OK.. This is a tough one…
Christmas tradition around my house includes it not being “officially” Christmas till I hear “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid… and when we put up the tree as well as Christmas morning the first album we put on is Christmas Portrait by The Carpenters…
All 4 of us actually take turns Christmas Eve and Christmas Day putting on our favorite Christmas album… Between the over 100 physical cds, and now having Rhapsody… Our selections are endless… So here it goes…
#5 MercyMe / The Christmas Sessions / 2005
This album was a genuine surprise, it made old things new! Silent Night as a country shuffle – check! In Excelsis Deo a 90’s/US rock anthem – check! And in my opinion the BEST version of Christmas Time is Here from the Peanuts TV special… This would be the U2 Christmas album, if they did a Christmas album.
Here’s their version of Gloria/In Excelsis Deo!
#4 Various Artists / Christmas Remixed / 2003
This album is just simply amazing… These producers/DJs totally deconstruct these holiday classics, lay down new “beats” and rebuild them into something completely new… You haven’t heard Bing Cosby till you have heard a house/edm version of The First Noel… Or Duke Ellington like this…
#3 Garth Brooks / Beyond The Season / 1992
Did you know this album was actually released in August, just in time for Christmas? “The Old Man’s Back in Town” and “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy” are still mainstays on Country radio every season… But my favorites are “Go Tell It On The Mountain” – one of the best versions ever IMO, and the beautiful “The Friendly Beasts”! It’s such a sweet song, and paints the most beautiful picture of The Nativity….
So I went looking for “The Friendly Beasts” on YouTube (no dice), but I found this gem… Garth and Kenny Rogers!!!
#2 Frank Sinatra / A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra / 1957
This just sounds like the 1950’s… I can imagine people shuffling from Woolworth’s, to Macy’s to Harrod’s in New York City. With the snow falling, the old window displays, the tree at Rockefeller center… I imagine my grandparents carrying bags, shopping with big smiles on their faces… Christmas always comes with a healthy dose of Nostalgia, and this is the album that does it for me….
Love the Brewster Sisters with Frank on this one…. so, so, sooooo good!
#1 Harry Connick Jr. / When My Heart Finds Christmas / 1993
My favorite by far… It’s Christmas, It’s New Orleans, it’s original, it’s fun, it’s emotional… I love the arrangements of the traditional songs… The swampy horn lines, the beauty of Ave Maria, the kids singing Rudolph, the trumpets blaring serious jazz riffs… It’s traditional, funky and sentimental all in one…Been waiting 20+ years for a better Christmas album… Still waiting…
And Harry has 4 originals on this album… This one is just incredible….
I pray on Christmas
That the sick will soon be strong
I pray on Christmas
The lord will hear my song
Honorable Mention goes to Straight No Chaser/Holiday Spirits, Brian Setzer/Boogie Woogie Christmas, Ray Charles/The Spirit of Christmas and the best new one of 2014, Daruis Rucker / Home for The Holidays…
What do you think? What’s your favorite?