SANTA'S JEWEL CASES

Michael McDonald
In The Spirit — A Christmas Album (MCA Nashville)

Former Doobie Brother and Grammy Award-winning solo artist McDonald presents his piano-man renditions of a few classics and a bunch of holiday-geared new material this year. His “Angels We Have Heard on High” is nice, but it’s the newly penned and old-school McDonald cuts like “To Make a Miracle,” “House Full of Love,” and “One Gift” that will really get the eggnog flowing.

Various Artists
Christmas: The World Rejoices (Sugo Music)

The folks at National Geographic have put together this 14-track holiday CD that takes the listener from Venezuela to Russia to the Caribbean with traditional carols offering an eclectic mix of everything from choirs to acoustic guitars to orchestral arrangements.

David Bowie
All Saints (Virgin)

Consider yourself part of Bowie’s holiday list. This 16-song album of instrumentals recorded from 1977 to 1999 was initially recorded as a Christmas gift for family and friends of the ever-changing icon. The majority of the sounds on the album come electronically, with the occasional harmonica and sax. Extra-special present: three tracks of previously unreleased material “gift-wrapped” with artwork designed by the man himself. A take on the holiday season that only Bowie could pull off.

— J.E.M.