Well, here we are again. It’s that “most wonderful time of the year” that everyone’s been waiting for. I started thinking today about all the great music and musical traditions that surround us at Christmas time and I decided to compile a little list of my top 10 favorite Christmas albums. I’m sure there are albums that you think belong here that aren’t, but these are MY faves:
My absolute favorite Christmas album to date. Here you have some of the greatest guitarists in the world (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, just to name a few) doing their interpretations of their favorite Christmas classics. Jeff Beck’s version of “Amazing Grace” is worth the price of the whole album!
I actually bought this album for one song (“Christmas/ Sarajevo 12/24”), but the whole thing has grown on me, and it ROCKS!
I was introduced to this album a couple of years ago by a good friend and it quickly became a favorite of mine. It is a wonderful collection of songs about Christ’s birth, telling the story in a very simple, folksy way. I especially love the song, “Matthew’s Begats”, in which Peterson very humorously takes us through the genealogy of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Matthew. Great songwriting throughout!
Many years ago, while visiting my Grandparents, I discovered a copy of the complete score to Handel’s Messiah in their piano bench. Because it is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music, I was fascinated by the score and I kept looking at it over and over again until my Grandmother finally told me I could keep it. It has since become one of my most treasured possessions. A couple years back, I sat down in my studio one night, put on my CD of The Trinity Choir and Orchestra performing the entire thing, and followed along with the score in hand, thus beginning a new Christmas tradition for myself.
I believe Kevin Max has the smoothest, coolest, most unique voice I’ve ever heard. I can’t get enough of his crooning on this album.
A great album from an amazing group. There are lots of interesting and complex vocal arrangements on this album, but I’m rather partial to the simpler 6-part songs like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Come All Ye Faithful.”
Here is your typical mid-1980’s, superstar rock compilation, designed to bring holiday cheer to all. I think what I like most about this one is that you’ve got artists like U2, Sting, and Bruce Springsteen all on one album. A very fun listen, to say the least.
This album is another recent addition to my Christmas collection, having been released last year as the David Crowder* Band’s final album. I have enjoyed this band’s music for a long time, so I was glad to see them finally doing a Christmas album in their quirky signature style. The only negative about this album is that it’s their last release as a band. Oh well… they went out on a high note.
This is yet another album that I bought for just one song and ended up liking the whole thing. There is an original song on this album, written by Chip Davis, called “Traditions of Christmas” that is a very simple, yet beautiful musical expression of what the holidays are all about.
Okay, not exactly an album. And I realize that Jars of Clay has a really good full-length Christmas album that they released in 2007 (Christmas Songs), but the versions of “Little Drummer Boy” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on this EP are just better, in my humble opinion.
So there you go, my Christmas Top 10. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention my own Christmas album, “Fresh Hope“, that came out in 2007. That’s primarily because I think it just doesn’t measure up to these 10. Of course, you can always pick up a copy and judge for yourself! (Sorry! I couldn’t resist the shameless plug!).
So what are your favorites? Comment and let me know!
If I forget to tell you later on, MERRY CHRISTMAS!