Various Artists, "A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector"

95 Billboard Rating

The first song on Phil Spector's famous Christmas album is Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," one Russian-American Jew's holiday greeting to another. But Spector's version-sung by Darlene Love and arranged with his famous Wall of Sound -gives the song a distinctly Los Angeles twist as Love sings of warm weather and palm trees. The Ronettes, the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans help Spector reinvent classics like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland" as what the producer once called "little symphonies for the kids." It was for this album that Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry wrote "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," which made the holidays sound downright sexy. And the Crystals' version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" inspired a similarly dramatic version by Spector fan Bruce Springsteen. Winter wonderland never got any weirder-or more grandly beautiful.-Robert Levine

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