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Best Christmas Albums: 30 Essential Gifts That Keep On Giving
List & Guides

Best Christmas Albums: 30 Essential Gifts That Keep On Giving

Plenty of Yuletide records are disposable, but the best Christmas albums really do capture the magic of the holiday season.


Every year, a plethora of records are released to mark the holiday season, but many of them are just for Christmas and most definitely not for life. There are, however, some notable exceptions to the rule and, down the decades, some standout titles have established themselves as festive evergreens. Here we unwrap the most desirable and choose the 30 best Christmas albums of all time…

Listen to the best Christmas songs here, and check out our best Christmas albums, below.

30: Dionne Warwick: ‘Dionne Warwick And The Voices Of Christmas’ (2019)

Dionne Warwick has created two Christmas albums (the first, My Favorite Time Of The Year, came out in 2004) on which she infuses traditional and well-known Christmas songs with her distinctive velvet tones. Surpassing its predecessor and earning inclusion among this list of the best Christmas albums, Dionne Warwick And The Voices Of Christmas represents the broad range of Warwick’s appeal, as she duets with a diverse group of artists, from Johnny Mathis to Chloe X Halle, Michael McDonald and Aloe Blacc. “I chose the songs first, then started matching the artist to the songs,” Warwick said of this album. “I think I did a pretty good job.”

Must hear: Silver Bells (with Chloe X Halle)

29: The Everly Brothers: ‘Christmas With The Everly Brothers And The Boystown Choir’ (1962)

Pioneering country-rock duo The Everly Brothers took the traditional route with their first festive album, recording this 11-song selection of well-established hymns and standards (Deck The Halls, We Wish You A Merry Christmas) alongside The Boystown Choir of Omaha, Nebraska.

The Everlys were generous to a fault, leaving the choir entirely to their own devices on both Away In A Manger and Angels From The Realms Of Glory, though those expecting the siblings’ dulcet tones had plenty to savour when Don Everly took the lead on What Child Is This? and brother Phil stepped into the spotlight for O Little Town Of Bethlehem. Strangely, despite the fact the duo were still very much in demand during the early 60s, Christmas With The Everly Brothers And The Boystown Choir slipped below the radar on release, but it remains an accomplished – and sometimes moving – festive collection that, following a 2005 reissue, has seen its reputation rise among the best Christmas albums of all time.

Must hear: Angels From The Realms Of Glory

28: Blake Shelton: ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas!’ (2012)

Oklahoma-born Blake Shelton has been a dominant force in country music since his 2001 debut single, Austin, became the first of over 20 No.1s on the US country music chart. His seventh album, Cheers, It’s Christmas!, was a winning combination of self-penned modern country songs and traditional standards, and it featured an all-star supporting cast of country royalty (Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies) and mainstream pop luminaries such as Michael Bublé and Kelly Clarkson. The album didn’t top the charts, but it went gold and sired several songs – not least a yearning Yuletide retooling of Bublé’s hit Home – which have since established themselves as festive standards.

Must hear: Home (featuring Michael Bublé)

27: Various Artists: ‘A Very Special Christmas’ (1987)

With distinctive artwork by Keith Haring, the first of several A Very Special Christmas compilation albums had a simple but effective aim. It sought to bring together megastars to record exclusive covers of Christmas classics in order to benefit the charity Special Olympics (a sports organisation supporting people with neurodevelopmental conditions). The fame of its roster – Madonna, Whitney Houston, Run-DMC, U2, Sting, Stevie Nicks and many more – indicates how popular the idea was. The album raised millions for Special Olympics, and also contributed to greater awareness of neurodiversity issues.

Of particular note is Madonna’s cover of Santa Baby, which was, at that time, a fairly obscure Eartha Kitt track. Following Madonna’s take, an avalanche of cover versions followed, including those by Michael Bublé and Kylie Minogue. Santa Baby was also arguably a testing ground for Madonna’s art. In the song, the “Queen Of Pop” explored a higher range and a kitsch tone to her voice, while channelling a 50s-style glamour. She would go on to develop these qualities in greater depth with her 1990 album, I’m Breathless.

