2015 Annual Christmas/Holiday Music Roundup

Charlie Brown's Holiday HitsOur popular and “usually”Β yearly tradition in past years is to do a forum roundup of our membership’s favorite holiday albums. We invite you to hop over to the forum and tell us your favorites!

If you have posted in past roundups, have you discovered anything new this year? Have you rediscovered an old favorite? We would love to hear about it! Β And no, it doesΒ not need to be A&M. We welcomeΒ all musical varieties…and labels!

We will try to link to our releases so that you, too, can join in our sharing of the music and find a copy for yourself.

56 comments

  1. Rudy says:

    I won't list them all at once, but here are some that I enjoy. I usually play these only two or three days out of the year so fortunately, I have not grown tired of my favorites. These titles below are ones I tend to play at least once every year.

    A Charlie Brown Christmas: still a favorite. I watched that TV special every year while growing up, and still have it on a video set with the other holiday TV specials. Musically it is a rather casual affair, essentially just a jazz trio with the occasional children's chorus. (So in other words, nothing bombastic like many old holiday albums used to be.) One of the better sounding versions is the original CD from the mid 80s–the tapes deteriorated over the years, so later releases are not as clear. Beware, however, of a remixed version that is floating around out there. (I can provide more details if needed.) The real "keeper" version is the 2-LP 45RPM set, mastered from the original analog tapes by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, now long out of print and expensive. Gray cut this title again last year for Analogue Productions, on 200 gram vinyl at 33-1/3 RPM, but I have not yet heard this version.

    A good companion to the title above is Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits, which wraps up other stray tunes from those holiday specials.

    The Tijuana Brass Christmas Album: around here, it goes without saying… :laugh: Awaiting the vinyl reissue on this one!

    Henry Mancini — A Merry Mancini Christmas: From the original LP, I tend to prefer the more upbeat Side 1. This was reissued in RCA's budget line. If you don't mind a reshuffled track order, and an additional track (the lush "Snowfall," from the Mancini Touch album) in a nicely remastered rendition, look for Mancini's Greatest Christmas Songs CD.

    Ella Fitzgerald — Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas: one of my CD-era discoveries. Many jazz CDs I've owned over the years drone on interminably. This one plays more like a pop record–a few minutes for each track, and it's on to the next one. The Frank DeVol arrangements are warm and upbeat, and is an easygoing style that would appeal to anyone. The linked version is a more recent CD reissue of this classic '60s album with a handful of bonus tracks. It was also released in 2014 on vinyl.

    I will cover a few others in my next installment, including a couple of A&M various artist compilations and a couple of jazz favorites I've enjoyed over the years. There are a couple I haven't listened to or featured in many years, hopefully something that others will enjoy also.

    So, what are your favorites? Anything new since last year?

  2. Harry says:

    RudyAnything new since last year?

    The only "new" Christams things I've acquired this year are mostly not new at all, in fact they're duplicates in one way or another.

    First off and easily dismissed as redundant is the Carpenters CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT SE that tagged along with the singles package from public television.

    Next up is the afore-, and oft-mentioned here, TIJUANA BRASS CHRISTMAS ALBUM, this time reissued and remastered for a new generation. I've got the CD version and it sounds great.

    Finally, a bunch of older chestnuts (roasting on an open fire?) made their way to a 2007 release in Japan called MUSIC DIARY: DECEMBER: CHRISTMAS TIME. It was part of a year-long series of multi-artist discs from the Universal stable in Japan and this was the twelfth and final release, with all Christmas tunes. I wanted this one for the tracks that had appeared on the old SOMETHING FESTIVE LP that A&M and B.F. Goodrich put out in the '60s. Contained here from that release are:

    The Bell That Couldn't Jingle – Burt Bacharach
    It's The Most Wonderful Time – Pete Jolly
    A Partridge In A Pear Tree – Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band
    The Christmas Song – Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
    Snow – Claudine Longet (…sometimes de weend blows thwoo de twees…)

    Also included is another Claudine Longet track that wasn't around for the SOMETHING FESTIVE compilation, "I Don't Intend To Spend Christmas Without You".

    My big discovery here though is through three tracks by The Singers Unlimited. They're a vocal group that specialize in a capella harmonies, something I love, and do "Deck The Halls", Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Silent Night". All of these were originally included on the group's 1972 CHRISTMAS album, which I've now got on order so as to hear the rest of it, since I really like these three tracks.

    Harry

  3. Rudy says:

    The Music Diary disc has gotten pricey!

    Many years ago, I had gotten the Harry Connick Jr. album When My Heart Finds Christmas, but to me it sort of lost its bubble after the first couple of tracks. He has recorded two others since then: What a Night! A Christmas Album, and Harry for the Holidays. The track selection on both of these seems to be more lively, so I am considering streaming those on Tidal to give them a listen. If they're good, I'll get one or both for the collection.

    One I haven't had a chance to play yet is the Manhattan Transfer Christmas Album, which I've owned on CD since it came out but only recently bought the SACD before it disappeared completely. (Today, the cheapest used copy is $122; it amuses me that I paid $3.77 plus shipping for it in Dec 2013! ) I've always been a fan of their vocal harmonies, and this one goes down like hot buttered rum. πŸ˜€ Tony Bennett makes an appearance also. They had another called An Acapella Christmas (yes, I know…the spelling… :laugh: ) that I have not yet heard.

    One group I haven't listened to yet is a 12-man vocal group called Straight, No Chaser, who do a capella versions of holiday classics with a humorous twist. They seem to have three CDs out: Holiday Spirits, Christmas Cheers, and Under the Influence. That's another one (or three) I might indulge in. In moderation of course. πŸ˜€

  4. Harry says:
    Rudy

    The Music Diary disc has gotten pricey!

    Hey, for about 7 years it was near impossible to find, so I was happy to be able to get a copy at all. Now it seems like you can get it if you're willing to pay the price for (a) a Japanese disc, and (b) one that's out of print. But as an avowed SOMETHING FESTIVE fan, I feel compelled to own what I can of these official releases. Sadly, some of the tracks are sourced from vinyl and can be found in better condition elsewhere, but as I said, it's one of those collector passions.

    Harry

  5. DeeInKY says:

    I used to listen to Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas selections. I owned the first one. I think it was just called "Christmas." May have to get that one out and play it again.

    Having not owned The Tijuana Brass Christmas Album previously, I'm really enjoying the new CD.

  6. Rudy says:

    One time of the year that I find myself listening to compilations is during the holidays. I often find that the variety between performers helps break up the monotony of some of the Christmas albums out there.

