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Music

5 forgotten Christmas albums from our favourite musicians

Christmas time. It’s the time of year where everyone seems to be relatively happy and where nothing seems wrong with the world. A fair chunk of the population temporarily forgets the mundanity of their everyday lives and lets their hair down for some delicious turkey and copious amounts of alcohol. In some households, you may even hunker down to listen to the Queen ramble on about the past year, and, after the broadcast, find at least one family member in a food-induced coma. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, sure. There are numerous elements that make Christmas the highlight of the year for many. Whether it be the food, the drink, the memorable TV specials or even the joy of being with loved ones. It’s a shame the festive spirit doesn’t extend throughout the whole of the year, because, if it did, we’d live in a glorious world. However, that’s the power and the futility of Christmas; it’s fleeting nature.

Another strange facet of the festive period is the Christmas album. No one’s exactly sure of when or how the Christmas album came to fruition, but unsurprisingly, it took off in America. The ’30s saw Christmas songs and albums first gain popularity, and then the ’50s saw it cement itself in popular culture with the release of Elvis Presley’s 1957 effort Elvis’ Christmas Album

Since those halcyon days of Christmas music, the Christmas album has become a staple of a big star in the music industry. After all, it’s a means of competing with their contemporaries. Over the years, we’ve seen a whole host of acts release Christmas albums, to varying degrees of success. 

Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Justin Bieber and even Bad Religion have released festive records over the years, showing that the Christmas album is a concept not tied to any specific genre. This got us thinking about forgotten festive albums. 

Given that Christmas is once a year and that most Holiday albums are terrible, often, this brushes an artist’s festive efforts under the rug, and consigns it to the dustbin of history. Due to this, we’re looking at five forgotten Christmas albums by big artists, and some of them will surprise you.

Join us as we trawl through the albums of Christmas past, and unearth some real treasures. 

Five forgotten Christmas records:

Weezer – Christmas with Weezer (2008)

There is seemingly nothing Weezer are afraid of. Classically Weezer, featuring crunching distortion, power chords, and uplifting choruses, there’s also a few guitar solos to boot.

Not terrible by any account, it’s strange that Christmas with Weezer has been forgotten. The six tracks were recorded and released for the iOS video game of the same name, and even featured on the iconic Tap Tap Revenge. ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ is a banger. 

Weezer – Christmas with Weezer

James Brown – A Soulful Christmas (1968)

Who knew that Mr. Dynamite was also Mr. Christmas? It turns out that funk master James Brown released numerous Christmas albums over his long and celebrated career. A highlight of this subsect is, without a doubt, 1968’s A Soulful Christmas. A triumphant Christmas album, from start to finish Brown’s effort is stellar.

It brings something new to the concept of a Christmas album, genuine soul. The track ‘Tit For Tat (Ain’t No Taking Back) is incredible, and an underrated classic. It may be covered in the red, green and gold of Holiday tradition, but it is far removed from pastiche.

James Brown – A Soulful Christmas

Johnny Cash – The Christmas Spirit (1963)

Given that Johnny Cash released so many albums, it’s unsurprising that he got in on the Christmas game. Released in November 1963 by legendary label Columbia, this entry would mark Cash’s 17th studio album. It features a whole host of country greats, including Cash’s second wife, June Carter, vocalist Jan Howard and Jack Clement on guitar.

A real mixture of tracks, Cash’s effort ‘The Christmas Spirit’ is an atmospheric, stirring piece of music, and through incorporating the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem’, it brings a Christmas tear to the eye.

Johnny Cash – The Christmas Spirit

The Carpenters – Christmas Portrait (1978)

One would argue that there was no better artist to make a Christmas album than the brother and sister duo, The Carpenters. Their sound always had a romantic, wintery feeling, so the fact that they released a Christmas album may come as little to no surprise. It’s actually pretty good too. 

A mixture of originals and covers, Christmas Portrait even contains a revised version of the pair’s Christmas classic, ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’. First released in 1970, the revised version features clearer vocals by the late Karen Carpenter, and remains one of her finest moments. There’s also that cool sax solo that will carry you seamlessly into Christmas day and beyond.

The Carpenters – Christmas Portrait

The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album (1964)

Brilliant. This is the Christmas album we never knew we needed. Upbeat and nostalgic, it contains every key feeling one experiences at Christmas, the highs and lows.

Opener ‘Little Saint Nick’ kicks off proceedings, and then it is one banger after another. One would argue that the original songs on the album are better than the covers, showing that Brian Wilson really is a genius. Stick this on at Christmas, and you’ll have the whole family moving.

The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album