Must hear: Santa Baby (Madonna)

26: CeeLo Green: ‘CeeLo’s Magic Moment’ (2012)

CeeLo Green is nothing if not versatile. The Atlanta, Georgia-born rapper is best known for his headline hits Crazy (as one half of Gnarls Barkley, with DJ Danger Mouse) and his Bruno Mars collaboration, Fuck You, but he’s also done everything from voicing Murray The Mummy, in the first Hotel Transylvania film, to judging and coaching contestants on The Voice, so it’s no surprise that he took making a Christmas album on his stride. Issued as the follow-up to the multi-platinum-selling The Lady Killer, 2012’s CeeLo’s Magic Moment featured spirited reinterpretations of classic festive songs – not least Green’s sleigh-bell-stuffed, Motown-esque tilt at What Christmas Means To Me.

Must hear: What Christmas Means To Me

25: Choir Of King’s College, Cambridge: ‘A Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols’ (2012)

With a TV and radio audience of millions, the annual broadcast of A Festival Of Nine Lessons & Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, is an essential Christmas tradition for families all over the world.

Released in 2012, this double-album faithfully recreates the magic of the service. Beginning with a lone treble singing Once In Royal David’s City, it includes several new carols commissioned especially for the occasion and concludes with a rousing chorus of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Beautifully executed and often spectrally beautiful, it all adds up to one of the very best Christmas albums out there.

Must hear: Once In Royal David’s City

24: Sia: ‘Everyday Is Christmas’ (2017)

“I thought we had a bit of a shortage of good Christmas music,” Sia said in 2017, speaking just prior to the release of her Christmas album, Everyday Is Christmas. “There’s obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn’t vibing that much on it.” When Sia says “anything new”, she means it: unusually among the best Christmas albums, there is not one cover version here. Instead, every song was written by Sia and the album’s producer, Greg Kurstin. “What really blows my mind is just that she wrote these new Christmas stories, in a way,” Kurstin said, “and it’s kind of amazing that she did that.”

Reissued in subsequent years, each time with extra newly-written tracks, Everyday Is Christmas is an album that continues to evolve. With Sia’s famous work ethic and songwriting pace (she composed Rihanna’s Diamonds in under 15 minutes), hopes are high for this new festive tradition to continue.

Must hear: Underneath The Mistletoe

23: Aretha Franklin: ‘This Christmas, Aretha’ (2008)

A festive album had been on Aretha Franklin’s mind for many years by the time she came to record This Christmas, Aretha. “The snow is lightly falling – you get the picture – you’re by the fireside with your sweetie, and no Aretha! There’s no Aretha in the music! What’s going on?! So I had to do an album,” she said in 2008. “For many years, I’ve wanted to do one, and I’ve always mentioned it to the chieftains, and they would say things like, ‘Oh well. Christmas albums don’t sell,’ and things like that. But that’s not the point. Christmas albums are important. The music is important. The season is important.”

This Christmas, Aretha is Franklin’s way of representing her Christmases past and present, from waiting up until the early hours as a child to catch a glimpse of Santa, to her latter-day holiday tradition of hosting enormous feasts for family and friends. Throughout, the church-based traditions from which Franklin’s artistry began (and which reached a pinnacle on her 1972 album, Amazing Grace) are the collection’s beating heart.

Must hear: The Lord Will Make A Way

16: Cliff Richard: ‘Cliff At Christmas’ (2003)

Sir Cliff Richard is synonymous with Christmas, and 2003’s Cliff At Christmas showed us why, gathering as it did all his festive blockbusters, among them Mistletoe And Wine, Saviour’s Day and The Millennium Prayer, under the one roof. Issued as the album’s lead single, the brand-new song Santa’s List was tipped to join the list of UK Christmas No.1s, though it ended up peaking at No.5. Nonetheless, the platinum-selling Cliff At Christmas became a Yuletide evergreen. Tn 2022 the veteran star released a long-awaited festive follow-up, Christmas With Cliff.

Must hear: Mistletoe And Wine

21: Chris Isaak: ‘Christmas’ (2004)

Chris Isaak is renowned for his David Lynch connections, thanks to his appearance as the FBI agent Chester Desmond in the 1992 spin-off movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and Lynch’s use of one of the best Chris Isaak songs, Wicked Game, in his 1990 movie, Wild At Heart. All things considered, then, Isaak may seem an unlikely contender for cutting one of the best Christmas albums of all time, yet-2 he put his stamp on the season with the simply titled Christmas: a suitably suave Yuletide offering on which the enduring Californian singer-songwriter imbues festive favourites such as Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Blue Christmas with his trademark cinematic cool.

