Sounds of the Season

Holiday Reissues

While 2013 has not been one of the best years for Christmas music, there have been some very worthwhile releases. At the head of the class are reissues from Real Gone Music. Six releases of vintage music from a variety of styles and labels make for great yuletide listening. For easy listening fans, two double-CDs are real standouts. The Complete Music of Christmas from Percy Faith includes the albums The Music of Christmas and Hallelujah! It also contains three bonus Columbia singles including the 78 rpm version of “Sleigh Ride.” From the king of Christmas crooners Andy Williams comes The Complete Christmas Recordings. The two-CD set includes three complete classic Williams holiday releases: Christmas Album from 1963, Merry Christmas from 1965 and Christmas Present from 1974. It also features three singles and two unreleased versions of “White Christmas.” There are also four single disc releases. Funky Christmas, featuring various artists including Lou Donaldson, is a jazzy and soulful take on holiday music. Merry Christmas! The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings 1963-1966, from The New Christy Minstrels, includes the albums Merry Christmas! and Christmas with the Christies!, spotlighting the group during its choral folk heyday. Christmas with Patti Page features her 1955 holiday album and six bonus tracks, including three rare performances from her 1950s show and a radio commercial. Finally, there is The 25th Day Of December With Bobby Darin from 1960 which features one bonus track. Two of the best Christmas albums ever released have recently been reissued from Concord on the Fantasy imprint. A Charlie Brown Christmas from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, features three bonus tracks and packaging that replicates Snoopy’s doghouse and four Peanuts characters. Christmas Soli from John Fahey is a compilation that draws from four defining releases that were the seminal recordings of acoustic holiday music.

Two holiday compilation CDs released this year worth searching out are Now Christmas (Universal) and Motown Christmas (Motown). The Now two-disc set includes one disc of mostly post-war, standards, big band, orchestral and instrumental chestnuts and disc two features primarily rock and pop contemporary holiday classics. The Motown disc collects holiday music, primarily from the 1960s superstars of Motown.

New This Season

Three new holiday releases cover a variety of styles. The best new holiday release this year is Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family, from Nick Lowe on yepRoc. Lowe croons his way through eight yuletide chestnuts and has written four new songs in his unmistakable pure pop style. On the heels of its Piano Guys 2 release comes A Family Christmas on Portrait. The deluxe edition features the group’s trademark pop classical instrumental take on traditional Christmas songs and a bonus DVD of selections from the audio disc and the group’s take on “Rudolph” and “A Family Christmas Yule Log Edition.” From Erasure comes Snow Globe on Mute. The synth-pop duo has stripped its sound down for the most part and has come up with a sparse sound for this superb holiday package.