Â Sometimes you want the gift under the tree to be a surprise; sometimes you hope it’s something you already know you want.Â The gifts under the Universal Music Enterprises tree this year are both new and classic, from 17 #1 Christmas hits on one album, Christmas with an Americana vibe and a pair of volumes of classic holiday jazz to an album of children’s favorites and another from contemporary star Raul Malo.
CHRISTMAS NUMBER 1’S (Hip-O/UMe) is the first single CD to bring together #1 charting holiday recordings heard through the years.Â Among the earliest are Jimmy Boyd’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule,” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer,” Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” and the all-time best-selling Christmas song, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”Â More recent selections include Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas,” Dolly Parton’s medley “Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride” and Vince Gill’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
THE BEST OF AMERICANA CHRISTMAS (Hip-O/UMe) edition of the 20th Century Masters/The Christmas Collection series exudes a modern country-folk-rock earthiness.Â Joining Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper,” Johnny Cash’s “The Little Drummer Boy,” Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” and John Prine’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” are Emmylou Harris’ “The First Noel,” Steve Earle’s “Nothing But A Child,” the duo of Ricky Skaggs and James Taylor with “New Star Shining” and other selections.
There were so many gems to choose from for THE BEST OF CHRISTMAS JAZZ (Verve/UMe) in the 20th Century Masters/The Christmas Collection series that they are offered on two CDs, VOL. 1 and VOL. 2.Â Performing classics as well as lesser-known songs are jazz greats Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, Bill Evans, Joe Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Billy Eckstine, Mel Torme and others.
The selections on A HOLLY JOLLY KIDS CHRISTMAS (Hip-O/UMe) are among the most popular and fun songs adults and children have ever enjoyed at Christmastime.Â Along with Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” are “Jingle Bell Rock” (Bobby Helms), “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (Brenda Lee), “Frosty The Snowman” (Jimmy Durante), “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)” (Spike Jones), “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” (The Chipmunks), “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” (Elmo & Patsy) and other hit original recordings.
MARSHMALLOW WORLD AND OTHER HOLIDAY FAVORITES (New Door/UMe) is the first Christmas album from Raul Malo, best known as the leader of the Mavericks. These new recordings are a swinging set of holiday perennials, the disc includes the velvety baritone’s takes on the title cut, “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” “Blue Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Silver Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” and more.