Recommended by Christopher DeLaurenti
Pity the aging prog-rockers. They are banished, with the obligatory string section, to the Wine and Cheese Circuit (outdoor amphitheaters, tiny wineries, symphony halls) or fated to wander the Elysian Fields of New Age music. Miraculously, Mannheim Steamroller skirted those two dooms with a series of Christmas records that still sell by the truckload today. Unlike their prog-progenitors (Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, et al.), who attracted an audience on the then-underground FM radio stations in the early and mid 1970s, Mannheim Steamroller found fame in hi-fi stores, which used the group's superbly recorded LPs to demonstrate audiophile stereo systems. While other prog-rockers evaporated in the 1980s, the Steamroller released a series of records, which, though titled "Fresh Aire," deftly fused Bach and Brahms to a groovy backbeat. Of course, it's not all schlock: Fresh Aire VI boasts seven seconds of the most glorious polyphony written in the last century. This stuff is noxiously catchy, so take Mom and/or Pop to this one. You'll save yourself the headache of deducing which Messiah to go hear/sing, and get your holiday excursion with the folks out of the way.