Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good buy.
Music Row is busy rolling out its Christmas albums, and an impressive parade it’s turning out to be. Let’s see, there are new titles from Alan Jackson , Brooks & Dunn , Patty Loveless , Lee Ann Womack , Clay Walker , Jo Dee Messina and lots of others. Even Cledus T. Judd — surely Santa’s cheekiest elf — has gotten into the act.
Next week sees the arrival of Jackson’s Let It Be Christmas, a gift basket of standard carols, except for his self-penned title cut. The album, on Arista Records, is a companion piece to the Tall One’s CMT Christmas special, which is set to debut Nov. 29.
Brooks & Dunn’s It Won’t Be Christmas Without You (originally announced as Hangin’ ‘Round the Mistletoe) has just arrived from Arista Records. The multi-platinum duo run the emotional gamut in their holiday offering, bounding from the avalanching romp of “Rockin’ Little Christmas” to the fireside serenity of “The Christmas Song.”
For her winter package — Bluegrass & White Snow: A Mountain Christmas — Loveless returns to the sound that served her so well in Mountain Soul. The Epic Records project is stuffed with Yuletide classics, including the gorgeous bluegrass standby, “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.” Singing along with Loveless are guest vocalists Vince Gill , Amy Grant, Trisha Yearwood , Emmylou Harris , Dolly Parton , Ricky Skaggs and Jon Randall .
In the same vein from Rounder Records comes O Christmas Tree: Come Home to a Bluegrass Christmas. This 18-cut album features songs from Rhonda Vincent , Jeannie Kendall, the Cox Family and Lynn Morris, among many others. Universal South, likewise with banjos ringing, offers Christmas on the Mountain: A Bluegrass Christmas. It contains 10 songs by such bluegrass behemoths as the Osborne Brothers, the Del McCoury Band , Mac Wiseman , Tim O’Brien and the Groovegrass Boys.
Audium Records has bowed three tree-worthy collections: the Tractors ’ The Big Night, Charlie Daniels Bands’ Merry Christmas to All and a various artists bluegrass roundup called Christmas Grass. (Those various artists, by the way, are Darrin Vincent, Rhonda Vincent, Cody Kilby, Ronnie McCoury, Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes, Scott Vestal, Joe Caverlee, the Larkins, Ricky Skaggs , Molly Skaggs, Alison Krauss and Danny Parks.)
Walker’s Christmas (Warner Bros.) is the smooth Texan’s first seasonal album. Its mood is cozily traditional, sweeping from “Silent Night” and “White Christmas” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.”
The Bellamy Brothers ’ The Reason for the Season (Curb) dusts off some original songs — including “Old Hippie Christmas” — first recorded for their 1996 holiday collection, Tropical Christmas. The new CD also features the patriotic “God Bless America This Christmas.”
The aforementioned Mr. Judd is strictly “Ho ho ho” in Cledus Navidad (Monument), which boasts such knee-slappers as “Stephon, the Alternative Lifestyle Reindeer” and “Merry Christmas From the Whole Fam Damily.” He even covers Ray Stevens’ truly geeky “Santa Claus Is Watchin’ You.”
Rounding out the seasonal goodies are Messina’s A Joyful Noise (Curb) and Womack’s The Season for Romance (MCA). Although comprised mostly of Christmas classics, Messina’s album does spotlight two new songs: “Keep the Faith,” which she co-wrote with Mike Reid and Brent Maher, and Tia Sillers and Mark Selby’s title cut. Highlighting Womack’s album is “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” her flirty duet with Harry Connick Jr.
Cheers to one and all!