A buddy of mine recently commented that one of the worst things about Christmas was the crappy music. And while I have to agree after a recent trip to a Memphis shopping mall, I’d like to offer a few alternatives to Celine Dion, Mannheim Steamroller, Michael Buble and various assorted junk.

This is by no means supposed to be a Best of or Top Five list, only a few off-the-cuff recommendations that have been continual favorites in the Atkins’ household. Anyone who has more, please add your comments below.

* “Christmas Caravan” Squirrel Nut Zippers: Although perhaps forgotten along with the swing dance craze of the late ’90s, this album holds up tight. Every song is a gem with my favorites being “Indian Giver” and “Carolina Christmas.” One of the best — most original — Christmas albums of all time
* “Christmas Island” Leon Redbone: I remember first hearing Leon Redbone as a kid during his guest appearances on “Saturday Night Alive” and being fascinated by this weird guy playing a tuba. Redbone is a true American original and this album mixes the classics with some Redbone originals.
* “Twas the Night Before Christmas” Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns: Man, I can’t tell you how much I love this album. This is New Orleans swamp pop at its best with some funky, cool songs like “Rock ‘N’ Roll Santa Claus” and a “Jingle Bells” that’s just killer.
* “Christmas with Johnny Cash” Johnny Cash: What can you say? Cash. Christmas. The classics catalog covered by The Man in Black.
* “If Every Day Was Like Christmas” Elvis: Perhaps, the greatest Christmas album of all time. I like this partucular compilation because it contains the original Elvis Christmas album and many of the songs he recorded in the late sixties and early seventies. You really can’t beat “Blue Christmas” or the super nasty “Santa Claus is Back in Town” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” really brings down the house with Elvis in all his glory backed by the powerful TCB band.

Hope you enjoy these few picks and look forward to hearing a few of your own.

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