Christmastime, or as I like to call it, the Season of Heavy-handed Hint Dropping, is upon us once again. The advent calendars are open and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy the Lego Star Wars one. Ah well. On this thankfully balmy first Sunday of December and the Australian summer, it’s time once again for a Ravings In Cinemascope Christmas Countdown! Kicking off Advent 2k15, here are three Christmas albums in no particular order to crank up this Merry Chrimbo!
1. Merry Christmas – Mariah Carey, 1994:
No list of Christmas albums is complete without this gem. Notorious for its enormously popular hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, it even enjoys a cult following amongst those who wouldn’t normally listen to anything by Mariah Carey. Over 20 years later, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” remains a Christmas favourite, and is easily the best thing on retail Christmas playlists.
Honourable mention: Christmas, Michael Bublé, because Bublé is at his best when singing mostly cover versions.
2. Christmas With The Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, 2002:
A compilation of quality Christmas standards by the kings of schmaltz, the original pressings of this CD are now highly collectible. Initially released with an Ocean’s 11 themed cover, it was met with outrage by religious groups and redesigned. Frank Sinatra gets most of the slow, traditional ones, Dean Martin the fun 20th century classics, and Sammy Davis, Jr. gets whatever is left over (and mercifully they don’t use his appallingly sleazy version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”). Truly, one for the ages. Volaré!
3. Christmas Favourites – The Hollyridge Strings, arranged and conducted by Stu Phillips, 1965:
The Hollyridge Strings were one of a number of studio orchestras that specialised in recording easy listening, lush and loungey arrangements of contemporary pop music. The two standout tracks on this album are “Jingle Bells” and “Jingle Bell Rock”. “Jingle Bells” is fairly restrained, but as it goes on it develops a driving beat during the bridge, which is followed up with one of the finest electric harpsichord solos ever committed to vinyl. Whoever was playing that deserves far more recognition than they ever got. “Jingle Bell Rock” brazenly tramples over the groundbreaking [Ed: this is hyperbole] rock ‘n’ roll Christmas stylings of Bobby Helms’ original in favour of making it much more accessible for the Older Generation. And boy, do they succeed. It’s possibly one of the most wonderfully corny arrangements of any Christmas song, ever. You can enjoy a medley of these two immortal classics here.
What are you favourite albums for festive fun times?
For the goodness that was Christmas 2014 on Ravings in Cinemascope, click here.