Merry Christmas

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060342021311
Cat No: NOT3CD131


Christmas is traditionally a time for peace, goodwill and harmony. To harmony can now be added melody and rhythm, not to mention the odd sleighbell or two, as the 75 songs wrapped up in our compilation are prime examples of the most memorable music the season has inspired. 

The all-star choir we’ve assembled to serenade you ranges from calypso king Harry Belafonte through to crooners, jazz legends and close-harmony singers to folk supergroup the Kingston Trio. Country guitar maestro Chet Atkins weaves his instrumental magic to bring us ‘Jolly Old St Nicholas’ and ‘The First Noel’, while even the King, Elvis Presley, who released a Christmas album in 1957 as his fourth long-player, gets in on the act.

But the accolade of recording the most famous seasonal song of all time falls to Bing Crosby. ‘White Christmas’ was written by Irving Berlin and first appeared in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. That first recording was followed by another by Crosby a few years later, and features as our opening track. This, in turn, helped inspire well over 500 covers by other artists in dozens of languages.

Many of the festive songs to emerge in the twentieth century owe their success to radio and television bringing them into millions of living rooms. ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ broke through in 1934 after being broadcast on American radio and is now a much-covered seasonal standard. It was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and is tackled here by the evergreen Four Seasons.

They say Christmas is for kids, so we’ve let Brenda Lee – only 11 when she recorded her first seasonal song, ‘I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus’ – contribute three tracks. She came back in 1958, two years after that first ‘ropey’ attempt, with the far superior ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, and this made Number 6 when issued as a UK single in 1962.

Petula Clark was another child star who sustained a long and successful career. The novelty ‘Where Did My Snowman Go?’ dates from 1952 and was one of the first hits to contribute to a career total of 68 million discs. The late, great Dusty Springfield rivalled Pet as Britain’s first lady of song; she features here on the Springfields’ version of ‘Away In A Manger’, a popular disc in 1962; by the following Christmas she was in the charts in her own right.

‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is an interesting song – for while Frank Sinatra latterly made it his own, it was Judy Garland who introduced it in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me In St Louis . We feature Connie Francis’ version from 1959 as one of three seasonal offerings. In 2007, American songwriters organisation ASCAP ranked ‘…Merry Little Christmas’ the third most performed Christmas song written by their members.

The advent of rock’n’roll might have spelled the end of the Christmas song – instead it gave it a new lease of life. Once Elvis had given the genre his seal of approval, it was time for Jan and Dean and the Everly Brothers to weigh in with their own efforts. The surfing duo offer ‘Frosty The Snowman’, penned by country giant Gene Autry – a thank you, perhaps, as they had once been signed to his Challenge Records label.

Don and Phil went further and cut an entire album of traditional favourites. ‘Christmas With The Everly Brothers’, originally released in 1962. This included the 33-member Boys Town Choir from Omaha, Nebraska. As they’d recently signed with Warner Brothers for the world’s first ever $1 million recording contract, the singing siblings were clearly going to earn their keep in whatever way possible!

No one knew rock’n’roll was here to stay, and it was always a possibility it would, like World War I, ‘all be over by Christmas’. With longevity in mind, clean-cut Fifties pop idols Paul Anka and Bobby Darin were advised to broaden their appeal and become all-round entertainers by singing Christmas hymns like ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks’.

It was arguably a more dignified tactic than Adam Faith, whose ‘Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop)’ hit the Yuletide charts in 1960. It’s credited to Archie Alexander, a nom de plume for Oliver tune-smith Lionel Bart, and the singer felt it damaged his credibility. Beatlemania would do greater damage to the prospects of Faith and his solo-star contemporaries, but this UK Number 4 boasted accompaniment by John Barry, soon to become known as the James Bond soundtrack maestro.

The songs on this compilation may be half a century or so old, but all retain the time-honoured flavour of the season. With the odd exception, they don’t make them like this anymore. And while some of the performers may no longer be with us, the songs they sang so memorably will live on.


More Christmas Music CDs

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1. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
2. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin
3. The Twelve Days Of Christmas – Perry Como
4. Silent Night – The Everly Brothers
5. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
6. Christmas Auld Lang Syne – Bobby Darin
7. The Coventry Carol – The Kingston Trio
8. My Christmas Prayer – Billy Fury
9. Papa Noel – Brenda Lee
10. Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson & His Orchestra
11. (The Man With The Bag – Kay Starr
12. A Not So Merry Christmas – Bobby Vee
13. Caroling, Caroling – Nat “King” Cole
14. The First Noel – Chet Atkins
15. Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney – Ella Fitzgerald
16. This Time Of The Year – Brook Benton
17. It’s Christmas Once Again – Frankie Lymon
18. Christy Christmas – Brenda Lee
19. Poppa Santa Claus – The Andrews Sisters & Bing Crosby
20. Mele Kalikimaka – Bing Crosby
21. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Pat Boone
22. They Shined Up Rudolph’s Nose – Johnny Horton
23. Where Did My Snowman Go? – Petula Clark
24. You Don’t Have To Be A Santa Claus – The Mills Brothers
25. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms


1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
2. Deck The Halls – The Everly Brothers & Boys Town Choir
3. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Frankie Valli & Four Seasons
4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Beverley Sisters
5. O Little Town Of Bethlehem – Elvis Presley
6. Frosty The Snowman – Jan & Dean
7. O Come, All Ye Faithful – Paul Anka
8. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Bing Crosby
9. Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Elvis Presley
10. Christmas Tears – Frankie Valli & Four Seasons
11. The Very First Christmas Of All – Ruby Murray
12. Away In A Manger – The Springfields
13. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Connie Francis
14. Christmas Cookies & Holiday Hearts – Teresa Brewer
15. (Things That Make Up) Christmas Day – Ral Donner
16. Parade Of The Tin Soldiers – Mantovani
17. Mistletoe And Holly – Frank Sinatra
18. Captain Santa Claus – Bobby Helms
19. Little Sandy Sleighfoot – Jimmy Dean
20. The Skater’s Waltz – Mantovani
21. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como
22. I Like Christmas – Teresa Brewer
23. Jolly Old St. Nicholas – Chet Atkins
24. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Johnny Mathis
25. O Christmas Tree – Mario Lanza


1. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
2. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
3. Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
4. Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte
5. Jingle Bells – Frank Sinatra
6. Here Comes Santa Claus – Eddie Fisher
7. Yulesville – Eddie ‘Kookie’ Byrnes
8. New Baby For Christmas – Johnny Preston
9. Ring Those Christmas Bells – Peggy Lee
10. Merry, Merry Christmas Baby – Dodie Stevens
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Nat “King” Cole
12. Silver Bells – Bobby Vee
13. I Saw Three Ships – Nat “King” Cole
14. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Paul Anka
15. Song Of The Sleigh Bells – June Hutton
16. Baby’s First Christmas – Connie Francis
17. Little Donkey – Nina & Frederik
18. I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter – Connie Francis
19. Santa Won’t Be Blue This Christmas – Jimmy Charles
20. Twistin’ Bells – Santo & Johnny
21. Sing We Noel – The Kingston Trio
22. While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks – Bobby Darin
23. I Want A Rock & Roll Guitar – Johnny Preston
24. Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) – Adam Faith
25. We Wish You A Merry Christmas – The Everly Brothers & Boys Town Choir