Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Music

Rough terrain, this one. Holiday Music is often mundane at best, with big stars walking through the standard repertoire, backed by unenthusiastic orchestras. I am rarely excited about single artists collections of holiday music, and generally prefer collections with a variety of artists.
Here's my top five:

The Roches We Three Kings 1990 My personal favorite in the category, a record that delights year after year. There are choral pieces, light baroque, jazzy renditions, modern folk, Celtic, Andrews sisters swing, and folk-rock all cobbled together for a perfect modern/traditional seasonal CD. Breath-taking harmonies on every song, reverence for the hymns, and big fun with the carols, this CD is just about perfect.

Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas The season isn't complete without Christmas Time Is Here and Linus And Lucy. Period.

Phil Spector's Christmas Album 1963 Here is the source of Ronnie Spector's I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. That is reason enough, but there's Darlene Love's White Christmas, the Crystals doing Frosty The Snowman and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans' Here Comes Santa Claus. A rock and roll classic, this one, and well worth seeking out.

Merry Christmas, Baby- Romance And Reindeer From Capitol Records 1991 Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Lou Rawls, Lena Horne, Johnny Mercer, Glen Campbell, Nancy Wilson, Bing Crosby, and more. All secular, all heart-felt, all fun.
Croon and Swoon A Classic Christmas Volume Two 1999 Another secular gem, with greats from Mel Torme, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Julie Andrews and Eartha Kitt. The Volume One song list just doesn't excite like this one, although I'm sure it's good, too.

For more fun, the Christmas Cocktails (Part One and Two, 1995 and 1997) CDs are also very good, and go a little farther-out than Merry Christmas, Baby or Croon And Swoon.

A fairly non-traditional list now that I look at it. Load the Holiday music onto the iPod, it's that special time of year!

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