The Second Disc

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Holiday Tunes Watch, Part 4: Starbucks to “Let It Snow” With Dylan, Diamond, Aretha, Elvis and More

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With each holiday season inevitably comes a new Christmas-themed compilation CD from Starbucks, combining rare and familiar tracks from artists new and old, designed as the perfect accompaniment for that venti skinny Peppermint Mocha!  2011’s entry in the annual series, Let It Snow, features Michigan singer/songwriter Rosie Thomas’ recording of the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn title song, along with fifteen other tracks.  Some tracks are from the “usual suspects” (Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley) and others from less expected artists (Bob Dylan, Death Cab for Cutie).

Dylan’s much-discussed 2009 Christmas From the Heart is represented with its most exciting track, “Must Be Santa,” the singer’s wild zydeco-meets-polka re-invention of the novelty song first recorded by onetime Columbia Records boss Mitch Miller.  “Must Be Santa” is one the two most recent tracks on Let It Snow; the other is Andrea Bocelli’s booming, if good-natured, take on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  The oldest track on the compilation is Bing Crosby’s relaxed 1955 take on Meredith (The Music Man) Willson’s chestnut “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”  Not far behind is Elvis Presley’s 1957 reading of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”  It’s hard to believe that this classic was once controversial; Berlin initially felt the pelvis-swinging rock-and-roller was mocking his holiday standard with his loose cover.  Today, it seems positively tame!

Also featured are recent Kennedy Center Honoree Neil Diamond (“The Little Drummer Boy”), bluegrass veteran Alison Krauss (the saucy “Shimmy Down The Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking”) and sultry chanteuse Julie London (the seductive “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”).  The classic A Christmas Gift to You from Philles Records has been raided for The Ronettes’ boisterous “Sleigh Ride,” while the same album is represented in a cover version of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” performed by Death Cab for Cutie.  A pre-Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin appears via her gently swinging 1964 take of “Winter Wonderland.”

Hit the jump for more, including an order link and the full track listing with discographical annotation!

Starbucks’ Let It Snow is a worthy new addition to the longtime series of holiday CDs.  It comes packaged with a 16-page booklet featuring fine track-by-track liner notes by David R. Legry.  It’s available now from all good outposts of the Seattle brewing giant, and online at the Starbucks store!  You’ll find a link just below!

Various Artists, Let It Snow (Starbucks Entertainment/Sony CMG 88697 96823-2, 2011)

  1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Andrea Bocelli
  2. Little Drummer Boy – Neil Diamond
  3. Shimmy Down the Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking) – Alison Krauss
  4. Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) – Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
  5. Winter Wonderland – Aretha Franklin
  6. Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
  7. Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
  8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab for Cutie
  9. Frosty the Snowman – Fiona Apple
  10. White Christmas – Elvis Presley
  11. Let It Snow – Rosie Thomas
  12. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Dolly Parton
  13. Jingle Bell Rock – Brenda Lee
  14. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
  15. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – Julie London
  16. Silent Night – Yo-Yo Ma

Track 1 from My Christmas, Philips 13437, 2009
Track 2 from The Christmas Album, Columbia CK 52914, 1992
Track 3 from Shimmy Down the Chimney: A Country Christmas, Capitol 0724386791450, 2004
Track 4 from The Nutcracker Suite, Columbia CL 1541, 1960
Track 5 from Columbia single 43177, 1964
Track 6 from A Christmas Gift to You from Philles Records, Philles 4005, 1963
Track 7 from Christmas in the Heart, Columbia 88697 57323 2, 2009
Track 8 from Maybe This Christmas Tree, Nettwerk 303802, 2004
Track 9 from The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs, Hotel Café/Epic 88697 36111-2, 2003
Track 10 from Elvis’ Christmas Album, RCA Victor LOC-1035, 1957
Track 11 from A Very Rosie Christmas, Sing-a-Long/Nettwerk 308292, 2008
Track 12 from Home for Christmas, Columbia CK-46796, 1990
Track 13 from Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee, Decca DL-4583, 1964
Track 14 from Merry Christmas, Decca DL-8128, 1955
Track 15 recorded 1964, released on Ultra Lounge: Christmas Cocktails Volume 3, Capitol 72435-78503-2, 2004
Track 16 from Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace (Deluxe Edition), Sony Classical 88697 33336-2, 2008

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2011 at 10:29

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