As far as ‘80s Christmas holiday samplers go, this year’s The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album from Sony/Legacy is definitely an interesting addition to the seasonal canon. While not reinventing the wheel (if that is even possible with a decade-specific, theme-specific release such as an ‘80s Christmas album), The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album certainly has some inspired choices and some non-traditional entries that make this “not just another seasonal sampler” undoubtedly worth picking up.
As with any ‘80s Christmas compilation, there are some definite “must haves” that always make the list. Presented in the 15-song tracklisting here are such classics as: "Christmas Wrapping" from The Waitresses, "Last Christmas" from Wham!, "Christmas in Hollis" from Run-DMC, "Jingle Bell Rock" from Hall & Oates, “Do You Hear What I Hear?" from Whitney Houston, and "Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You'" from Billy Squier. They’re all Christmas favorites, all MTV classics, and all common ‘80s Christmas compilation fare.
However, it is in the unconventional choices that The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album really sets itself apart from the rest of the Reagan-era Yuletide collections pack. First off, I give The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album major props for including “Slick Nick, You Devil You” from Fishbone’s 1987 EP, It’s A Wonderful Life. While I personally would’ve gone with “Just Call Me Scrooge,” I was so stoked to see the funky, soul-punk band’s Christmas EP represented at all. Second, Ray Parker, Jr.’s bouncy “Christmas Time Is Here” never shows up on these things! Originally a b-side to his 1984 single “Jamie” (the disappointing follow-up to the smash success of his “Ghostbusters” single), “Christmas Time Is Here” would probably be destined to languish there, were it not for this compilation. Third, The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album closes with “Silent Night” from The Hooters, a rare Christmas single from the Philadelphia rock band that was released as the B-side to a split Christmas 7” vinyl single that featured Shawn Colvin’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” on the A-side. Even the inclusion of Bob & Doug McKenzie’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas portraying their “Great White North/Kanadian Korner” co-hosts that they played on Canadian sketch show SCTV) is a ridiculous and heart-warming choice that doesn’t often find itself on many Christmas compilations.
This deft combination of tried-and-true picks with a few left-of-center additions really makes The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album one worth picking up. Even the 8-bit inspired cover art evokes a nice throwback to yuletides of yesteryear. You can either spice up your current holiday playlists with this album or just bask in its nostalgic glow, but either way you should get your hands on this standout seasonal sampler.