals offer a sax-enhanced version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," also famously covered by Bruce Springsteen, the Ronettes check in with "Frosty the Snowman," "Sleigh Ride" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans perform "The Bells of St. Mary's" and "Here Comes Santa Claus." Spector joins all of the artists to close the record with "Silent Night," which gets started in earnest after Spector's spoken intro.
Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton - Once Upon a Christmas
Featuring two of the biggest country music stars of all time, this album of mostly duets has always been a favorite; it is all the more so now that Rogers has passed away. And it doesn't hurt, during a season when everybody is prone to revisiting childhood memories, that Parton includes a children's choir on her own composition "I Believe in Santa Claus." "Winter Wonderland"/"Sleigh Ride" is one of the album's non-duet offerings as Parton handles the vocals on her own; she also goes solo on the chestnut "White Christmas" and "Hard Candy Christmas." The record concludes with another song written by Parton, the striking story of Christ's birth that is "Once Upon a Christmas."
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