A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (originally released as A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records) is an album of Christmas songs, produced by Phil Spector, and originally released as Philles 45 in 1963. Spector treated a series of mostly secular Christmas standards to his “Wall of Sound” treatment, and the selections feature the vocal performances of Spector’s regular artists during this period. The album peaked at No. 13 on Billboard magazine’s special, year-end, weekly Christmas Albums sales chart in December 1963.
The album was reissued by Apple Records in 1972, with different cover art—a photograph of Spector dressed as a heavily bearded Santa Claus, wearing a “Back to Mono” button—and retitled Phil Spector’s Christmas Album. This version of the album went to No. 6 on Billboard’s special Christmas Albums sales chart in December of that year, which was its highest chart ranking. It was also in 1972 that the album made its debut on the UK Albums Chart; it would re-chart in 1983, peaking at No. 19. On the week ending December 15, 2018, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector entered the main Billboard 200 albums chart for the first time (at position No. 48), eventually peaking at No. 12 three weeks later (on the week ending January 5, 2019).
In 2003, the album was voted No. 142 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list. In 2017, it was ranked the 130th greatest album of the 1960s by Pitchfork. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has cited this album as his favorite of all time. The album was included in Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer Billy Joel, released in September 1977 by Columbia Records. It was the first of Joel’s albums to be produced by Phil Ramone, with whom he would go on to work for all of his albums up until his 1986 album The Bridge.
The Stranger was released a year following Joel’s previous studio effort, Turnstiles, which had sold modestly and peaked low on the US charts, prompting Columbia to consider dropping Joel if his next release did not sell well. Joel wanted the album to feature his newly-formed touring band that had formed during the production of Turnstiles, which consisted of drummer Liberty DeVitto, bass player Doug Stegmeyer and saxophonist Richie Cannata. Seeking out a new producer, he first turned to veteran Beatles producer George Martin before coming across and settling on Ramone, whose name he had seen on albums by other artists such as Paul Simon. Recording took place across the span of three weeks, with Devitto, Stegmeyer and Cannata being featured in addition to other studio musicians filling in as guitarists on various songs.
Spending six weeks at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, The Stranger is considered Joel’s critical and commercial breakthrough. Four singles were released in the US, all of which became top-40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, including “Just the Way You Are” (#3), “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, “She’s Always a Woman” (both #17), and “Only the Good Die Young” (#24). Other songs, such as “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” and “Vienna”, have become staples of his career and are frequently performed in his live shows. The album won two awards at the 1978 Grammy Awards, winning Record of the Year as well as Song of the Year for “Just the Way You Are”. It remains his best-selling non-compilation album to date, and surpassed Bridge Over Troubled Water to become Columbia’s best-selling album release, with more than 10 million units sold worldwide. It was ranked at No. 70 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
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