‘A Capitol Christmas’ celebrates the label’s 75th anniversary

In honor of Capitol Records’ 75th anniversary, A Capitol Christmas presents some of the most cherished holiday classics from Capitol’s vast catalog and legendary artists. Available now on CD and as a double LP housed in a gatefold package, as well as digitally, the 24 track album brings together beloved Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and many more. Liner notes by compilation producer Jay Landers tell the story of each song in beautiful detail.

The historic Capitol Records Tree will light up tonight at sundown for the 58th time, signifying the start of the holiday season in Hollywood. Designed by Ollsen Lighting and featuring more than 4,373 bulbs, the tree has been a part of the Hollywood skyline each December since 1958.

A timeless collection of some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday canon, A Capitol Christmas is sure to get listeners in the mood for the holidays and serve as the perfect soundtrack to their yuletide festivities all season long. Fittingly, the album opens with Capitol’s first homegrown superstar, Nat King Cole, and his stereophonic version of “The Christmas Song,” arranged by Ralph Carmichael in 1961. It is bookended with a splendid rendition of Cole’s ubiquitous seasonal standard featuring the 1999 virtual duet with his daughter, Natalie Cole. Cole’s jazz combo the Nat King Cole Trio is included with the novelty tune “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth).”

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Frank Sinatra to Capitol Records and he is showcased on the album with the exquisite “The Christmas Waltz” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” considered the definitive version of the three he recorded. Both songs were originally released on his 1957 holiday album, A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra.

Fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin delivers his trademark croon on evergreens “Winter Wonderland” and “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.” Having recorded a dozen holiday themed albums, Bing Crosby became synonymous with Christmas. His Christmas single for Capitol, “Do You Hear What I Hear,” a call and response arrangement with the Ralph Carmichael Singers, became a worldwide hit.

Singer, songwriter and actress Peggy Lee spent an illustrious 30 years on Capitol and the selections of hers span her tenure at the label. The gentle “A Christmas Spell,” arranged by her then-husband and frequent collaborator, guitarist Dave Barbour, was originally released as a single in 1949. “Like A Sleighride,” Lee’s jazzy adaptation of “Jingle Bells,” is from her sumptuous 1960 holiday album, Christmas Carousel.

No holiday collection would be complete without the seductive duet, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” of which continues to be recorded by scores of artists year after year. The version here features Capitol Records co-founder Johnny Mercer, the world-class songwriter and recording artist, along with Margaret Whiting. Mercer’s swinging “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” from 1947 shows off his croon alongside the vocal stylings of the Pied Pipers. Whiting also makes another duet appearance, this time alongside singing cowboy star Jimmy Wakely on the sterling “Silver Bells.”

In 1967, The First Lady Of Song Ella Fitzgerald recorded a collection of non-secular standards for Capitol, Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas, arranged and conducted by Ralph Carmichael. Her soaring versions of “The First Noel” and “Away In A Manger” are both included.

A Capitol Christmas features many other delightful holiday tunes including Nancy Wilson’s symphonic “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” Lou Rawls’ soulful “Merry Christmas, Baby,” Jackie Gleason’s orchestral instrumentals of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and Bob Atcher’s tropical-tinged “Christmas Island,” among several others.

CD | 2 LP

1. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) – Nat King Cole
2. The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra
3. Winter Wonderland – Dean Martin
4. I Like A Sleighride (Jingle Bells) – Peggy Lee
5. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer
6. Christmas Island – The Dinning Sisters with Bob Atcher
7. The First Noel – Ella Fitzgerald
8. White Christmas – Jo Stafford
9. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? – Nancy Wilson
10. Merry Christmas, Baby – Lou Rawls
11. Silver Bells – Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
12. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Jackie Gleason
13. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
14. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Dean Martin
15. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Johnny Mercer
16. The Christmas Spell – Peggy Lee
17. (All I Want For Christmas Is) My Two Front Teeth – Nat King Cole and His Trio
18. (Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag – Kay Starr
19. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Jackie Gleason
20. I’d Like You For Christmas – Julie London
21. The Merriest – June Christy
22. Away In A Manger – Ella Fitzgerald
23. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bing Crosby
24. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) – Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.