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Not every song is a gem, but the ones that are gems are so good that this album is a must-have.

Music Review: Various Artists – ‘The Classic ’80s Christmas Album’

If you are nostalgic for the ’80s, The Classic ’80s Christmas Album will make you smile. In fact, many of the songs here will please your ears even if you don’t remember the decade (or not miss it if you do remember!).

Courtesy of Sony Legay

Many of these songs were on A Very Special Christmas and its successors, such as The Pointer Sisters’ “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and Whitney Houston’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” But if you are like this reporter, you probably lost your copies or never had them on CD, so here’s your chance to get those fantastic songs again. In fact, there are a couple of other songs here that are among the most enjoyable arrangements of old favorites you are likely to find. Hall & Oates do a decent “Jingle Bell Rock” and  Dave Edmund tears through Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph.”

Then there are two songs that join “Christmas in Hollis” as the essence of ’80s Christmas: Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and the genuinely hilarious Bob and Doug MacKenzie’s “Twelve Days of Christmas,” in which the impractical gifts are replaced by practical things (like beer).

There is also a lesser-known gem which was once recorded by Louis Armstrong,  the delightfully spooky “Zat You, Santa Claus,” done in wonderfully vintage style by Buster Poindexter and The Banshees of Blue (Buster Poindexter was, of course, the pseudonym of David Johansen of The New York Dolls.)

The Hooters provide a different and pleasingly rustic take on “Silent Night,” the only traditional carol on the album.

There are a few less successful songs here  as well. The Bangles do a good job on “Hazy Shade of Winter,” but nothing is going to make that a real Christmas song. The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas Wrapping”  is not bad for the first three minutes or so, but at over five minutes it is just too long. The New Kids on the Block’s version of “This One’s For the Children” could send even a lover of sugary Christmas songs  into diabetic shock. And Fishbone’s “Slick Nick, You Devil You,” was previously unrecorded and probably should have stayed that way.

Nevertheless, the good material on here is so good that it is definitely an album you should have in your collection for the holidays.

Images: Courtesy of Sony Legacy

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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