Most helpful positive review
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
The classic album
on 26 October 2003
This album was something of a revolution in its time, at least where Christmas music was concerned, although all that Phil Spector actually did was apply his normal production style to Christmas music.
The Crystals, famous for Then he kissed me and Da doo ron ron, sing brilliant, energetic versions of Santa Claus is coming to town, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Parade of the wooden soldiers. The Ronettes, famous for Be my baby, are equally brilliant on Frosty the snowman, Sleigh ride and I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus. Bob B Soxx and the blue jeans, famous for Zip-a-de-doo-da, also excel on Bells of St Mary's and Here comes Santa Claus.
Darlene Love, whose biggest success was as lead singer of the Crystals on He's a rebel, sings four songs here, a rare chance for her to be credited as a solo performer. Christmas (Baby please come home) is the only original song here. White Christmas includes the rarely heard verse about being in Beverley Hills. The other two, Marshmallow world and Winter wonderland, are also outstanding.
The closing Silent night is just a series of spoken acknowledgements set to a backing track. Don't worry about that - the twelve songs that go before set the standard for Christmas rock albums when it was first recorded and still do, because nobody has bettered it in the fifty years (and counting) since.
Since I originally wrote this review, the original album has been re-issued as a double CD, the extra CD being an 18-track greatest compilation, so it's better value than ever. The reviews for the newer edition are lumped in with the reviews of the single CD, but that's Amazon for you.
I have now bought the double CD (at a very low price) and the following comments apply to that version.
The extra CD contains tracks that fans of sixties music should already know, such as Then he kissed me and Be my baby, along with some less familiar songs. One might have hoped for some Righteous Brothers tracks such as You've lost that loving feeling (the most successful individual recording produced by Phil Spector), but the tracks selected all fit in with the style of the Christmas music here. The enclosed booklet reproduced the liner notes from the original LP, but in a clearly readable form, as well as having new liner notes, which are mostly excellent but contain one error, regarding the additional verse of White Christmas. Irving Berlin wrote the verse as the opening verse of the original song, but Bing Crosby did not record it. I believe this was at the request of the record label, who thought that the song would have wider appeal if that verse were omitted. It is interesting that, in deciding to include the verse in Darlene Love's recording, it was inserted in the middle of the song rather than as the opening verse.
With the extra CD and the improved booklet (even despite the error I just described), this album is better value than ever, especially at the price.