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Ultimate Christmas
Beach Boys
Ultimate Christmas
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Rock, Classical, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (26) - Disc #1

"Little Saint Nick," the Beach Boys' 1963 classic, is undoubtedly one of pop music's coolest original Christmas songs. Hanson rocked it more recently, and decades later the original still sounds as hot as the California su...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Beach Boys
Title: Ultimate Christmas
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Capitol
Original Release Date: 9/22/1998
Release Date: 9/22/1998
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Rock, Classical, Classic Rock
Styles: Holiday & Wedding, Oldies, Vocal Pop, Oldies & Retro, Opera & Classical Vocal
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724349573420, 0724349573451, 724349573451

"Little Saint Nick," the Beach Boys' 1963 classic, is undoubtedly one of pop music's coolest original Christmas songs. Hanson rocked it more recently, and decades later the original still sounds as hot as the California sun on this special combination of previously released and unvaulted alternate takes and never-released material, including a distinctly different arrangement of "Nick" and a fun, loopy ditty called "Santa's Got an Airplane." While many of the songs here are fodder for completists--and will sound uneven to others--it's hard to resist a record that features real rarities and Christmas material from 1964. Dig master Brian Wilson singing solo on "Blue Christmas" from the '64 Christmas Album and his keenly orchestrated "Winter Symphony" (for a 1977 Christmas disc that was never released, much of which is highlighted throughout this CD) with the warm, brassy instrumental bridge, plus a couple of fun public-service announcements and a Christmas-themed interview with the group's eccentric genius. --Martin Keller

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CD Reviews

If you hap-happen to be reading this review right now...
Johnny Heering | Bethel, CT United States | 12/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is indeed the "Ultimate" Beach Boys Christmas CD. The first 12 tracks are the entire original Beach Boys Christmas Album. I'm sure most of you are already familiar with this classic album, so I don't need to discuss it in detail. Next we have the awesome single version of "Little Saint Nick". Then there is an alternate mix of "Auld Lang Syne" without Denny's voiceover, which really shows off the boys beautiful a capella singing. Then there's the oddball version of "Little Saint Nick" sung to the backing track of "Drive-In". Next we get the great but rare 1974 single "Child of Winter". In 1977, the Beach Boys recorded a second Christmas album, intending it to be their last album for Warner/Reprise. But Warner rejected the album, and it was never released. Seven of the songs from that album appear here for the first time. They are actually pretty good, for the most part. Interestingly, most of the songs are rewritten versions of songs that they had already started working on, with lyrics rewritten to be about Christmas. The CD closes with two Toys For Tots public service announcements, and a promotional interview that Brian did for the original Christmas album. This is the only Beach Boys Christmas CD you'll ever need."
California Christmas Past And Uncovered Beach Boy Treasures
Anthony G Pizza | FL | 12/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Beach Boys once recorded a song called "You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone." It's fitting, then, that author Brad Elliot, who wrote the group's exhaustive musical reference "Surf's Up," helped compile and write the liner notes for this intriguing, uneven Christmas collection.Most Beach Boy fans know the first half of the LP; the group's official 1964 Capitol Christmas album (one of four LPs they released that year!) featuring Four Freshmen arranger Dick Reynolds, a 41-piece orchestra, and what the "Rolling Stone Record Guide" once called "some of the most nasal carols ever put on wax." But many, like "Blue Christmas," "White Christmas," "We Three Kings of Orient Are," and a superb "Auld Lang Syne" (with and without Dennis Wilson's closing narrative) are sung sensitively and arranged with the complexity of the group's pop recordings. This is notably true of "Little Saint Nick," one of rock's best Christmas tracks featured at its best (the 45 single, debuting in stereo on a proper Beach Boys set) in its LP version, and in an odd, unreleased version sung to the melody of their "Drive-In." The set also includes a timid Brian Wilson interviewed by syndicated show host Jack Wagner in 1964. Then you get the best tracks from a 1977 contractual obligation Christmas album Warner/Reprise rejected for 1978's "M.I.U. Album." Those remembering that flimsy set will find interesting the holiday takes on "Peggy Sue" (here with nonsensical Al Jardine lyrics as "Christmas Time Is Here Again") "Belles of Paris" (done as "Bells of Christmas") and "Kona Coast" (done as "Melekalikimaka."). The latter two sound better as Christmas songs and benefit from Jardine's 1998 remastering. (But nothing would have saved the awkward "(I Saw Santa) Rockin' Round The Christmas Tree." ) Several Christmas charity PSAs are also included. Longtime Beach Boy fans will find "Ultimate Christmas" reinforces all they know about the group: timeless music matched to tragic history. The 1964 songs reveal Brian's songwriting/arranging influence and vision, while the 1977 tracks show a fractured group dynamic and roots-raw sounds that colored that year's "Beach Boys Love You." It shows a group quivering on the edge of breakup, seeming to forget (in the studio, anyway) the melodic sense that endeared, then frustrated its fans. "Ultimate Christmas," warts and all, is essential for Beach Boy fans and those of Christmas rock and roll generally, a ghost of California Christmas past."
All Things Christmas
Musings | Illinois United States | 12/06/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It certainly is "The Ultimate Christmas," as this extended-length CD scrapes together every recording the Beach Boys ever made having anything to do with Christmas, including two old radio spots and an interview with Brian circa 1964.The bulk of the CD comes from The Beach Boys Christmas Album, which included several Brian-written pop classics ("Little Saint Nick," "The Man With All the Toys") on side one, and lushly arranged traditional Christmas songs ("Blue Christmas," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") on side two. Think a Hollywood soundtrack or Sinatra album circa 1962 and you've got the idea, although arranger Dick Reynolds isn't quite up to Nelson Riddle's status. Still, it does sound rather nice, and is no worse than other Christmas albums of the era (save Dennis' stumbling voiceover on "Auld Lang Syne"). The CD includes *three* versions of "Little Saint Nick" (the single version and the album version, plus one with a totally different melody swiped from their song "Drive-In").Unfortunately, the rest of the CD is filled with outtakes from a planned (and, fortunately, not released) second Christmas LP from 1977. Warner Brothers refused to let the Beach Boys' swan song on their label be a quickie Christmas cash-in (so they wound up with the subpar M.I.U Album instead). To save money (or time), however, most of the songs from M.I.U. were reworked versions of the songs from the Christmas album ("Belles of Christmas" = "Belles of Paris"). Brian's participation in these sessions was sporadic, and Dennis' one contribution, "Morning Christmas," is a solo (it's the best song of the bunch, although Alan Jardine's "(I Saw) Santa Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" adds historical value for the assortment of Beach Boys kids on the disk, including Wendy and Carnie Wilson, later of Wilson Phillips).It's a decent disk on the whole, but be prepared to program your CD player."