Various Artists

Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits: 1955-Present

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A rather skimpy but nonetheless useful compilation of Christmas songs, this ten-song set (companion volume to Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits: 1935-1954) wisely steers mostly clear of the annoying novelty Christmas songs of the rock era -- although, sadly, it does force upon its listeners the horrifyingly bad "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" -- in favor of songs that people might actually want to listen to. From familiar classics like Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" to lesser-known gems like Harry Belafonte's swinging "Mary's Boy Child" and Charles Brown's "Please Come Home for Christmas," maybe the best R&B Christmas song ever, the set even finds room for two of the less annoying novelty tunes, David Seville's "The Chipmunk Song" and Barry Gordon's "Nuttin' for Christmas." Although Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" is included, one or two other superstar Christmas songs (maybe the Kinks' tart "Father Christmas"?) would have been a welcome addition. Overall, however, this is one of the better Yuletide compilations.

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