Want to escape the usual Christmas ditties? Read on for Time Out’s favourite alternative Christmas discs.
Sufjan Stevens, Songs For Christmas
A mix of covers and brand-new songs, this stonking big set – it comprises some 42 tracks – compiles five EPs made by the indie-folk favourite between 2001 and 2006. It’s a treasure-trove of Christmassy goodness, from loping, folksy renditions of traditional French carols (‘The Friendly Beasts’) to haunting instrumental covers (‘Once In Royal David’s City’). There are even a good few original tracks for modern times, including ‘That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!’ and ‘Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well You Deserve It!)’.
Putumayo Presents, New Orleans Christmas
World music label Putumayo comes up trumps with this cracking selection of Christmas covers. Our favourites are the smooth and flirtatious jazz number ‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’ and the slightly more traditional-sounding, trumpet-led rendition of ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’. Joyful, warm and perfect for both listening to and using as background party music, it’s pretty much everything you could ask for from a Christmas album. It’s also worth rocking up to the Putumayo website (www.putumayo.com) to check out their other Christmas-themed world music and jazz albums.
Phil Spector, A Christmas Gift For You
Phil Spector’s not had a great year, what with being convicted of the murder of his wife and everything. But forget all that and pick up A Christmas Gift For You, arguably – no, definitely – the greatest Christmas album of all time. From Darlene Love’s rich rendition of ‘White Christmas’ to the sparkling ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ by Bob B Soxx and The Blue Jeans, it’s instantly heartwarming and eternally memorable. Only Spector’s schmaltzy thank yous over the last track let things down, but hey ho, nothing’s perfect – though this does come close. All available at www.7digital.com – except Putumayo Presents, available at www.putumayo.com