Holidays! 🎄 Favorite Christmas Albums

tomswift2002

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I guess with the news about the music video being Remastered in 4K, I’ve had WHAM!’s 1984 hit “Last Christmas” playing in my head today. WHAM! never released a Christmas album, so “Last Christmas” was all we got.

But another great Christmas album is actually a compilation. The Beach Boys 1998 “Ultimate Christmas” CD features their original 1964 “Christmas Album” as the first 12 tracks, and then the remaining 11 are non-album Christmas singles, the 1963 single version of “Little Saint Nick”, a studio joke version of “Little Saint Nick” (where they sing the words to LSN over the backing track to “Drive In”) and a couple of tracks from their cancelled 1977 “Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys” LP, as well as a PSA and interview that was part of a syndicated radio program in 64 that had Brian Wilson being interviewed between tracks from the Christmas Album.

“Ultimate Christmas” was reissued in 2003 under a different name and missing 1 track, so the 1998 CD is the version to go for.
 

Rudy

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The Mavericks' Hey! Merry Christmas! is a fantastic holiday album, with all but two tunes being fresh new Xmas tunes that are appropriately festive. But wait...there's more!

If you want to hear Raul Malo's voice on traditional Xmas standards, or just a refreshing change of pace with a varied mix of backing arrangements, I would recommend his Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites, which covers the usual suspects (the title track plus "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Blue Christmas," etc.. "Feliz Navidad" is a natural for Malo with its Latino arrangement and vaguely TJB-ish horns, "Silver Bells" gets set to a tango rhythm, "Not So Merry Christmas" gives a nod back to his roots in The Mavericks with a little twang, and "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and "Blue Christmas" have bluesy arrangements with horns. Aside from a live version of "Blue Christmas," the album closes with a very brief This album is beautifully sung by Malo in his crystal clear tenor with tasteful backing whether it's horns, orchestral or a more traditional combo.

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lj

Active Member
It's great to go down memory lane recalling great Xmas music. I firmly believe that nostalgia is a gift from God. There is no better feeling than recalling the good times. And when I listen to good music from the past--it can't get better than that. It's like a snapshot of a place and time in my past life.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
The Mavericks' Hey! Merry Christmas! is a fantastic holiday album, with all but two tunes being fresh new Xmas tunes that are appropriately festive. But wait...there's more!

If you want to hear Raul Malo's voice on traditional Xmas standards, or just a refreshing change of pace with a varied mix of backing arrangements, I would recommend his Marshmallow World & Other Holiday Favorites, which covers the usual suspects (the title track plus "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Blue Christmas," etc.. "Feliz Navidad" is a natural for Malo with its Latino arrangement and vaguely TJB-ish horns, "Silver Bells" gets set to a tango rhythm, "Not So Merry Christmas" gives a nod back to his roots in The Mavericks with a little twang, and "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" and "Blue Christmas" have bluesy arrangements with horns. Aside from a live version of "Blue Christmas," the album closes with a very brief This album is beautifully sung by Malo in his crystal clear tenor with tasteful backing whether it's horns, orchestral or a more traditional combo.

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Last weekend, I heard someone singing Marshmallow World on a local foothill radio station that I usually have on when I am tinkering in my garage. I liked the boozy laid-back way the vocalist was vocalizing. I meant to stick around after the set for the DJ to identify the artist. I missed it...but I went on my newly-acquired digital website (Spotify) and did a search and came up with Raul Malo. He was the one! I downloaded his Christmas album this morning and enjoyed the whole thing. Great Christmas album!
 

Rudy

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Last weekend, I heard someone singing Marshmallow World on a local foothill radio station that I usually have on when I am tinkering in my garage. I liked the boozy laid-back way the vocalist was vocalizing. I meant to stick around after the set for the DJ to identify the artist. I missed it...but I went on my newly-acquired digital website (Spotify) and did a search and came up with Raul Malo. He was the one! I downloaded his Christmas album this morning and enjoyed the whole thing. Great Christmas album!
He has one of the best voices out there today. I learned why he sings the way he does--he grew up with music in the house, and one of his mother's passions was operas. He was also fond of many different types of music, and was particularly fond of Elvis--he has said that Elvis's song "It's Now Or Never" was something he's been trying to emulate throughout his career, since it summarizes so many of his influences. (That song is based on "O Solo Mio," so it ties opera to rock and popular music.)

