Our Ten Favorite Christmas Albums (Part One)!

A Very Special Christmas -Various Artists

Executive producer Jimmy Iovine formulated the idea for this album and called in quite a few favors to make it happen.  It has gone on to sell over 4,000,000 copies in the U.S. since its release in 1987.

Despite the diversity of the line-up, which includes the Pointer Sisters, Eurythmics, John Cougar Mellencamp, U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Pretenders and Alison Moyet, the album is a very cohesive collection of inspired holiday tunes that holds up well 27 years later,

One interesting tidbit: Bon Jovi recorded a version of Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa" that was later removed from further pressings of the album due to the sexual nature of the song.  Sadly, it was replaced by yet another Bon Jovi song...one that the band actually wrote, making them one of only two artists on the entire album collecting songwriter royalties, as all other artists are covering well-known Christmas songs.

The other artist is Run -DMC, whose "Christmas In Hollis" was written for the album.  ironically, that song features a sample of Clarence Carter's original version of - you guessed it - "Back Door Santa".

A Christmas Portrait - The Carpenters 

Back in 1978, there was no bigger duo in music than the Carpenters.  On December 19, the duo unveiled their second Christmas special on ABC, along with an accompanying holiday album of songs performed on the show.

While the show is a little high on '70s-era schmaltz, it shines a very deserving spotlight on the supreme talent of Karen Carpenter, whose voice has a way of breathing warmth and life into even the most well-worn holiday tune.  The only misstep is the continual inclusion of Kristy and Jimmy McNichol, who were both popular TV stars of the time (she as a star in the TV series "Family" and he for his role in the short-lived "The Fitzpatricks").

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Vince Guaraldi Trio

Released in 1965 to coincide with the TV special of the same name, Guaraldi's album remains a holiday favorite and ranks as the tenth best-selling Christmas album during the SoundScan era (where it sold over 3,400,000 copies).

Best known for including the recognizable theme song "Linus & Lucy", the album also features jazz piano-based instrumental versions of "O Tannenbaum", "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing", and "The Christmas Song".

Christmas - Mannheim Steamroller 

Decades before Trans-Siberian Orchestra came along to add a metal edge to dozens of holiday classics, Chip Davis' Mannheim Steamroller were reaping the rewards of presenting updated, synth-based recordings of Christmas classics on their first holiday-themed album in 1984.

Davis, of course, had co-written the smash hit "Convoy" by C.W. McCall a decade earlier.  Once Mannheim Steamroller hit paydirt with this Christmas album, so began a string of 26 Christmas releases, many of them slightly varying compilations of previously-released material that have sold a combined 28 million copies to date in the United States.

Christmas With Weezer

Whereas other albums on this list were recorded for use in a television special, in 2008, the rock band Weezer was enlisted to record a holiday-themed version of the video game Tap Tap.  The songs recorded for the game were then fleshed out further in the studio with backing vocals and other production flourishes before being commercially released on DGC/Interscope.

Featuring the songs "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", "O Come all Ye Faithful", "O Holy Night", "The First Noel", "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing", and "Silent Night", the band stick closely to the original lyrics and melodies while making sure to leave their artistic mark on the tunes.


Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

No comments:

Post a Comment