    Naturally, Something Festive is an A&M Corner favorite. Back when I first found it (I believe at Solo Records up when they were still in Birmingham, MI), it took me by surprise a bit. That was years before this site was around, and I only accidentally found it while thumbing through some various artist bins before the holidays. It was a bit exciting since there were some non-album tracks by Brasil '66 and the Baja Marimba Band, and other tracks by A&M artists I had only seen mentioned on the A&M innersleeves. That was about 30 years ago. Today, I have four copies on vinyl (one originally came sealed), as I can come up with enough clean tracks to make a nice digital transfer. Despite what eBay sellers will claim, this record is not at all rare–it is plentiful out there in the wild. And to this day, the occasional sealed copy still turns up.

    One compilation that I liked was the A GRP Christmas Collection CD. It had a lot of tunes by artists I was already following at the time: David Benoit, Kevin Eubanks, Diane Schurr, and Lee Ritenour, while also introducing me to a few others. There are a couple of tracks that don't quite work for me, but the majority of them do. There was also a Volume 2 and Volume 3, but those had a lot more misses than hits. This first volume was released in 1988 and has been perenially in print all of these years.

    Another one I used to like, on A&M, was A Very Special Christmas. The original, first volume. I can't say that most of the songs have aged that well with me but at the time in the mid 80s, I found a lot to like. My favorites still remain U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Sting's "Gabriel's Message" (just for being an obscure choice), "The Coventry Carol" by Alison Moyet (I've been a fan of hers since Yazoo), and Madonna does a cool version of "Santa Baby" that is not quite as sultry as Eartha Kitt's version, but still works well. The Run D.M.C., Eurythmics and Bon Jovi tracks remain instant skips for me, as they always have. :laugh:

    Rolling back the years, the Phil Spector led A Christmas Gift for You is a nice summary of Spector's sound, wrapped in holiday trimmings. Featured Spector acts include The Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans, Darlene Love and The Crystals. While it all has a certain sameness to it after a while, it is still a nicely packaged album and a perennial bestseller.

    One CD I'm sad to see out of print is the Time Life CD Jingle Bell Rock from the Rock 'n Roll Era series. I had subscribed to that series and it gave me a great introduction to that classic music. This CD hits a lot of high points, including a lot of popular holiday tracks from the era (original versions of "Jingle Bell Rock," "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree," "Run, Rudolph, Run," Jack Scott's "There's Trouble Brewin'" and others), a few rarities like the "Frosty the Snowman" single by Jan and Dean, and others from that era including Beach Boys, various Motown artists, Booker T and the MGs, The Ventures, Donny Hathaway ("This Christmas"), and the aberration being Elton John's "Step Into Christmas" which is at least a decade newer than the other tracks on the disc. The CD is still available if you have deep pockets (click the title above). The tracks are available from other sources, but the sequencing is spot-on here.

    Finally, no holiday is complete without at least one spin of Dr. Demento's The Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time. While I would not go so far as to call it the "greatest," it still has a nice helping of hilarity. Some tracks I automatically skip, but others like Cheech & Chong's "Santa and his Old Lady," Allan Sherman's "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas," and Bob and Doug McKenzie's "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (hey, I'm close to Canada here…I get it… :laugh: ) are a holiday tradition around Casa Rudy.

  7. jfiedler17 says:

    It's pretty much a holiday tradition in our house to break out Something Festive this time of year. There's just something magical about that compilation. It just works wonderfully as an album piece, to the extent that even the one or two tracks I don't like I would still miss if they weren't there, if that makes any sense! It just doesn't quite feel like the holidays for me until I've heard something from that album. My favorites on there have to be Pete Jolly's instrumental version of "It's the Most Wonderful …," Sergio's beautiful re-arrangement of "The Christmas Song," and Burt's "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle."

    I really like that first A Very Special Christmas, too. (Funny, I usually skip the Bon Jovi and Run DMC tracks as well!) My favorite tracks on there are U2's, Sting's, the Pretenders, and Moyet's, which is arguably the most underrated track on that compilation. (But then, Moyet herself is an extremely underrated singer. The power of her voice never ceases to amaze me. She's put out no shortage of great music over the years – both with Yaz and as a solo artist – but the one that I think knocks me out the most is "Invisible." There's not a lot of female vocalists – if any – who could pull that song off as well as she does. Just astounding. What a talent she is!)

    As far as other Christmas faves of mine I like to spin during this season, I always enjoy listening to the Carpenters' Christmas records (especially "The Christmas Waltz" – truly one of the more underrated songs in the holiday canon, in my opinion; I could listen to that song sung by just about anybody and still get enjoyment out of it – and "Merry Christmas Darling"), ditto Johnny Mathis' first Christmas album, which always gives me goosebumps. (His version of "Sleigh Ride" is definitely my favorite rendition of that song.) Tony Bennett's version of "Winter Wonderland" is another that always gets me into the Christmas spirit. Nat King Cole's The Magic of Christmas is pretty timeless and is another family favorite of ours.

    Ironically, as much as I've always loved and gravitated towards most '80s music, I actually don't listen to a whole lot of '80s Christmas music, if only because so much of it is waaaaaay too overplayed on the radio (i.e. "Wonderful Christmastime," Band Aid, "Christmas Wrapping," etc.). I used to really enjoy "Last Christmas" back in the day, but that song is so thoroughly inescapable on the airwaves and as retail-store background music this time of year that I get a little exhausted from hearing it and tend to listen to that one at home only on the occasions that I listen to Music from the Edge of Heaven in full. Most of the '80s Christmas music I listen to at home during this season tends to be the stuff that I hear very seldomly, if ever, on my Christmas-shopping trips, like Erasure's "She Won't Be Home" (beautiful song) or Ray Parker Jr.'s "Christmas Time Is Here" or XTC's "Thanks for Christmas" or Chris Rea's "Driving Home for Christmas."

  8. Rudy says:
    jfiedler17

    But then, Moyet herself is an extremely underrated singer. The power of her voice never ceases to amaze me. She's put out no shortage of great music over the years – both with Yaz and as a solo artist – but the one that I think knocks me out the most is "Invisible." There's not a lot of female vocalists – if any – who could pull that song off as well as she does. Just astounding. What a talent she is!

    Definitely. In fact, I've often said privately that I felt Eurythmics did a wholesale ripoff of Yazoo's sound on their first hit. Sadly, Moyet never did get that recognition. That first Yazoo album, especially, was so sparsely instrumented that she really stood out. "Situation" and "Don't Go" (especially the extended versions) were big hits here in clubs and on dance-oriented radio. I never tire of those. The CD I picked up back in the 80s, though, was an import and was missing "Situation." (That one, I believe, was added to the US release.)

    jfiedler17

    ditto Johnny Mathis' first Christmas album, which always gives me goosebumps. (His version of "Sleigh Ride" is definitely my favorite rendition of that song.)

