on November 19, 2002
Nat King Cole could not record a bad Christmas had he set out to do so.
Known for his recording of "The Christmas Song," Cole sings every other Christmas song just as well as he does that classic. Particulary good are "Cradle in Bethlehem" -- which has an outstanding choral support, "O Little Town of Bethlehem", and "O Tannenbaum." There are only two other Christmas albums that rise to the level of "The Christmas Song": Johnny Mathis' "Merry Christmas" and Alan Jackson's 2002 release: "Let It Be Christmas."
Nat's album gets the nod because he has far more songs (19) on his album than either Mathis or Jackson.
But that's your top three of all-time folks. Sinatra, Crosby, Como, The Carpenters ... all are good, but never really approach Nat King Cole's album when one considers the quality and quantity of the songs on that album.
It's really striking how good it is. And how long is has stood the test of time. He had a voice made for Christmas.
on November 30, 2003
At the risk of restating the obvious, let it be said once more -- Nat "King" Cole has a magical voice, adaptable to the ruminations of a Jazz trio, the brassy sass of a Big Band or the celestial delights of a string orchestra. THE CHRISTMAS SONG -- Capitol's CD reissue of Cole's 1961 arrangements (conducted by Ralph Carmichael) -- features the singer's warm baritone set to orchestra and chorus. For all intents-and-purposes, the songs themselves are a stunning listen -- diciplined, personal and romantic.
This reissue features the standard 1961 version of Cole's timeless "The Christmas Story" (written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells); Cole did three other versions prior to the Carmichael take, going as far back as 1946 (the first without a string section). These three versions have not been the reissue standard since '61. However, two other renderings are represented on this CD:  another stale cut-n-paste duet with daughter Natelie (MOR radio has Hallmark to thank) and  a hidden bonus version, more piano-based, featuring only a small string section (likely the second 1946 version, which was the first "Christmas Song" to chart). In other good news, there's also first-to-CD versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "O' Come All Ye Faithful" (the latter of which is worth the price of admission alone), plus two King Cole spoken greetings.
My feeling is that no serious music collection should be without a compilation of Nat "King" Cole's Holiday classic. I'm biased, of course, because Cole is my favorite singer, but the music stands on it own as timeless. There are many Christmas-themed CDs available from this artist, but this is as good as any, if not the top so far.
I just purchased this CD and listened to it and loved it. Nat King Cole's voice is so smooth and silky and he renders these songs so perfectly. All the classic christmas songs are on here and this album would be great background music for a christmas party. He didn't apply any over-the-top histrionics to the songs - it's just the songs in their original format, sung by a guy with a perfect voice. The CD is also worth the money because it has 20 songs. My favourites are "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "The Christmas Song". As soon as I put the CD in and heard "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." I was immediately moved. I also like the lesser-known "A Cradle in Bethlehem" which I used to hear on the radio, when I was growing up. Hearing it brought me back to Christmases past. This CD easily puts you in the Christmas spirit and is just right.
on December 17, 2002
It's not really Christmas again until you've seen Charlie Brown on TV and heard Nat King Cole sing "The Christmas Song" on the radio. The opening strings of Cole's 1961 version of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song"..."Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." will immediately put you in holiday spirits. This song alone transports one back to simpler times and Christmases long ago. Also of interest on this collection is Cole's earlier--late 40s--version of "The Christmas Song." Other selections on this recording are standard--many of them religious--but Cole's voice more than makes up for the over-played and over-heard Christmas carols on this collection. A less known song, "A Cradle in Bethlehem," is endearing and touching, so much so that you can see the infant Christ lying in a cattle trough. Along with Ella Fitzgerald's "Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas" and Oscar Peterson's christmas album, you're more than prepared for your holiday listening with this very fine and handsome collection of songs.
on November 7, 2002
How can you not love Nat King Cole's classic Christmas release? From the first note to the last, it just drips with memories of Christmases past. Of course, it does help that I grew up listening to it.
It opens with the title song, which was introduced to the world by Nat. While I enjoy other renditions, this version is definitely a classic. This CD also includes the "duet" presented at the end with his daughter. Maybe I'm too much a traditionalist, but it just doesn't work for me nearly as well as the original, and I usually skip over it.
While every song is wonderful, standouts for me are the songs I don't have as often in my Christmas music collection. "Deck the Hall," "O Tannenbaum" (Yes, recorded in German.), "I Saw Three Ships," and "Caroling, Caroling" are included in this group. And I have to make special note of "A Cradle in Bethlehem." This musical version of the Christmas story is very touching. I wish more artists would record it.
Having listened to this album every Christmas I can remember, it just wouldn't be Christmas without it. Even now, listening to it makes me think of dark winter nights, decorating the tree, and wrapping presents. It has a special place in my collection, and I'm sure it will in yours as well. Don't hesitate, buy it today.
on December 23, 2002
If you only want one CHRISTMAS cd in your collection,you simply must choose this one.NAT and CHRISTMAS are linked together.This cd was beautifully remastered in 1999 and will pass the test of time forever.You may have listened to many CHRISTMAS albums in your lifetime,but very few have this overall quality of singing with a nice display of harmony behind it.What distinguished NAT is his great sensibility that always transpired in his best recordings.You'll want to comeback to it year after year.Only FRANK SINATRA's 1957 offering comes close in matching this classic for the ages.A big mistake for you would be to listen to it alone after many drinks.The tears just might come to you.
on June 15, 2002
Christmas was not Christmas in my home without the Nat King Cole vinyl playing on our old record player. When that stopped working, we bought the cd version because we missed the sound of his smooth voice singing warm, heartfelt traditional Christmas tunes. His version of "The Christmas Song" is THE classic while remakes have yet to come close. The rest of the album is up to par with "The Christmas Song" and some songs even better depending on your taste. It is not flashy, overdone with loud choirs or unnecessary production. It is just right and you will not regret adding it to your annual rotation. On the other hand, who says you have to wait until Christmas?
on September 29, 2003
By far one of the best albums by Mr.Cole.I highly recommend anyone who likes Nat King Cole to buy this album.I would like to correct a mistake by a previous reviewer who said the album has previously unreleased tracks.All tracks on this cd(with the exception of the duet of Nat and Natalie)were released in 1969 on the LP'The Christmas song'released by Capitol records.
on March 23, 2003
There are dozens and dozens of holiday CDs available. Each year dozens more are recorded or re-released. This CD ranks in the top five ALL TIME greatest holdiay offerings. I bring this one out in November every year. It IS Christmas!
on December 23, 2002
Wonderful from beginning to end! No one can sing those classic x-mas songs like Nat King Cole. Cradle in Bethlehem is now added to the list of my favorite xmas songs. If you like Nat King Cole, BUY THIS CD! Its great!