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The 25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time

From Bing Crosby to Bob Dylan, Motown to Death Row, we rank the best Yuletide listens ever

Best Christmas Albums

It’s no surprise that a Christmas song – Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”– is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling single ever. There’s a universality to Christmas music that even transcends religion. Just ask Bob Dylan, who was raised Jewish but loved Yuletide tunes enough to record an album of them in 2009. From gangsta rap to jazz to reggae to indie-pop, from crooners to rockers, the impulse to knock out a “Blue Christmas” or a “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” knows no boundaries. Read on for our list of the 25 greatest Christmas albums of all time.

elvis

RCA Victor Records

2

Elvis Presley, ‘Elvis’ Christmas Album’ (1957)

Want to know how revolutionary Elvis was in Fifties America? Irving Berlin, the author of "White Christmas," was so scandalized by Elvis's 1957 version of the song that he tried to get it banned from radio. Sorry, Irv. Instead, Elvis' Christmas Album topped the Billboard charts for a month and went on to sell nearly 20 million copies in various editions. It's a wonderful mix of lighthearted rock & roll ("Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me"), reverent versions of traditional favorites ("O Little Town of Bethlehem") and nods to his country and gospel roots ("Take My Hand, Precious Lord"). The classic, of course, is "Blue Christmas." But on every song, Elvis ingeniously adds a suggestive thrust to a lilywhite genre while slightly purifying his own bad-boy image by showing he could warm your hearth as well as roast your chestnuts.

Philles Records

1

‘A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector’ (1963)

Not just the greatest Christmas record ever, but a bona fide pop classic in its own right. (Rolling Stone named it Number 142 in our list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time). Spector's wall of sound production adds grandeur and drama, while the Philles Records crew lights up the holiday hit parade with rock & roll fire. The Crystals party under the chimney on "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"; Ronnie Spector turns "Frosty the Snowman" into a puddle in the front yard; and on the classic Brill Building original "Christmas Baby, Please Come Home," Darlene Love throws herself into an epic ballad of romantic affliction, turning winter wonderland into teenage wasteland. No wonder Brian Wilson has called it his favorite album of all time.

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