The Flavorwire Holiday Canon

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

Yes, yes, I know, the name of producer Spector conjures up all sorts of unpleasant connotations these days (and his creepy voiceover appearance on the closing track will leave most listeners nodding and thinking, “Yep, that totally sounds like a crazy guy who killed a lady in his house”). Be that as it may, A Christmas Gift is, bar none, the single finest holiday album of all time, with Spector deploying his signature “Wall of Sound” style and several of his favorite artists (Darlene Love, the Ronettes, The Crystals, and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans) on a series of seasonal standards, along with the original “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” That one become a perennial (and deservedly so), while the Spector treatment makes the other, older songs sound fresh and new again. Most holiday recordings play like kitschy cash-ins; more than a half-century after its release (on the day before the Kennedy assassination, yeesh), A Christmas Gift is as energetic and enjoyable as any music of the period. –Jason Bailey