Erasure's 'Snow Globe' (and 10 of the best Christmas albums)
Next week, legendary 80s synth-pop duo Erasure are releasing their first Christmas album, Snow Globe. The electro veterans Vince Clark and Andy Bell have chosen some weird and wonderful tracks for this seasonal offering – including the rarely heard ‘Gaudete’ and a great, droning rendition of ‘White Christmas’, characteristic of the stripped-back approach to the arrangements on this album.
Erasure aren’t exactly the first band to attempt to rescue the Christmas album from the bargain bin of naffness they’re generally thrown in on December 26. But, bizarrely, when it comes to making a decent Christmas album, Erasure are actually in quite good company. So, in no particular order, here are 10 of our favourites:
Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas
Sufjan Stevens likes Christmas songs so much he’s made 5 volumes of Songs for Christmas. Thankfully though, he’s pretty darn good at it. Standout tracks include ‘Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing’ and ‘That Was The Worst Christmas Ever’.
Salsoul Orchestra - Christmas Jollies
For those who like their turkey with a side helping of funk, look no further than this Christmas cracker from Vincent Montana Jr. & co. ‘Little Drummer Boy’ is one of the highlights.
The Carpenters - Christmas Portrait
Too twee for some, so-uncool-they’re-cool for others, people seem to either love or hate The Carpenters, but if you can listen to the opening overture of Christmas Portrait without your heart melting just a little, you should consider changing your name to Ebeneezer.
Joan Baez - Noel
A cleverly selected list of Christmas standards and adaptations of hymns, this beautifully tender record will warm your heart in even the coldest of winter months. Our favourite is ‘I Wonder As I Wander’.
Jacob Miller - Natty Christmas
If you’re escaping our cold wintry shores this year for a sunny crimbo in the Caribbean – or if you just really like reggae - you’re going to want to grab yourself a copy of Natty Christmas. “All I Want For Ismas” is our favourite.
Weezer - Christmas with Weezer
Perhaps one of the more unlikely bands to knock out a festive album, but Rivers Cuomo and the boys do a great job of injecting these classic carols with a dose of their trademark fuzzy punk-pop. ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ never sounded so good.
Cee-Lo Green - Cee-Lo’s Magic Moment
This record is so much fun its ridiculous. The Goodie Mob / Gnarls Barkley star invites everyone from Rod Stewart to The Muppets to this Christmas party, but one of the best tracks is Cee-Lo on his own doing a great rendition of ‘All I Want For Christmas’.
Death Row Records compilation - Christmas on Death Row
For those who’d like to add a little west coast hip-hop ‘flava’ to their festive proceedings, check out this collection from Suge Knight’s label. The best track has to be Snoop and Nate Dogg doing ‘Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto’.
Christopher Lee - Christopher Lee’s A Heavy Metal Christmas (E.P)
This is, admittedly, a bit of a cheat as it’s only an E.P., but for the sheer ‘what the…’ factor of A Heavy Metal Christmas, it had to go on the list. Another amazing rendition of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ proves the 91-year-old actor still knows how to have fun.
The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album
Finally, if you’re a fan of Brian Wilson, you’re going to need this in your life. The Beach Boys’ famous, ethereal harmonies are all over this record, adding a 60s surf vibe to some Christmas classics. ‘Little Saint Nick’ is just fantastic.