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Yule Logs & Ol' Dogs: A Holiday Music Checklist Featuring Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Joan Jett, Neil Diamond, Motown, Sinatra & Martin, and More

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Every year from September to December, record companies and their associated artists try their best to replace your old, scratchy copy of Great-Grandma's Merry Christmas by Der Bingle with hipper holiday hula-hoops. 2009 is no exception, so for anyone who wants to break Great-Grandma's heart and buy one of these new-fangled recordings, here's a checklist of musical stocking stuffers ranging from traditional to subversive.

Bob Dylan - Christmas In The Heart

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Profits from Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Heart (that Rachel Maddow said she likes, so there) go to the charitable organization Feeding America, much like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" in a nicer universe.

Tracks:
1. Here Comes Santa Claus
2. Do You hear What I Hear?
3. Winter Wonderland
4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
5. I'll Be Home For Christmas
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. Christmas Blues
8. O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
10. Must Be Santa
11. Silver Bells
12. First Noel
13. Christmas Island
14. Christmas Song
15. O' Little Town Of Bethlehem

Neil Diamond - A Cherry Cherry Christmas

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Neil wants us to have a very Holly Holy, Cherry Cherry Christmas this year without a Song Sung Blue. He confesses, "I'm A Believer...believing in things not always understood," plus it's a holiday with Red, Red Wine, where Sweet Caroline drops by, and some Beautiful Noise is playing. Swear-to-God, that's all in the title track, and that's why you have to own it, so you can do your own double-takes and catch all of the other Neilsong references that fly by quick as a reindeer. Seriously? This is one of the year's best new Christmas albums, neither taking itself all that seriously (Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song") nor taking you as an easy mark when it comes to its seasonal chestnuts (the horn-driven "Winter Wonderland"). "Cherry Christmas, everyone..." indeed.

Tracks:
1. Cherry Cherry Christmas
2. Sleigh Ride
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
4. White Christmas
5. Christmas Dream
6. The Christmas Song
7. Deck The Halls / We Wish You A Merry Christmas
8. Jingle Bell Rock
9. You Make It Feel Like Christmas
10. Winter Wonderland
11. Joy To The World
12. Amazing Grace
13. Meditations On A Winter Night - instrumental
14. The Chanukah Song

Check out Neil's video and cover of Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song" here (cut and paste):
http://www.neildiamond.com

Various Artists - The Ultimate Motown Christmas

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Now THIS is the way to reset the bar. This holiday collection is presented like a vintage Motown Christmas radio show broadcast from Detroit with tons of great music and artists coming up to the mic between songs sending personal messages out to fans. The selections and sequencing add to that air of being on the air, and in the case of artists like Marvin or the very young Michael Jackson, it almost feels like they're around for the holidays. Nicely done Harry Weinger and UMe.

Tracks:

CD 1
1. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Jackson 5
2. What Christmas Means To Me - Stevie Wonder
3. Season's Greetings From Eddie Kendricks - Eddie Kendricks
4. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Temptations
5. Season's Greetings From The Supremes - The Supremes
6. My Favorite Things - The Supremes
7. Deck The Halls/Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabelle - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
8. Ave Maria - Stevie Wonder
9. Season's Greetings From Thelma Houston - Thelma Houston
10. Joy To The World - The Supremes
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
12. Silver Bells - The Supremes
13. Someday At Christmas - Stevie Wonder
14. Season's Greetings From Jr. Walker - Jr. Walker
15. Winter Wonderland - The Funk Brothers
16. Jingle Bells - Smokey Robinson
17. Season's Greetings From The Commodores - The Commodores
18. My Christmas Tree - The Temptations
19. White Christmas - The Supremes
20. Season's Greetings From The Velvelettes - The Velvelettes
21. Merry Christmas Baby - Four Tops
22. Give Love On Christmas Day - Johnny Gill
23. Christmas In The City - Marvin Gaye
24. Season's Greetings From The Temptations - The Temptations
25. Silent Night (stripped version) - The Temptations

CD 2
1. Season's Greetings From Smokey Robinson - Smokey Robinson
2. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) - Smokey Robinson & The Temptations
3. Children's Christmas Song - The Supremes
4. Season's Greetings From David Ruffin - David Ruffin
5. The Little Drummer Boy - The Temptations
6. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Jackson 5
7. Season's Greetings From Four Tops - Four Tops
8. Christmas Here With You - Four Tops
9. This Christmas - Diana Ross
10. Season's Greetings From Willie Hutch - Willie Hutch
11. Christmas Cheer - The Boys
12. Let It Snow - Boyz II Men
13. Season's Greetings From The Spinners - The Spinners
14. Christmas Everyday - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
15. One Little Christmas Tree Stevie Wonder
16. Season's Greetings From Martha & The Vandellas - Martha & The Vandellas
17. Noel - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
18. Purple Snowflakes - Marvin Gaye
19. Season's Greetings From The Elgins - The Elgins
20. Wish You A Merry Christmas - Kim Weston
21. It's Christmas Time - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
22. Season's Greetings From Shorty Long - Shorty Long
23. Xmas Twist - The Twistin' Kings
24. I Want To Come Home For Christmas - Marvin Gaye
25. Season's Greetings From Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
26. A Child Is Waiting - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Johnny Cash - Christmas With Johnny Cash / The Yule Log Edition DVD

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Alright, who's idea was it to take perfectly good Christmas albums and stick 'em on scenes of crackly yule logs? Well, give that genius a raise! Finally, two overplayed traditions come together, and they're as compatible as eggnog and gingerbread cookies--and about as deadly sweet. But this series really works well and most of the artist casting is spot-on. Johnny Cash? You betcha. John Denver? Talk about a Rocky Mountain high. Bette Midler? Pass the spiced rum, ya bum. Johnny Mathis? He's why yule logs were made all those PBS years ago. With three different scenes--"The Classic Yule Log," "The Cozy Cottage," and "The Snowy Cabin"--you can transport yourself into a variety of romanticized fantasies as you countdown to Christmas conjuring all of the memories of televised yule logs past.

Tracks:
1. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
2. The Christmas Guest
3. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
4. The Gifts They Gave
5. Blue Christmas
6. Merry Christmas Mary
7. O Come All Ye Faithful
8. Away In A Manger
9. The Christmas Spirit
10. Joy To The World
11. Silent Night
12. Christmas As I Knew It

Yule Log Edition DVDs:
Brooks & Dunn
Mariah Carey
Johnny Cash
Kenny Chesney
John Denver
Celine Dion
Domingo / Carreras / Pavorotti
José Feliciano
Kenny G
Whitney Houston
Il Divo
Johnny Mathis
Martina McBride
Bette Midler
Brad Paisley
Andy Williams
Various Artists - A Traditional Christmas

Frank Sinatra - Christmas With Sinatra And Friends

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It's Sinatra, it's Christmas, and that's all we need to know. This collection is a little confusing, but it's Sinatra, it's Christmas, and that's all we need to know.

Tracks:
1. The Christmas Waltz
2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
3. The Christmas Song - Mel Torme
4. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
5. The Little Drummer Boy
6. A Child Is Born - Tony Bennett & Bill Evans
7. Mistletoe And Holly
8. An Old Fashioned Christmas
9. White Christmas - Rosemary Clooney
10. Whatever Happened To Christmas?
11. Baby It's Cold Outside - Ray Charles & Betty Carter
12. Christmas Memories

Dean Martin - My Kind Of Christmas

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This is all pretty much recycled Reprise-era Christmas Deano, but the remix of "Winter Wonderland" is a noble attempt at an update of his classic sound without too much lo-fi and too many loops. Of course, one can't be a Grinch about a Dean Martin Christmas record. But overall, there might have been a more creative way to frame the classiest brother of the Rat Pack beyond a cherubic front cover.

Tracks:
1. Baby, It's Cold Outside
2. Silver Bells
3. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
4. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
5. The Christmas Blues
6. Winter Wonderland
7. Silent Night
8. A Marshmallow World
9. I'll Be Home For Christmas
10. Jingle Bells
11. Blue Christmas
12. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
13. White Christmas
14. Peace On Earth / Silent Night

A RAZOR & TIE CHRISTMAS

Would Razor & Tie ever lead you astray? If you don't own Ho: A Dan Band Xmas, Michael McDonald's This Christmas, and The Irish Tenors' Christmas CDs by Tuesday of next week, just hand in your Santa cap, alright? Jeez...

The Dan Band - A Dan Band Christmas

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Tracks:
1. I Wanna Rock You Hard This Xmas
2. Ho Ho Ho
3. Mrs. Claus
4. The Christmas Flip-Flop
5. Get Drunk & Make Out
6. This Christmas
7. Christmas Time In California
8. Love Me This Much
9. All Year Long
10. Not On Christmas Eve
11. Christmaskwanzakah
12. Please Don't Bomb Nobody
13. This Holiday

Michael McDonald - This Christmas

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Tracks:
1. That's What Christmas Means To Me
2. This Christmas
3. White Christmas/Winter Wonderland
4. Wexford Carol
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
6. Peace
7. On This Night
8. Children Go Where I Send Thee
9. Every Time Christmas Comes Around
10. Come, O Come Emanuel/What Month Was Jesus Born
11. I'll Be Home For Christmas
12. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Il Divo - Christmas

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Tracks:
1. Hark The Herald
2. Go Tell It On The Mountain
3. I Heard The Bells
4. Jingle Bell Rock / Round The Christmas Tree Medley
5. Fairytale Of New York
6. O Holy Night
7. Mary Did You Know
8. Winter Wonderland/White Christmas/Jingle Bells Medley
9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
10. I'll Be Home For Christmas
11. Silent Night
12. Sleigh Ride / Feliz Navidad Medley

Straight No Chaser - Christmas Cheers

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If you survive the ode to shopping "The Christmas Can-Can," then you definitely can-can make it through the rest of this second Christmas barrage by Straight No Chaser. This musical crossbreed of Take 6 and The Nylons (spiritually godparented by The Manhattan Transfer) creates a body of Christmas songs that is not only buff but also includes a funny bone ("Donde Esta Santa Claus" must be heard to be believed).

Tracks:
1. The Christmas Can-Can
2. We Three Kings
3. Christmastime Is Here
4. Let It Snow
5. Donde Esta Santa Claus
6. I'll Be Home For Christmas
7. Hey Santa!
8. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
9. You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
10. O Holy Night
11. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
12. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
13. Jingle Bells
14. Who Spiked The Eggnog?
15. The 12 Days Of Christmas

Various Artists - A Blackheart Christmas

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Come on, what would Christmas be without Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' version of "Little Drummer Boy"? Apparently, The Dollyrots, The Cute Lepers, Girl In A Coma, and The Vacancies don't know their place, and now, they want to muscle-in on Joan's territory. Are we gonna let 'em? Damn straight. Get ready to add "The Elf Song" and "All I Ever Want (Under The Christmas Tree)" to your Xmas repertoire as the Blackheart Records Group assembles some of its most cantankerous cheer for your holidays.

Tracks:
1. Blue Christmas - Girl In A Coma
2. The Elf Song - The Vacancies
3. Santa Baby - The Dollyrots
4. Little Drummer Boy - Joan Jett And The Blackhearts
5. Christmas is Time To Say I Love You - The Cute Lepers
6. Father Christmas
7. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Girl In A Coma
8. Winter Wonderland - Thommy Price featuring Nefertiti Jones
9. Home For Christmas - Kenny Laguna
10. All I Ever Want (Under The Christmas Tree) - The Cute Lepers
11. Silent Night - The Blackhearts And Special Guests

Check out this HuffPost exclusive of "Blue Christmas" by Girl In A Coma:

Phil Spector - A Christmas Gift For You

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One of the most cherished Christmas albums has been reissued. Let us be glad (not for Phil Spector so much) and rejoice.

Tracks:
1. White Christmas - Darlene Love
2. Frosty the Snowman - The Ronettes, The Ronettes
3. Bells of St. Mary - Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans
4. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - The Crystals
5. Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes, The Ronettes
6. Marshmallow World - Darlene Love, Phil Spector
7. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Ronettes
8. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals
9. Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love
10. Parade of the Wooden Soldiers - The Crystals
11. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
12. Here Comes Santa Claus - Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans
13. Silent Night - Phil Spector

Various Artists - Putumayo Presents A Family Christmas

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The world that Putumayo originally brought to us was big and bright-eyed, and its music collections were both exotic and comforting as we proudly brought each disc home to our families. Putumayo now presents a new collection, A Family Christmas, and it is as heartwarming as any of their classic assemblies. With the help of artists such as Maria Muldaur, Leon Redbone, Deana Carter, Martin Sexton, and Brave Combo, Putumayo absolutely delivers on their slogan "Guaranteed To Make You Feel Good," and it kind of makes you wonder why we never thought of this little label-that-could as also being a natural ambassador of Christmas music.

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Johnny Bregar
2. Holly Jolly Christmas - Martin Sexton
3. Is Zat You Santa Claus? - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
4. Let it Snow - Leon Redbone
5. Winter Wonderland - Deana Carter
6. Sleigh Ride - Sam Bush Listen
7. Here We Come A-Wassailing - Kate Rusby
8. Jolly Old St. Nick - Brave Combo
9. Mele Kalikimaka - Debbie Davis & Matt Perrine
10. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus - The Christmas Jug Band featuring Angela Strehli and Maria Muldaur
11. Frosty the Snowman - Lars Edegran and his Santa Claus Revelers featuring Big Al Carson

Various Artists - A Very Special Christmas 7

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This time out, it's the young'ns that support Special Olympics.

Tracks:
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Colbie Caillat
2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Carter Twins
3. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Miley Cyrus
4. Winter Wonderland - Vanessa Hudgens
5. The Little Drummer Boy - Sean Kingston
6. The Christmas Song - Charice
7. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Kristinia DeBarge
8. Jingle Bell Rock - Mitchel Musso
9. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) - Leighton Meester
10. Santa Baby - Kellie Pickler
11. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Carrie Underwood
12. Last Christmas - Ashley Tisdale
13. Silent Night - Gloriana

A NOT SO VERY SPECIAL (YET SPECIAL) CHRISTMAS PRESS RELEASE:

Bob Schneider Takes On The Pogues and Charlie Brown For Unmerry Holiday Album

Bob Schneider, who's released his latest album 'Lovely Creatures' this fall, surprised fans with a new holiday album called 'Christmastime' available now for digital download thru his website. Suddenly inspired by the season, Bob recorded his first holiday album over a recent weekend in his hometown of Austin.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of "Winter Wonderland" here:

Says Bob, "I've always found the holidays to be a melancholy time of the year for me. Lot's of times with my parents in Germany and my sister in South America, I'd be alone, and I wanted to make a Christmas record that reflected this sort of mood. I also wanted to make a record that was very intimate and not bombastic or merry in any way, in the same way that 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' is, which is one of my favorite records of any kind. With the help of some of the finest musicians living today, I was able to capture some of that feeling."

Bob brings the "embracing warmth" (Associated Press, 9.28.09) of 'Lovely Creatures' to holiday standards like "White Christmas" and "Christmas Time Is Here" with Austin musicians Kevin Lovejoy (Charlie Sexton, Fastball) on keys, Chris Maresh (Alejandro Escovedo) on bass, and JJ Johnson (John Mayer) on drums.

Listen to Bob's take on The Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York," a classic holiday tune across the pond:
http://bit.ly/8XqSLv

'Christmastime' track list:

1. Winter Wonderland
2. I'll Be Home For Christmas
3. Christmas Time Is Here
4. The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year
5. Christmas (Baby Please Come Back)
6. White Christmas
7. Fairytale Of New York
8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

'Christmastime' is available here: http://bobschneider.com/store

UNCLE AL'S CHRISTMAS GIFT TO YOU!

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Ministry's Uncle Al Jourgensen is apparently in the Christmas spirit, having created a Christmas video "card" for you and his fans that is also his very first solo project.

Al and good buddy Mark Thwait (Mission UK, Peter Murphy, Mob Research), collaborated on "It's Always Christmas Time," a tribute to friend and band mate Paul Raven (Ministry, Killing Joke, Mob Research) on the two-year anniversary of his passing in 2007. With Christmas less than two weeks away, it's Al's way of spreading his very own brand of holiday cheer.

CHRISTMAS ESSENTIALS THAT SURELY YOU HAVE IN YOUR COLLECTIONS:

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A CHRISTMAS ALBUM YOU LOVE BUT WILL NEVER ADMIT BECAUSE YOU'RE JUST TOO COOL:

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A CHRISTMAS ALBUM YOU JUST CAN'T PART WITH BUT REALLY SHOULD:

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TRY THIS ONE, IT'S AMAZING:

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