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Ghost Canyon

Title - The Classic Christmas Album Collection
Artist - Various

Legacy Recordings' Classic Christmas Album series rings in this year's holiday season with new collections by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Il Divo, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, plus compilations of hard rock, country and pop Christmas classics.

The eight new titles are all now available everywhere through Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.

Sure, Perry Como has previously released Christmas albums, but this new one, The Classic Christmas Album contains either out-of-print, or never issued on CD, or highly collectible rarities. Perry Como's calm, steady and laid back approach to singing meshes well with the Christmas genre. He effortlessly conveys the spirit of the holidays and infuses all of his songs with a gentle, yet beautiful, manner. Perry Como is seriously under-appreciated today and that's a shame, because he used his voice simply and effectively for sixty years.

1. Here We Come A-Caroling/We Wish You A Merry Christmas 2. It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas 3. There's No Christmas Like A Home Christmas 4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 5. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) 6. (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays 7. O Holy Night 8. Winter Wonderland 9. Silver Bells 10. The Little Drummer Boy 11. Christmas Dream 12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 13. White Christmas 14. The Story Of The First Christmas (medley).

The Classic Christmas Album by Frank Sinatra features two previously-unreleased tracks, 'Baby It's Cold Outside' with singer Dorothy Kirsten, and an alternate version of 'Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!' with the Page Cavanaugh Trio. Indeed, this alternate version follows a different approach to the performance of the same song Sinatra recorded four years later with the B. Swanson Quartet.

Legacy Recordings and the Sinatra Family bring together a rare collective gem here as we find the head of the clan, Mr. Frank Sinatra in fine voice for this special time of the year. It also features, already embedded within each song over the years, are classic arrangements from Harry Betts, Don Costa, Jack Holloran, Nelson Riddle and Dick Reynolds, and even Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians, Jimmy Joyce Singers & Orchestra and Nelson Riddle & His Orchestra. This wonderful collection even includes his children Tina, Nancy and Frank Jr., making this Christmas all the more special.

1. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! 3. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear 4. I've Got A Home In That Rock 5. Adeste Fideles (O, Come All Ye Faithful) 6. Christmas Dreaming (A Little Early This Year) 7. Jingle Bells 8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 9. O Little Town Of Bethlehem 10. Jesus Is A Rock In The Weary Land 11. Silent Night, Holy Night 12. White Christmas 13. Baby, It's Cold Outside * (duet with Dorothy Kirsten) 14. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! * [* previously unreleased].

This brand new Xmas compilation, The Classic Christmas Album from Johnny Mathis features the two previously unreleased tracks, 'Ol' Kris Kringle' and 'Give Me Your Love For Christmas.' Inclusive of other classics as 'The Very First Christmas Day,' 'Christmas In The City Of The Angels' and 'Christmas Is…,' these rare recordings were originally released as singles, but are now making their first appearance on CD.

At a time when the now 79-year-old Johnny Mathis, perhaps the last of the great musical Christmas icons, has Legacy Recordings releasing a "new" Christmas CD, I took time to reflect back to his 1958 Christmas album - the one where he stands in snow, his skis up either side of him. Under Percy Faith's sparkling direction, this inaugural effort takes off with a lighthearted version of 'Winter Wonderland' complete with all the stanzas, followed by an amiable, and ethereal rendition of 'The Christmas Song,' a now-classic version of 'Sleigh Ride,' and then 'Blue Christmas,' Most all of those don't appear here, but that just means we get unreleased tracks, inclusive of 'Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!' with Bette Midler!

1. It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas 2. Ol' Kris Kringle * 3. The Very First Christmas Day 4. Calypso Noel 5. My Kind Of Christmas 6. Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Bette Midler with Johnny Mathis) 7. Give Me Your Love For Christmas * 8. Sleigh Ride 9. The Christmas Waltz 10. Christmas In The City Of The Angels 11. Christmas Is…12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 13. Home For The Holidays 14. Sign Of The Dove [* previously unreleased].

Here on The Classic Christmas Album (now re-released with a new cover and different track sequence from the 2013 version) from Barbra Streisand the songs suit the singer, and there's nothing like it when that singer is Barbra Streisand! The arrangements are gorgeous, and the singing has an immediacy that makes the emotion even more powerful. She's also not afraid to expose the occasional cracks in her delivery, which only add to the sincerity of the performances. For my money, the album's masterpiece is 'I Remember' which is a tour-de-force of the song/actress/singer.

1. Jingle Bells? 2. I'll Be Home For Christmas 3. Sleep In Heavenly Peace (Silent Night) 4. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? 5. My Favorite Things (From "The Sound Of Music") 6. Ave Maria Op. 52 No. 6 7. I Remember (From "Evening Primrose") 8. One God 9. Christmas Lullaby 10. The Best Gift 11. I Wonder As I Wander 12. Snowbound 13. Christmas Mem'ries 14. Gounod's Ave Maria 15. The Lord's Prayer.

Previously released as The Christmas Collection, Il Divo's The Classic Christmas Album, the thing that really puzzles me about this album is that only half or so of the songs are actually Christmas music. I'm wondering if they recorded a few Christmas songs, then threw in several other songs that they had already recorded as fillers? For, as much as 'Over the Rainbow, 'The Lord's Prayer' and 'Ave Maria' are beautiful songs, they truly don't belong on a so-called Christmas album, sorry. That all said, Il Divo work their smooth vocal tone magic here and bring to life some wonderful Christmas fare.

1. O Holy Night 2. White Christmas 3. Ave Maria 4. When A Child Is Born 5. Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 6. Over The Rainbow 7. Panis Angelicus 8. Rejoice 9. Silent Night 10. The Lord's Prayer.

While the classics by crooners like Bing Crosby might be fine and dandy for some, those who have listened to a song like 'Jingle Bell Rock' and thought to themselves that it did not, in fact, rock, will want to check out The Classic Hard Rock Christmas Album. Featuring tracks by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and guitar God, Joe Satriani, this collection delivers rocking holiday jams from some of hard rock's greatest legends.

1. Amazing Grace Jeff Beck 2. The Little Drummer Boy Alex Lifeson 3. Silent Night/Holy Night Jam Joe Satriani 4. Christmas Time Is Here Steve Vai 5. The Christmas Song Steve Lukather 6. O Come, O Come Emmanuel Neal Schon 7. Sleigh Ride Stuart Hamm 8. O Come All Ye Faithful Trevor Rabin 9. Deck The Halls Ted Nugent 10. O Little Town Of Bethlehem Robin Trower 11. We Three Kings Halford.

So, instead of standard Christmas classics by crooners like Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Barbra Streisand, and all the others, now prepare to hear all your classic Christmas hits under the vocal tones of such modern day acts as Big Time Rush, NKOTB, Westlife, Los Lonely Boys, Backstreet Boys, and so many more!

> 1. Last Christmas Metro Station 2. All I Want For Christmas Is You Big Time Rush 3. Sleigh Ride Karmin 4. All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day Hurts 5. Christmas Time Backstreet Boys 6. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) New Kids On The Block 7. Silent Night Bros 8. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer B2K 9. This Christmas Jagged Edge 10. White Christmas Westlife 11. This Christmas Menudo 12. Feliz Navidad (Acoustic Version) Los Lonely Boys 13. She Came Home for Christmas Mew 14. A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss) Glasvegas 15. Carol Of The Bells Phantom Planet.

Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk