John Denver – The Classic Christmas Album (RCA / Legacy)
This Classic Christmas Album features the widest scope of material – pulling from Denver’s four holiday albums – Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975), A Christmas Together (1979), Christmas Like a Lullaby (1990), and the posthumous Christmas in Concert (2001).
The most enduring songs come from his first Christmas album – “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” remains one of the most sobering of all holiday tracks, while his reading of both “The Christmas Song” and “White Christmas” (which was left off the original Rocky Mountain Christmas) are sincere. “Aspenglow” actually comes from his very first album, 1970’s Take Me to Tomorrow,” while the brief “Jingle Bells” came from that followup, 1971’s Whose Garden is This. Most everything features Denver’s soaring vocals and acoustic guitar. However, there are some surprises as well: Denver gives a deep-voiced delivery on “Blue Christmas” and his reading of Tom Paxton’s “Marvelous Toy” seems like it was tailor-made for him. Although, it would’ve been nice to have a cut or two from his highly-entertaining teaming with the Muppets. –Tony Peters