Various Artists

Christmas Memories: Essential Love Collection

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As holiday collections come and go and further over-saturate the already-flooded market of holiday discs, Christmas Memories has an understated eloquence that doesn't do the quality of the music found on the two-disc set justice. Compilations of this caliber often come with bombastic packaging and extensive liner notes explaining why these tracks are landmarks in the canon of modern music. This is definitely not the case with this collection. Christmas Memories, unlike most compilations of its ilk, lets the music speak for itself. Largely culled from adult contemporary and R&B performers, it's a veritable who's who performing contemporary and traditional favorites, ranging in scope from Motown favorites (Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, Smokey, Diana Ross) to vocal crooners (Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Mathis) and modern-day pop stars (*NSYNC, Gloria Estefan, 98 Degrees). It also has a little bit of something that soft-rock fans will enjoy. Short of including Stevie Wonder's "What Christmas Means to Me" and Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas," it also serves as an ideal orientation to some of soul music's finest holiday anthems.

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