    I know that one! πŸ˜€ But I've never had this album. I tend to gravitate towards those classics so I may pick this one up. (Chances are, there is a vinyl reissue out there. Sorry, couldn't help myself. :laugh: )

    jfiedler17

    Most of the '80s Christmas music I listen to at home during this season tends to be the stuff that I hear very seldomly, if ever, on my Christmas-shopping trips, like Erasure's "She Won't Be Home" (beautiful song) or Ray Parker Jr.'s "Christmas Time Is Here" or XTC's "Thanks for Christmas" or Chris Rea's "Driving Home for Christmas."

    I'm about the same. Those few Very Special tracks you mention are worth hearing. I haven't yet heard the Erasure (there's another Yazoo connection!), but I'd all but forgotten about Ray Parker Jr.'s track. I dig some of that obscure music! And I agree–some of those other tunes have been rammed at us so much that I can't even bear to hear "Wonderful Christmastime" ever again in my life. Sad, because I really liked that one before radio and retail/restaurant satellite services ruined it for us. "Last Christmas" bothers me while out shopping but oddly enough, at home I'm OK with it. (I first heard it on the Wham The Final anthology CD from Europe, circa mid 80s.)

    Al Jarreau's "The Christmas Song" was a radio favorite here, but I never found a 45RPM single. I didn't shop the used record stores back when it was first played. But by chance, I stopped at Car City Records in their heyday, and they had a bin of cheap CD singles at the register. Lo and behold, there it was, a single track on a promo CD. I don't even think I paid $3 for it. There are a handful of the 45RPM singles on Discogs now. And to be honest, he did a full-blown holiday CD at some point, much later, and it didn't do anything for me. I was more a fan of the 70s/80s Al Jarreau.

  9. jfiedler17 says:

    Rudy, you're correct about "Situation." That one doesn't appear on international pressings. When Upstairs at Eric's came out in the U.S., they took the song "Tuesday" off and replaced it with "Situation." I consider that to be a very underrated album. "Situation," as you said, was, of course, a big club hit and continues to pop up on radio to this day, but it's surprising in hindsight that it wasn't much of a crossover hit on the pop charts (it stopped well shy of the Top 40), and that album's got quite a few other songs that should've been bigger hits. "Only You" is certainly one of Vince Clarke's greatest compositions (interestingly enough, he originally wrote that one while he was still in Depeche Mode), "Don't Go" got an awful lot of club play in its time but never crossed over, and even some of the non-singles are still awfully catchy in their own right (especially "Bad Connection" and "Too Pieces.") No offense intended towards Erasure, who've made a lot of great music themselves (I have nearly everything of theirs from Wonderland through the underrated I Say I Say I Say), but it's rather unfortunate that Yaz only made two albums together, 'cause Clarke and Moyet really made for a great pairing of talent.

    I've never heard that Al Jarreau Christmas album, actually, though I'm a big admirer of his, but I'm similarly more of a fan of his '70s and '80s discs. (Look to the Rainbow, This Time, and Breakin' Away are my favorites.) He's a bit similar for me to George Benson in the sense that both of them never really stopped making pleasant albums but if you don't have anything that either of them have made since, say, '86 or so, you're not really missing out on anything terribly critical or special, either. L Is for Lover is the most recent of Jarreau's albums that I listen to with any regularity.

    How is that Manhattan Transfer Christmas album, by the way? They're another act I have a fairly large number of regular studio albums by (I believe I have nearly everything of theirs from their '75 self-titled album all the way through Brasil, which is the one I probably listen to the most – either that or Vocalese) and yet have never heard any of their holiday offerings.

  10. Captain Bacardi says:

    Since Christmas is by far my least favorite holiday I don't do much anymore with Christmas music. I pretty much keep to the standards:

    TJB – Christmas Album
    VA – Something Festive
    VA – Jingle Bell Jazz – VA – God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen
    VA – Jazz To The World
    Ella Fitzgerald – Wishes You A Swingin' Christmas
    Beach Boys – Christmas Album
    Frank Sinatra – A Jolly Christmas From…
    Tennessee Ernie Ford – A Star Carol (from my parents old collection)

    I haven't had much interest in getting anything new, with the exception of the Brian Setzer Orchestra (which I keep forgetting to get). But most of the newer stuff today sounds tiresome, as if everyone is at a funeral. There doesn't seem to be much festive stuff out there anymore.

  11. Mike Blakesley says:

    A recent discovery of mine is a single by Christopher Cross called "The Best Christmas." (Available wherever downloads are sold, I'm sure) It's a typical CC ballad but has great lyrics that might just make you "tear up" especially if you have kids.

  12. Rudy says:
    Captain Bacardi

    I haven't had much interest in getting anything new, with the exception of the Brian Setzer Orchestra (which I keep forgetting to get). But most of the newer stuff today sounds tiresome, as if everyone is at a funeral. There doesn't seem to be much festive stuff out there anymore.

    Setzer's is fun listening, but I don't think I could play both of his CDs in a row. I like what he did with the Nutcracker–I believe he uses the Les Brown (?) arrangement. As I've said earlier, his live holiday shows are so good in person that if you're not in the spirit, they will certainly motivate you in that direction. πŸ˜€

    I do agree on tiresome. It seems that anyone with an ounce of popularity these days is putting out a Xmas album. Some of the Top 40 stuff I am hearing in the stores lately is really wretched, many of them obnoxiously sung versions of classics old and new. Even when I was still getting jazz review CDs, there was really nothing to differentiate the half dozen or so Concord jazz artist CDs from one another, and they were IMHO a bit bland musically anyway. Usually with any album, it will take two or three songs to grab my ear immediately, which will draw me into the rest of the album; this never happens with most of them I've had in recent years Some I used to like quite a bit, also, have fallen out of favor. I think I counted close to 100 holiday titles. These days, I'm lucky to play two or three of those per year or, more likely, I will find the favorite tracks and use a playlist to cover all the tunes I like.

    I don't mean to be "bah humbug" about so much of it, but it just feels lately like the Xmas albums were an idea that has worn quite thin. That is why I like reading what everyone's favorites are–if there is something we've overlooked or that has flown under the radar, I will give it a try.

  13. Rudy says:

    In yesterday's shipments was my box from Soundstage Direct (thanks to a 10% off coupon and free shipping πŸ˜€ ). Charlie Brown Christmas from Analogue Productions has arrived, as did the Tijuana Brass Christmas Album. So, that's how the morning started, turntable a-spinnin'. :laugh:

    One twist we might do for the remainder of this thread is to create a list of your top favorite holiday songs. The idea is to do this like you were programming a playlist or a radio program–pick the songs you most want to hear. Make it five, ten, twenty…whatever. Your list, your rules! I am assembling a playlist over the next couple of days so that I can have something to play on the 24th and 25th.

