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Your Favorite Holiday Albums

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¡Que siga la fiesta!
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LP or CD, name off some of your favorites!

I still have to dig out my list of favorites to post here, but a short list of mine include:

TJB Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Trio: Charlie Brown Xmas
Brian Setzer Orchestra: Boogie Woogie Xmas
A GRP Xmas Vol. 1
Various: Something Festive (A&M)
Carpenters: Xmas Portrait (original LP only)
David Benoit: Christmastime / Remembering Xmas
Various: Jingle Bell Rock (original Time-Life release)
Ella Fitzerald: Ella Wishes You A Swinging Xmas
John Pizzarelli: Let's Share Xmas
Manhattan Transfer: The Xmas Album
Henry Mancini: A Merry Mancini Xmas

I probably have 100+ Xmas albums, but these are the ones I pull out every year. Maybe I have 90+ Xmas albums to sell next year. :D
I have a lot of the same items as you do:

TJB - Christmas Album
VA - Jingle Bell Jazz
VA - God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen
VA - Something Festive
VA - Jazz To The World
Chicago - What's It Going To Be Santa (Christmas Album)
Ella Fitzgerald - Wishes You A Swinging Christmas
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Star Carol (a childhood favorite)

There's probably a couple more that I can't think of right now...

Capt. Bacardi
A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU (the Phil Spector Christmas album)

DECEMBER by the Moody Blues



All the Manheim Steamroller Christmas albums; but the first (brown cover) is the best.

Two new albums for me this year. I've detailed the Amy Grant HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. The other one my wife bought and I've latched onto is Enya's new album, "AND WINTER CAME..." Nice stuff, typical Enya.

One I used to like more was the Ottmar Liebert "Poets and Angels"...these days I can handle maybe the first half dozen or so tracks before it starts sounding the same.

I picked up the Michael Franks "Watching The Snow" album, but as of yet, haven't given it a fair shake and played it much. He wrote new winter-themed originals, some (or most) of which are holiday-oriented IIRC.

Setzer has two Xmas CDs out, actually, and I combined (OK, crammed) the best of both onto one CD. Another new one is out this year, a compilation, with one or two new tracks on it...which is another excuse to pick it up. :D
New for me this year:

The two Setzer discs (*****)
Larry the Cable Guy (****)

--Mr. Bill
I'm not surprised this one hasn't been mentioned as I'm sure most aren't aware it exists. My vote goes to Have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas by guitarist Kenny Burrell. His version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is the prettiest version I've ever heard, and probably my favorite Christmas song. Away In A Manger is beautiful as well.

Most tunes are delicately done, but several really cook. For me this is easily the best Christmas album I've heard, jazz or otherwise.

Otherwise, Frank, Ella and Nat's Christmas LPs are fine offerings.
My biggest disappointing Christmas album this year:

Booker T. & the MG's in the Christmas Spirit

It simply is nowhere near as good as my other Booker T CDs. It lacks soul and spirit, sounds as if they were playing with a hangover.

Sorry about the negativity.

Merry Christmas,
A couple of years ago, I picked up Chris Isaak's CHRISTMAS album...pretty good stuff. It's a mix of standards and some of his originals. I especially like BRIGHTEST STAR, MELE KALIKIMAKA, LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR and his version of HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS. There was a TV special that played for a couple of years that featured songs from this album. Haven't seen it for a while, though.

I always liked the Christmas albums from The Ray Coniff Singers and Tennessee Ernie Ford, too...haven't heard either of them in years, either. Had the Coniff album on CD years ago and wore it out.

I completely forgot about a couple that I play a lot - just to change things up:

Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas
Dr. Demento's Demented Christmas
The Bob & Tom Show - It's a Wonderful Laugh

Capt. Bacardi
nightcat said:
I'm not surprised this one hasn't been mentioned as I'm sure most aren't aware it exists. My vote goes to Have Yourself A Soulful Little Christmas by guitarist Kenny Burrell.

Count me among those who are aware! :wink: I picked up the CD about 4-5 years ago and don't remember liking it much back then. I lost the CD way back and have no idea where it is, but I should probably get it again to give this album a fair re-listening.

Another album that popped up a few weeks ago was Ramsey Lewis' The Sound of Christmas, which I hadn't seen before. Fairly good material--I've never been a big Lewis fan--and his blues takes on "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and "The Christmas Song" are nice. Overall, a recommended album.
The Kenny Burrell album is a great Christmas album. All the tracks are great, but the standout for me is 12 Days Of Christmas.

Lewis's album is great also. He also recorded a sequel a couple of years later that is also good if I can remember right.

I was rather disappointed with Jimmy Smith's Christmas Cooking. The music isn't bad, but the arrangements with the orchestra get very annoying, (especially on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen) and the playing on the trio tracks are rather lackluster.

I was also disappointed with Booker T's Christmas Album. The songs aren't terrible, but it just seems to lack emotion. I think it's mainly because the mix is too low. You can barely hear Al Jackson's snare drum.
Unfortunately, some Christmas albums are done on the cheap in a day, and they sound that way...I keep hearing Lou Rawls completely screw up the melody on his Christmas material, as if he didn't bother to actually learn the songs and nobody bothered to correct him.....however, there are also some amazing and beautiful CDs out there. I'm loving "The John Rutter Christmas Album" this year (classical/choral) - kind of frou-frou, but it's making me feel very much in the spirit of the season......
Unfortunately, some Christmas albums are done on the cheap in a day, and they sound that way...
Unfortunately that's the way the Mannheim Steamroller's latest output is seeming. To me it looks like they are starting to bang-em out too fast without much regard for their legacy. Their newest is called "Christmasville" and is basically a soundtrack to the nighttime Christmas show at Universal Studios in Orlando. Longtime Steamroller fans will be severely disappointed.
The Notorious Capt B.B. said:
I completely forgot about a couple that I play a lot - just to change things up:

Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas
Dr. Demento's Demented Christmas
The Bob & Tom Show - It's a Wonderful Laugh

Ah yes! I play these as often as possible (with the TJB mixed in), much to Mrs Bill's chagrin!

