Phil Spector – A Christmas Gift For You (1963)

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (originally released as A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records) is an album of Christmas songs, produced by Phil Spector, and originally released as Philles 45 in 1963. Spector treated a series of mostly secular Christmas standards to his “Wall of Sound” treatment, and the selections feature the vocal performances of Spector’s regular artists during this period. The album peaked at No. 13 on Billboard magazine’s special, year-end, weekly Christmas Albums sales chart in December 1963.

The album was reissued by Apple Records in 1972, with different cover art—a photograph of Spector dressed as a heavily bearded Santa Claus, wearing a “Back to Mono” button—and retitled Phil Spector’s Christmas Album. This version of the album went to No. 6 on Billboard’s special Christmas Albums sales chart in December of that year, which was its highest chart ranking. It was also in 1972 that the album made its debut on the UK Albums Chart; it would re-chart in 1983, peaking at No. 19. On the week ending December 15, 2018, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector entered the main Billboard 200 albums chart for the first time (at position No. 48), eventually peaking at No. 12 three weeks later (on the week ending January 5, 2019).

In 2003, the album was voted No. 142 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. In 2017, it was ranked the 130th greatest album of the 1960s by Pitchfork. In 2019, it was ranked the greatest Christmas album of all time by Rolling Stone. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has cited this album as his favorite of all time

Track Listing

1. “White Christmas” Irving Berlin Darlene Love 2:52
2. “Frosty the Snowman” Steve Nelson, Walter Rollins The Ronettes 2:16
3. “The Bells of St. Mary’s” A. Emmett Adams, Douglas Furber Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans 2:54
4. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie The Crystals 3:24
5. “Sleigh Ride” Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish The Ronettes 3:00
6. “Marshmallow World” Carl Sigman, Peter DeRose Darlene Love 2:23
7. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” Tommie Connor The Ronettes 2:37
8. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Johnny Marks The Crystals 2:30
9. “Winter Wonderland” Felix Bernard, Dick Smith Darlene Love 2:25
10. “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” Leon Jessel The Crystals 2:55
11. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector Darlene Love 2:45
12. “Here Comes Santa Claus” Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans 2:03
13. “Silent Night” Josef Mohr, Franz X. Gruber Phil Spector and Artists 2:08

Review: Featuring Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” in its prime and his early stable of artists, the Ronettes, Crystals, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector stands as inarguably the greatest Christmas record of all time. Spector believed he could produce a record for the holidays that would capture not only the essence of the Christmas spirit, but also be a pop masterpiece that would stand against any work these artists had already done. He succeeded on every level, with all four groups/singers recording some of their most memorable performances. This is the Christmas album by which all later holiday releases had to be judged, and it has inspired a host of imitators. — Dennis MacDonald

Schill Score: 3/10

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