Note that this review is for the MP3 version of '100 Hits - Christmas Legends'.
There are two reasons why I emphasize this. First, Amazon may put the reviews for this and the CD version together. As the tracks are listed on the MP3 Product Page but not (currently) on the CD version Product Page I cannot confirm whether they are the same. Past experience has been mixed; sometimes they are, sometimes not. Second, for some time Amazon has been displaying the reviews in two different formats depending on whether you scroll down the Product Page to get to them (near the bottom) or click a link. The oldest (and most informative) appears most of the time, i.e. when you click a link, and each review has the title of the product being reviewed with it; the other newer method, i.e. when you scroll down, doesn't.
The distribution of tracks per artist/s is quite uneven...
7 Frank Sinatra 6 Nat King Cole 5 Bing Crosby 5 Mario Lanza 5 Perry Como 4 Judy Garland 3 Dean Martin 3 Eddie Fisher 3 Louis Armstrong 3 Peggy Lee 2 each 9 artist/s 1 each 38 artist/s
...but they have been mixed up very well so it's not immediately obvious if you play them in the 1 to 100 track sequence.
The Bit Rates, listed in the Windows folder that my album is held in, are given as...
However, I found higher rates did not necessarily mean better quality. So, for a few tracks I looked at the Bit Rates that Windows Media Player (WMP) displays in properties and they were quite different! So it's anyone's guess what they actually are. One 256 kbps track - 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' by the Beverley Sisters - is a poor rasping recording. It is shown in WMP as 199 kbps. To my ears though, most tracks sounded fine. By the way, there are a number of typos in the transcribed information. This track, for example, should be British 'Mummy' (not 'Mommy' - grrrh!). One of the Eddy Arnold tracks shows his name as Eddie. And so on.
I bought this album to play in the background over Christmas and chose MP3s to save having to keep changing all the different Christmas CDs I already own. It's 4.6 hours of every kind of Christmas music from religious through to partytime and from ballads to up-tempo. I chose this album because it had so many of my favourites including the best versions ever of 'Santa Baby' (Eartha Kitt) and 'Mary's Boy Child' (Harry Belafonte). I was blown away by others such as 'Away In A Manger' by Anne Shelton and 'Coventry Carol' by Elisabeth Schumann - beautiful rich tones. And, Tino Rossi's 'Petit Papa Noel' is utterly enchanting. Of course, the voices that dominate and are scattered throughout this album (as listed above) on occasion steal the show and had me in self-indulgent tears of nostalgic longing! From the hundred tracks here I can honestly say most are top class and this album is incredibly good value.
DOWNLOADING FROM AMAZON CLOUD PLAYER
To save anyone who has not yet downloaded MP3s from the Amazon Cloud Player, from experiencing the hours of problems (across days!) that I had, I have included a few notes here on what I had to do. It may be slightly different for you.
In the past the Amazon MP3 Downloader, that is installed on my computer, automatically downloaded the MP3s upon clicking 'Download' and it showed the progress. Not any more. Now, when you buy them - with 1-Click (there is no other way now; you can't add them to your Basket) - they are added to an area on the Amazon server. In this Cloud Player you then have to select the MP3s you want to download - and you can't just choose the album, you must tick the boxes of the tracks (by ticking the one at the top of the list to select all).
The first time you do this it insists that you install the Amazon MP3 Downloader even if the latest version is already on your computer (as it was on mine). There is no longer a link to confirm you already have it. It does not actually then install it but wants you to save an installer program that will install it and you have to tell it where. I suggest you save it to a gash folder or even on your desktop. You then have to run that installer program which will then install the Amazon MP3 Downloader (in my case on top of itself in C:\Program Files\Amazon\MP3 Downloader).
Then you can click 'Download' in the Cloud Player but this time it wants you to Authorise a device (you can authorise up to ten devices). It offered a name for my computer which I left as is. Now you can download the MP3s? No! Having selected the tracks, when you click download what it actually downloads is one file with the .amz extension. You again have to decide where to save it. I saved it in my 'Downloads' folder. This file is a link and it must be opened with Amazon MP3 Player (right click and select). Then, and only then, will the MP3s be downloaded.
There is a lot more that I could write but not in this review - suffice it to say that I will not be buying any more MP3s from Amazon and shall stick to CDs in future.
UPDATE 23 AUG 2013
Probably of no interest to anyone except me but I wanted to put this on record and where best than with my review...
I have played this album on and off throughout this year. Many of the tracks are too good to be confined to Christmas, though I have found myself skipping over the 'jolly' ones because they do (need to be confined...). So, having played much of it a million times (slight exaggeration) since this review, the track that filtered itself up and out above the rest for me is 'Christmas And You" by Dave King. He encompassed the full meaning of love in an almost humble rendition of few lyrics which starts "I'll remember Christmas and you all through the rest of the year".
My need for more of his songs has been frustrated by the discovery that very little is available which means extortionate prices. I have been watching the album listing Decca Singles/Memories Are Made Of This for months and the price has ranged from about seventy pounds to well over a thousand! Currently it's a hundred and thirty four pounds bar pennies. What a shame; but I'll keep looking.
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