40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus

27

The Ventures, 'The Ventures' Christmas Album'

Courtesy Capitol Records

The Ventures, the instrumental surf band famous for the "Hawaii Five-O" theme, came up with a simple formula on this fun 1965 album: start each song by quoting a rock hit, and then launch into a twangy cover of a Christmas classic. So "Jingle Bells" is built on the riff for Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is mashed up with the Beatles' "I Feel Fine." Simple but very effective: it still sounds fresh today.

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