The Top 10 CCM Christmas Albums of All Time
Given the season and the initial decision not to include Christmas or seasonal albums among those listed in the Top 500, I thought it worthy to stop and list those under consideration initially. One of these releases does not fit the CCM category, but is included here because of the overwhelming use of the album by Christians and Christian radio stations.
10. Over the Hills and Everywhere – Seabird
The wonderful, but tragically too short Christmas album from one of the great unheralded bands in Christian Music is an utterly brilliant album. The traditional songs have been, for the most part, rearranged, to fit the acoustic/alternative rock style of the band. One highlight is “Joy to the World,” which was a version used on the popular television program, Grey’s Anatomy.
9. Timeless Christmas – Denver & The Mile High Orchestra
Denver & the Mile High Orchestra is one of those artists in CCM that deserved a wider hearing. The big band, Michael Buble tinged Denver has released several wonderful albums that somehow could never garner proper decent distribution and, as a result, remain mostly unknown. That is truly a shame on this fun, rollicking and bopping album of Christmas favorites arranged in all their spectacular big band glory.
8. A Christmas Song – Russ Taff
Borrowing from relatively same era as Denver & the Mile orchestra but in a decidedly different style, Russ Taff walks through Christmas favorites in a gloriously sexy style of the Rat Pack crooner. Mellow, smooth and jazz filled favorites. This is fireside and candlelight Christmas music. Add Taff’s impeccably perfect voice and you have…uh… brilliance!
7. Christmas – Mannheim Steamroller
6. Dawn of Grace – Sixpence None the Richer
Leigh Nash singing Christmas favorites. Really? What else does anyone need? How about some wonderful arrangements, stunning production and a more unique and creative collection of Christmas carols and hymns than one will find nearly anywhere else. “Last Christmas” is just stunningly beautiful.
5. A Christmas album – Amy Grant
I don’t think I am going out on a limb here to assume that this album is the best selling Christmas album in CCM history. Fortunately it is also a wonderful collection that is headed by the original “Tennessee Christmas” that has become a long time standard. The album also hinted a more acoustic and country tinged artists that would develope as the years passed. And Amy Grant album for those who are not fans of amy Grant.
4. Christmas – Various Sparrow Artists
There have been countless collection Christmas album foisted upon the CCM buying public, but not many this good. Not a concept album featuring various artists like others on this list, this is simply a money grab by the label. But that notwithstanding the collection of songs, arrangements and artists make this a real treasure. each artists was allowed to perform within their own genre (roughly) and the BeBe & CeCe Winan version of “Silent Night” is awesome! And Steve Taylor’s mariachi version of Winter Wonderland is a wonderful mistake!
3. December – George Winston
George Winston’s most popular and possibly best album is a collection of “winter” favorites that are haunting, dark, brooding, joyful and celebratory. Over half would be considered “Christmas Carols” while other are more reflective of the season of winter. the opening track, “Thanksgiving,” is possibly Winston’s finest composition and never grows old. That song alone is worth owning the album.
2. An Evening in December – First Call (and Guests)
An a capella treat that remains a mainstay more then two decades later. Featuring (and actually introducing) First Call, the album has Marty and crew supporting many of Daywind records host of artists like Cynthia Clawson and Wayne Watson, the album is a wonderful collection of original and traditional carols sung in the best possibly way. The vocal arrangements are flawless, the production pristine and the performances spot on.
1. Noel – Various Artists
If you do not own this album, you are truly missing out on not only one of the great Christmas albums of all time (Christian or secular) but on one of the great albums. This album was initially listed in the Top 100 before the decision to remove the seasonal albums. Years before “City of a Hill,” short lived Via Records released this brilliant acoustic collection of original and classical holiday favorites. Artists include Derri Daugherty (The Choir), Michael Pritzl (The Violet Burning), Jerry Chamberlain (DA), Kevin Smith (DC Talk), Jenny Gullen (Hoi Polloi), Brent Bourgeois, Riki Michelle (Adam Again), Julie Miller and more. Simply brilliant from first to last and years ahead of the time.