|Released November 22, 1963|
Producer Phil Spector
Awards Grammy Hall of Fame
|Recorded September–October 1963|
Release date 22 November 1963
Label Philles Records
|Studio Gold Star Studios, Hollywood|
Philles Records Presents Today's Hits (1963) A Christmas Gift for You (1963)
A Christmas Gift for You (1963) Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica (1964)
Genres Christmas music, Baroque pop
Similar The Beach Boys' Christma, Presenting the Fabulous, A Very Special Christmas, Elvis' Christmas Album, A Motown Christmas
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (originally released as A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records) is an album of Christmas songs, produced by Phil Spector, and originally released as Philles 45 in 1963. Spector treated a series of mostly secular Christmas standards to his trademark "Wall of Sound" treatment, and the selections feature the vocal performances of Spector's regular artists during this period. The album peaked at number 13 on Billboard magazine's special, year-end, weekly Christmas Albums sales chart in December 1963.
The album was reissued by Apple Records in 1972, with different cover art—a photograph of Spector dressed as a heavily bearded Santa Claus, wearing a "Back to Mono" button—and retitled Phil Spector's Christmas Album. This version went to number 6 on Billboard's special Christmas Albums sales chart in December of that year, which was its highest chart ranking. It was also in 1972 that it made its debut on the UK charts. It would also re-chart in 1983 peaking at UK #19.
In 2003, the album was voted 142 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has cited this album as his favorite of all time.
The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Recording and production
The album was recorded between throughout September and October 1963. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys attempted to contribute his piano playing to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", but was rejected because of his low performing ability.
The album, released in the United States on 22 November 1963—the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated—was a relative failure at the time. Original pressings are scarce and collectable, now selling for $400–$500 in excellent condition.
In subsequent years, especially after its reissue on Apple, the album grew in popularity and is considered now to be a holiday classic. Several of its tracks became iconic Christmas songs for generations, such as the original (and flop) single "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," and the well-known "Ring-a-ling-a-ling Ding-dong-ding" background vocals in The Ronettes' "Sleigh Ride." The arrangement of Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" is based in part on the Crystals' version of the song, and U2's late-1980s cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" that appeared on the first A Very Special Christmas album is patterned after the Darlene Love original that appeared on the Spector LP. The Ronettes' version of "Frosty The Snowman" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" also usually get some radio airplay during the holiday season.
The album has been released several times on different labels: the original release on Philles and the 1972 reissue on Apple were followed by additional reissues on Warner-Spector (1974; this was the first release to feature a stereo mix of the songs, although it ironically used the "Back to Mono" Apple cover), Pavilion (1981, also in stereo, using the Apple artwork, but with the "Back to Mono" button airbrushed out), Impression (1983), Passport (1984), and Rhino (1987).
The first CD issue was also on Rhino in 1987, co-credited to Phil Spector International RNCD 70235 and restoring the album's original mono mix. The second CD issue was in 1987 as well, on Chrysalis (CCD 1625) in monophonic for the UK market. This one is co-credited "Spector Records International" and features the slightly different international artwork. The more common third CD issue came in 1989, a remastered release on ABKCO which restored the original title, artwork, and mono mix. The album also appeared as the fourth disc of ABKCO's 1991 Spector box set, Back to Mono, and as the second disc of the 2006 UK-only ABKCO compilation The Phil Spector Collection.
Sony Music took over distribution rights to the Philles Records catalog in 2009 and re-released the mono album, remastered by Bob Ludwig, on its Legacy Recordings imprint on October 27 of that year. (The Sundazed label also reissued the album on vinyl in 2009.) In 2012, Legacy Recordings released a two-disc set in the UK only, containing a new remastering of the mono album by Vic Anesini on the first disc and a selection of non-Christmas Spector hits and rarities on the second disc.
Recorded at Gold Star recording studio
1White ChristmasDarlene Love2:57
2Frosty the SnowmanThe Ronettes2:17
3The Bells of St MaryBob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans2:52