Must hear: Blue Christmas

20: The Salsoul Orchestra: ‘Christmas Jollies’ (1976)

Salsoul, the New York City-based record label, was synonymous with disco. Its releases include classics by Loleatta Holloway, First Choice, Skyy, Charo and Jocelyn Brown. Making these high-quality records wasn’t cheap or easy, though. In the 70s, largely because electronic substitutes of the time couldn’t accurately replicate strings and brass, large orchestras were often used on the label’s recording sessions. In Salsoul’s case, this was the cadre of crack musicians known as The Salsoul Orchestra, and they became famous in their own right largely due to the 1976 album Christmas Jollies.

The album is disco fluff in its best sense, reflecting the ethos of the time. There’s frothy versions of classics such as Little Drummer Boy, alongside disco-length DJ medleys. The voices come courtesy of The Sweethearts Of Sigma, a highly-skilled girl group whose backing vocals grace recordings by Elton John, Grace Jones, Billy Paul and Patti Labelle, among dozens (if not hundreds) of others.

Must hear: Christmas Time

19: Scott Weiland: ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ (2011)

At least on paper, the idea of Scott Weiland squaring up against the likes of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby seems like a stretch, yet the late Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman proved he could croon with the best of them on 2011’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, a faithful set of festive standards delivered with feeling by a man once chosen by Hit Parader to be among the best heavy metal vocalists of his generation. Overshadowed by Stone Temple Pilots’ then-recent reunion and tour, Weiland’s Christmas album slipped below the radar on release, but it’s recently seen a vinyl reissue, and is more than deserving of rediscovery.

Must hear: Winter Wonderland

18: The Supremes: ‘Merry Christmas’ (1965)

The Supremes were one busy group. Merry Christmas was their fourth studio album released in 1965 alone! Given this volume of new material, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the members needed a holiday. But this did not hold up the recording; Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard were allowed to take time off, but Diana Ross was not. Although Wilson and Ballard were substituted for members of Motown’s house girl-group, The Andantes, it’s worth noting that, in later reissues of the album, Florence Ballard leads a phenomenal version of Silent Night.

Essentially a Diana Ross solo album, then, with hired backing vocalists, Merry Christmas is Ross at her most charming and Motown at its most commercial. What makes it a particularly special entry among the best Christmas albums are the two original songs, Children’s Christmas Song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Me, and a shimmering version of Jimmy Webb’s My Christmas Tree. Webb would go on to work with The Supremes directly on their finest post-Diana album, 1972’s The Supremes Produced And Arranged By Jimmy Webb.

Must hear: Children’s Christmas Song

17: James Taylor: ‘James Taylor At Christmas’ (2006)

James Taylor At Christmas is effectively a more widely available edition of Hallmark Cards’ limited-edition James Taylor: A Christmas Album, first issued in 2004. It’s worthy of full-scale release, too, for the acclaimed US singer-songwriter treats this collection of festive standards (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas) and traditional songs (In The Bleak Midwinter; a glorious take on the gospel classic Go Tell It On The Mountain) with the respect they deserve. Indeed, that attention to detail ensures James Taylor’s seasonal effort isn’t just one of the best Christmas albums; it’s a record that stands up to scrutiny any time of year.

Must hear: Go Tell It On The Mountain

16: Michael Bublé: ‘Christmas’ (2011)

Another classy, modern-day festive record, Michael Bublé’s Christmas album succeeded in part by proffering a selection of well-executed duets, with the Canadian star performing memorable versions of the likes of Jingle Bells, White Christmas and Feliz Navidad with luminaries such as The Puppini Sisters, Shania Twain and Latin star Thalía, respectively. The album also featured Bublé’s inimitable solo versions of Blue Christmas and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, and he even performed a brand new track, Cold December Night, with aplomb. In this setting, Bublé’s easy-going croon worked a treat, and his seasonal selection had a broad appeal, moving over 12 million copies and becoming one of the 21st century’s best-selling albums to date.

Must hear: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

15: Bob Dylan: ‘Christmas In The Heart’ (2009)

Bob Dylan has said that he remembers “plenty of snow, jingle bells, Christmas carolers going from house to house, sleighs in the streets, town bells ringing, nativity plays” from his childhood in Minnesota. He says that Christmas songs were “part of my life, just like folk songs”.

