40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus


James Brown, 'James Brown's Funky Christmas'

James Brown, Funky Christmas
Courtesy of Universal Motown Records Group

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business released no fewer than three Christmas albums between 1966 and 1970. (He also released 20 other full-length albums during that five-year span.) This ridiculously great album compiles the highlights of those three discs: sweaty funk ("Christmas Is Love"), pleading ballads ("Please Come Home for Christmas"), monologues over slow jams ("Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year"), even social commentary ("Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto").

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