It’s Christmas in July! No, I am not being ironic. Christmas in July is actually a thing. Even though the weather may be hot and sunny, or depending on where you are, rainy and humid, that doesn’t mean we can’t fill our hearts and ears with Christmas glee. Given how long this year has already been, it’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping, or at the very least, get into the festive and giving mode we tend to find ourselves in come Christmas. Just don’t start packing on that holiday weight too soon! It is still beach season, after all! Like many of you probably do, my wife and I have a growing collection of Christmas music on vinyl. With that in mind, I figured what better time than now to look back on some of my favorite holiday records? If you don’t have these, now is the perfect time to do some shopping so that come December your holiday collection will be jam packed with Christmas glee. If you do have some of these, then sit back and bask in the nostalgia while I run through my Top-5 Christmas albums for vinyl lovers!
5) Lou Monte – Merry Christmas from Pepino the Italian Mouse. 1978
I’m from Long Island, New York. Born and raised, and still living here to this day. If any of you grew up on Long Island as well, then you may recall a local radio station called B-103. I can still hear their jingle in my head, “Beeeeeeeeee 1-0-3 LONG ISLAND.” Now, if you remember that, then you probably also recall that just after Thanksgiving, the station would change over from its regular schedule of oldies, to nothing but Christmas music all the way through New Year’s Day. I still remember sitting in the back of my Dad’s Chevy Impala, listening to “Dominick The Donkey.” Lou Monte’s Merry Christmas from Pepino the Italian Mouse is essential Christmas listening, as it contains “Dominick the Donkey” and other fun Christmas tunes, all sung in a sort of tongue-in-cheek manner. It’s the kind of record you loved as a kid, then forgot about as an adult. Then one day comes along, and you remember it, and you sit back and wonder how you’ve lived without it for so long. Don’t torture yourself any longer. Get out and find Merry Christmas from Pepino the Italian Mouse today!
4) Soul Christmas. 1968
Do you like R&B and Soul music? If so, then Soul Christmas is most definitely for you. Over the last few years, my wife and I have started a beautiful tradition. We open a bottle of wine, drag out all of our Christmas decorations from the depths of our closet, and then we spend the next several hours unpacking, and slowly decorating our home for the Christmas season. Do any of you do this as well? If not, then give it a try! It’s a wonderful way to ring in the happiest of seasons with the one you love. Part of our tradition is that we play one Christmas record after the other while we decorate. Over time, we have found that Soul Christmas soundtracks this process better than maybe any other Christmas record we have. The best Christmas albums stay true to tradition, while also at the same time taking things in a new direction. This album finds the perfect middle ground of old and new. Plus, any album that features the likes of Otis Redding, Carla Thomas and Clarence Carter simply can’t be bad. If you haven’t heard this yet, check it out. You will not be disappointed.
3) Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas. 1994
If you were a kid in the 90’s like myself, then you remembered being dragged around JC Penney and Macy’s by your parents, while hearing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” blaring on repeat from the overhead speakers. Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas is a modern-day staple of the holiday season, and a prime example of a seminal pop artist at the height of her powers. The album is laced with gospel and soul-inflected vocals, and features a combination of classic Christmas covers, as well as several original compositions. Love it or hate it, this record is an undeniable holiday juggernaut, as it has sold 5.7 million copies in the United States alone, and has been certified platinum 6 times over by the Recording Industry Association of America. Worldwide, it has sold 15 million copies, which for those keeping score, makes it the best-selling Christmas album of all time! All that aside, for us 90’s kids it’s a trip down memory lane, and a way to nostalgically remember a time before Amazon, when we actually had to go out and buy our Christmas gifts in person, while gently being serenaded by Long Island’s very own pop diva, Mariah Carey. There is a super fun version of this album on red vinyl. I highly recommend it during the Christmas season!
2) Christmas with The Chipmunks. 1962
Christmas is a fun time of year. So, what better way to ring in the most wonderful time of year than with an album that’s as fun as it gets in Christmas with The Chipmunks? I didn’t grow up with Alvin and the Chipmunks in its original form, but I did grow up watching the re-runs. I suspect many of you did, too. This album showcases all that’s fun about Christmas. Everything about this record screams Christmas fun. With its vividly colored front cover, which shows Alvin, Simon and Theodor opening presents too early, while a grouchy Dave watches on, to its cute and carefree versions of Christmas staples sung by our favorite cartoon critters. This is album that you simply cannot go wrong with. Especially if you have kids, or if you’re just a big kid like myself. If you can’t get your hands on an original copy, recent represses of the album have awesome foil covers which shimmer and shine in the light of your Christmas tree. It’s truly a sight to see.
1) Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas. 1965
No list of the best Christmas albums on vinyl would be complete without the absolutely classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. This timeless and jazzy soundtrack to the film of the same name has been at the forefront of nearly every boy and girl’s Christmas morning for the last 55 years. It simply doesn’t matter how old you are, no Christmas is complete without the lovable Peanuts gang singing “Christmas Time Is Here.” It’s incredible to think that just before the release of the original Christmas special, and its accompanying soundtrack, that executives at both CBS and Fantasy records expected to project to be an unmitigated disaster. Boy how wrong they were! The soundtrack was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 2012 it was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings. Want to make Christmas Eve especially memorable this year? Try pairing this record with a delicious cup of warm eggnog, or hot chocolate, and some Christmas sugar cookies. Settle in with your loved ones, and the enjoy the timeless and warm sounds of Vince Guaraldi’s indelible Christmas classic. What more is there to say? You need this record. Here’s to you, Charlie Brown!
So, that’s it. My Top-5 Christmas Albums for Vinyl Lovers. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Now all that’s left for you to do go hunting for all of these records, but don’t stop there! There are dozens upon dozens of fun and interesting Christmas records waiting to be discovered. I hope you all enjoy Christmas in July. While you’re at it, treat yourself to a Christmas in July present and head over to https://enjoytheriderecords.com/collections/on-sale/products/etr-mystery-grab-bag and choose a category to snag your fun mystery grab bag vinyl album for only $9.99! Until next time, keep on spinning.
Andrew Daly is from Long Island, NY, where he lives with his wife Angela, and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew is an Operations Manager by day, and a true vinyl junkie by night. Having collected vinyl since he was a child in the 1990’s, Andrew’s collection of over 4,200 vinyl albums tells the story of his passion for all that is music.