Nevertheless, Christmas In The Heart was an unexpected release. Was Dylan being serious with the songs, using them as an expression of his faith? Or were they a novelty, part of the (often underacknowledged) humour in his work? Dylan remains enigmatic on the subject. The one thing he was clear about, however, was that the album was about raising money for homeless and hungry people. Proceeds from the release went to Feeding America Crisis, and the UN’s World Food Programme. “That the problem of hunger is ultimately solvable means we must each do what we can to help feed those who are suffering and support efforts to find long-term solutions,” Dylan commented.

Must hear: Must Be Santa

14: Idina Menzel: ‘Holiday Wishes’ (2014)

Idina Menzel is known for her Broadway performances – not least her role in the 2005 rock musical Rent, which earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress In A Musical. She’s also made her presence felt on the big screen, in Cinderella and Adam Sandler’s Uncut Gems, and pursued a parallel recording career which has straddled pop music and seasonal fare. Most of all, she is famous for her portrayal of wintry loner Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, and for that soundtrack’s megahit Let It Go.

2014’s Holiday Wishes is the most successful of Menzel’s albums, and it found her breezing through a series of festive standards with gusto. She bagged both critical plaudits (“She brings a stocking-full of interpretive skill to some holiday classics,” wrote the Los Angeles Times) and her first Billboard Top 10 placing.

Must hear: All I Want For Christmas Is You

13: Josh Groban: Noël (2007)

Rather like CeeLo Green, Los Angeles-born Josh Groban has enjoyed sustained success on both stage and screen. His film credits include significant roles in the US comedy-drama series Ally McBeal and the Netflix series The Good Cop, while his Broadway debut, in 2016’s Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812, won him a Tony Award. His musical career has kept pace, too, with his nine studio albums yielding cumulative sales of over 35 million. To date his most successful release, Noël proffers a selection of festive chestnuts (Ave Maria, Silent Night, The Christmas Song) couched in David Foster’s lush orchestration. and it remains as good an introduction as any to Groban’s distinctive classical-pop crossover sound.

Must hear: Angels We Have Heard On High (featuring Brian McKnight)

12: Various Artists: ‘A Christmas Record’ (1981)

Post-punk and new wave generally avoided Christmas like brussels sprouts, but the ZE record label – out of New York, and at the centre of that city’s fusion of punk, pop, disco and hip-hop – was always a contrary operation. “Christmas albums are a tradition as old as rock’n’roll itself, but I have always thought that principles of Christmas: family, the tree, gifts, peace in the world, etc, were slightly contradictory to a certain vision of rock’n’roll,” said Michel Esteban, one of ZE’s co-owners. “I found it hard to imagine John Cale and Lou Reed sitting around a Christmas tree exchanging gifts with Nico.”

Esteban and ZE’s other co-owner, Michael Zilkha, went to their artists – including Was (Not Was), Material, Suicide’s Alan Vega and the cult queen of ironic disco, Cristina – and asked them each to come up with a festive song. The result is an entry like no other among the best Christmas albums, and one which surprisingly produced an enduring classic: The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping, later covered by Spice Girls, is still played every single year.

Must hear: Things Fall Apart (Cristina)

11: Dean Martin: ‘The Dean Martin Christmas Album’ (1966)

One of no less than five Dean Martin albums to see release during 1966, The Dean Martin Christmas Album was issued at the very height of Martin’s popularity, with Billboard declaring the US singer/actor to be on “the hottest streak of his career”. Despite that, The Dean Martin Christmas Album stalled at No.36 on the US charts, but it remains a perennial festive favourite. The music’s relaxed atmosphere perfectly suits Martin’s nonchalant croon, and his ageless versions of Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells and Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! have long since cemented The Dean Martin Christmas Album’s reputation among easy-listening aficionados’ best Christmas albums.

Must hear: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

10: Cher: ‘Christmas’ (2023)

The cover of Cher’s Christmas album features the star in dressed-down fashion, reflecting her 60s hippie aesthetic among the baubles and snow. The look feels very appropriate for an album that has roots in her work from that era. On Christmas, Cher covers 60s songs such as Please Come Home For Christmas and The Zombies’ This Will Be Our Year, while revisiting Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): the original, by Darlene Love, also featured a then teenage Cher on backing vocals.

