Album Remarks & Appraisals:
This Is Christmas is a Christmas album (eleventh overall) by American R&B/soul singer Luther Vandross, released in October 1995 (see1995 in music). Sony Music Special Products reissued the album on January 15, 2002 as Home for Christmas with an altered order of tracks.
"Rather than a do a rehash of many of the obvious traditional tunes that fill special holiday albums by contemporary performers, maestro Luther Vandross opted for the task of creating no fewer than 7 of the 10 tracks included on his 1995 Christmas release. The result is an album that demonstrates why Vandross is still considered the preeminent black male vocalist of close to two decades: as on typical Vandross recordings, the production is crisp and strong and the vocals are flawless. As usual, he employs the cream of musicians and background vocalists (including the inimitable Cissy Houston and Darlene Love, who is featured on the Motown-like duet "I Listen to the Bells")--the perfect backdrop for Vandross's distinctive sound, exemplified on the standout title track. "The Mistle Toe Jam" has the party-like feel of Vandross sides like "Bad Boy" and the more recent "Nights in Harlem," while "Every Year, Every Christmas" (cowritten with Richard Marx) is a soulful slow jam. A surprising reading of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic "My Favorite Things" shows that if Vandross ever chose to, he could easily do a fine album of jazz standards, while "O Come All Ye Faithful" (featuring an all-star choir that includes Valerie Simpson) is given the album's most traditional reading. Standouts include the gorgeous "Please Come Home for Christmas" and the almost funky "A Kiss for Christmas." Easily one of the best Christmas albums around" - David Nathan
Personnel: Luther Vandross, Brenda White-King (vocals); John Clayton (conductor); Marcus Miller (conductor, Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards, bass); Paul Jackson, Jr., Phil Hamilton (guitar); Peter Dimitriades (concertmaster); Jason Miles (strings, synthesizer, drum programming); Dick Oatts (saxophone); Clarence Clemons (tenor saxophone); John "Skip" Anderson (piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, keyboards, synthesizer, drums); Nat Adderley, Jr. (piano, keyboards); Ivan Hampden (keyboards, drums); Reed Vertelney (keyboards, drum programming); Eric Caudieux (synthesizer); Luico Hopper, Eluriel Tinker Barfield (bass); Errol "Crusher" Bennett, Steve Kroon (percussion); Cissy Houston, Cindy Mizelle, Tawatha Agee, Paulette McWilliams, Fonzi Thornton, Robin Clark, Milt Grayson, Darlene Love, Valerie Simpson, Ivonne Lewis, Katreese Barns, Ada Dyer, Tamira Sanders, Vivian Cherry, Genobia Jeter, Kevin Owens, Brenda White-King (background vocals).
Producers: Luther Vandross, Nat Adderley, Jr., Marcus Miller.
Engineers include: Ray Bardani, Stanley Wallace, Paul Brown.
Recorded at The Hit Factory Studios, Power Station and Clinton Recording Studios, New York; Camel Island, Los Angeles, California.
Personnel: Luther Vandross (vocals); Darlene Love (vocals); Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitar); Clarence Clemons (tenor saxophone); Marcus Miller (Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards, bass instrument); Jason Miles (synthesizer, programming); Ivan Hampden (drums); Cindy Mizelle, Tawatha Agee (background vocals).
This stellar 1995 Christmas album is not your typical release of holiday standards. In fact, Luther helped pen most of the songs on this album. His originals include the excellent "With a Christmas Heart," "This Is Christmas," and "A Kiss for Christmas." But for those with an allegiance to the standards, "My Favorite Things" and "O' Come All Ye Faithful" are duly included among these 10 lovely tracks. Well-known bassist/arranger/producer Marcus Miller plays on some of the tracks, while well-coifed '80s rock balladeer Richard Marx co-wrote "Every Year, Every Christmas." For R&B fans, it's hard to do much better than THIS IS CHRISTMAS.