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Forget Noddy Holder yelling “It’s Chriiistmas!” or Feathery- Hair era George Michael lamenting a festive romance that literally lasted until Boxing Day, this Christmas the really wise men (and women) know to add one of these treats to the seasonal jukebox. All available on your local internet.

For a groovy Christmas...
A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector (1963)
Before the day wig, the general creepiness, the occasional murder, Phil was the unchallenged Mr Magic of sixties pop - and mastermind of just about the greatest crimbo album of all- time. Whether it's the Ronettes' heart-melting Frosty The Snowman or Darlene Love's rockin' Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), the real star is Spector's legendary Wall Of Sound, which keeps this winter wonderland sparkling decades later.

For a Rock 'n' Roll Christmas...
Elvis' Christmas Album (1957)
It isn't Christmas without the King. By this, his third studio album, Presley was beginning to transform from crotch-thrusting bad boy to cheeky cherub, thanks to chestnut- warming takes on classic hymns (O Little Town Of Bethlehem) mixed with perky rock'n'rollers (Santa Bring My Baby Back) and hands-down Elvis classics (Blue Christmas).

For a cool Christmas...
Vince Guaraldi Trio ‒
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Fittingly for a kids’ cartoon that played more towards existential angst than slapstick, Charles Schulz turned to contemporary jazz pianist Guaraldi to craft the muted soundtrack. Frankly, if a bunch of depressed school kids singing Christmas Time Is Here doesn't make you weep, you have no soul. As beautiful, sad and seasonal as a snowflake melting in your hand.

For a mellow Christmas...
The Carpenters ‒ Christmas Portrait (1978)
Released at the height of disco, it's oddly comforting to hear the oft-derided bro and sis duo sticking to their MOR guns. Richard's clever-clever arrangements out-sparkle every open fireplace TV special ever, but, as always, it's Karen's aching vocals that tug at the heart.

For a Motown Christmas...
The Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)
If you want proof of MJ's nascent turbo- charged star power look no further. No shade to Jermaine, Rudolph, Rizzo and Toto, but it's 12-year-old Michael who's luminous here. The King in waiting brings a soulful verve and breathless energy to a sackful of standards and Tamla originals from the perky I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus to the mature- beyond-years Someday At Christmas. Bad. (Meaning good).

For a Motown Christmas...
The Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)
If you want proof of MJ's nascent turbo- charged star power look no further. No shade to Jermaine, Rudolph, Rizzo and Toto, but it's 12-year-old Michael who's luminous here. The King in waiting brings a soulful verve and breathless energy to a sackful of standards and Tamla originals from the perky I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus to the mature- beyond-years Someday At Christmas. Bad. (Meaning good).

For a funky Christmas...
James Brown ‒ A Soulful Christmas (1968)
In which the 'hardest working man in showbiz' (on his fifth album in one year!) tackles social injustice (Let's Unite The Whole World At Christmas) with gusto and pointed humour Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto ("Tell 'em James Brown sent you!"). Funkier than a reindeer's ballsack.

For a jazzy Christmas...
Anita Baker ‒ Christmas Fantasy (2005)
There was always more than a spoonful of jazz in Baker's sublime retro-nuevo soul, but on this overlooked gem, it's undeniable. Teaming up with jazz greats like George Duke and Joe Sample, Anita scats like Sassy on the thrilling Frosty's Rag and cuts loose on originals like Moonlight Sleighride. As fine and mellow as after dinner brandy.

For a crooning Christmas...
Nat King Cole ‒ The Christmas Song (1963)
Sorry Misters Como, Bennett, Bublé and the rest, but there will only ever be one true King of the Crimbo crooner - the great Nat Cole. Effortlessly smooth and sophisticated, Nat brings an eye-watering honesty and warmth to tunes like A Cradle In Bethlehem and the best ever version of Silent Night. Enough to make your chestnuts roast.

For a glittering Christmas...
Mariah Carey ‒ Merry Christmas (1994)
Decades before Mimi-bashing became a global pastime, 24-year-old Mariah smartly revived the crimbo perennial, penning the now ubiquitous All I Want For Christmas Is You. The ensuing album's a ball, with Carey at her mesmerising vocal peak mixing retro Spectorish pop with wistful ballads and unbridled gospel. Festive, darling.

 

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