Courter: City Beat - The best and the not-so-great Christmas music

Courter: City Beat - The best and the not-so-great Christmas music

December 23rd, 2011 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music

I like Christmas music and honestly have no problem listening to bad Christmas music ... once. I have over the years found myself returning to favorites and since this is the season for giving, I'm sharing my list of favorite holiday CDs, movies and anything else I can think of.

In no particular order, my favorites are:

* "A Very She & Him Christmas." Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have created an instant classic because it is simple, respectful and fun. And it features her singing.

* "Windham Hill Holiday Guitar Collection" by various artists and "Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas" by various artists. These two are kinda similar and kinda not. The first is for those quieter, reflective moments, and the second is for those third or fourth cup of wassail or spiked-eggnog moments.

* "A Chattanooga Christmas" by various artists. The Chattanooga Boys and Girls choirs, Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, Metropolitan Bells and others are included. I like it not only because it's local but because it is good.

* "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album." It was originally recorded in 1964, but there are several updated versions with bonus tracks. "Little Saint Nick," "The Man With All the Toys" and "Merry Christmas, Baby" are just great.

* "The Christmas Cocktails" series. We have most of the Ultra-Lounge collection, and they are not for every day, all-the-time listening to be sure. But if your Christmas party demands a martini, some slippers and an ascot, this jazzy collection is hard to beat.

If you can find them, the fan-club recordings The Beatles did at Christmas also are fun.

These are the ones I don't like and were disappointed in:

Superstar Christmas" by various artists. You might think that this would be a no-brainer home run with Placido Domingo, John & Yoko, Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross and Bruce Springsteen, but it also has Michael Bolton and Celine Dion. The whole thing comes across as overwrought.

"A Christmas Cornucopia" by Annie Lennox. I love her voice but can't get next to this one.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" by Disney. It's just not as good as I'd hoped.

As for singles, Cheech & Chong and Bob & Doug McKenzie will always be fun, but "O Holy Night" by Steve Mauldin is the tops. It's just not Christmas without hearing that.

When it comes to movies, I can watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," "Miracle on 34th Street," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Deck the Halls" and even "Jingle All the Way," but "A Christmas Story" and "A Christmas Carol" starring Alastair Sim, and only Alastair Sim, are the two must-sees.

The Comedy Catch is doing something different this week that's kind of cool. Owner Michael Alfano points out that people like to stay home and be near family during the holidays, and technically, comics are people. Therefore, the lineup for tonight at the Brainerd club is filled with nothing but locals. The club will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Appearing at 8 tonight will be Corey Forrester, D.J. Lewis, Gary Dull and a bunch of others. Jerry Harvey will host.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.