It's not a holiday tune, but his recent recording with The Mavericks has two that really highlight his voice--basically just him and his guitar. This is one of them. So refreshing to hear a crystal clear voice with no autotune!


...and that Mavericks Christmas album is a blast also. A different style from Marshmallow World and a lot of fun!
 

Rudy

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I didn't even hear about this one:


The David Benoit Trio and vocalist Jane Monheit made an album together called Believe. I have only sample a couple tracks but I'm liking it so far. She's not a screecher, thankfully!
 

Harry

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Thinking back to a Randy Van Horne album Rudy was posting about a while ago, I was surprised to see this track showing up on that WONDERLAND: YULESVILLE comp that had that strange extended version of Sergio's "Christmas Song".



 

Rudy

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I never did pick that one up, but Qobuz has it available so I can give it a listen.
 

Moritat

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Favorite Christmas lp is "Have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas" by Kenny Burrell. Best cut on the lp... "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".
 

Rudy

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This one will be spinning shortly. I wish there were more soul jazz records like this one from that era.

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alpertfan

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Breath Of Heaven-Grover Washington, Jr.
The Christmas Song-Nat King Cole
A Charlie Brown Christmas-Vince Guaraldi Trio
The Andy Williams Christmas Album-Andy Williams

There aren't that many Christmas albums I'm into anymore, as I was when I was a kid. I'm more into individual tracks these days, and they're mostly non-traditional Yuletide ditties on a personalized streaming playlist, as opposed to an old hi-fi.😆
 

Rudy

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I kind of burned out on Xmas records myself--my Roon player shows me I have over 60 on the server, and I know I have a few dozen more CDs I never ripped (some were promos I received for review, many years ago)--I probably have over 100 total. Yet when I get down to it, there are maybe less than two dozen I actually listen to.

I'm more into individual tracks these days, and they're mostly non-traditional Yuletide ditties on a personalized streaming playlist
That is what attracted me to recent records like JD McPherson's Socks and The Mavericks' Hey! Merry Christmas! All but two of the tracks are new originals. One clever thing I like about the songwriting on the Mavericks record is that they echo a brief snippet of melody from a well-known Xmas tune on a couple of tracks--it kind of ties the new to the old in a reminiscent sort of way, giving it more of a holiday feel. ("Santa Does" borrows a little passage from "Do You Hear What I Hear?" for instance.) What I like about McPherson's is the new twist he puts on the holiday tunes--"Socks" of course is every kid's nightmare gift 😁and "Hey, Skinny Santa" riffs on the shopping mall Santas while the waistline keeps expanding as the years go by.

Some of my other favorites have original tunes, like the Lou Rawls Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho! record, which are soul/jazz based and also show off his gospel roots a little.

I figure there are only so many ways that the traditional few dozen Xmas tunes can be done and not feel stale, and that is why I end up passing by most of the lesser-played records and CDs I have here when the holidays roll around. And for those traditional tunes, there are definitive or original versions that I will play ahead of any other (like Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song," Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby," Vince Guaraldi's "Christmastime Is Here," etc.). Or they have to have unusual arrangements like Herbie's TJB album does.
 

LPJim

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Every year it's fun to find a new Christmas album to add to the old favorites. This year it was 'CELESTIAL' by Rob Halford of Judas Priest, with family and friends. I am not a "metal head" but was pleasantly surprised by his unique takes on traditional tunes and a handful of originals. A 7+ minute version of "Good King Wenceslas" is a highlight. Venturing outside the usual comfort zone was rewarding in this instance.

JB
 
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