    Matt The Cat (former 50s XM Radio DJ/expert in blues and early R&B) had a really cool Spotify playlist last year. Look it up if you're interested! I had a free Spotify trial just to listen to it. A lot of unusual tunes you won't hear anywhere else, and some familiar favorites too.

  14. jfiedler17 says:

    A fun challenge, Rudy! Okay, here's the holiday songs I'm personally most prone to breaking out at Christmastime (a mix of both the very familiar and some you may have never heard before):

    "Sleigh Ride" by either Leroy Anderson or Johnny Mathis (both versions are equally magical and really sonically capture the essence of Christmas to me)
    Pretty much anything from the Carpenters' two Christmas albums, but especially "The Christmas Waltz," "Home for the Holidays," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
    "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Pete Jolly (Andy Williams' version is equally memorable, don't get me wrong, but it's also a bit too overplayed on the airwaves, so I'm more prone at home to playing Jolly's underappreciated version)
    "Christmas Time Is Here" by Vince Guaraldi
    "Winter Wonderland" by Tony Bennett
    "Christmas Lullaby" and "Welcome to Our World" by Amy Grant (whose Christmas albums I consider to be rather underrated and among the very best of the Christmas albums of the more modern era; they do get some radio play around the holidays, but it seems like the programmers always seem to overlook the best cuts and just play her renditions of the same Christmas standards that everyone else covers as well)
    "Do You Hear What I Hear" by Vince Gill
    "O Come All Ye Faithful," "O Holy Night," and the inexplicably underappreciated "Caroling, Caroling" by Nat King Cole
    "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" by Johnny Mathis
    "She Won't Be Home" by Erasure
    "Driving Home for Christmas" by Chris Rea (especially perfect for playing in the car in snowy weather)
    "Christmas Time Is Here" by Ray Parker Jr. (sentimental favorite from my childhood)
    "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway
    "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Arthur Fiedler/Boston Pops Orchestra
    "Holiday for Bells" and "Toy Parade" by Bert Kaempfert – criminally underrated instrumentals; why you never hear either of these played as background music at stores or malls during the holidays is beyond me
    "We Need a Little Christmas" by Percy Faith & His Orchestra
    "Thanks for Christmas" by XTC
    "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and "The Christmas Song" by Michael Buble [Nat King Cole's version of the latter is still the definitive and best version, but Buble's might be the best modern version that I've heard of the song and isn't played anywhere NEAR as much as Nat's is]
    "Does She Love That Man?" by Breathe (not technically a Christmas record per se, but its lyrics takes place during Christmas and I've become so accustomed to playing this one in the car on my holiday-shopping rounds that it's become something of a tradition for me)
    "Carol of the Bells" by Robert Shaw Chorale
    "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" by Wizzard (why this one has never caught on Stateside, I have absolutely no idea; you'd think Christmas-radio programmers would leap all over this one)
    "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle" by Burt Bacharach

  15. DeeInKY says:

    Several that I like:
    Gene Autry's version of Rudolph – had the 45 as a kid and about wore it out
    Silent Night by Elvis
    Suzy Snowflake by Rosemary Clooney – another kid's song that I like
    Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
    Silver and Gold by Burl Ives

  16. Rudy says:

    I don't have my homework list done yet. But one song that really bugged me for years was "Blue Christmas" by Elvis. That was until I found out they were goofing around in the studio with the vocals, and then decided to keep it. (The arrangement was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)

  17. Mike Blakesley says:

    Hmm, well my list of Christmas favorites is pretty short — there are only a few that I "need" to listen to every year for it to feel like Christmas.

    Herb Alpert & the TJB's Christmas Album (the whole thing, but if I had to pick tracks, "My Favorite Things," "Jingle Bells" or "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle." Or "Winter Wonderland.")

    "Sleigh Ride" (the Leroy Anderson version) – I don't own this version but Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops did a recording of it that's pretty much identical

    "Carol of the Bells" – My favorite version is the one by the Robert Shaw Chorale. I also have the version from the same Arthur Fiedler album that has "Sleigh Ride" (A Christmas Festival) – it's the same arrangement as the Shaw Chorale, but is performed quite a bit faster (it's a full 10 seconds shorter, which is saying something when the whole thing is less than 1:30 long). I like the Robert Shaw version better but they're both awesome. Virtually every other version of this song I've ever heard is disposable to me, especially the Mannheim Steamroller one which I can't stand. Anytime you take a one-minute piece, stretch it out to four minutes, and add '80s synths and '90s processed vocals, well, you get what you deserve.

    Speaking of Mannheim Steamroller, a few of their tunes have worn themselves out for me due to being played too much everywhere, but I still like a few:
    God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen (the rock version)
    Stille Nacht
    Fum, Fum, Fum
    O Come O Come Emmanuel
    …and a couple others I can't think of at the moment.

    "Oh Holy Night," if it's sung by a choir or a "classic" singer. Most modern versions of it are below standard, I think.

    "Believe" by Josh Groban (from "The Polar Express") and there's another song on that soundtrack called "Spirit of the Season" that is terrific.

    The Carpenters albums maybe aren't quite as "must hear" for me as some other records but I like to play them while decorating or opening gifts.

    I almost forgot to list the Something Festive album which contains a lot of great stuff. It's fun to hear the TJB without the choral intros on that album, and of course the Sergio and Baja tracks are great.

    I could probably think of more I like but those are the ones that spring to mind. A lot of the rest of the Christmas music tends to fall into the "I don't mind it" category, even if I don't own it. There are a few Christmas songs I absolutely hate though:

    – Santa Baby (I don't care who sings it, I hate it)
    – Anything by modern female singers who can't/won't sing the actual melodies (heard a version of "Silent Night" the other day that was so completely awful it defies description)
    – The 12 Days of Christmas, unless they start with Day 12. Any song with that many verses is bound to be awful.
    – Up On the Housetop. For some reason this song always got on my nerves.
    – Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne," which is not a Christmas song, it just happens to take place on Christmas Eve. It's an OK song but it just kills my good mood when I hear it at Christmas time because it's so sad.

  18. Harry says:

    I've been making a "jukebox" Christmas CD for the car just about every year that I've had that capability and it's grown in length to somewhere near 150 recordings. Start with the totality of several albums:

    TJB CHRISTMAS ALBUM
    Carpenters CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT
    Carpenters AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS
    Amy Grant's HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
    and the SOMETHING FESTIVE tracks that are not already taken care of by the TJB, plus additional A&M songs that came a bit later.

