Friday, December 12, 2008

Prove Your Greatness: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector by Various Artists

The first half of Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time features all of the usual suspects: the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, Springsteen, Led Zeppelin--check, check, check, check, check. Scrolling through the list, you begin to wonder if RS was just going through the motions. That is, until you reach the entry for 142. Wait. What? Did they seriously just put a Christmas record on their list? Ahead of classics like Paul's Boutique, Houses of the Holy, and Murmur? Well yes, and for good reason.

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector consolidates the best of Spector's Wall of Sound--those drums!, those 500 background vocalists!, those endless tracks of music layered on top of each other!--and stuffs it all under a Christmas tree. Hell, the mere fact that Spector and his artists make you want to listen to a bunch of holiday songs is an achievement enough. But Christmas Gift goes further by featuring some of the most exuberant and giddy music ever recorded. It also features some definitive performances of the most popular music ever: The Ronnettes' "Sleigh Ride," The Crystals' "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Darlene Love's incredible original track "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." Most importantly, Christmas Gift inspired one of the greatest contemporary Christmas songs, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You." For that I say: "thank you, Phil."

Sure, this is not music you'll be listening to in July (for that you have Spector's Back to Mono set, which includes Christmas Gift) But in December, when you have to listen to this stuff, why not listen to the best?