by Tom Warner (Best & Next Department)
It seems every musician from the Beatles to the Zombies has recorded a holiday song. The Best & Next Department alone boasts over 350 holiday-themed CDs and records, while Hoopla has over 2,300 holiday-themed albums available to download or stream using your library card.
Best & Next has hundreds of holiday LPs! In such a crowded field, it’s hard to separate the lumps of coal in the stockings from the diamonds in the rough, so we’ve compiled a playlist of some of the coolest yuletide titles available from Pratt’s extensive music collections. So plug in your earbuds and enjoy listening to our Top 10 holiday playlist!
Long out-of-print and extremely rare (used copies go for over $100 on Amazon and eBay!), this 1980 novelty record by “Meco” Monardo features chirpy Star Wars-themed Christmas songs and stories sung and narrated by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO from the Star Wars films). The album is notable for featuring the first professional recording of Jon Bon Jovi (credited here as “John Bongiovi”), who – “a long time ago in a recording studio far, far away” – sang lead vocals on the song “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (Jon’s cousin Tony Bongiovi co-produced the album and ran the recording studio, where Jon was sweeping floors at the time.) But the real gem here is clearly “What Can You Get a Wookee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?),” a question that has baffled Star Wars fans for ages.
Former “98 Rock” radio personality Bob Rivers’ Twisted Christmas was the first in a line of Christmas-themed parody records that included Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire and White Trash Christmas (both also available on Hoopla) and became a gold record in 1987. collection includes all of Twisted Christmas’s hits – “Walkin’ ‘Round In Women’s Underwear,” “The Twelve Pains of Christmas,” “I Came Upon a Roadkill Deer,” “Wreck the Malls,” “O Come All Ye Grateful Dead-Heads” – and more.
Poppa Santa’s got a brand new bag and it’s chock-full of 37 soulful Christmas songs from all of JB’s holiday albums, including his acclaimed social commentary hit “Santa Claus Go Straight To the Ghetto.”
Called the “perfect martini-and-mistletoe combo,” Christmas Cocktails mixes nostalgic classics (Nat “King” Cole, Dean Martin, Lou Rawls) with campy lounge fare (Billy Mays’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo,” Ray Anthony’s “Christmas Kisses”) for people who prefer a Rat Pack, Mad Men-era holiday vibe. This is the first of four volumes in Ultra-Lounge’s Cocktails series.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Tiny Tim. And his quavering falsetto and ukulele-strummed Tin Pan Alley musical stylings are every bit as weird you’d expect! Tiptoe through the mistletoe with Tim as he sings “The Christmas Song.”
The R&B players here need no introduction: Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, William Bell, King Curtis, and Booker T. & the MG’s. Standout tunes include Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby” and Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa.”.
From Chuck Berry (R.I.P.)’s’ “Run Rudolph Run” to Weezer’s “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” this compilation rocks with abandon around the Christmas Tree. Other artists include Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World, The Smithereens, The Dickies, Fallout Boy and The Killers, whose peace-on-earth anthem “Don’t Shoot me Santa” is not to be missed.
This all-star collection features hard rock and metal superstars like Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister and Ronnie James Dio banging their heads to Christmas standards, highlighted by Alice’s sneering “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and Lemmy joined by Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) on “Run Rudolph Run.”
Assisted by such singing stars as Solomon Burke, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples and Tom Waits, the Blind Boys’ gospel record plays like a soulful sermon highlighted by their classic “Last Month of the Year” and the poignant “In the Bleak Midwinter,” sung by Chrissie Hynde with backing guitar by Richard Thompson.
From the great Clyde McPherson and the Drifters’ doo-wop take on holiday standard “White Christmas” to the Marcels’ hip-swinging “Merry Twist-mas,” Doo Wop Christmas puts the sweet harmony in the holiday hit parade.