The Platters

Christmas with the Platters [Sony]

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The Platters were one of the leading vocal groups of the 1950s, forging a distinct sound -- smooth but emotionally resonant, appealing to teenagers without alienating their folks -- that would provide the basis of a lasting career. However, that "lasting career" part has become troublesome more than half a century on from their greatest success; in the 21st century, there are four different groups of "Platters" touring the oldies circuit, and one of them cut this Christmas album, which is a pale shadow of the ear candy the Platters conjured in the '50s and '60s. (And not all of it is even fresh for this 2013 release; most of these tracks surfaced before on a 1999 album from BCI Music with the same title but different packaging.) Most of Christmas with the Platters is built around low-budget synthesized arrangements that unwittingly make this sound like something you'd encounter at karaoke night -- there are a few tracks where real saxophones and guitars join the machines, but they only help so much -- and while the lead vocals are a step or two up from competent (not up to the standards of the great Tony Williams, but okay), the harmonies are acceptable at best and downright sloppy in spots. The Platters cut some excellent Christmas sides during their heyday at Mercury Records, and their 1963 holiday album, Christmas with the Platters, is still available under the title 20th Century Masters - The Christmas Collection. Better to seek that out than this hollow echo of a great vocal combo's illustrious past.

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