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Summer Fever Pick for December 2017:

Christmas Spirit (1994)

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"Buy this one or else!" - a crazy webmistress, 1994-2017

Yes, it's the holiday season and that can only mean one thing - it's time for me to get back on my soapbox in my never-ending quest to get the whole world to accept Christmas Spirit as the best album ever made. (No, I'm not TOO fanatical, am I?  LOL)

If you haven't figured it out yet (or if you've been lucky enough to have missed any of my previous raves about this album), Christmas Spirit is my all time favorite album by any artist in any genre for any time of year. I know this may sound insane, but I literally play it all year long. It's the album I turn to when I'm stressed out, it's the album I play when I cannot sleep, it's the old friend I turn to when the world becomes too big and scary to deal with. (That would be the day after every election day when the winners have been announced! LOL) It is the album I brought to Atlantic City the very first time I met Donna. It just seemed fitting that if I was going to have any of my CDs signed, it would HAVE to be that one.

Christmas Spirit is ten tracks of pure heaven. The songs are a good mix of holiday tunes ranging from the old (like the classic White Christmas) to the then brand new (Christmas Is Here), and from the overtly Christian (Breath Of Heaven) to the mostly secular (I'll Be Home For Christmas). But make no mistake about it - there is no disco Christmas here. The songs are all very traditional, the album itself having been inspired by the holiday fare of Nat "King" Cole and Barbra Streisand. Had the CD been more aggressively marketed, it could have exposed a whole new audience to Donna Summer music. I personally have played Christmas Spirit for non-fans - people who probably would never even listen to Donna's dance songs - and without fail they have loved the album and been amazed to learn who the artist is. Other fans have had similar experiences playing it for their friends and family. But unfortunately, the greatest hits compilation, Endless Summer, stole the spotlight from Christmas Spirit, leaving it a largely under-appreciated hidden gem. These days, it has been virtually impossible to find in offline music stores, even in large cities - but thankfully is it available all year long at most online vendors.

So this month while you're hanging the decorations, addressing the cards, braving the crowds to find that perfect last minute gift, pigging out on all the holiday goodies, and promising yourself that you'll try really hard this year not to strangle your visiting relatives (no matter how much they seem to deserve it ;-) ) ,  I invite you to revisit my personal favorite - Christmas Spirit.

 

Other Art:

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European Cover

Lamb Of God promo single

Lamb Of God promo single

 

20th Century Masters 2005 cover

 

A Few Quotes:

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excerpt of Billboard's September 3, 1994 interview with Donna:

Billboard: You're recording your own Christmas album. Do you have a favorite holiday season recording? Will that influence your album?

Donna Summer: One of my favorites is the Nat "King" Cole Christmas album, which I listen to yearly. I also love Barbra Streisand's Christmas album. Every year, we will listen to almost all the Christmas albums and then we will revert to one or two of them, because they are the most atmospheric records and make us feel like Christmas. I've tried to analyze as much of that as I could and go with that feeling.

BB: What songs are you including on your Christmas album?

Amy Grant's Christmas album had a wonderful song on it called "Breath of Heaven" which I have recorded. I also recorded "The Christmas Song," "White Christmas," "O Come All Ye Faithful," a medley of three other Christmas songs, and "O Holy Night." That song starts off fairly conservatively, then it goes into a fairly funky, gospel choral in the end. This album has something for everyone. I co-wrote three new songs, as well.

BB: Why are you recording a Christmas album at this point in your career?

DS: I have longed to make a Christmas album. Every year I start off planning to do one, but then February and March roll around and it doesn't happen--my life takes off and I never get a chance to do it.

BB: It must have been a thrill to finally cut this album you have been planning for years.

DS: Yes, it was. Michael Omartian did a wonderful job producing, and I absolutely adored playing with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. When they first started playing "White Christmas," tears just welled up in my eyes and I had to leave the room, because it sounded so beautiful and it had taken so long to finally start this project. It was just a wonderful feeling, and I think that comes across on the record.

BB: Was it hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you were recording the album earlier in the year?

DS: We did a lot of the final cuts right around Easter, so that was pretty peculiar.

 

The Tracks:

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Click the icons for streaming MP3 audio clips

1.  White Christmas (I. Berlin)
2. The Christmas Song (Torme/ Wells)
3. O Come All Ye Faithful (J.F. Wade)
4. Christmas Is Here (D. Summer/ M. Omartian/ S. Omartian)
5. Christmas Medley:
What Child Is This (W.C. Dix)
Do You Hear What I Hear
(N. Regney/ G. Shayne)
Joy To The World (G. F. Handel)
6. I'll Be Home For Christmas (K. Gannon/ W. Kent/ B. Ram)
7. Christmas Spirit (D. Summer/ B. Sudano/ M. Omartian)
8. Breath Of Heaven (A. Grant/ C. Eaton)
9. O Holy Night (A. Adam)
10. Lamb Of God (D. Summer/ M. Omartian)

