A great set of Christmas classics – five albums, each represented with LP-styled artwork in a box of 5 CDs! First up is Jolly Christmas by Frank Sinatra
– one of the greatest Christmas albums of the 20th century – a rich tapestry of sadness and longing from Ol' Blue Eyes himself! Sure, most folks think that Christmas albums are supposed to be cheery and celebratory – but Frank
, coming off of his best Wee Small Hours years at Capitol, rightly chose the sadder side of Christmas – and put together an album full of songs that really get at the bluer side of the holiday. Side one of the set includes some tremendous secular songs – the kind of mid-century tunes that often had a dark undercurrent of separation and unfulfilled desire – masquerading as holiday tunes, but in Frank
's hands, coming off more like smokey late night tunes of lost love and wasted life. Side two's got some more spiritual-oriented tunes – but again, done by Frank
, with arrangements by Gordon Jenkins, these tunes come off with a lot less celebratory spirit than you'd expect. Titles include "The Christmas Waltz", "Mistletoe & Holly", "The Christmas Song", "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", and "I'll Be Home For Christmas". Next is A Christmas Gift To You – Phil Spector's classic Christmas album – a swirling delight of 60s pop and soul numbers, still one of the greatest full Christmas LPs ever recorded! The whole thing is wonderful – a mix of soul, rock, and pop – all produced with that classic "wall of sound" style that made Phil Spector such an early production genius in the 60s! The music is from those magical times when boundary-busting art and craft were mixed perfectly with pop styles that anyone could instantly fall in love with – and titles include "Frosty The Snowman" by The Ronettes, "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans, "Marshmallow World" by Darlene Love, "Sleigh Ride" by The Ronnettes, "Winter Wonderland" by Darlene Love, "Santa Claus Is Comin To Town" by The Crystals, and "Silent Night" by Phil and other artists on the set! Next is Elvis Christmas Album – an early Holiday gem from Elvis Presley – a set that had RCA Records wisely rushing the young singer into the studio to cut a host of Christmas tunes – which ensured that Elvis would be spinning on the turntable for many seasons to come! Titles include "Here Comes Santa Claus", "Silent Night", "Blue Christmas", "White Christmas", and "Santa Bring My Baby Back". Next is Merry Christmas from Bing Crosby – which may well be THE Christmas album of the 20th century – a 50s issue of 40s singles cut by Der Bingle, packaged in a cover with a classic cover image that's ensured that the record stayed in print for dozens of Decembers in years to come! Given that Bing virtually owned Christmas on TV during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the album's place in popular music is well-earned – and honestly, Bing's "aw shucks, I'm just reg'lar folks" sort of approach to these tunes really helped create a kind of common man secular side to the Holidays that forever transformed America's celebration of the season. Or maybe we're going to far with this one . . . But whatever the case, the album's a standard, and one we were certainly raised on. Titles include "Silver Bells", "Jingle Bells", "Silent Night", "White Christmas", "Adeste Fideles", "Faith Of Our Fathers", "I'll Be Home For Christmas", and "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". Last up is Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You A Swinging Christmas – a wonderful Holiday album that's stayed fresh for years! Ella's got a perfect style to interpret these numbers – working with Frank
DeVol and Russ Garcia in a set of lightly jazzy versions of Christmas favorites like "Sleigh Ride", "Jingle Bells", "Winter Wonderland", "White Christmas", "Frosty The Snowman", and one of the best versions of "What Are You Doing New Years Eve" ever recorded!