Darlene Love, the original “Christmas Baby,” joins the great Ben E. King at the Basie in a show entitled LOVE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
It’s almost universally regarded as the greatest Christmas album of all time a multigenerational favorite that’s lost none of its power and appeal, even as the Bad Santa who brought us A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector serves a 19-to-life sentence for second-degree murder (a fact apparently known to all but the author of his official bio).
If anyone has worked overtime to rescue and reclaim the legacy of that glorious Wall of Sound, however, it’s Darlene Love the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Spector studio session stalwart who was featured most prominently on the 1963 LP’s original cover (released, as lousy luck would have it, on the day of JFK’s assassination).
Love, who actually subbed as the Crystals on the breathtaking breakthrough “He’s A Rebel,” lent her big and warm leads to four songs on that holiday platter “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “It’s a Marshmallow World” and the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a tune that she’s performed on David Letterman TV shows across four decades, five Presidential administrations and countless hairstyles.
On Wednesday, Love returns to the Count Basie Theatre for the first time since 2009 in Love for the Holidays, a concert that teams her with another great voice from one of pop music’s most fertile eras, Ben E King.
Although he wasn’t represented on the ’63 Christmas album, King sang one of Spector’s biggest songwriting hits the gorgeous “Spanish Harlem” before going on to introduce a song that continues to resonate for anyone who’s ever heard it, “Stand By Me.”
The lead voice on some of the greatest songs from the Drifters (“Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “There Goes My Baby“) is expected to contribute his own smoothly soulful take on a sleighload of seasonal standards, in a show that’s presented as a benefit for Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, and for which tickets ($29 – $89) can be reserved here.