But Cher has always moved with the times. Drop Top Sleigh Ride and, particularly, DJ Play A Christmas Song tap into the clubbing, contemporary Cher so beloved of younger fans who first took notice of the pioneering LGBTQ+ icon in 1998, when she released her unstoppable global hit Believe. One of the most recent releases among the best Christmas albums, the record “doesn’t scream ‘Christmas’ every second and isn’t filled with songs you know by name”, says its creator, though it still brings an enormous amount of festive joy. “More than anything, I wanted this album to be fun,” Cher said.

Must hear: DJ Play A Christmas Song

9: Tori Amos: ‘Midwinter Graces’ (2009)

“If you really think about it, there’s only one way to follow an album called Abnormally Attracted To Sin, isn’t there?” Tori Amos asked, with her trademark erudition and black humour. She was referring to her tenth album and looking ahead to her 11th, Midwinter Graces – one of the best Tori Amos albums in a rich and varied catalogue. “Abnormally Attracted To Sin was about redefining what sin is,” Amos explained. “The greatest sin is that the early church fathers defined sin in such a way that it divided women from their bodies and chained them for hundreds of years. So I chose to make a record [Midwinter Graces] that doesn’t denigrate the feminine.”

Midwinter Graces is perhaps the strangest, yet the most beautiful entry among the best Christmas albums of all time. As Amos explains, the record rejects Christian tradition and the focus on a male saviour, and instead digs back into Christmas’ pagan ancestry. “I think the birth of light means different things to different people,” she said, “but the whole feminine perspective embodying the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional is the core of motherly energy and it comes through on this record.”

Must hear: Candle: Coventry Carol

8: Low: ‘Christmas’ (1999)

Reminding us that commerce really shouldn’t drive Christmas, renowned Minnesota trio Low released this eight-track mini-album at a special low price as “a gift to fans” in 1999. Two-thirds of Low, Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk, were Mormons, and this quiet earnestness from a bedrock of faith is key to Christmas. “We don’t sit down and say we’re going to write a song about Jesus,” Sparhawk told NME in 1999, “but it is a big part of our lives. Anyone who is expressing something from deep inside their heart is grappling with these issues. Where did I come from? Where am I going? We’re not providing answers so much as we’re asking questions.”

Christmas has gained justified acclaim, as its understated mix of covers (Silent Night, Blue Christmas, a hypnotic, Velvet Underground-esque take on The Little Drummer Boy) and sparse, shimmering original songs (Taking Down The Tree, Just Like Christmas) ensure that it’s one of the best Christmas albums ever to slip under the mainstream radar.

Must hear: Just Like Christmas

7: Kate Bush: ‘50 Words For Snow’ (2011)

Though not specifically a Christmas album, Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow was issued in November 2011, just in time for that year’s festivities. It was also a wonderful surprise for Bush’s loyal fans, who were hanging on the release of her previous album, Director’s Cut (featuring reworked material from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes), but certainly weren’t expecting another new release just months later. 50 Words For Snow proved to be a significant gift, too, for it was both daring and innovative, and contained a latter-day entry among the best Kate Bush songs, in the shape of the seven-minute meditation Among Angels. Hinting at jazz, art-pop and chamber music, the collection’s seven lengthy, otherworldly tracks inhabited their own special space, and the songs’ collective wintry theme helped 50 Words For Snow find a place in fans’ hearts as one of the best Christmas albums of all time.

Must hear: Among Angels

6: Emmylou Harris: ‘Light Of The Stable’ (1979)

Emmylou Harris’ Light Of The Stable is a Christmas album which continues to grow in stature. First released in November 1979, it fused the high-lonesome country sound Harris had explored on previous albums Roses In The Snow and Blue Kentucky Girl with songs that honoured the spiritual and emotional roots of the holiday season. However, while it was beautifully executed and well-received (The Austin Chronicle wrote, “Emmylou Harris possesses the voice of an angel, so it only makes sense that her versions of Christmas classics are unequalled”), it was only a minor hit on first issue. The album has enjoyed an acclaimed afterlife, though, with reissues in 1992 and 2005 enhancing its reputation and prompting Rolling Stone to pronounce it “a living herald of joyful Nativity tidings”.