    Jumble those up and add in favorites like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Harry Simeone Chorale, Robert Shaw Chorale, Arthur Fiedler, and then more modern stuff like a few Mannheim Steamroller tracks, the David Foster "Carol Of The Bells" which I consider the single, most amazing version of that song I've ever heard. We were in Epcot the other day and they have a dancing water fountain in the center of Future World that was playing that song, and I just had to stand and watch and listen.

    This year I added the two tracks from The Singers Unlimited. Other recent auditions were the silly version of "Sleigh Ride"/"Jingle Bells" by Roy Rogers & Dale Evans that was used in the Meg Ryan movie SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (…harses, harses, harses…) It's a fun sing-a-long in the car, and where else at Christmas will you find a yodeling cowboy?

    Throw in a few Charlie Brown songs, a couple of tracks from the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, some more well-worn rock-type tracks like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elton John, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Barenaked Ladies with Sarah Mclachlan, Eurythmics, The Wilson Sisters – all the stuff you can hear on Christmas radio every hour. The idea is that I almost NEVER listen to Christmas radio anymore. It's all here on my annual compilation.

    One of the improvements I made a couple of years ago was to re-index the Carpenters tracks. I used the West German version of the CD, and the fixed the start and end of nearly every track so it didn't start in the middle of a segue, but had cleaner openings and closings. Other unique 'edits' include Simon & Garfunkel's "Silent Night" with the 7 O'Clock News part deleted.

    The compilation is so long that it takes somewhere between six and eight hours before it restarts.

    Oh – my opening and closing tracks both come from Amy Grant. Her cassette-only "Let The Season Take Wing" is a great Christmas-season opener and her "Til The Season Comes Round Again" does the same with closing out this time of year.

    Harry

  19. Rudy says:

    Mike Blakesley- Santa Baby (I don't care who sings it, I hate it)

    Eartha Kitt's original single. Her's is the only correct version out there…it has a sultry/playful edge nobody else has even come close to. (Similarly to how Dusty Springfield has been the only performer to ever "get" "The Look of Love.")

    Mike Blakesley- The 12 Days of Christmas, unless they start with Day 12. Any song with that many verses is bound to be awful.

    I've had to perform it (practice it?) in the past. It is eleven verses too long. Wait, make that twelve. πŸ˜€ Bob & Doug McKenzie's version, though…yeah, I can do that. It is Canadian. We live near Canadians (just south of the international border from us). We get it, eh? Alan Sherman's "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" is another I like. It's a Nakashuma. :agree:

  20. Rudy says:

    My list…

    The ones I play every year:

    Herb Alpert: The Christmas Album
    Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas
    David Benoit: Christmastime, and Remembering Christmas
    Any of Brian Setzer's holiday CDs

    Ones I'll spin once a year if I have time or patience:
    Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas
    GRP Christmas Vol. 1
    Jingle Bell Rock (a Time-Life compilation from the "Rock 'n' Roll Era" series)
    Carpenters: Christmas Portrait (only the original vinyl)
    Henry Mancini: A Merry Mancini Christmas (and often, only side one which has the more upbeat songs)
    Manhattan Transfer: Christmas Album
    A&M Various artists: Something Festive (although I usually play the favorites and skip the few I don't like)
    Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

    Also-rans that will get a spin if I am in the mood:
    Jimmy Smith: Christmas Cookin'
    Very Special Christmas Vol. 1 (only if I skip 2/3 of the tracks…my patience has grown thin with his trainwreck)
    Merry Axemas (same as above)
    Phil Spector's Christmas Gift for You (or whatever it's called–that sound gets to me after a handful of tracks)
    …and a couple dozen others I don't have time to list right now. πŸ˜‰

    I do better off on the also-rans by assembling the few tracks I like into a playlist. That is how it goes most years. I'm working on a new one this year, so I may end up posting it later on in this thread.

  21. jfiedler17 says:

    Nice lists, guys!

    Harry, I'd never heard the David Foster version of "Carol of the Bells" before, but I had to go listen to it after reading your list, and I was floored; that is easily the greatest instrumental version of that song I've ever heard, by far! Nice sequencing idea with the two Amy Grant tracks you mentioned, too (and 'Til the Season Comes Round Again" is definitely an underrated song.)

    Mike, I agree with you about "O Holy Night" – the "classic" singers (i.e. Mathis, Cole, etc.) typically do an excellent job with that song, but the modern versions of it really, really pale in comparison. (Especially when it's done by the likes of Mariah, Christina, etc. or any "diva" with a tendency to oversing or turn every note into a string of notes and not stick to the melody as it was written. That kind of thing always annoys me.) There's very little subtlety or nuance in the modern renditions I hear of that song; it seems like most anytime a modern pop singer does that song these days, they just go for the volume and miss the feeling entirely. And I wholeheartedly agree about "Santa Baby," too; I'm a big Kylie Minogue fan, and I don't even like listening to her version. (Interestingly enough, speaking of Minogue, she just put out a new Christmas album that includes a cover of Yaz's "Only You," done as a duet with, surprisingly enough, CBS late-night-talk-show-host James Corden. I wouldn't think that that song would make much sense being included on a Christmas record – or that Corden was an obvious choice of duet partner, for that matter – but somehow, it works so much better than it has any right to. I still definitely prefer the Yaz version – no one can sing that song like Moyet – but Kylie and James' version is quite pretty in its own right.)

  22. Mike Blakesley says:

    After reading Harry and Neil's posts I thought of a few others that I like, but they didn't jump to my mind last night:

    Amy Grant's "Emmanuel" and "Little Town." This looks like "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem," but it's not; "Emmanuel" is a different song, and "Little Town" is "Bethlehem" but set to a different melody. I really like both because they're something you don't hear anybody else do, and the other cool thing is that the two songs segue into each other — segues are almost always cool.

    I am kind of in a gray area with Trans Siberian Orchestra. I really like some of their stuff like "Wizards of Winter" and "Appalachian Snowfall," but other songs of theirs just seem overly bombastic and overblown — which I guess is part of their appeal. I just heard their version of "Carol of the Bells" on the radio….yeah, as Rood would say, "not my cuppa."

    The Vince Guaraldi tunes, definitely. Also I like Elton John's "Step Into Christmas." It's not a song I play much but I always enjoy it on the radio. Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" is a fun listen.

    I haven't heard David Foster's version of "Carol of the Bells" — off to YouTube to check it out.

    EDIT: Well that's probably the prettiest instrumental version of the song ever. I like it — but it suffers from the same thing all instrumental versions of it do — the melody is too repetitious for an instrumental, so I'll continue to prefer the vocal, choir-only versions.

  23. Rudy says:

    Mike BlakesleyPaul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" is a fun listen.

    It used to be for me, but now you hear it at least once in every store you visit. It's sad to hear a formerly lesser known song get overplayed to death.

