If the Jackson 5 Christmas album was all about funk, the Phil Spector Christmas album was all about polish.
Despite being a horrible human being and, most likely, a murderer, Phil Spector put his name on some of the era’s most joyous music. A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector may be his greatest musical statement.
The artists featured on this compilation are famous for employing Spector’s production style and many of these recordings have become standards. Without this record, there is no All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.
The record was initially a flop, probably in large part to its release date also being the day JFK was assassinated. In 1972, The Beatles’ Apple Records reissued the album and it achieved its highest chart ranking to date. Over the years it would reappear on the Billboard charts with different reissues and in 2018 would actually hit 48 on the Billboard 200.
Rolling Stone ranks this album at number 142 on its list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, a testament to the overall quality of the music.
Four of the tracks on this album feature Darlene Love including the album-opening White Christmas. Her song Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) made its premiere on this album and her Winter Wonderland may be a definitive pop rendition.
The Ronettes appear on three tracks — Frosty the Snowman, Sleigh Ride, and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus — all of which are on heavy radio rotation every Christmas.
The Crystals are credited on Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. The first of those songs being one of the most enduring of the set.
The lone male voice on the album is found on the two tracks credited to Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans: The Bells of St. Mary and Here Comes Santa Claus. These tracks are probably the least remembered of the album with the focus leaning significantly on the girl groups of the time.
The album closes with a version of Silent Night which features every artist on the album. Half of the song is Phil Spector himself delivering a speech so this track is rarely, if ever, played on the radio.
It would be a challenge to find another Christmas album that premiered a new holiday standard and delivered definitive versions of several Christmas classics and if that were Spector’s sole musical legacy it would be an enormous accomplishment.
So many of these songs have been used in films, television shows, and commercials that it has become the gold standard of holiday music. David Letterman invited Darlene Love onto his show to perform her iconic song every year for three decades and the sound of this album has been mimicked by hundreds of Christmas albums.
The modern holiday soundtrack would be immeasurably changed had this Phil Spector Christmas album never been released. For all his many faults and shortcomings, it can never be said that Phil Spector didn’t know how to perfectly orchestrate the feel of Christmas.
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