Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Record Store Day (RSD) has become an audiophile’s Christmas since its inception in 2008, celebrating independently owned record stores with exclusive titles and limited-edition releases from everyone from The Beatles to Arcade Fire.
I’m not sure I’d call Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
album the “masterpiece” as it packaging proclaims, since a couple of
its tracks have never clicked with me, but it’s as damn close as pop
Columbia's new edition to commemorate the watershed work’s four decades in existence certainly make that case.
The post-“Graduate” album — and arguably, the duo — is best known for its title track, which remains a transcendent listening experience, hitting soaring heights late in the five-minute track that make for spine shivers, not to mention quite the eargasm. For me, however, the high point is “The Boxer,” a finger-pickin’ story song of courage that packs as much power as its past-his-prime protagonist. “Cecilia” is another favorite, if only for the sheer, sing-along joy it inspires.
From what I can tell, this release is not remastered; one will need to crank up the volume compared to other records to hear it at any kind of normal level. Headphones are recommended to catch all the production details that never translated across airwaves.
The real reason to upgrade from existing discs is for its bonus DVD, containing the duo’s controversial CBS television special (directed by Charles Grodin, of all people!) and, better yet, a new, feature-length documentary, “The Harmony Game,” that details the production process of the “Bridge” LP. If you think such a thing can’t be exciting, interesting or moving, think again. Even if Simon and Garfunkel skirt the issue of their on-again/off-again feud, they’re rather candid about everything else. It’ll give you a new appreciation for their work. —Rod Lott