Various Artists

Elton John's Christmas Party [Abridged]

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Elton John knows how to throw a pretty swinging Christmas party. Kicking off with his own rollicking Christmas classic "Step into Christmas," he steers a very diverse and entertaining course through holiday music both old and new. The oldies include classics from the Beach Boys ("The Man with All the Toys"), the Ventures ("Jingle Bell Rock"), and Otis Redding ("Merry Christmas Baby"). Among the newer offerings is one from Rufus Wainwright ("Spotlight on Christmas"). Somewhere in between are great songs like the Pretenders' beautiful "2000 Miles," the Band's "Christmas Must Be Tonight," and Kate Bush's "December Will Be Magic Again." John also shows he has an ear for stranger holiday offerings like El Vez's goofy punk version of "Feliz Navidad" and the Flaming Lips' "A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn't So)." It is all fine listening and except for one misstep (his own duet with a histrionic Joss Stone on a new song, "Calling It Christmas"), John proves to be a pretty hip dude with a future in DJing in case that singing thing doesn't pan out. [This 'abridged' 15-track 2006 release by Hip-O Records is an abridged version of the 21-track album released by Starbucks' Hear Music label in 2005.]

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