"A Capitol Christmas" Double LP From the Vaults Worth Owning

Producer/annotator Jay Landers has pulled from Capitol's rich vaults some of the label's best Christmas music that the label has issued as a double LP set complete with excellent liner notes (they are back.

Of course it opens with Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)" written by Mel Tormé and R. Wells but it then goes on to pull many less well-known tunes including Julie London's "I'd Like You For Christmas" (feeling's mutual), June Christy's "The Merriest", Bing Crosby's "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and Dean Martin's "Winter Wonderland".

There are tracks from Ella, Jo Stafford, Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Kay Starr and Johnny Mercer, plus of course Frank Sinatra—twenty four in all, ending with the Nat/Natalie "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)", all in a nicely packaged gatefold jacket, with well-written historical notes aimed at record collectors instead of the usual simpering Christmas drivel.

Ron McMaster cut lacquers and co-mastered with Robert Vosgien. The sound is okay, not exceptional, but you're not buying this for the sonic thrill. If you own an original of The Magic of Christmas (SW-1444) or "Nat King Cole's Christmas Album"(SW 1967) (the same record re-packaged), you'd hear the difference, but neither was this a hastily put together package so the sound is more than acceptable: it's difficult to ruin a great Capitol Studios recording.

What better way to celebrate the season than with a great Christmas compilation like this or last year's from Analogue Productions?

The holiday cheer was marred for me only by a large vinyl tumor on both sides of the first album.

diannaci's picture

Thank you, Michael, for alerting us to another great rerelease from Capital's Christmas vault. Some readers may not know that Capital has done it before, 20 years ago (!), but with a bit different attitude. The album "Christmas Cocktails" opens with "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Mambo" from a great 1953 mono single by the acerbic Billy May and his Big Band. There's the expected "Winter Wonderland" (1965) from Peggy Lee, Dino singing "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" from 1959 and Julie London sultrying through "I'd Like You for Christmas" from a 1957 Liberty single. Amidst a number of oh so wonderfully cheesy Christmas selections, (some that were never released) from the likes of Ray Anthony, The Hollyridge Strings and Eddiie Dunstedter ("Jingle Bells Bossa Nova") there is, for me, the highlight of the collection, Les Brown and His Band of Renown and their version of "The Nutcracker Suite" (1957). Now you will know why they were Bob Hope's house band for so many years. And here, too, is Nat Cole with his "The Christmas Song". The digital remastering is beyond reproach, those old masters shining like they never did before. I understand that now, finally, they are available on vinyl from the usual sources. Best of all, included is an actual recipe for a Hod Toddy! So if you, like I do, prefer to celebrate Christmas with a SEGrin on your face, check these out.

ArnoldLayne's picture

Thanks for reminding me that I have that album- time to give it a spin. But now I see there are Christmas Cocktails parts 2 and 3!

Logansport Berry's picture

Nothing from Capitol Records' The Music of Christmas by Carmen Dragon and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra? That's one album that could use a quality reissue; over-the-top arrangements, Joy to the World goes from extra quiet interludes to pin the meters peaks:


A cd reissue on Angel/EMI in the 90s came and went - the stereo mix was a nice surprise - I grew up hearing the mono lp blasting through an Electro-Voice Georgian (Klipsch licensed K-Horn design). The cd could have used some warming up by filling in a bit in the "bass cloud" zone, but it was a treat to finally hear the album without 40 years of play on some less than optimal tables over the decades. Arkiv has it in their catalog but I believe it's a cd-r pressing.