Dean Martin

Making Spirits Bright

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Drawing from both the Capitol and Reprise vaults, The Christmas Collection: Making Spirits Bright comes close to being the definitive Dean Martin holiday record. As his recording career progressed, Dean became less concerned with perfect performances (not that he ever was too concerned in the first place), eventually winding up with really relaxed performances by the end of his stint with Reprise. Theoretically, this could make for problems -- the deceptively casual, actually precise Capitol recordings would make the clearly casual Reprise songs sound lax -- but the compilers are sharp, picking the best of both eras. Ultimately, that means it's difficult to spot the sources if you're just listening casually, and that's for the best, since it results in a charming, thoroughly entertaining Christmas record, highlighted by fine versions of "White Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "Silver Bells," "Let It Snow! Let it Snow! Let It Snow!," "Winter Wonderland," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "The Christmas Blues," "Marshmallow World" and "Silent Night."

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