New holiday songs come and go, but a rugged few stick around and earn classic status. Time-Life has collected a few of these standards and a few future hopefuls on Classic Country Christmas. The first strong point of this compilation is its deep roots, reaching back to Elvis' take on "Blue Christmas" and Jim Reeves' "Silent Night." Other oldies include guitarist Chet Atkins' impeccable version of "Jingle Bells" and Buck Owens' still entertaining "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy." There are also a few surprises, like Johnny Cash's fresh take on "The Little Drummer Boy" and George Jones' peaceful "O Come All Ye Faithful." Weaved in between these favorites are more contemporary fare, including Dolly Parton's sentimental "Hard Candy Christmas," Vince Gill' jaunty "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town," and the Judds' soulful "What Child Is This." The eclectic material is the other element that makes this collection so interesting and enjoyable. Although it's technically a "country" collection, there's plenty of pop/rock crossover. What holiday season, after all, would be the same without Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock?" Classic Country Christmas lives up to its billing, delivering an hour's worth of fine holiday fare that will put a smile on even the most hardened cynic's face.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.