Adapters: Hal Davis; Harvey Fuqua; Jimmy Roach; Marc Gordon .
Arrangers: Willie Shorter; James Carmichael ; Gil Askey; Hal Davis; Harvey Fuqua; George Rountree, Jr.; Jimmy Roach; Lawrence Payton; Levi Stubbs; Marc Gordon ; Wade Marcus; David Van De Pitte.
Berry Gordy was more than just a visionary label owner, he was also an astute businessman who studied and understood how the pop charts worked, and his stable of songwriters, arrangers, musicians, and singers all worked toward the same aim of refining R&B and soul music into a pop product that appealed across race, gender, and generational lines. And Gordy knew -- although the radio play and sales period was extremely brief -- that nothing endured more than a good Christmas record, which could regenerate sales each and every year when the holiday season rolled around again. It should come as no surprise, then, that Motown issued a sizable amount of seasonal material, and as this two-disc, 51-track collection shows, a lot of it was done at a high level of quality. There are simply some wonderful Christmas sides here, including the Jackson 5's buoyant "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," the Temptations' delightfully rendered "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the Funk Brothers' surging and joyous instrumental take on "Winter Wonderland," Smokey Robinson's hopeful "Christmas Everyday," the Four Tops' lightly funky "Merry Christmas Baby," and a pair of odd but beautiful Marvin Gaye pieces, "Christmas in the City" and the achingly perfect "I Want to Come Home for Christmas." It's nice to have all of these together in one collection. Oh, and you can dance to it, too. ~ Steve Leggett