For more bizarre Christmas Musical Madness, visit my second home on the net: Dr. Forrest's Cheese Factory. You'll find I'm an occaisional contributor there, though not to such great extent as I am here at A&M Corner.

--Mr Bill[/url]
A CD worth checking out is "Portraits Of Christmas" by jazz & new age group Wind Machine from 1990 which is long out of print.
Mr Bill said:
New for me this year:
two Setzer discs (*****)

Other than the Michael Franks I mentioned above, which I haven't had a chance to listen to yet, the two Setzer CDs are probably the best new things I've heard in many years.

I hate going to the stores--so many of the current chart-topping pop and country artists are slaughtering the classics. They can't even sing--they're on Autotune, and talk about a lack of soul... :rolleyes:
Our newest radio station, NOW 97.5, became one of those all-Christmas stations this year, starting way back on Halloween. As such, I've had nearly two full months of on and off listening to the typical pop stuff that most Christmas stations play. Whenever I felt in a Christmas-y mood, I'd put the station on and be guaranteed to hear one from the Bing Crosby-Nat King Cole-Perry Como troika, with a Carpenters and Vince Guaraldi thrown in.

Mixed in with these were all sorts of artists from over the years, from the silly to the sublime with the likes of "Hippopatomus For Christmas" to Josh Groban's "O Holy Night."

This is the station where I heard a number of Amy Grant Christmas tunes and became curious enough about those to find her album.

Another track that I kept hearing and began to grow fond of is Vanessa Williams "Do You Hear What I Hear?" While out shopping a week or so ago, I came across a compilation disc put out by Sony called HOLIDAY HITS II. It had a few of these nifty songs on it that I liked, including the Vanessa Williams track.

So I brought it home, ripped a few of the tracks without reallty listening to them and mixed them into my "Christmas Compilation 2008" CD for the car. When the Vanessa Williams track came on, I listened to it, recognized it as the exact track I was looking for - but wait. What was that? A nifty gospel choir doing backing vocals? I didn't recall that in the version I heard on the radio.

Sure enough, the recording continued with Vanessa and her nicely done version of the song, and every now and then a gospel choir would join in the proceedings, making for an even more interesting record than I'd bargained for, and a welcome change indeed. It was like a bonus track within a track.

I guess that someone down the line between the release of Vanessa's Christmas album decided that the song as is, being about 5:00 long was too much for radio, but if trimmed down would be ideal, got out the scissors and shortened the recording for radio.

Anyway, short-story-long, I like both versions.

One of the other tracks that piqued my interest this year is the version of "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!" by Gloria Estafan. The arrangement is just terrific as the jazzy big-band-soundalike accompaniment and Gloria's Andrews-sisters-like overdubs turns this song into a real tour-de-force. A real toe-tapper.

As I type this, the radio station has gone back to a mixture of regular soft rock with Christmas songs mixed in, signalling the near-end of the Christmas-song listening season. But I've at least had some newly discovered gems to look forward to in the coming year when the season rolls around again.

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I just caught your post now, having been away from here for awhile.

I was briefly in the Philadelphia/Lehigh Valley area on and just after Thanksgiving, and 97.5 was one of the two stations I listened to when I was there and wanted some Christmas cheer. (The other was WLEV in Allentown at 100.7, which used to be at 96.7 when I lived in SE Pa.)

Vanessa Williams' "Do You Hear What I Hear" has been a staple of the holiday format for some years, as have several other songs from her first Christmas CD. Star Bright, released in 1996. (This CD was reissued as part of the 20th Century Masters Christmas Collection series, but be careful: Her second Christmas CD, Silver and Gold, also has been reissued in the series, as 20th Century Masters The Christmas Collection: The Best of Vanessa Williams, Volume 2.) This year was the first time I ever heard the gospel choir edited out of the song; I also heard it played that way on a station out here in Wisconsin. It does indeed shorten the song, but it takes out some of what makes it different, too.

I also enjoy Gloria Estefan's version of "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!," a highlight of her own Christmas CD, Christmas Through Your Eyes, released in 1993. I love the homage to Count Basie, with a man saying "One more time!" just before the final repeat.

I'm glad you caught our station. As a matter of coincidence, just today, the Allentown radio ratings were released and it was quite an interesting surprise to see our WNUW (Now 97.5) ranking ninth in the that region's ratings. The local Allentown stations of course dominate, and Philly and New York stations usually split up the smaller shares of what's left, but it was nice to see our station topping all of the Philly signals up there.

The station used to be a Trenton signal, so it always had a better shot up in the northern suburbs. We've moved the transmitter to Philly, and the city of license to Burlington, NJ. Even at that, I think the signal still favors the northern regions up toward Allentown.

Thanks for the info on Vanessa Williams and Gloria Estefan. Coming from you, I count it as authoritative!

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