Let’s face it – Christmas music is hardly the domain of musical genius… it’s a haunting and dark time where Cliff Richard and Chris De Burgh get royalty cheques, where “Stop the Cavalry” never ever stops, and where the whole thing is seen off the top of the charts by The sodding X-Factor anyway.
Although… there is “Fairytale of New York” I suppose… and “Happy Christmas (war is over)”. And Al Green chewing through “Silent Night”. And there’s the best efforts of the rat pack. And there’s this.
Apart from the fact that it’s the third album in a row that I owned previous to starting this adventure (aren’t I cultured?) there’s a lot of reasons to love this album. Maybe it’s the kind innocence of it all – if you can’t smile at “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” then you’re either an emotional wreck or you have some sort of repressed yuletide trauma.
This is an album that screams Christmas. You’ll know some of the big performers here – Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has topped off so many movies that it’s hard to recall them. The same goes for The Ronettes’ version of “Frosty the Snowman”, or The Crystals’ “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
Each track feels like it’s been crafted with care, with rich production and Phil Spector’s trademark “Wall of Sound” – listen to “Sleigh Ride” to get a feel of that effect done at its best. Not every track works – there’s something about “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” that doesn’t feel quite right, although it’s hard to put your finger on why exactly.
At the end of the album, you get an instrumental of “Silent Night” with Phil speaking directly to the audience warmly and thankfully, with a kind serenity that makes you sort of wish you could disregard his more recent antics.
But enough of that. Just know that when you click play on this little classic, you’ll get Christmas in your ears and your heart in no time.