Well, it's that time of year; time to hear the repetitive sound of Christmas song schlock everywhere we go. So let's have something of a corrective to that joy-destroying experience.
What are your favorite worthy Christmas recordings, ones that you, the sophisticated rootsy populace, actually like to hear and to play during the holiday season?
I'll start with a few of mine, some new to me, others going back years.
First, and first only because it's old (and good, too), is Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You, from 1963. This is the album that Brian Wilson has said is his favorite of all time, and well up there in the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. You can't go wrong with Darlene Love, The Ronettes and all the others in Spector's stable. The only problem with it is that it seems to be everywhere at Christmas, you can't go into any store without hearing one of these tunes. So weird that Spector's revolutionary treatment of these Christmas icons should have become mall music. Hear Darlene Love's White Christmas at http://youtu.be/_xUbQd3i28s.
Newest to me is Johnny Reid's Christmas, out now for a few years. He's a great singer, a Scot turned Canadian who thrives in the country music space. You couldn't say that most of these were really interesting instrumentally, but he sings them great -- again, classic Christmas songs given a (slightly) country-ish treatment. The Little Drummer Boy, a bit over the top but with the most interesting instrumental component on the album, is at http://youtu.be/iJihpDqBgss.
Someone recommended Eileen Ivers An Nolaig, An Irish Christmas to me a year ago, and it's become one of my favorites. Eileen is a fiddle player, and she works with some great musicians and singers to create what is a great irish take on many Christmas favorites. I'm particularly partial to the almost entirely violin solo of O Holy Night, but many of the others are rollicking good fun. Couldn't find a streaming location for a whole song, but fragments of all of them can be heard at Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/An-Nollaig-Irish-Christmas/dp/B000X6GE3I/ref=....
Quartette is a Canadian women's supergroup, with Sylvia Tyson, Gwen Swick, Cindy Church and Caitlin Hanford. They do beautiful harmonies with great folkish instrumentals on a variety of Christmas classics on two albums. I particularlly like I See A Star. Again, couldn't find a full streaming song but all can be sampled at http://www.amazon.com/I-See-a-Star/dp/B000V8RWCA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8....
Another old standard at our house is Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas. Great New Orleans take on Christmas, some standards, some I'd not heard before. I like Louisiana Christmas Day, on Youtube at http://youtu.be/LjJ7VhfrSDM.
So what are YOUR favorites?