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4.7 out of 5 stars
Once Upon a Christmas
Format: Audio CDChange
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
As originally released, this album had six duets and four solo tracks - two each by Kenny and Dolly. I note that the version currently available in America has just nine tracks (confirmed to me by an American friend who has seen it), the two excellent Kenny Rogers tracks (Silent night and The Christmas song) being replaced by Dolly's Hard candy Christmas (which, despite its title, is not a Christmas song). I checked my local store and the UK version still has the original track listing. Dolly's two solo offerings on the original album - White Christmas and a medley of Winter wonderland and Sleigh ride - are both excellent.

Good as the solo tracks are, it is the six duets that make this album stand out among my many wonderful Christmas albums. Dolly wrote five of the songs especially for the album and the other is also an original song. I believe in Santa Claus and With bells on are rollicking, up-tempo songs. Christmas without you is a reflective song about missing somebody. A Christmas to remember is another upbeat song. Once upon a Christmas is a stirring song about the birth of Jesus (and has since been covered by Selah on their Christmas album Rose of Bethlehem, with Dolly guesting on that track). The greatest gift of all (the only song among the duets that Dolly didn't write) is a lovely romantic ballad, which was covered a year later by Lee Greenwood for his excellent Christmas To Christmas album; other singers have understandably covered this song too.

This album is best with the two Kenny Rogers solo tracks, but is worth buying anyway because of the outstanding duets. I have bought many brilliant original Christmas albums; this one remained my favorite for more than twenty years after its release.
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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Folks, before wasting your money thinking you are buying the CD version of this album hoping to retire your worn out vinyl copy, then think again. Although the cover of the CD is the same as the record, it actually has little else in common. First, what's happened to Kenny's solo songs? Where are they? And furthermore, why did they put Dolly's "Hard Candy Christmas" on here when it wasn't even part of the original release? I don't understand this concept of "remaking" old albums and re-issuing them on CD. I feel this is deliberate deception on the part of RCA/BMG to make you think you are getting the CD version, when in fact what you are really getting is a watered down and butchered copy of the ORIGINAL "Once Upon A Christmas" that was released in 1984 and went on to become one of the biggest holiday albums of the 80's. So what's going on then? This is precisely the reason I've still got my old vinyl copy of this album, as tired and wore out as it may be! Sorry RCA, but you didn't pull the wool over my eyes. Folks, here is the original track listing for this album, as released in 1984:
1. I Believe In Santa Claus (Kenny & Dolly)
2. Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride Medley (Dolly)
3. Christmas Without You (Kenny & Dolly)
4. The Christmas Song (Kenny)
5. A Christmas to Remember (Kenny & Dolly)
6. With Bells On (Kenny & Dolly)
7. Silent Night (Kenny)
8. The Greatest Gift Of All (Kenny & Dolly)
9. White Christmas (Dolly)
10 Once Upon A Christmas. (Kenny & Dolly)
Now, also ask yourselves why this special was never released on home video, inspite of it being one of the highest rated Christmas specials in the history of CBS? Maybe I'm just complaining here, but I'm sick and tired of deceptive and sly business practices on the part of the music industry, and until such time as it cleans up its act, I'll continue to treasure my old LP records and cassettes.
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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Folks, before wasting your money thinking you are buying the CD version of this album, hoping to retire your worn out vinyl copy, then think again. Although the cover of the CD is the same as the record, it actually has little else in common. First, what's happened to Kenny's solo songs? Where are they? And furthermore, why did they put Dolly's "Hard Candy Christmas" on here when it wasn't even part of the original release? I don't understand this concept of "remaking" old albums and re-issuing them on CD. I feel this is deliberate deception on the part of RCA/BMG to make you think you are getting the CD version, when in fact what you are really getting is a watered down and butchered copy of the ORIGINAL "Once Upon A Christmas" that was first released in 1984, and went on to become one of the biggest holiday albums of the 80's. So what's going on then? This is precisely the reason I've still got my old vinyl copy, as tired and wore out as it may be! Sorry RCA, but you didn't pull the wool over my eyes. Folks, here is the original track listing, as released in 1984:
1. I Believe In Santa Claus (Kenny & Dolly)
2. Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride Medley (Dolly)
3. Christmas Without You (Kenny & Dolly)
4. The Christmas Song (Kenny)
5. A Christmas to Remember (Kenny & Dolly)
6. With Bells On (Kenny & Dolly)
7. Silent Night (Kenny)
8. The Greatest Gift Of All (Kenny & Dolly)
9. White Christmas (Dolly)
10 Once Upon A Christmas. (Kenny & Dolly)
Now, also ask yourselves why this was never released on home video, inspite of it being one of the highest rated Christmas shows of the decade? Maybe I'm just complaining here, but I'm sick and tired of deceptive and sly business practices on the part of the music industry, and until such time as it cleans up its act, I'll continue to treasure my old LP records and cassettes.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
My family owned the original vinal LP and it became an integral part of our Christmas celebration. Then, after years of listening and our change to CD's we were left to create newer Christmas traditions. I'm over joyed to finally have this album has re-issied on CD so I can now add it my own Christmas festivities! I am baffled however (as other reviewers are), over the changed track listing. I love the added song "Hard Candy Christmas" sung by Dolly and am glad it was added, but why did it have to displace Kenny Rodgers' beautiful "Silent Night" and "The Christmas Song"?
