Various Artists

Doo Wop Christmas [Rhino]

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Although seven of the 18 tracks included here have appeared on other Rhino collections, any doo wop Christmas compilation would rightfully have to include The Orioles' otherworldly "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas" -- cut in November of 1948, it is the earliest track present. Others include The Drifters' "White Christmas," The Penguins' "Jingle Jangle," The Harmony Grits' "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and more from The Marcels, the Moonglows, and the Cadillacs. Standouts from the remaining 11 selections include the absolutely gorgeous "It's Christmas Time" from The Five Keys -- you'll never hear a more exquisite "ding, dong" vocal refrain (the liner notes claim this is "a sought-after rarity that many devout doo wop lovers have never even heard"; it did appear on the 1976 UA Rhythm and Blues Christmas LP). The Falcons' '57 "Can this Be Christmas" is nice to hear along with Frankie Lymon's "It's Christmas Once Again." The Echelons, a New York-area contemporary doo wop group, offer the catchy "A Christmas Long Ago (Jingle, Jingle)." Suitably, the CD closes with The Orioles' "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" and The Heartbeats' "After New Year's Eve."

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