Top recordings and Christmas albums for your consideration

Charlie Rich
Charlie Rich

The first three recordings mentioned below are top recordings of the year that haven’t been “listed” thus far. The next two are holiday recordings issued on vinyl.

1. ‘Live-Greatest Hits From Around the World,’ ZZ Top (SureTone Records/ADA,1/2)

Live albums containing pre-recorded material don’t normally make my “best of” lists, but this one adds a new cover of “Sixteen Tons,” and sounds great.

2. ‘Pony Show,’ Heidi Lynne Gluck (Lotuspool Records1/2)

This new recording of keyboard-driven old-school pop will please many listeners.

3. ‘Feel Like Going Home: The Songs Of Charlie Rich,’ Various Artists (Memphis International Records)

Charlie Rich was a gifted composer, so it’s nice to hear nifty cover versions of his songs by various artists.

‘Merry Christmas Baby,’ Elvis Presley (RCA/Legacy)

This Oct. 7 “made for vinyl only” album compiles 17 classics from Elvis’ two best-selling Christmas albums, including “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”

My copy is on translucent green vinyl. Two different backing bands are present: 1957’s originals with guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, drummer D.J. Fontana along with a pianist and backing vocalists; and, the 1971 crew headed by guitarist James Burton. The 1966 single release “If Every Day Was Like Christmas,” features Scotty plus many others.

My favorites other than those listed already “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me.”

Hopefully, this one will get available in other formats for listeners who want an Elvis Christmas album but don’t have vinyl capability.

‘Christmas: There’ll Be Peace In The Valley,’ Johnny Cash (Legacy)

This Nov. 4 album is also “made for vinyl only,” includes 14 songs from Johnny’s Christmas and religious recordings. The Statler Brothers, June Carter Cash and both Cash and Carter families are featured.

My favorites range from holiday to gospel. They are the excellent title song, “Merry Christmas Mary,” “The Christmas Spirit,” “King Of Love” and “Matthew 24 (Is Knocking At The Door).”

Other formats would be welcome, but vinyl fans will dig this Cash collection.

Here are several holiday CDs received over the years that are among my favorites.

‘This Christmas,’ Martha’s Trouble: an independently released EP from a duo with a truly original sound.

‘The Classic Christmas Album,’ Willie Nelson: There are many Classic Christmas Albums from Legacy, but Willie’s is one I return to consistently.

‘Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets’: This is surf-instrumental versions of traditional Christmas music, originally released on Yep Roc.

‘The 25th Day Of December,’ The Staple Singers: This is deeply soulful Christmas music released on Riverside Records.

‘My Gift To You,’ Angelina: This one’s been out since 2002, but may still be available.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com