Holiday Music Gift Guide: Sounds of the Season

Sting’s newest release, If On A Winter’s Night (Deutsche Grammophon), is not so much a holiday album as it is a timeless exploration of songs for the season of winter. This experimental, classically influenced, acoustic based recording is available in a limited deluxe CD + DVD edition which includes on the DVD a documentary on the making of the album. A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector must be regarded as the best Christmas album of the rock era and has now been reissued by Legacy. It’s amazing that a man so troubled could have produced a recording so filled with the joy and warm feelings of the holiday season. On the surface, it may almost seem like a joke that Bob Dylan would make a Christmas album. However, Christmas In The Heart (Columbia), is a successful and well-intentioned album of holiday classics that was done for all the right musical and philanthropic reasons (the proceeds are going to charity). Dylan is in love with older American musical forms and this wonderful album is yet another example of that. Michael McDonald’s This Christmas (Razor & Tie) includes holiday songs from McDonald from two albums, From The Holidays and Through The Many Winters: A Christmas Album, along with four other recordings. A wonderful family holiday CD is the soundtrack for Curious George A Very Monkey Christmas (Denon),which features Dr. John’s vocals and lyrics on several tracks from Franklin Square native and Emmy-award winning writer Joe Fallon. Eban Schletter’s Cosmic Christmas (Oglio) is a space-age take on holiday music, highlighted by the eerie sound of the Theremin. Another holiday album to benefit the Special Olympics, A Very Special Christmas 7 (A&M), this time mostly featuring country artists and singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat’s version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Andrea Bocelli’s My Christmas (Decca) is a beautiful holiday album, that feature’s the theme from the new Disney film A Christmas Carol and such guests as Mary J. Blige and Natalie Cole.

Legacy has come up with a unique take on Christmas DVD’s. They have just reissued 17 Christmas albums on DVD, with a visual component that includes three different holiday scenes to watch while the music plays. Of the seventeen, the four that really hit the mark are A Traditional Christmas, The Andy Williams Christmas Album, Christmas With Johnny Cash, and the self-titled holiday album from Jose Feliciano.