40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

Phil Spector, 'A Christmas Gift for You'
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Courtesy of Philles Records2/40

2. Phil Spector, 'A Christmas Gift for You'

This album may have been Phil Spector's crowning achievement: majestic Wall of Sound production, electrifying vocals from the Crystals and Ronnie Spector, and best of all, Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" like it was her one chance at happiness. Unfortunately, this marshmallow-world confection was released on November 22, 1963: the day John F. Kennedy was shot. Out of step with a national tragedy, it flopped; many years passed before it was recognized as a true Christmas classic.

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