While Bobby Darin, 1936-1973, remained popular until his premature death in 1973 at the age of 37 from chronic heart problems; he was a superstar during the pre-Beatles era. Hit songs such as “Splish Splash,” “Beyond The Sea,” “Dream Lover,” and his huge number one hit “Mack The Knife” propelled him into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He was a crooner whose smooth style crossed over into pop and rock and roll. He was also an actor who won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in Come September and in 1963 was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for Captain Newman M.D. He was also the guy who actually married Sandra Dee of Grease fame; “Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee.”
Right in the middle of all his popularity, (1960), he released the only Christmas album of his career. The 25th Of December has now been reissued by Real Gone Music.
He created a thematic album combining Christmas hymns and American Spirituals that all dealt with the birth of Jesus. Up until this point in his career he has been strictly a solo artist but given the material he used the Bobby Scott Chorale as his backing vocalists.
Today the album sounds a little dated but it was a leap of faith for Darin as he moves the material in a number of directions. He gives “Poor Little Jesus” a bluesy treatment. “Child Of God” and “Baby Born Today” are right out of a southern revival tent meeting with the latter being a shout and answer presentation with the backing choir. On the other hand, “Silent Night,” “While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks,” and “Holy Holy Holy” are given a traditional treatment.
“Jehovah Hallelujah” is another fundamentalist revival piece. The most unusual song is Dona Nobis Pacem from the Catholic Mass. The only bonus track is “Christmas Auld Lang Syne,” which was recorded at the same time but only released as a single.
While the original album was released in mono and stereo, all future reissues were mono as for 50 years it was presumed the original stereo masters had been lost. That proved not the case as they were recently discovered in The Warner vaults. Now the album has returned in pristine stereo condition.
Much of Darin’s material was playful but this Christmas album is very serious. It remains a very different approach when compared to his other releases. It may not be the best Christmas release of its era but represents the time Bobby Darin took a chance.