december 2011

Various Artists
MCA Nashville
Released: 2001

One of the better holiday compilations of recent years, Christmas Cookies features 15 choice tracks from the MCA Nashville catalogue. George Strait kicks things off with the jaunty western swing-styled title song, a perfect setup for Alecia Elliott's gently pulsating take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Gary Allen checks in with a hard-edged, blues-rock version of Charles Brown's timeless "Please Come Home For Christmas," and the Mavericks (with Raul Malo in full flight on lead vocal) answer with their own swaggering, bluesy interpretation of the Leiber-Stoller double-entendre holiday gem first torched by Elvis back in '57, "Santa Claus Is Back In Town." Lee Ann Womack stands out with her self-penned "The Nativity," a lovely acoustic meditation speculating on what she might have done had she been present at Jesus' birth and crucifixion. George Jones's deep country reading of "Silent Night" revitalizes a well-worn holiday classic. Elsewhere, Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood raise their voices in heartfelt harmony on "An Angel Gets Its Wings," and Rhett Atkins, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Chely Wright, Mark Chesnutt and Tracy Byrd all turn in genial, often moving performances. From deep within the MCA vaults comes the album-closing trio of songs, making for a powerhouse, classic-filled finale: Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock," Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas" and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." This is heavy artillery striking a festive blow in the spirit of the season. —David McGee

Christmas Cookies is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024