Christmas may just have taken on a very different shape for everyone in the UK but that’s not going to stop us from celebrating with some festive tunes, and Peter Richard Adams is back with part three of his guide to some of the finest Christmas LPs to see you through to the big day – you can catch up on the first two parts here: Part 1 / Part 2.
Welcome back to the grotto for part three of my Christmas album countdown! A lot has happened since you last came to visit… the presents have been wrapped, the cards written and sweet Mariah got to number one. You see, Christmas miracles DO HAPPEN.
I really do hope you enjoy this Christmas album listening list. We’ve come through a lot together, but now we’re heading toward the big day there’s nothing left than to break out the big hitters… the best of the best… the turkey crown. If you don’t enjoy them then, I’m sorry, but you’re on my Naughty List.
Merry Christmas and may 2021 bring you all you missed in 2020.
Monday 21 December
The Carpenters – ‘Christmas Collection’ (1996)
Comprising the duo’s two Christmas albums from the 70s and 80s, ‘Christmas Collection’ is essentially a MASSIVE Christmas selection box that’s so sweet it may actually make you sick. But that doesn’t stop you going back in for more… and more… and oh go on then, just one more. It may be too much, but if you can’t overindulge at Christmas, then when can you?
STANDOUT TRACK: It’s a selection box. You have to eat all of them. Including the coffee ones.
Tuesday 22 December
The Beach Boys – ‘The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album’ (1964)
I have a quiet, on-going obsession with The Beach Boys. During Lockdown 1 it reached a peculiar point of no return as I fell into a Smile-shaped hole, possibly never to return. However, this was not always the case, and I can still remember exactly where and when I was when I first heard the Boys’ Christmas Album. It may not be perfect. In fact, it may ultimately be a stocking filler. But if you’re going to listen to filler by anyone, then The Beach Boys in their heyday are so hard to beat.
STANDOUT TRACK: Little Saint Nick
Wednesday 23 December
Phil Spector – ‘A Christmas Gift For You’ (1963)
And now we’re into the truly big hitters. Recorded in the blazing summer heat of LA, with Brian Wilson looking over his shoulder and taking notes, Phil Spector fashioned one of the greatest Christmas statements of all time. There’s little to say about this record other than it’s perfectly, perfectly brilliant and so joyous that I used to play it between bands at slow summer club nights just to cheer the mood. It never failed and, despite it’s creator’s rightful fall from grace, it likely never will.
STANDOUT TRACK: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Thursday 24 December – Christmas Eve
Low – ‘Christmas’ (1999)
I bought this album simply based on a review and a spare tenner to burn upon its release in ’99… I’ve never looked back. Often imitated (including by me) yet impossible to better, Low’s Christmas gift to the world is both a still moment amidst a season over burdened with expectation and a MIND SHATTERING realisation that Christmas music can be something quiet, truly beautiful, religious, secular and sublime. The perfect late-night Christmas Eve soundtrack.
STANDOUT TRACK: Little Drummer Boy
Friday 25 December – Christmas Day
Bing Crosby – ‘Merry Christmas’ (1945)
It’s the big day! Has he been? Did you get what you wanted? It’s hard to choose the perfect album for the day itself, but if you’ve got to pick just one, then it has to be ‘Merry Christmas’ by Bing. In so many ways it’s just the daddy… the album without which none of the records on this list would exist. You only have to look at the track listing to see that most of the artists on this countdown have attempted to walk in the snowy footprints left by Bing. These songs were released as the Second World War came to a close, with troops still being demobilised, which brings a real lump to the throat when you start to really consider ‘White Christmas’ or ‘I’ll be Home For Christmas’.
STANDOUT TRACK: White Christmas
And if that isn’t enough… then please do pop on ‘Christmas Joy in Latvia’ by the New York Latvian Concert Choir (2008). Like finding out your dad is Santa, Christmas will never be the same again. But in a good way.
I could have phrased that so much better.