    "Last Christmas" is the same way for me. Now it's overplayed, and every hack Top 40 act has to take a shot at slaughtering it. And they all suck. No emotion whatsoever (very bland) and the same synth background everyone else has. With Autotune as co-producer. :rolleyes:

  24. Harry says:
    jfiedler17

    Harry, I'd never heard the David Foster version of "Carol of the Bells" before, but I had to go listen to it after reading your list, and I was floored; that is easily the greatest instrumental version of that song I've ever heard, by far!

    I first heard that on a radio station that went all-Christmas and was also absolutely floored – only I never got the name of the performer, so it remained a mystery. Then I heard it again at one of those amazing light displays that some homeowners put up at their house and this was the first time it had one of those FM transmitters so you could see the computer synchronization of lights to the music – and they were using this same "Carol Of The Bells" recording.

    In the past five years, I finally pinpointed the title and artist and, as far as I could tell, it had been on a CD that was now long out of print (GIFT WRAPPED, SNOWED IN). So my only option at that point was a download from Amazon. I don't do a lot of music downloading, so you know this had to be special for me to buy a file, but I liked it THAT much.

    I see that the old 1993 DAVID FOSTER CHRISTMAS ALBUM, essentially a soundtrack to a TV show, is once again available on CD, so perhaps I'll spring for it to get an uncompressed version of the song.

    Here's a video that synchronizes the recorded track with the TV show video:

    Harry

  25. DeeInKY says:

    Another one that I like is Let It Snow by Dean Martin. As far as Santa Baby I would agree with Rudy that Eartha Kitt is the only one who can sing that. Heard some real tepid version yesterday and it really turned me off. Didn't catch the name of the artist but it was just dullsville.

  26. Rudy says:

    @Harry You should download the SoundHound app for your phone, or, Google also has a music search feature. Both will name artist, song, album, and the former will also display lyrics if it has them. As long as the phone can clearly hear the music, they'll work.

  27. jfiedler17 says:

    Yeah, I'd have to agree that "Last Christmas," "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Step Into Christmas" are all examples of genuinely fun and well-done Christmas records that have just suffered the misfortune of getting too overexposed on the radio in recent years. They're certainly three of the best pop/rock Christmas singles to come out of the '70s and '80s, to be sure. I like the fact that each of them actually went out of their way to make the records sound Christmas-y, if you know what I mean. There's so many Christmas records out there where the artist made virtually no attempt production-or-arrangement-wise to distinguish the records from their usual output. "Run Rudolph Run" is a perfect example of that. It's not a bad Christmas record per se, but take the vocal track off, and it just sounds like any other Chuck Berry record.

  28. Mike Blakesley says:

    I have the XM Christmas channel ("Holly") on at work today. They veer around a lot from really old stuff to more current. One song I really like that I haven't mentioned is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." As with a lot of these songs, I like it as sung by older artists the best — they played it by one of the old crooners (not sure who) earlier this morning, and I just now I heard some Whitney Houston-ish soul singer butchering it with 47,000 extra notes. Why do these people think they can "improve" on a classic melody?

    Another "oldie" that I forgot about is Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas." And "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Those both remind me of my grandparents and my early Christmases a lot. Whenever I hear the Burl Ives tune I get reminded of the Rudolph special — to me he will always be that snowman. I have no idea what the man looked like in real life!

  29. Harry says:

    Much discussion centers on Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 and "The Christmas Song" from 1968, but very little attention is given to his update of the song in 2005 on a special Target compilation called HOLIDAY JAZZ. Our original thread about it is found here:

    http://forum.amcorner.com/threads/exclusive-mendes-track-on-2005-target-holiday-cd.5974/#post-53703

    Since the album itself is now long out of print and quite obscure, I've loaded the song to YouTube for a little Christmas present to my Corner buddies.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5ruuDB3zD8?wmode=opaque&controls=2&w=500&h=300%5D

    Harry

  30. AM Matt says:

    I do have Don McLean "Christmas" CD from 1990 on Curb Records but I do not have Don's "Christmas Dreams" (from 1997 on Hip-O) because the CD is no longer made & out of print. I just heard "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" on the Music Choice channel "Sounds Of The Seasons" (channel 941 on Charter cable) & I am getting that CD when it comes to Saginaw, MI (36 miles from my home & the closest besides Barnes & Noble in Midland, MI which does not have that CD) & better late than never because I will have to wait till January to get it. Matt Clark Sanford, MI

  31. Chris May says:

    A few of my favorite Christmas songs/artists for me would have to be (not in any particular order):

    1) Jo Stafford – Winter Weather, It Happened In Sun Valley
    2) Kay Starr- The Man With The Bag
    3) Carpenters – First Snowfall/Let It Snow!, The Christmas Song, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, I'll Be Home For Christmas, It's Christmas Time/Sleep Well Little Children, Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
    4) Vaughn Monroe – Snowy White Snow
    5) Andy Williams – It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season
    6) Celine Dion – Oh Holy Night
    7) Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas
    8) Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song
    9) Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime

  32. DeeInKY says:

    Those clocks would be a good way to make something useful out of an unplayable record.

    Heard another awful version of Santa Baby this morning. Sounded like Betty Boop. Ugh!

  33. Rudy says:
    DeeInKY

    Heard another awful version of Santa Baby this morning. Sounded like Betty Boop. Ugh!

    I'll pass, thank you. πŸ˜€ Madonna's version is probably halfway between Betty Boop and Eartha Kitt. That is probably as "extreme" as I could tolerate it. :laugh:

    I forgot to mention a few that I will listen to if in the mood.

    First of all, I can't take myself too seriously when I listen to Xmas music, so there are times when I play my own compilation of assorted Bob Rivers tracks. Most of my favorites are the remakes of well-known versions of Xmas songs, but parodied to death. Others his group does will set holiday lyrics to pop or rock songs. Like what he did with Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." "I-I a-a-mm-mm S-a-a-n-n-ta Cl-l-a-a-uu-s." πŸ˜€ Or, putting the lyrics of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" to the music of The Animals' hit "Land of the Rising Sun." Some of it is quite silly, but sometime I need that (especially if I had the need to stay sober :laugh: ).

    They really rip through two Carpenters songs to great effect–they lift two successive songs from the Christmas Portrait LP, "Sleigh Ride" (retitled "Flu Ride"…you can guess which direction that one goes πŸ˜€ ) and "It's Christmas Time" (which puts a corporate workplace theme into it). There's also a funny mash-up of the Chipmunks Xmas song, followed by the Nat King Cole version of "The Christmas Song" that talks about…ummm…roasting chipmunks. If you've ever wondered how angels came to be put on top of the Xmas tree, give a listen to "Angel / Who Put The Stump" (set to "Who Put The Bomp")…and be edumacated. :laugh:

    On the serious side, here are a few others I didn't yet list:

    Ramsey Lewis Trio: The Sound of Christmas — from the Chess years; easygoing in that Ramsey Lewis sort of way. πŸ™‚

    Various: Christmas Cocktails (Ultra-Lounge series) — the mastering sucks (the bass and treble are cranked up, heavy noise reduction), but it compiles a CD's worth of instrumental/lounge tracks from the Capitol/EMI vaults. This was a popular title during the whole lounge music fad of the 90s.

