Christmas With the Christies

by: The New Christy Minstrels

Released in 1966, Christmas With the Christies is the second seasonal set to be issued by the New Christy Minstrels. The platter was a perfect alternative for younger generations of folk and pop enthusiasts who had grown tired of the standard holiday fare. While steeped in tradition, they were sorely lacking in the originality and vibrancy that the Christies brought to their projects. The aggregate's infamously instable lineup had been without Randy Sparks for two years. This 11-song collection was part of the recording sessions that yielded 1966's New Kick, the Christies' most modern-sounding LP to date, with covers of Beatles and even Nancy Sinatra tunes. Perhaps that is one reason that Christmas With the Christies is so diverse compared to their Merry Christmas! anthology from 1963. As the owners and managers of the group were pencil pushers and financial advisors rather than performers, Bob Alcivar was brought aboard to help the combo with the arrangements. He did more than that, going so far as to hire studio pros to provide the instrumental backing so the Christies would simply have to lend their inimitable blend over the top. The results are better in the grooves than they would seem in theory. The album opens with a staid organ prelude that completely and falsely intimates the upcoming sonic non sequitur -- a feverishly paced calypso-meets-bluegrass reading of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" The ending is of particular note as the singers' repetitive swirling harmonic round is nothing short of dizzying. The remainder of the long-player is filled with otherwise average interpretations of familiar selections, such as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "Little Drummer Boy," and "O Holy Night." There are a few exceptions, and primary among them is the frolicking "Sleigh Ride," which has been incorporated into enough modern television commercials to make it instantly recognizable. "Christmas Card" is a lilting if not somewhat melancholy ballad, centering on the vocal nuances of this Christies incarnation. "O Bambino (One Cold and Blessed Winter)" is another lesser-known highlight bearing a graceful and amiable waltz rhythm. [In 2001 Collectors' Choice Music compiled both Merry Christmas! and Christmas With the Christies onto a single compact disc entitled Christmas With the New Christy Minstrels: Complete!, adding five bonus tracks -- three of which had never been released before.] ~ Lindsay Planer

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.