Greetings from Asheville, where the great sounds of Christmas are always on the turntable. Today’s Classic Album Review remembers another vintage Country Christmas album of year’s past, Lynn Anderson The Christmas Album.
Released in November 1971, Lynn recorded nine of the eleven tracks the previous summer. Lynn recorded the other two, “Ding-A-Ling (The Christmas Bell)” and “Don’t Wish Me A Merry Christmas” in September 1970 and released as a single that November.
At the time of this album’s release, Lynn’s career was at it’s peak, making her one of the hottest acts in Country Music, with three consecutive number one hits for her label, Columbia Records. No surprise that this album sold well and would do so for several years.
The lead track on this album is “Ding-A-Ling (The Christmas Bell)”. The story about a bell that rang off-key, after falling from a tree. He’s then shunned by the other bells, but of course, there is a happy ending. On a very foggy Christmas Eve, his off-key ringing helped guide Santa safely into town. Yeah, it’s kind of corny and a predictable story, but still, you can’t help but like it. In fact, let’s all admit it; we all love this song. Even though you can figure out the story, you still get drawn in by the fine melody and the very fine performance by Lynn. It has become somewhat of a country Christmas classic; in fact, it’s one of those songs that if you don’t hear it during the season, it doesn’t feel quite like Christmas.
As expected, there are several traditional classics in the mix, including “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. Neither have quite the drive or energy that some other versions of each do. In both cases, it’s more of a nice, easy swinging style which fits Lynn’s vocals very well.
Others include “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snow Man”, and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. Each one is a nice interpretation that come off as enjoyable performances.
I think that the album’s strongest parts are the non-classic songs, including the already discussed “Ding-A-Ling”, as well as “The Spirit of Christmas”. It’s a lyrically strong song. And it may be the best Christmas ballad you’ve likely never heard, unless you have the album.
Another of the stronger tracks is “Soon It Will Be Christmas Day”. There’s not one thing that stands out on this song, but the overall mix of the song (it’s a catchy melody), arrangement, and of course, Lynn Anderson’s voice, makes this a pleasant listening experience. A nice, spritely piece of country Christmas sounds.
Flipping it over to the second side, “Mr. Mistletoe” is the side’s best track. I love this one. It’s got beat, great melody, and good lyrics. It’s Christmas but has a more regular Country feel than Christmas. The album’s second-best track.
“A Whistle and A Whisker Away” is cute, but not particularly memorable, despite Lynn’s fine performance.
The album wraps with “Don’t Wish Me A Merry Christmas”. Too many sad Christmas songs, to me, are stylus skippers; or if you’re using a CD or MP3 player, “next trackers”. They’re too depressing, more often than not. But there are some exceptions; “Blue Christmas”, of course, and “Please Come Home for Christmas” are among the best. “Don’t Wish Me A Merry Christmas” is another good one. I love Lynn Anderson’s performance, here. This is Country Music at it’s best, and it just happens to be Christmas-related, as well.
So, you’ve never had a copy of this album, and now, after reading this post, you’re intrigued enough to look for a copy. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find. It’s available on both CD and MP3 download, plus used vinyl copies seem to be plentiful. The Goldmine publication gives a near-mint value of $15 for the album. As for used copies, I saw a price range of $2 to $25 on Amazon and eBay, depending on the condition.
Overall, this is an album that gets pulled and played at least partially, every year in this household. And well it should. There’s nothing not to like, here. Every track is at least enjoyable, and Lynn gives a great performance on all the tracks. If you’re a big fan of Lynn Anderson, chances are you already have this album. But if you don’t, then you’ll love it when you hear it. One you should pick up if you see a copy.
As always, your opinion is welcome, and I invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments, below.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.