Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Listening Recommendation

Today I broke tradition and listened to Christmas music instead of hair band music. I guess I figured "We Three Kings" is more appropriate than "Number of the Beast." Anyway, for those of you out there looking for an awesome Christmas album, I wholeheartedly recommend A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector. Before he was shooting b-movie actresses to death, Phil Spector was arguably the greatest producer in rock and roll history, and this 1963 album is one of the many examples of his producing talents, combining Christmas classics with his famous "Wall of Sound." I'm sure many of you already know about (or even have) this album, and you've probably heard many of the songs on oldies radio around the holidays, but for those of you who don't have it, you should buy it immediately.

Ranked #142 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time (ahead of anything by Steely Dan -- fuck Steely Dan) and released on November 22, 1963 to offset the negative vibes created that day by JFK's death, the album features The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans belting out various Christmas favorites. The Ronettes' version of "Sleigh Ride" has always been a favorite of mine ("ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding"), and Ronnie Spector's (then Bennett) voice is amazing, as always. Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (penned by Brill Building superstars Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, as well as Spector) is one of the better Christmas songs ever, due in large part to Love's soaring, heartfelt vocals, pleading for her man to come home for Christmas and imploring him to remember all the fun they had last year. Other highlights include "The Bells of St. Mary's" by Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans (of which Love was a backing singer), "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by The Crystals (Springsteen based his now-famous version off of this one), "White Christmas" by Darlene Love, and "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" by The Crystals. The other songs are great too. I might as well have listed all of them.

Anyway, I was listening to the album at work today, and I figured that its praises had to be sung -- not literally, though, because that would be an insult to the album. With all of the shit that gets put out at the holidays every year, this is truly a timeless classic that might be easily overlooked. Buy it. Love it. Live it. Yes Kevin, live it. Dream that snow falls on or before December 25 (as you've known it to have done in years past), build a gregarious snowman that comes to life, make yourself aware of the fact that the bells shall ring out for you and me, don't even think about pouting, take the road before you and sing at least one but less than three choruses, pretend that you live in a world made entirely of marshmallows, spy on your mother committing adultery with Kringle, if you ever see Rudolph say it glows, pretend that the aforementioned snowman is a clergyman of sorts inquiring as to your marital status, organize a parade of wooden soldiers, please come home (baby), and say your fucking prayers because Santa Claus is coming tonight. But most importantly, be quiet.

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