40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus


Various Artists, 'Christmas in Soulsville'

Stax Records, Christmas in Soulsville
Courtesy of Stax Records

Vintage '60s soul from the stars of Stax Records in Memphis: Booker T. and the MGs ("Winter Wonderland"), Isaac Hayes ("Winter Snow"), Otis Redding ("Merry Christmas, Baby"). This 2007 compilation (replacing 1982's It's Christmas Time Again, which collected the label's scattered Christmas singles for the first time) is at its strongest when it's uptempo and nasty – meaning you won't complain that both Albert King and Mack Rice do versions of "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'."

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