Frank Sinatra – The Christmas Collection (2004, Reprise Records)
1. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” (1960)
2. “The Christmas Waltz” (1969)
3. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (1957)
4. “The Little Drummer Boy” (1964)
5. “We Wish You the Merriest” (1964)
6. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (1963)
7. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” (1964)
8. “The Christmas Song” (1957)
9. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” (1964)
10. “I Wouldn’t Trade Christmas” (1969)
11. “Christmas Memories” (1975)
12. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (1969)
13. “The Bells of Christmas (Greensleeves)” (1969)
14. “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” (1964)
15. “A Baby Just Like You” (1975)
16. “Whatever Happened to Christmas?” (1969)
17. “White Christmas” (1957)
18. “Silent Night” [Previously Unreleased] (1991)
You really can’t go wrong with a Sinatra Christmas album (who is second only to Bing Crosby in being my favorite holiday crooner). While various traditional pop artists (including Frank) have a number of low-budget compilations out on the market whether it’s holiday tunes or not, The Christmas Collection is actually a well put together & more thoughtful assortment than the usual budget Christmas compilations that fill Wal-Mart and Target each year (even if it does include all 13 tracks from 1989’s The Sinatra Christmas Album that compiled his Capitol Records material).
My copy comes with a slipcase and the booklet is full of some great photos of Frank in the studio and in holiday photo ops. Also included in a lengthy and informative set of liner notes that chronicle how this collection came to be and the songs themselves. Such a classy package job isn’t too shocking though because this is an approved release from the Sinatra estate and it was issued under ‘The Frank Sinatra Collection’ banner.
When I first bought this album, I was a bit disappointed with the choice of songs but I’ve since changed my tuned. This record is a mixture of the well-known and the not as well-known. Half the album features all-time favorites like “The Little Drummer Boy”, “White Christmas”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” & “Silent Night” but it’s the other half of the album that really makes The Christmas Collection interesting to me now that I’ve gotten older and want to explore the lesser known holiday numbers.
A couple of notes about the songs:
– “We Wish You The Merriest”, “Go Tell It On The Mountain”, “The Christmas Song” & “White Christmas” are all duets with Bing Crosby. “We Wish You The Merriest” and “White Christmas” are taken from the 1957 Christmas television episode of ABC’s The Frank Sinatra Show. This duet of “The Christmas Song” had remained unreleased (WHY?) until this album.
– “I Wouldn’t Trade Christmas”, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and “The Bells of Christmas (Greensleeves)” all feature his kids Tina, Nancy & Frank Jr. and come from The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas.
– “Silent Night” was recorded in 1991 because, according to All Music Guide, “Nancy had a good cause to benefit” (Future royalties? Licensing?). Nevertheless, this album says the song was previously unreleased. You can definitely tell it’s an older Sinatra and his voice isn’t as strong anymore but that’s part of the charm. It’s a moving and vulnerable performance on one of the most tender Christmas songs written.
If you’re looking for a Sinatra album full of the big Christmas standards then 1994’s White Christmas compilation from Columbia Records (also known as Christmas Songs By Sinatra) is probably your best bet but The Christmas Collection is a very good pick-up in case you want to dig a little deeper past what you’ll hear on the radio during the holidays.