Bonus clips

BONUS: An accapella clip of Donna singing I'll Be Home For Christmas from Extra 1994
FULL SONG BONUS: Donna's version of O Holy Night from Solid Gold  from 1982 (Yes, this is THE famous clip that sustained us all for many years.)
FULL SONG BONUS: O Come All Ye Faithful duet with Marilyn McCoo from Solid Gold.
FULL SONG BONUS: Donna's version of The Christmas Song from Good Morning America 1994
FULL SONG BONUS: Donna's Christmas medley from American Bandstand 1984 (This is NOT the same medley that appeared on Christmas Spirit.)
FULL SONG BONUS: The Christmas Song live in concert from 1994.
BONUS AUDIO: Donna on Good Morning America (December 1994) talking about Christmas Spirit.
BONUS AUDIO: The introduction to O Come All Ye Faithful from Solid Gold.

 

Other Stuff:

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A shorter version Lamb Of God was released as a promo single. (See art above).
The Christmas Song appeared on some of the Melody Of Love singles.
Donna sang The Christmas Song during her 1994 tour as album promotion - in the summertime no less! And in November 1999, she sang White Christmas at the last show of that  tour in Atlantic City.
There was a promotional sampler of Christmas Spirit that contained The Christmas Song, Christmas Medley, and Christmas Is Here.
Christmas Spirit contains 10 tracks, and now that I've (hopefully) brainwashed you all, there's no reason why those tracks can't all be in the Donna Summertime Top 40 Donna  songs. They could even all make the top 10.  ;-)  So start voting!
In 2005, Christmas Spirit was remastered and reissued under the title, 20th Century Masters Christmas Collection.  The sound is improved and more importantly, the reissue makes the album so much easier to find!  :-)
This year (2012) Both Christmas Spirit and 20th Century Masters Christmas Collection are available on iTunes, however only the 20th Century Masters release is complete.  Christmas Spirit is missing the title track. If you go to Amazon, they only have the 20th Century Masters release available in MP3 format.

 

Video

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This is part 7 of the Solid Gold Christmas special.
Donna is featured right at the beginning.

Donna with Marilyn McCoo, O Come All Ye Faithful

A bonus from Mary Gaines Bernard
 - just because it's a nice seasonal song.  :-)

And one more from Johnnyswim because it fits the season,
and you know it would make Donna smile. ;-)

 

Christmas Bonus:

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Normally on the Summer Fever page I spotlight one album and leave it at that. But since Donna has a couple of holiday songs that only appear on various artist compilations, I thought I'd spotlight them too as a little bonus.

First up is the soundtrack, Child Of The Promise - which is the Christmas story set to music. It was written by Michael and Stormie Omartian and uses the vocal talents of quite a few different artists (all of whom portray different characters in the story.) Donna portrays Elizabeth, mother of John The Baptist, and in that role she has a wonderful solo called When The Dream Never Dies. That would be great in and of itself because the song is so beautiful, but as an added bonus she shares a duet with Crystal Lewis (in the role of Mary) on I Cannot Be Silent.  She's also in two recitatives - sung introductions to the two full songs. The album as a whole works beautifully and all the voices are well cast. My only complaints are the annoying chatter of the gossipy townspeople in between some of the songs, and that Donna doesn't have even more songs to sing. (Ok, so I'm biased - I always want more Donna.  LOL)

And the other bonus album this month is Another Rosie Christmas. This is a collection of Christmas songs by many different popular artists (often singing with talk show host Rosie O'Donnell). Some of the songs are serious traditional songs, but most of them are just plain fun. Donna's track, Rosie Christmas, is one of the fun songs. It's an upbeat dance track, co-written by the same person who wrote Love On And On. The track works in clubs, it sounded great playing in my store when the album came out, and it would sound even more awesome on the radio this Christmas. (Program directors - are you listening?) And best of all,  it's a charity album so while you're dancing to Rosie Christmas, the money you spent on it is helping needy kids. And isn't that what the season is about?

Child Of The Promise (2000)

When The Dream Never Dies (S.Omartian/M.Omartian)
I Cannot Be Silent (S.Omartian/M.Omartian)

Another Rosie Christmas (2000)

Rosie Christmas (D.Rich/D.Summer/G.Lorenzo)

 

Purchase Info:

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Christmas Spirit can be difficult to find offline, but you can get it online at places like Amazon.com.  UKers can try the UK version of Amazon, but good luck. You'll probably have to get it used.  Or you can go with the much better option of grabbing the remastered 20th Century Christmas Collection. That one is available at Amazon and Amazon UK as well as other on and offline vendors.

Child Of The Promise may be difficult to find offline except in Christian Music stores, but it is available online at places like Amazon.comAmazon UK lists it too - but as with Christmas Spirit, you'll probably have to buy it used.

Another Rosie Christmas is available at on and offline music vendors including Amazon.com. This is another one listed at Amazon UK that you'll probably have to get used. (They actually say you can get it new, but it takes weeks. Ugh!)

*Note: These albums are usually only available at offline stores during the holiday shopping season.

     

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