- Dean Martin only recorded two Christmas albums in his career, one for Capitol (1959’s A Winter Romance) and one for Reprise (1966’s The Dean Martin Christmas Album). Yet every year, Martin’s holiday catalogue from both labels is usually reconfigured for a new release, often with songs added (singles, alternate takes, remixes), dropped or otherwise altered. 2011 is no exception, so completists might want to be on the lookout for this year’s edition of My Kind of Christmas on the Hip-o Records label. This release follows the 2009 collection of the same name but replaces the artwork and substitutes a posthumous Scarlett Johansson duet of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in place of the Martin original. My Kind of Christmas follows the 2004 and 2006 iterations of Christmas with Dino, the 2010 A Very Cool Christmas (repackaging and renaming the Reprise album), 1998’s Making Spirits Bright, and scores of other similar collections drawing on the material from both labels, including Rat Pack-themed anthologies. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” isn’t Martin’s first artificial holiday duet; Martina McBride joined Dean on the 2006 Christmas with Dino for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside."
- Among this year’s rather slim crop of new Christmas offerings, one of the more interesting albums is Seasons Greetings: A Jersey Boys Christmas (Rhino R2 528586). Members of various companies of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys have teamed up for this album of seasonal favorites, including Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli in New York. The Four Seasons’ original member and producer Bob Gaudio has produced the album, with many (though not all) of the arrangements in classic Seasons style. If you’re planning to take a chance on this fun collection, however, you might want to pick it up at Target. The retail giant is offering a special edition with three bonus tracks: the brief interlude “Time Tunnel” (“Deck the Halls”) and two songs from the original 1962 Four Seasons’ Greetings LP performed by the actual Four Seasons. “Merry Christmas Medley (We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Angels from the Realms of Glory/Hark the Herald Angels Sing/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)” and “What Child is This.”
Hit the jump to play the music and light the lights with the Muppets!
- Another unexpected Christmas treat is Walt Disney Records’ expanded reissue of The Muppets’ 2006 A Green and Red Christmas, made available just in time for the big-screen return of Jim Henson’s lovable creations. The original album was the third Muppets release since The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of the classic characters, but the first full album of new Muppets material since 1993's Kermit Unpigged. Starring Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog and Rizzo the Rat, Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal, and Bill Barretta as Rowlf and the Swedish Chef, A Green and Red Christmas features the Muppets singing a variety of new and old holiday-themed songs. The 2011 edition adds two bonus tracks. The Paul Williams-composed "I Wish I Could Be Santa Claus," sung by Gonzo and Fozzie, originated in the 2008 television special A Muppets Christmas: Letter to Santa. It was nominated for an Emmy Award, and was previously available as a digital download as part of the special's soundtrack EP. The second bonus track is "Jingle Bells," a duet between The Muppets and Andrea Bocelli, produced by David Foster. This duet was performed on Great Performances and The Jay Leno Show, and appears on Bocelli's My Christmas album. The new Green and Red Christmas is available in stores now.