Over the years, Dean Martin’s holiday recordings – primarily encompassing the 1959 Capitol album A Winter Romance and the 1966 Reprise album The Dean Martin Christmas Album – have been packaged and repackaged on CD ad infinitum. Yet the latter title had never seen a true reissue on CD, though all its tracks had been issued on CD, on various releases. Hip-O’s 2008 A Very Cool Christmas presented the album in its original 10-track sequence, but retitled it, added new artwork, and a bonus track. Finally, The Dean Martin Christmas Album has made its CD premiere under its original title, over 50 years after its first release, in a budget issue from Sony Music CMG (Commercial Music Group).
The Dean Martin Christmas Album was helmed by Martin’s hitmaking team of producer Jimmy Bowen and arranger Ernie Freeman. The same duo had helped the King of Cool dethrone The Beatles in 1964 when their contemporary version of “Everybody Loves Somebody,” a 1947 song by Sam Coslow, Irving Taylor and Martin’s frequent collaborator Ken Lane, knocked the Fabs’ “A Hard Day’s Night” right off the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 at the height of Beatlemania! Despite Dino’s protestation that “I do not like rock singers, rock is out with me, I can’t stand rock,” Freeman’s rock-influenced backbeat gave Martin the edge to introduce his laid-back croon to a new generation. More major hits followed including “I Will,” “The Door is Still Open to My Heart” and Lee Hazlewood’s “Houston,” and by the beginning of 1966, Martin had notched seven Top 40 pop hits and six Top 40 albums – in addition to juggling the demands of his popular variety show.
A Christmas chart-topper upon its release in winter 1966, The Dean Martin Christmas Album was in the laid-back, convivial spirit for which Martin was famous (though Freeman’s charts kept it current, too). On it, he revisited some of the tracks he’d first cut at Capitol, including Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s “Let It Snow,” the same team’s “The Things We Did Last Summer” (not a Christmas song, but a favorite of Dean’s which fit comfortably within the nostalgic mood), Felix Bernard and Dick Smith’s “Winter Wonderland,” and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” To those classics, he added more beloved holiday favorites such as “Jingle Bells,” “Silver Bells,” and a reverent “Silent Night.” His recording of the 1949 staple “A Marshmallow World” (previously cut by Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, Vaughn Monroe, and others) is still the go-to version of the song every year on radio. Elvis Presley must have appreciated Dino’s recording of a song closely associated with him, “Blue Christmas,” for Martin was a major, if somewhat unheralded, influence on The King.
Sony’s new reissue of the stereo album features a close approximation of the original front and back artwork (including the “Also Available” box promoting four more of Martin’s Reprise LPs) with no additional content or liner notes. There are no remastering credits, though it was indicated when Sony took over the Martin Reprise/Warner Bros. recordings from UMe in 2014 that the entire catalogue was in the process of being remastered. Vic Anesini’s first remasters were issued digitally, and on volumes of The Essential and Playlist series.)
The original Dean Martin Christmas Album is available now on CD at a budget price via the links below!
- White Christmas
- Jingle Bells
- I’ll Be Home for Christmas
- Blue Christmas
- Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
- Marshmallow World
- Silver Bells
- Winter Wonderland
- The Things We Did Last Summer
- Silent Night