The third quarter of each year brings a bounty of Christmas collections on pop artists ranging from Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Bing Crosby to the Beach Boys. Unfortunately, most of them reissue the same ancient material in the same shockingly awful sound (at least they don't charge much for such offensive product). Reprise's issue of The Christmas Collection rectifies the situation, at least for Sinatra, compiling 18 of his holiday recordings from the '60s and '70s (plus one each from the '50s and '90s). Christmas recordings for Sinatra, as for many vocal artists, were informal occasions for friends and family. His two holiday records for Reprise followed that formula, with 1964's The Twelve Songs of Christmas including several duets with Bing Crosby and 1969's The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas featuring Nancy Sinatra, Tina, and Frank Jr. in special roles. Although this compilation doesn't include the complete contents of both, it provides the proper survey of each record and, in an inspired move, adds several inclusions from far-reaching LPs. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" comes from 1961's Ring-a-Ding Ding!, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was grabbed from a 1963 various-artists Christmas album, and best of all, two additional Crosby/Sinatra duets -- from a 1957 television special -- make their release debut. The two are standards like none other, "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas," and while the performances on the latter are scattered, Crosby and Sinatra come together on the former for a holiday classic. One final unissued track is a new arrangement around a 1991 version of "Silent Night" that Sinatra only agreed to record because Nancy had a good cause to benefit; it is one of the shakiest Sinatra performances on record.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
feat: Bing Crosby