Tracks to “Fa La La La La” About:  For the sheer novelty factor, you can’t beat “Santa Claus Is Thumbing to Town.” Also, the band’s interpretations of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Handel’s Messiah” are lots of fun, too.

Stocking Stuffers:  This CD actually comes with a copy of the band’s recent release, "Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right … But Three Do" (Gotee). Give it to a friend, and that’s one less person to shop for!

Other notable new holiday discs worth checking out are:  Rivertribe’s eclectic carols on "Rivertribe Christmas" (Elevate); a harmonious four-song Christmas EP from The Katinas, included with its current CD, "Roots" (Gotee); Joy Electric’s trippy, electronic beats on "The Magic of Christmas" (Tooth & Nail); Kathy Mattea’s country-tinged "Joy for Christmas Day" (Narada); and Tait’s new Christmas song, included with the band’s current release, "Lose This Life" (ForeFront). Also, look for a full review of Steven Curtis Chapman’s Hallmark Stores exclusive CD, "Christmas Is All in the Heart" here.


Christmas CDs That Never Go Out of Style ...

Unlike that trendy band of the moment, when it comes to Christmas music, some CDs are so timeless they deserve to be heard year after year. Listed are a few holiday projects that no collection should be without.

6. Any of Amy Grant’s

While debates rage on about which effort is the best (my vote is "Home for Christmas"), you can’t go wrong with the classy songs of "A Christmas Album", "Home for Christmas" or "A Christmas to Remember" (Word).

7. "City on a Hill: It’s Christmas Time" (Essential)

The idea of community is always welcome, and this holiday collection features a great line-up of diverse artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Sixpence None the Richer, Jars of Clay, Julie Miller and more.

8. "Fred Hammond Christmas: Just Remember" (Verity)
With his energetic and soulful vocal delivery, one can’t help feeling joyful after listening to this CD. It offers stellar urban-influenced arrangements and plenty of holiday cheer — all in one listen.

9. "Holiday," Crystal Lewis   (Metro One)

Getting jazzy with her arrangements and smoky vocal quality on "Holiday," Lewis shows off her musical versatility with an approach that’s more Ella Fitzgerald than her traditional pop fare.

10. "Christmas," Michael W. Smith (Reunion)

His Christmastime project is an undoubtedly enjoyable and well-produced affair, but this album simply takes the cake when it comes to Smith’s Christmas recordings. With epic piano arrangements, reminiscent of the great compositions from Handel and Beethoven, Smith deftly captures the holiday spirit while providing a worship experience in the process.

11. "Christmas," Jaci Velasquez (Word)

Like a Christmas potluck, there are many great choices on this project. Masterfully chosen material with majestic instrumentation, this CD is a timeless effort that’s sure to be played for many Christmases to come.

12. "Your King Has Come," Various (Detuned Radio)

Derek Webb and his wife, Sandra McCracken, join Jill Phillips, Andrew Osenga from The Normals and a bevy of other talented artists for an album that’s absolutely exquisite with its sparse, moody arrangements of classics and original songs.


© 2003 CCM Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.  Click here to subscribe.