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4.7 out of 5 stars
A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
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.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Not only will you know all the songs, you will know all these versions. After 43 years, these recordings still get played by most radio stations in December. Apparantly, this album was not a hit when originally released in November 1963, as Phil Spector withdrew it from release as a mark of respect when JFK was assassinated. Since then it has become a classic, loved by children of all ages. My favorite is Darlene Love's 'Christmas Baby Please Come Come'. What a voice, what a song. This album is guarenteed to get any Christmas party going. Buy it now so you are ready!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2000
This is without a doubt the greatest Christmas album ever made. When listening to it you can tell that it wasn't made as a cynical money making machine (like a lot of Christmas albums) but as a celebration of the love of Christmas, music and as a testament to the genius of Phil Spector. I urge you to buy it, play it and when you do Christmas will never be the same without it again.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2004
Well this set is truly superb!
It has that great Christmas feel to it and you can play it on repeat all day without getting fed up with it.
The Ronettes and Darlene Love tracks are the standout tracks for me but saying that The Crystals `Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer` is the best yule hear!
Do a great deed and buy it- you will not regret it!
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2002
Who can't like this album? I grew up listening to this album every Christmas and it remains a firm favourite now. Containing the very best of Phil Spectors crop of talent, the versions of the songs on this album will always be considered definative(at least by me).
If you remember this album from the past, buy it. Its still great.
If you've never heard this album, buy it. I million times better then all the other Christmas compilations with the same tracks on.
The best Christmas album in the world...ever!
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2005
I was never enamored with the results when Phil Spector tried the "Wall of Sound" approach with the Beatles on "Let It Be," but that failure was the exception that proves the rule. In 1963 Spector actually decided to use his approach to produce one of the great Christmas albums of all time. The goal was to have a holiday album that would stack up against both other Christmas albums and the pop albums produced by his quartet of artists: Darlene Love, the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans. The artists split up the first dozen tracks on "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector," with everybody joining together for "Silent Night" as the album's grand finale.
Darlene Love was never really a success as a solo artist, although she did the lead vocals on "She's a Rebel." But she gets to make or break this album by singing the opening track, "White Christmas," and making it clear the song can work if not being crooned by Der Bingle. "Marshmallow World" is fun but a trifle, while her "Winter Wonderland" may be the best track on the album, with "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" a soulful plea not to be separated for the holidays. No wonder Love got the most tracks on the album. The Ronettes were sisters Veronica (Ronnie) and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley rock a bit more than usual with their version of "Frosty the Snowman" and keep the spirit going with "Sleigh Ride" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
The change of pace offering on the album would definitely be Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans doing "The Bells of St. Mary," although "Here Comes Santa Claus" is certainly more in keeping with the rest of the record. This was Spector's studio group and compared to the rest of the album you can understand why they only got two tracks. The best effort by the Crystals is obviously "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which surely was the model for the better known rocking version by the Boss. Their version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" does not work nearly as well (it is one of those songs where you would swear it is really one of Spector's Top 10 hits with different words, which simply shows the producer was creating the effect he wanted here). "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" is in the same mode, but there is a sense in which the "Wall of Sound" is just effective.
Spector comes out to wish everybody the very merriest of Christmases and happiest of New Years for "Silent Night," which is a reminder of when music groups used to talk directly to their fans on records. That seems a bit strange now, but what stands out more is how the simple musical arrangement at the end is such a complete change of pace from the rest of the album, so that "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector" ends on a much quieter note. But up to that point this is certainly one of the high energy Christmas albums of all time and if you need a burst of musical energy to get you through decorating, cooking, or whatever, this one fits the bill.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2001
This wonderful album will kick start your Christmas Easy Listening with a step back in time when songs were sung and tunes stayed with you til' bedtime.Timeless classics that will cheer you through the most stressful of stockings and the dryest of turkeys!!!Play. Enjoy. and Sing very loudly!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2000
Christmas is an incredible time of year and each year that passes it becomes more difficult to pin point what makes it special. However, on playing this album, you are immediately sent back to Christmas Past. There is only one word to describe this album, CHRISTMAS. You can almost imagine this record to have the power to make it snow on Christmas Day.
If Charles Dickens, the author of A Christmas Carol, could choose one album to listen to at Christmas, this would, I am certain, be the one.
The only downside for me is that it is too short and the sleeve notes describe Christmas as `so American.` Obvioulsy Jesus Christ was not born in Bethlehem. Never Mind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the long-awaited Vic Anesini remastering of Phil Spector's legendary Christmas album, plus a second bonus disc of his greatest hits with the Christmas Album artists (and a couple of rarities) originally on the Philles label. To date it hasn't been issued in the US.

For the first time, "A Christmas Gift..." has been digitally remastered to the very high sonic standard of the original Philles / London LP. It's big and beefy with superb analog warmth, and avoids the sanitized sound of earlier CD versions. You can crank this one loud and hear the Wall Of Sound in all its bombastic glory with no distortion or annoying shrillness. It's a rock'n'roll record after all - not a symphonic exercise.

Disc 2 - "The Hits" - compiles Anesini's recent masterful work on the Spector / Philles catalog. All the Ronettes / Crystals / Darlene Love smashes are here, plus The Alley Cat's first Philles hit, and two rarities ("Hold Me Tight" / The Treasures & "This Could Be The Night" / MFQ) which can only be found on "The Essential Phil Spector".

For the casual collector who needs to upgrade to significantly better sound - as well as the hardcore Spectorphile - this set must be considered essential.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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 forty years since.
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