Monday, November 29, 2010

Phil Spector's 'A Christmas Gift for You' a dynamite holiday album

Long before music producer Phil Spector started shooting people, he was a musical genius.

Spector's legendary 'Wall of Sound' was a powerful force in the early 1960s, and he also produced albums by John Lennon and George Harrison in the aftermath of The Beatles collapse.

Obviously, Spector was a big deal.

In 1963, he produced a jewel of an album titled A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. The roster of artists he used was Darlene Love, The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans. While the song selection is pretty standard ('White Christmas,' 'Frosty the Snowman,' 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' and others), his production approach elevated the album to classic heights.

The highlights of the album are likely the two Darlene Love performances. 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' is pure joy about the anticipation of spending the holiday with a loved one.

For years, Love performed this on the David Letterman show, and it brought the house down. Also, U2 did a version of it that was clearly inspired by Love and Spector. Additionally, her singing on 'White Christmas' is fantastic. She does not lift the song to the heights Bing Crosby did, but she is in the neighborhood.

For me, the Christmas season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving. Because of this, I do not play this album until then. On Friday, I slipped it into the CD player in my car and spent the day driving around town with a smile on my face. I will keep doing this (for the most part) until December 26.

If a person has to spend time cooped up in a car, this album is a great way to spend the time.

This album will make you happy.

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