Christmas Music release roundup 2019

A rundown of all the worthwhile Christmas Music released this Holiday season.
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By Gillian G. Gaar

Fans of Chet Atkins should snap up The Complete RCA Victor & Columbia Christmas Recordings(Real Gone Music/Second Disc Records). The 2-CD set has all 46 holiday-themed songs the legendary guitarist recorded over the course of his career, including both the 1961 and 1976 versions of his Christmas with Chet Atkins album. It’s a mix of traditional carols and modern classics, from “Away in a Manger” to “Little Drummer Boy,” plus newer material like “East Tennessee Christmas” … The Brian Setzer Orchestra released two holiday albums back in the day: Boogie Woogie Christmas(2002) andDig That Crazy Christmas (2005). They’re terrifically fun records, perfect party platters with jumpin’, jivin’ takes on favorites like “Jingle Bells” and a jazzy “The Nutcracker Suite,” plus tailor-made new material like “Santa Drives a Hot Rod.” Both albums have been newly reissued by Surfdog Records, Boogie Woogie on green and white splattered vinyl, and Crazy Christmas on red and white splattered vinyl. You can also check on the Orchestra's latest activities by going to the group's website at briansetzer.com … Los Lobos have released their first holiday album, Llego Navidad(Rhino). The group drew on the rich catalogue of holiday fare from North, Central, and South America for the lineup, resulting in a truly festive collection, from the highly danceable “It’s Christmas Time in Texas” to the children’s favorite “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” (“Where is Santa Claus?”). And what else could the final song be but “Feliz Navidad”? The album’s title, by the way, translates to “Christmas is Here.” The band is on tour through the end of the year (loslobos.org) … It might say Twelve Songs of Christmas on the cover, but this Real Gone Music reissue of the Jim Reeves album has actually been expanded with two new tracks. It’s also been remastered for improved sound, making Gentleman Jim’s rich voice sound even warmer. There’s a smooth “Blue Christmas,” a lively “The Merry Christmas Polka,” and a trip south of the border in “Senor Santa Claus” … Craft Recordings is giving two holiday albums their first ever release on vinyl, in newly remastered editions. Natalie Cole’s Holly & Ivy, originally released in 1994, features yuletide numbers previously recorded by her father, including “Caroling, Caroling,” and, of course, “The Christmas Song.” There’s also a jazzy take on “Jingle Bells,” a very bluesy “Merry Christmas Baby,” and the liveliest version of “Joy to the World” you’ll hear this year. The album is also being reissued on CD. Jewel’s Joy: A Holiday Collection, originally released in 1999, sees her bringing her expressive touch to “O Holy Night” and “Ave Maria.” There’s some original material, but the highlights are her crystal clear renditions of favorites like “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” … For a good dose of holiday nostalgia, look no further than Real Gone Music’s batch of orchestral classics. Great Songs of Christmas By the Great Artists of Our Time(a co-release with Second Disc Records) draws on the classic series of albums only available at Goodyear auto service shops from 1961 to 1970, as well as W.T. Grant’s A Very Merry Christmas series. You’ll find instrumentals from the likes of Percy Faith and Andre Previn, and vocal numbers from the Harry Simeone Chorale, Mark Lindsay, and Robert Goulet & Carol Lawrence. Most tracks have never been available on CD before. The Complete Christmas Collection features both of Leroy Anderson’s holiday albums (Christmas Carols and Christmas Festival), released on CD for the first time in stereo. Anderson was hailed as “one of the great American masters of light orchestral music” by film composer John Williams, and these dulcet sounds will work well at any family holiday gathering. If holidaying for two is more your style, slip into Christmas Holiday for Romance from Stanley Black and His Orchestra, for “many pleasant hours of relaxed listening,” as the liner notes would have it. Sink into 12 lush reworkings of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “By the Fireside.” Finally, you can’t go wrong with The Complete Columbia Christmas Albums by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra (another co-release with Second Disc Records), which includes both the The Glorious Sound of Christmas and A Christmas Festival, the latter making its CD debut. The albums have been newly remastered, so they sound better than ever. Two classic recordings no holiday-maker should be without … More from Real Gone Music: Cyndi Lauper’s Merry Christmas…Have a Nice Life, originally released in 1998, makes its vinyl debut this year in a limited edition run of 1000 copies on green vinyl. There’s a folksy feel due to the presence of accordion, and highlights include the lively “Christmas Conga,” the cheeky “Minnie and Santa,” and Lauper’s song for her daughter “New Year’s Baby (First Lullaby)” … Chicago Christmas (Rhino) is the fourth holiday release from the legendary horn-infused rock band. But this outing is mostly original material, with three standards, including “Here We Come a Caroling” and “Sleigh Ride” (a different version from the one the band recorded in 2011). It’s smooth, easy-listening jazz, and the band was so happy with “Merry Christmas, I Love You,” they recorded it twice, in R&B and ballad renditions … Moonlight, Mistletoe & You (Concord Records) is the first holiday album from Keb’ Mo’. It’s a laid-back release with a touch of jazz, focused on newer material, like “Please Come Home for Christmas” and the title track. There’s a bit of humor on “Christmas is Annoying” (at least once you become an adult) and a measure of romance in “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “One More Year With You.”