    John Pizzarelli: Let's Share Christmas — jazz guitarist/crooner, Bucky Pizzarelli's son, has had quite a following of his own and he puts a nice spin on familiar tunes.

    Peggy Lee: Christmas — she does a few things differently on this classic Capitol album, which is what appeals to me.

    Esquivel!: Merry Xmas — I can take this one a few tracks at a time. This is actually an anthology of Xmas tracks he recorded that were scattered across a couple of albums. (And "Snowfall" comes from More of Other Worlds, Other Sounds.)

    Michael Franks: Watching the Snow — more of a winter album than a full holiday album, but there are still a couple of tracks that apply, like "I Bought You a Plastic Star (for Your Aluminum Tree)". A good alternative listen.

  34. DeeInKY says:
    Rudy

    about…ummm…roasting chipmunks

    That's just sick. Not so sick that it prevented me from listening to it and sharing though. πŸ‘Ώ (I bet it's like Chinese food…an hour later you're hungry again.)

  35. Rudy says:

    DeeInKYThat's just sick. Not so sick that it prevented me from listening to it and sharing though. πŸ‘Ώ (I bet it's like Chinese food…an hour later you're hungry again.)

    "….and they ooooh so tiny!" :laugh:

    Yeah, just silly fun there. I have to be in the mood for it, but when I am….look out. πŸ˜€ I have like 12 hours left in the day to get everything done here, and had to spend almost two hours chasing down some demi-glace to make dinner tomorrow. (There are no "gourmet" shops on this side of town–had to go clear out to Sur La Table at a mall to get the one I wanted.) It might be a Bob Rivers and Sangria night here. :laugh:

  36. jfiedler17 says:

    Rudy, I wasn't familiar with most of those Bob Rivers songs you mentioned until I read your post and went to look them up on YouTube, but those are hilarious! That one with "O Little Town …" set to the "House of the Rising Sun" music probably made me laugh the hardest, if just for the complete randomness of the concept. (Definitely not two songs I would ever think to mix together! :laugh:) "Chipmunks Roasting …" reminds me a lot of an obscure non-holiday novelty record I once heard called "Hamster Love" (I don't remember who does it, but it's on one of the Dr. Demento compilations from Rhino) that is a brutal – but brutally funny – sendup (about, um, cooking hamsters) of Captain & Tennile's "Muskrat Love."

    That Michael Franks album does make for a great listen this time of year. "Watching the Snow" and "Said the Snowflake" are my favorites on there.

    One song that hasn't been mentioned yet that I do tend to hear sporadically on Christmas-radio programming on the holidays but doesn't seem to wear on me nearly as much as a lot of the others is Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home." It's not technically a Christmas song per se, so I have a tendency to forget about that one when I'm throwing together a Christmas mix CD, but it just works really well as part of a holiday mix and I always find it really calming and enjoyable to listen to whenever I hear it. It's another one of those holiday songs that's especially relaxing to listen to in the car when it's snowing outside.

    By the way, I'd just like to say that, as far as A&M's own holiday output goes, I've really enjoyed the videos on the main page highlighting some of A&M's holiday tracks over the years. Considering that a lot of A&M's holiday music has come out in the form of rare non-LP singles, I've never heard a lot of these cuts before (i.e. Claudine Longet's "I Don't Intend to Spend …", Shawn Phillips' "A Christmas Song"), so it's been fun to finally hear a lot of these for the first time! (Incidentally, another A&M Christmas non-LP 45 I like that you never hear on the radio and hasn't been brought up on this thread yet is the Payola$' "Christmas Is Coming." I forgot to include that one in my earlier list.)

  37. Rudy says:
    jfiedler17

    I've really enjoyed the videos on the main page highlighting some of A&M's holiday tracks over the years.

    I haven't yet taken any heat for the Merry Styxmas post today… :laugh:

  38. DeeInKY says:

    Just heard a song that confused me when I was a kid. In Up on the Housetop" where the line is "up on the housetop reindeer pause" I thought they meant "paws" and I thought that was strange because reindeer have hooves not paws. πŸ˜€

  39. jazzdre says:

    Hello my A&M friends out there! I know; it's been awhile since I've been here, but I got very busy, and I had a slow working computer. Now, everything's alright! I'm not as busy anymore, and I have a new computer! So, be expecting me to drop in more often! Anyway, I kinda agree with the Captain and Rudy: these last few Christmas seasons ain't been doing it for me like they used to.The overwhelming commercialization of the season coupled with the very tragic happenings of this year have kind of hurt it for me this time around. They are also right about the glut of Christmas songs/cds coming out as of late: they are really tiresome and boring; over produced extravaganzas with little or no feeling;just to say 'I made a Christmas cd to fulfill that clause in my contract.'

    That's why I stick to my collections of oldies but goodies. My favorites are Rotary Connection's PEACE, made in the crazy year of 1968;reflecting the turmoil of that era, but mixing it with the optimism of the holiday season.(sadly the only reason this group is remembered at all is because of lead singer, the late and very great Minnie Riperton.) Another one is A Groovin' Jazz Christmas put out by a small label by the name of Gold Circle 14 years ago. It's primarily smooth jazz musicians such as Jeff Lorber, Doc Powell, Soul Ballet, and some other obscure artists. My favorites on this cd is Soul Ballet's take on "I'l Be Home For Christmas" which is done in an Electronic groove acid jazz manner, and a singer by the name of Kathleen Bertrand;her version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" is very reverential and very beautiful.

    Other cds in my collection are Fourplay's holiday cd called SNOWBOUND. It's alright and I hate to sound like a critic here, but the playing here is pleasant, but not one of fire; it's like James, Carlton, East and Mason are going thru the motions just to get through this album; so there's nothing here really. Their take on Donald Fagan's "Snowbound" is a bit interesting though.Next is another various artists cd: GRP's Christmas Collection with artists that were on the label at the time:Russ Freeman, Voyceboxing, New York Voices, George Howard, Arturo Sandoval, Patti Austin, etc. Now here there's more fire! The performances here are more first rate; standouts for me are Patti Austin's moving version of "Christmas Time is Here", Arturo Sandoval's version of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", Voyceboxing's version of "Let there Be Peace On Earth" and Nelson Rangell's take on "Let It Snow". Another cd that gets play is Encoded Music's Tis The Season, another various artists compilation. It is a combination of smooth jazz musicians and R&B vocalists such as Maysa(from Incognito),Howard Hewitt, Candy Dulfer, and The Whispers who do a beautiful version of Richard and Karen's "Merry Christmas Darling".

    Also, Polygram's(before they became Universal) R&B holiday collection Leading Men Of Christmas gets its play here as well. It's a compilation of R&B male singers take on holiday classics such as Brook Benton, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and believe it or not, James Brown's version of The Christmas Song. Also on the cd is former A&M artist Jeffrey Osbourne who does a gorgeous version of "Oh Holy Night"; the criminally underrated Will Downing, who does an absolutely beautiful version of "Christmas Time Is Here" and the master himself Marvin Gaye doing a jazz funk instrumental(!) titiled Christmas In The City. It's Marvin himself playing all the keyboards and the background musicians are probably the Funk Brothers, but lemme tell ya, he really did capture an urban Christmas with this tune! It was done in 1972;probably around the time he was doing the soundtrack for "Trouble Man"(Speaking of Marvin, listen to this:believe it or not, believe it or not, BELIEVE IT OR NOT: he was thinking of joining…A&M RECORDS!!! That's right ; Gil Friesen made overtures to Marvin to consider joining the label!! Marvin Gaye on A&M!! It boggles the mind!! If you don't believe me, pick up Jan Gaye's(ex wife of Marvin's)book on their relationship titled AFTER THE DANCE:My Life With Marvin Gaye. It's right there!!) There's also Columbia/Sony's 1990 VA compilation A Jazzy Wonderland with Harry Connick, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Dexter Gordon, Terrence Blanchard, and the late and great Richard Tee with his version of Jingle Bells/A Partridge in a Pear Tree, complete with a rap!

    Shortly before he left us, Grover Washington Jr put out a holiday cd called BREATH OF HEAVEN, and is a taste of Heaven! On the title tune(which was written by A&M artist Amy Grant) Grover employed R&B songstress Lisa Fischer to sing on the tune. His version of the Christmas Waltz is sweet, simple and straight to the point.Of course, no A&M fan's cd collection would be complete without the great one's holiday cd:Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' Christmas Album! In fact, that was the first cd that I put on at the beginning of the season! It never ceases to entertain, and much mention must be made of Shorty Rogers' immense contributions to the album, complete with his vocal and string arrangements. There's more cds that I have, but I think I'll end it here. Sorry to be so long winded, but I did have a lot to say. Anyway, to all of you out there:MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR!!
    jazzdre

  40. jfiedler17 says:

    Ooh, I forgot about Patti Austin's version of "Christmas Time Is Here"! You're right, jazzdre; that's a really good one. (As is Grover Washington Jr.'s take on "Breath of Heaven." Very underrated cut.)

    I never knew that before about A&M having tried to sign Gaye! Very cool! At the same time, I can't say I'm surprised by that, either, if only because there's so many countless other interesting "what if …?" tidbits in the man's life story. I've always been a bit intrigued by the number of cancelled LPs (i.e. Love Man) and singles that Gaye recorded over the years that were apparently completed but just got shelved for one reason or another – you could probably fill an entire boxed set – or two! – with the amount of unreleased material he made that never found its way onto a proper studio album in his lifetime. (Even much of his '70s output that did get properly released to the public has tended to be somewhat overlooked or forgotten about over time, both his non-LP singles like "You're the Man" or even full albums from that decade like In Our Lifetime or the Trouble Man soundtrack.) I also recently read somewhere that he was actually supposed to serve as the host of an episode of Saturday Night Live right around the time that "Sexual Healing" earned him his first-ever Grammy awards but he had to cancel at the last minute, which led to the show having to scramble for a replacement host (if I remember right, it ended up being Howard Hesseman from WKRP.) That certainly would have been really interesting, to see Gaye host that show, so it's a real shame they were never able to reschedule that.

  41. Rudy says:

    I remembered another favorite of mine. It isn't a holiday CD per se, but the Nutcracker Suite always seems to be associated with the holidays. Shorty Rogers did an entire LP in 1960 on RCA ("like, nutty" the cover says :laugh: ) of tunes from Nutcracker. My auto-post did not fire off earlier today on the amcorner.com site, but I found the entire album scattered among various tracks on YouTube. I've always liked Shorty's easygoing west coast sound, and this album is no exception.

    At the moment, I'm playing a 4+ hour playlist on Tidal. Wish there was a way to share it (unless I recreate it in Spotify). But it pulls together favorites from all of the albums and songs I listed above. Once I put it on shuffle, it's a nice mix.

  42. Dave says:

    My 5-record set (don't know why I thought there were 6) of THE READER'S DIGEST HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, put out by RCA Records Special Products got its annual play…

    Think I need to put together my Christmas list of artists I'm long-overdue for adding to my collection, such as The Everly Brothers Best Of on Barnaby, and maybe a good-sized retrospective on at least two CD's by Roy Orbision… I'm a fan of those guys & have acquired a few of their songs on some Various Artists sets I've acquired to get my Pat Boone fix on, as expensive as getting "something Pat sung 1 song on" has gotten…

    — Dave

  43. DeeInKY says:

    I hope I'm not the only person around here who is old enough to remember listening to this with their parents on New Year's Eve…

  44. Rudy says:
    DeeInKY

    I hope I'm not the only person around here who is old enough to remember listening to this with their parents on New Year's Eve…

    Not all the time, but I do remember it. My dad used to call him Guy Lumbago. πŸ˜€

  45. Harry says:

    I remember that Guy Lombardo seemed to have a 364 day vacation every year and that his rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" was somewhat clichΓ©d by that time (late '50s/early '60s).

  46. DeeInKY says:

    RudyNot all the time, but I do remember it. My dad used to call him Guy Lumbago. πŸ˜€

    Hadn't heard that one in years. :laughup:

  47. DeeInKY says:

    It would be good to have a job where you only worked one day a year, and, yes, Guy Lombardo did sound a bit dated to me even as a little kid. We're talking preschool age here in the late 50s. But then again it was the only night when I got to stay up past midnight, so I wasn't going to complain about the entertainment. πŸ˜‰

  48. Rudy says:

    Strangely, the version of "Auld Lang Syne" that comes to mind immediately for me these days is the scene near the end of the 1960 film The Apartment.

  49. DeeInKY says:
    Rudy

    I don't have my homework list done yet. But one song that really bugged me for years was "Blue Christmas" by Elvis. That was until I found out they were goofing around in the studio with the vocals, and then decided to keep it. (The arrangement was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)

    And then there's the Porky Pig version that I have to listen to at least once each Christmas season… πŸ˜€

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