So we’ve picked a few titles from the EMI/Capitol holiday line-up to tell you about. You might recognize them already if you follow everything we do on here, seeing as how we’re giving away a copy of each. You can find that in our Contest section.
Anyway, we go from the normal and standard increasingly towards the slightly off-kilter. And let’s admit something, shall we? Our families aren’t looking over our shoulders, so we can just level with each other. Holiday music can get really, really damn annoying. So use it sparingly, okay? And so with that, we begin.
First up, Nat King Cole and The Christmas Song. None can argue with Cole…his voice is one of the smoothest out there, and while I wouldn’t want to be listening to this album in, say, July, Cole can make even the most tired carol sound pretty damn sweet. And you get the standards on here, including the 1961 version of the title track (it’s the one that starts “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”–yeah, I know, could you get a more generic can’t-remember-the-title tune?) and then the version with Nat and Natalie Cole. So here’s the thing: this isn’t the first time these songs have been released. In fact, this isn’t the first time an album of this title has been released…but the track listing has been fiddled with. It’s all good stuff, but if you already own a version of Nat’s Christmas hits, especially a remastered one, then not sure why you would need to snag this one. But hey, if you don’t own it already, it’s Nat King Cole. So. What can you do? (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
[ad#longpost]Next we have The Beach Boys and Christmas Harmonies. And I must admit I will take some Nat over The Beach Boys any holiday of the week, but stuff like “Blue Christmas” is pretty choice. Only trouble is, we have the same problem with this album that we did with Nat…even moreso. It appears there have been approximately 1200 Beach Boys Xmas releases. I don’t have all of them, so I can’t speak to every single one of them. I will say that the 1991 remixes never sounded right to me, so if you’ve only got those, I would say this would be worth picking up. But I’m weird like that. I prefer The Beatles mono songs in, you know, mono. So take my half-deaf opinion with a salt lick. I think the weirdest thing about this release is that it’s missing bonus tracks that have been available in the past. Why you would take tracks away, I have no idea. But still, it’s worth considering if you need an updated Beach Boys Xmas album. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Now we come to one of those perennial holiday tunes for kids of all ages: “Christmas Don’t Be Late” from Christmas With the Chipmunks. And seeing as how the trailer to the upcoming “Squeakquel” made me react like the crew of the Event Horizon, it’s a great comfort to know that this stuff is still here and untouched by creepy CG chipmunks. Anyway, this has twenty songs on it and is a nice addition to your holiday tune-age. However, if you already own a previous version…there’s nothing new here. In fact, there’s less here. The ideal version is one that was released two years ago and is now out of print…and it had twenty-five tracks on it. Again, why we’re subtracting instead of adding, I have no idea. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
And last but not least, something that cracks me up every time: a virtual fireplace. It’s Christmas Classics By The Fire. You get a choice of three different fireplaces, either with music–or just with the crackle of the flames. And hey, you can put it on an infinite loop as well. Hee-larious. Not to say that the hour of music isn’t good stuff: there’s Dean Martin and Lou Rawls and Ella Fitzgerald and plenty of others–it’s just, you know, a virtual fireplace. It’s good either as a gag gift or for that special someone on your shopping list who isn’t allowed to play with real fire. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)