When the original NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS was released in 2001, it was an amazing collection of old and new holiday clasics. The second CD in the series a couple years later was nearly as good. With Vol. 3, the song selection is a bit spottier. And how could it not be? All of the true classic Christmas songs were on the first two volumes. The only glaring omission from the series so far is the Harry Simeone Chorale's "The Little Drummer Boy," which is included here in a version by Peggy Lee. The closest thing to a classic this time out is the Chipmunks' No. 1 novelty song "The Chipmunk Song" from 1958.
One sign that the series is running out of steam is when they begin repeating songs from the first two volumes but done by different artists. But seriously, does Celine Dion improve on Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad"? I love Johnny Cash, but leave "Jingle Bell Rock" to Bobby Helms. And while The Beach Boy's "Little Saint Nick" is a terrific song--it was already included on Vol. 1.[ Although it should be noted that Vol. 3 uses the LP version and Vol. 1 uses the superior single version.]
There are some terrific songs here. Alison Krauss's "Shimmy Down the Chimney" was released as a Christmas single two years ago. [And is otherwise only available on Capitol Records' SHIMMY DOWN THE CHIMNEY: A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.] Dean Martin's "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is full of charm. Judy Garland certainly evokes the sentiment of the season with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." And Relient K provide a super charged version of the usually staid "12 Days of Christmas." Overall, this is an enjoyable collection; it's just not as essential as the first two volumes. [Running Time - Disc 1 42:42, Disc 2 65:10]