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A Jolly Christmas – Frank Sinatra ALBUM REVIEW

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A Jolly Christmas – Frank Sinatra ALBUM REVIEW

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A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra album cover. Credited to Google Images.

A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra was released in 1957 and was Sinatra’s first full-length Christmas album. This album features an orchestra conducted by Gordon Jenkins and includes the Ralph Brewster Singers. The CD bonus tracks were arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. A Jolly Christmas has been reissued by Capitol Records numerous times, including a CD version and a 50th Anniversary edition. In 2010 the album was released on vinyl. A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra is a 15 song album, however, one of the two CD bonus tracks, which is an alternate version of The Christmas Waltz, and a vintage Public Service Announcement from Frank Sinatra himself is not included in this album review.

 

Jingle Bells – 8/10

Jingle Bells starts the album off with a Christmas classic. The song begins with the familiar sound of bells and a female singer then starts to sing. Shortly after you hear Frank Sinatra’s iconic voice come in and sing the signature Jingle Bells lyrics. As he gets farther into the song the background singers chime in and this adds a more choir-like and cozy feeling. Between verses you can hear the background singers humming to the song and I think that also adds to the great Christmas feeling that you get when listening to this song. I believe this song can become overplayed, however, and this lowers the score a tiny bit.

The Christmas Song – 9/10

Sinatra’s version of this storytelling song is definitely one of my favorites. The slow and quiet background music adds the perfect ambiance to Sinatra’s singing. The choir that begins to sing on certain parts of each verse adds to the cozy Christmas feeling, just like on the previous song. I believe Frank Sinatra’s voice is truly shown off in this song as he tends to keep the notes flowing longer and also hits some of the much higher notes.

Mistletoe and Holly – 7.5/10

This song tells a story of a family that lives in the countryside celebrating Christmas and family coming over to have a Christmas dinner. It describes a perfect night that involves the usual Christmas fun and also spending time with family. It features mistletoe and holly, giving the tree a trim, hearing singing by starlight and dressing up. The background music on this song is one of my favorites with really fantastic conducting, I am just not the biggest fan of the lyrics and this lowers the score a bit.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – 9.5/10

I’ll Be Home For Christmas starts off perfectly with the humming in the background and the music compliments Sinatra’s singing incredibly well throughout the entire song. Sinatra manages to carry his notes even longer during this song than “The Christmas Song” and he delivers a perfect and drawn out ending. The lyrics are some of my favorites off the album and the background music is also great on this song. These factors together increase the score to a near perfect 9.5.

A picture of Frank Sinatra in 1957, the year A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra was released. Credited to Google Images.

The Christmas Waltz – 10/10

The Christmas Waltz was written for Frank Sinatra as he requested a Christmas song written to rival “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin. Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote this song to the tune of Styne’s Christmas waltz. The imperfect rhyme featured on this song, “And this song of mine, in three-quarter time,” is actually my favorite line on this song and starts my two favorite verses. Sinatra just delivers that line so perfectly. The music also picks up during this verse and produces a swing vibe that I really enjoy, this ends up raising the score even farther to a perfect 10.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – 9/10

Frank Sinatra’s version of this song is much happier, and better in my opinion, than Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s version. Sinatra actually changed the lyrics of this song, asking Martin to jolly it up for him. Martin then revised the line “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” into “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.” He also changed the tense of the song from past to present to represent a current celebration instead of looking to a better future and he took out the line “It may be your last” after each “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” I believe that Martin’s changes did the song well and Sinatra sang the new version perfectly, making it another Christmas classic.

The First Noel – 10/10

The First Noel tells of a journey of the three wise men who are following the North star in seek of a king. They end up finding Jesus in Bethlehem and they declare him to be the king. Now, I am not much of a religious person but this song is one of the most beautiful Christmas songs I have ever heard. For example when Sinatra sings the “Noel, Noel” line I almost always get chills. Purely because this song gives me chills I am going to give it a perfect 10.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – 8/10

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing describes what the people would sing upon the declaration of Jesus Christ as the “new-born King.” The first time through the lyrics it is basically only Frank Sinatra singing with the background singers chiming in to assist with some of the lines. The second time through the lyrics the background singers begin alone at first and then Sinatra comes back in to finish off the rest of the song. I thoroughly enjoyed the background music and singing overall, giving it a score of 8.

Another picture of Frank Sinatra from 1957. Credited to Google Images.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem – 6/10

O Little Town Of Bethlehem portrays what it was like in Bethlehem after the celebration of Jesus Christ becoming king. Sinatra sings of the calm, quietness that arose in the town and how peaceful everybody became. Just like the lyrics, this song is more quiet and peaceful than the other songs on the album, featuring a harp and less orchestra music and more of Frank Sinatra singing alone or the background choir quietly singing.

Adeste Fideles – 7/10

Adeste Fideles, also known as “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” is a song about all of the faithful people coming to Bethlehem to adore Him, or Christ, as the Lord. It restates the line “O come let us adore Him” many times throughout the entire song and continues the celebration of Christ becoming king that began in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This is the last of the more religious songs on the album. The power in Sinatra’s voice truly shows in this song.

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – 8.5/10

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear is not about Bethlehem or the celebration of Christ but instead describes a time of darkness. Written in 1849 after the Mexican-American War ended, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear focuses on the issues of war and peace. Featuring lines like “above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing” and “He beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,” this song is much darker than the rest of the songs on the album and it serves as a reminder that some Christmases are not as bright as others. The last lines in the song, “Look now for glad and golden hours, come swiftly on the wing. Oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing” introduce a more hopeful tone and encourage the listener to be optimistic about the future.

Silent Night – 9.5/10

Silent Night was written in German in 1818 by Joseph Mohr and composed by Franz Gruber in Oberndorf, Austria. It first arrived in the United States by 1839 in New York City. By the 1840s it was widely popular throughout the world. Frank Sinatra sang this song in a lullaby-like fashion, which many other artists that cover this song do as well. I think that Sinatra did quite a good job on this song although he could have drawn out the more important words instead of nearly every single word. The background choir is a very nice touch, especially to this song as they really shine on this track. This is another Christmas classic to add to the list.

White Christmas – 9/10

White Christmas was written in 1940 by Irving Berlin. The first public performance of this song was by Bing Crosby in 1942. It is believed that this song became popular because of the melancholy lyrics and lines that reminded soldiers overseas during World War II of home. It has remained largely popular, especially during Christmastime, and White Christmas by Bing Crosby is the world’s best-selling single with more than 50 million copies worldwide. I think that Frank Sinatra did this song justice, even compared to Bing Crosby, though both are absolutely phenomenal.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

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A Jolly Christmas – Frank Sinatra ALBUM REVIEW