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Bobby Helms

A Little Darlin' Christmas – 2004 (Little Darlin')

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Bobby Helms

This combination CD starts off with a reissue of Bobby Helms' 12-track "Christmas Album" and finishes up with four previously unreleased Christmas tracks from Johnny Paycheck.

Helms had modest success as a country singer, but he's far more famous as the singer of "Jingle Bell Rock," an annual staple on the radio around Christmas. That song starts this album off, and it's awfully hard to follow up that perennial Christmas classic. But Helms does a fine job with the other tracks here in his smooth, slightly quavering voice, backed by steel guitar and background singers' "ooh"s. "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Winter Wonderland" are two of the best.

Paycheck's four tracks seem like a bit of an afterthought tacked on at the end. They include a fine upbeat rendition of "Jingle Bells" and a couple of Paycheck lost-love originals, "I'll Place My Order Early" and "The Old Year Is Gone."

For most people, the biggest draw here is "Jingle Bell Rock," which can be found on countless Christmas compilations.