Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song
Let’s face it, most Christmas music is really the same 30 songs repeated by various artists over the years for a little variation. Few artists can claim to have recorded the ‘quintessential’ version of any one tune. However, Nat King Cole is one of those few to have done so with “The Christmas Song” (quite a feat when you consider that there are literally hundreds of covers, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Christina Aguilera and even Twisted Sister.) His take on the Mel Torme penned “The Christmas Song” is the one that everyone hears in their head and over the air when the holiday season rolls around. Also included are great renditions of “Deck The Halls”, “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”, and other classics. You can find the standard black vinyl version in all of the usual record stores or, if you are looking to put that special something under the tree, a red and white split coloured wax version is available from Newbury Comics.
Christmas with the Chipmunks
Ok – sure, the lifespan of these particular rodents has far exceeded their “best before” date. However, there is no denying the syrupy pleasure derived from the high pitched glory of “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”. As much as one can try to hide their embarrassment, these annoyingly cute over-sized rodents put a smile on the faces of those of us who like a bit of laughter included with holiday cheer. Throw this onto Red/Green split coloured vinyl (also at Newbury Comics) and you have a legitimate present to place under the tree.
The Beach Boys – Christmas Album
Funny how changing a few words on a hit song can turn it into an even bigger holiday classic. “Little Deuce Coupe” made it to #4 on the Billboard Charts while the re-written “Little Saint Nick” actually made it to #3 six months later. Side one of the record carries original material that actually stretched the Beach Boys (and more importantly, Brian Wilson) beyond the safety of their surf, cars and girls motif and into some interesting territory. Their harmonies on “Blue Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are stellar. A limited run of 1000 copies on green translucent vinyl have been printed for this holiday season.
Bob & Doug McKenzie – Twelve Days Of Christmas
Rereleased only a few days ago as part of Black Friday/Record Store Day, the classic hoser Christmas tune can be found at your local record stores on a red 7” vinyl 45. Interjected into a holiday mix, it never fails to crack a wry smile on the faces of your festive guests. My kids (8 & 12) thought this was the greatest Christmas song ever as they experienced it for the first time the other day.
She & Him – Christmas Party
I’m guessing that the overwhelming success of 2011’s A Very She & Him Christmas has gotten Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward to reconvene for a second Christmas album entitled, Christmas Party. True to form, they playfully go through a diverse mix of holiday tunes as if they’re sitting in your own home to play them. Included are covers of Mariah Carey’s “All I want For Christmas Is You”, Vashti Bunyon’s “Coldest Night Of The Year” and Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph”. This new album can be found at record stores on red vinyl… complete with a Christmas card from the pair.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – It’s A Holiday Soul Party
Due to extraordinary demand, Daptone Records has completed a new printing of 2015’s It’s A Holiday Soul Party. Last year’s original release was limited to 10 thousand copies on red translucent vinyl while this new one is on green translucent vinyl and limited to 5000 copies. The late-great Jones and her Dap-Kings cover a few of the standards and mix it up with some astonishing originals. Particularly poignant is “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects” which is rather reminiscent of some similar James Brown social commentary on the season.
Frank Sinatra – White Christmas / The Christmas Waltz 7”
This is the year Sinatra would have turned 100. As part of Capitol Records’ celebration, we get this 7” of “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Waltz.” While the Bing Crosby version is the highest selling single song of all time (estimated sales of 100 Million according to the Guinness Book of World Records), the Sinatra cover peeked at #3 on the Billboard charts in 1948. Sure, the Crosby version is better known, but Sinatra’s voice on the Irving Berlin classic soars into places no one else could go… after all, he’s the Chairman of the board. This year’s 45 is on white vinyl.
Run DMC – Christmas In Hollis
A tribute to their home in Queens, “Christmas In Hollis” was originally released in 1987 as part of the first A Very Special Christmas, with the proceeds going to Special Olympics. “Christmas In Hollis” is definitely one of the coolest damn holiday songs to come down the chimney. Sampling Clarence Carter’s outstanding “Back Door Santa”, Run DMC powers through a rap in the city adventure that is full of Mom, money, Santa and a single dog pulling the sled. Another Black Friday/ Record Store Day release, “Christmas in Hollis” is on a 12” picture disc and limited to 3000 copies.
David Bazan – Dark Sacred Nights
Formerly going by the moniker of Pedro The Lion, David Bazan has been releasing Christmas singles for a number of years now. Wrapped in a cloak of melancholia and simple arrangements, Bazan plays the kind of Christmas music the goes with quiet conversations and sharing a bottle of wine. However, if you want this, you had better act quickly. Only 2000 copies of this record were printed on blue vinyl (with white snowflakes). His own website is sold out. His record companies’ website is sold out. It seems like the last available copies are from various Amazon sites.
Elvis Presley – Elvis Christmas Album
Sure, Presley was known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but his background growing up in the church made him especially well suited to put emotion into the holiday songbook. So much so, this particular Christmas record is the biggest selling holiday “album” of all time, with over 15 million being sold since its 1957 release. Rather than emphasizing the heavier aspects he was well known for, he stretches back to his gospel roots and makes a truly incredible record. You don’t need to be an Elvis fan to enjoy his renditions of “White Christmas”, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Blue Christmas.” Over the last few years this record has been reissued numerous times, with each new edition always selling quickly. The 2016 version is on 180-gram red transparent vinyl and would look great under the tree or spinning on the old turntable.
9 thoughts on “10 Christmas Records (On Vinyl) to put Under the Tree in 2016”
Great selection of records! I’m happy to see Nat King Cole at the top of the list. To me, that record represents the pinnacle of the American Pop Christmas music genre.
If you were to expand this to a Top 15 or Top 20 list, here are some of the records I’d add (in no particular order):
Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Andy Williams – The Andy Williams Christmas Album
Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas
Dean Martin – A Winter Romance
Christmas Cocktails – this is a compilation put out by Capitol with some great tunes from the ’50s and ’60s, and it was recently rereleased as a 2-LP vinyl set. It even has a couple of cocktail recipes inside. 🙂
Charlie Brown Christmas was on last years list. One of my favorites. Christmas Cocktails looks extremely interesting… I will have to check it out.
Nice! I’ve seen at least four different rereleases of the Charlie Brown record in the past three years: one on black vinyl, one on translucent green vinyl (which I have), one on red & white vinyl, and one on “pink ribbon candy” vinyl which is exclusive to Newbury Comics. Wish I could collect them all! I also have the translucent gold 7″ of “Linus & Lucy” from Black Friday Record Store Day a few years ago.
I have an original pressing of the Nat King Cole album otherwise I’d be very tempted to get that from Newbury too.
I just wrote a blog post about the one and only Xmas album I really do love to listen too for various reasons https://a1000mistakes.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/classic-albums-sings-christmas-carols-by-mark-kozelek/ BTW it’s vinyl pressing was on Xmas colours of white, red, green and black!
After reading your post I will check it out. Sounds like it will be great.
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Well, please do let me know what you think about it after listening, OK?!
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Nice list! I’m a huge fan of the Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Christmas album so I was glad to see that one included. Have you ever heard the album One Christmas At a Time by Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick? It’s a bit, um, “non-traditional”, but I find it humorous and maybe you will, too.
Thanks, I’ll check it out.