Must hear: Christmas Time’s A-Coming

5: Kylie Minogue: ‘Kylie Christmas’ (2015)

When it comes to getting a party started, we can always rely on Kylie Minogue – and so it proved when the Australian pop legend put her mind to the holiday season with her Kylie Christmas album. As you might expect, the record mostly consisted of well-worn standards, though three freshly minted tracks also made the cut, and there were a few nicely eccentric set-pieces, too, with Kylie duetting with unlikely suitors such as comedian James Corden on a tender remake of Yazoo’s classic Only You, and Stooges frontman Iggy Pop on a spirited version of The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping.

Must hear: Only You (featuring James Corden)

4: Vince Guaraldi Trio: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (1965)

Originally a jobbing musician on San Francisco’s jazz scene during the 50s, Vince Guaraldi first came to prominence when his bossa nova tune Cast Your Fate To The Wind, from 1962’s Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus, became a runaway hit. However, the Italian American pianist set his legend in stone with his soundtrack work for animated adaptations of Charles M Schulz’s famous Peanuts comic strip, starring the legendary cartoon anti-hero, Charlie Brown. In all, Guaraldi’s jazz trio soundtracked 16 Peanuts TV specials, yet the first, 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, arguably remains the pick of them. Some of the cues were original compositions, among them Linus And Lucy, Skating, My Little Drum and the maudlin classic Christmas Time Is Here. They sat beautifully beside Guaraldi’s emotive takes on some of the best Christmas carols, such as O Tannenbaum and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Still one of the best Christmas albums, A Charlie Brown Christmas quietly seduced North America, selling over five million copies before being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Must hear: Christmas Time Is Here

3: The Beach Boys: ‘The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album’ (1964)

The Beach Boys’ music automatically conjures images of sun, surfing and summer fun, but Brian Wilson and co also put their heart and soul into wintry festivities with The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album, released in time for 1964’s Yuletide season. Envisaged partly as a response to A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, the album was a lavish affair, with Wilson producing and, in collaboration with Mike Love, writing a batch of delightful original songs such as Little Saint Nick and The Man With All The Toys, while Four Freshmen alumnus Dick Reynolds arranged the orchestral backing for the traditional tunes to which The Beach Boys later applied their heavenly harmonies. With hindsight, the group may no have managed to topple Phil Spector’s legendary “Wall Of Sound”, but The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album was a triumph regardless – it peaked at No.6 in the US on release and has long since been accepted as one of the very best Christmas albums.

Must hear: The Man With All The Toys

2: Various Artists: ‘A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector’ (1963)

Adjectives such as “innovative” and “influential” aren’t ordinarily associated with Christmas albums, but then there wasn’t anything ordinary about legendary producer Phil Spector, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he put his own spin on the festive season with 1963’s A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector.

Effectively an inspired selection of standards (White Christmas, Frosty The Snowman, Silent Night) covered by Spector-endorsed girl groups (The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love) and given the producer’s singular “Wall Of Sound” treatment, the record was a widescreen Christmas extravaganza like no other. With every song a contender for a place among the best Christmas songs, A Christmas Gift For You… has since been cited by Brian Wilson as his favourite album of all time (The Beach Boys cut their own The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album while in thrall to Spector’s magic) and it simply demands inclusion in any self-respecting run-down of the best Christmas albums.

Must hear: Frosty The Snowman (The Ronettes)

1: Elvis Presley: ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’ (1957)

Elvis largely played it straight with his first (and best) festive album, mostly choosing to record robust standards (White Christmas, Here Comes Santa) and carols and/or spirituals (Silent Night, Take My Hand, Precious Lord), though he did commission a couple of new songs in the shape of Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) and the Lieber-and-Stoller-penned rocker Santa Claus Is Back In Town. Taken as a whole, though, Elvis’ Christmas Album is sublime, with The King delivering timeless performances throughout, not least on I Believe and the heartbreaking Blue Christmas. The record has had to fend off numerous challengers over the years, but as its sales figures suggest, 20 million Elvis fans really can’t be wrong when it comes to crowning the best Christmas album of all time.

Must hear: Blue Christmas

Buy Christmas vinyl and more at the Dig! store.

Original article: 12 December 2021

Updated: 17 December 2022. Words: Alan York | 13 December 2023. Words: Jeanette Leech

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