12 Great Christmas Albums You Might Have Missed

Although taste in music varies widely, I want to put out a list of ten of my favorite Christmas albums, that, when I share them with people, the response I usually get is, “I’ve never heard of that before.”

Christmas by Bruce Cockburn — simple acoustic treatment of songs familiar and not-so-familiar.  Just a fun, pleasant listen.

A Christmas Together by John Denver and the Muppets — fun, goofy, never gets old.

The Bells of Dublin by The Chieftains — eclectic mix of traditional and new with that wonderful Irish kick.

Sound of Christmas by Ramsey Lewis Trio — man, if all of Christmas sounded like this, we would celebrate it all year through!

Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles — soulful, sentimental, and sensational; love listening to this year after year.

Christmas Album by The Manhattan Transfer — mellow, smooth, joyous, and joyful.

Barenaked for the Holidays by Barenaked Ladies — just a bunch of goofy fun, with some Hanukkah carols tossed in for good measure.

A GRP Christmas Collection — light, smooth, cool jazz, but not elevator music.  Wonderful background music.

The Last Month of the Year by the Kingston Trio — good old folk harmonies on traditional Christmas tunes.

McGarrigle Christmas Hour by Kate & Anne McGarrigle and friends — sounds like it was recorded at home with good friends; some odd but affecting songs.

Christmas Album by Jethro Tull — yeah, I know, go figure, it is a really good Christmas album… by Jethro Tull!

Christmas Caravan by the Squirrel Nut Zippers — no, really, seriously, this is a fun, festive, truly amazing Christmas album.  No Kidding.

Of course, I love all the classics — Bing and Nat and Johnny and Julie; Dean and Frank and Doris and Ella, Andy and José and Burl and Judy, but it I have these divine dozen to listen to at Christmas time, I am a very, very happy man.  Any treasures you would like to share?

Oops, I want to add a “lucky 13th” — Quality Street by Nick Lowe — Just odd enough to be worth listening to, just traditional enough to become a favorite…

Categories: Christmas

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6 replies

  1. A second for Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Come Darkness, Come Light.” James Taylor, Diana Krall, and Sara MacLachlan are also in Christmas rotation. The season usually begins with a listen to Patrick Stewart’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol.

  2. Three (because I can’t choose one) from a local group called Simple Gifts: of shepherds & angels, The Star Carol, and Winter Grace. The arrangements mostly include vocals, guitars, violin, percussion and Irish flutes. Listening to this music is a mini-vacation!

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