[3 December 2009]
Must this re-release be considered in a different light since Phil Spector’s demise? Should one of his high-water marks of recording and arranging be stripped of its lofty regard because of any criminal activity that occurred in a situation totally divorced from its inception? Of course not! It’s still one of the finest and most festive Christmas records ever made, and given the re-release treatment, it sounds excellent. The finest moment is still the baritone sax solo on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” from Darlene Love, backed with brilliant light intensity from Spector’s Wrecking Crew, but every single compression of Christmas cheer and despair hits home most satisfyingly. No matter what may have happened to the Spector name in the last decade, certain achievements cannot be tainted for those that love them (even the slightly creepy spoken-word message from Spector himself over “Silent Night”). It’s still a winner by any applicable standard.