Who knows if we'll ever get to hear the full album on CD, so don't let this mistep cheat you out of the warmest and cheeriest Christmas CD ever! Dollys and Kennys voices meld together sublimly especially on "Christmas Without You". Dolly's "Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride" is near perfection and is so popular that it can be heard on many other compiliations. From the romantisism of "The Greatest Gift of All", to the holy "Once Upon A Christmas" and the hoe-down feel of "I Believe in Santa Claus", this CD covers all the bases and does it with warmth, heart and spirit. A real treasure.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This album has been around for many years and I have thought it to be one of the best albums for the season since the first time I heard it,long ago. I think that Dolly and Kenny sing wonderfully together and should do more albums together. this is just realy a great album and I hope others enjoy it as much as I do.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's, "Once Upon a Christmas", is truely, as the title of one song suggests, The Greatest Gift of All. This CD has brought joy to me and my family for several years now. Rogers and Parton uplift your spirit drawing your attention to every word and emotion in each song. With some traditional songs such as Silent Night and White Christmas to more recent titles like Christmas Without You and Once Upon a Christmas, this CD is sure to suit everyone's craving for holiday joy. Clearly the best Christmas CD available and a must buy. Buy it and you'll have, as yet another song suggests, A Christmas To Remember.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 1999
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I was so excited to find "Once Upon a Christmas" as a CD because somehow I let the my cassette version get away from me. One of my favorite tracks on the album is the solo of Kenny Rogers singing "Silent Night", which is one of the tracks listed on the CD online, for a total of ten tracks. When I got the album though, there are only nine tracks and "Silent Night" is not one of them. And I don't remember track #7, "Hard Candy Christmas" at all. Regardless, there should be a picture of Kenny and Dolly in the dictionary next to the word "duet". They blend PERFECTLY together! It's not exactly like my original cassette, but it's definately a keeper!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Kenny and Dolly together is a wonderful mix in any season. Put them together at Christmas and you've got an instant classic. Along with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Andy Williams, no collection would be complete without this album. Sadly, only a different version without the two Kenny Rogers solo songs and the addition of Dolly's "Hard Candy Christmas" is available in America...But I found a way around that! The British version has the original song list and includes those two solo songs done by Kenny...It is a little more expensive and takes longer to receive, but now I've got the CD version of my all-time favorite christmas album...Sure I may miss the hiss and pop of the record, but I can always listen to that once in a while! This record is well worth the trip! Just go to the United Kingdom Amazon.com site through the link at the bottom of this page!! Don't miss it!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2002
Format: Audio CD
First of all, I loved this album.
It is one of the greatest Christmas albums ever cut featuring some holiday standards, and some great original songs written by Dolly.
But the album in its last two printings (RCA Records printing from a few years ago, and a new BMG Special Markets printing for 2002) is NOT the original album. As most of you know, the Kenny Rogers solo songs "The Christmas Song" and "Silent Night" have been cut from the album, and Dolly's song "Hard Candy Christmas" (which was never on the original "Once Upon A Christmas" album) is included. This makes for a 9 song CD, despite the original being a 10 song disc.
This is why I give the album 3 stars. It's still a good disc, but without Kenny's solos, it's really missing the original value. Kenny's voice was at its finest in 1984, and his versions of these songs are exceptional.
"Why did RCA do this?", many of you ask.
When Kenny Rogers signed to RCA Records in 1983, he signed for twenty million dollars for six albums. That was the largest amount of money for a record contract in history up to that time. Bob Summer was the head of RCA then.
Not long after Summer signed Kenny, Summer was fired from RCA. The new head of RCA decided that he could not let Kenny be successful. It would make RCA look bad for firing Summer if Kenny was a huge success, especially since Kenny was signed to the label for such a huge amount of money.
From that point on, Kenny got little support from RCA. Think about it...to this day "Islands In The Stream" is not in print on RCA Records (maybe on a Dolly record, but not a Kenny record.) Neither are any of the other RCA hits Kenny had. You can get them on compilations from other labels (Reprise, Madacy, etc.), but only because Kenny Rogers owns all his master recordings from his RCA years and on. Kenny can license out his RCA tracks to other labels.
RCA Records itself has nothing in print of Kenny's except the "Once Upon A Christmas" album. By cutting his solo tracks, RCA actually has nothing of Kenny's in print. The only reason RCA allows the duets with Dolly to be in print is because "Once Upon A Christmas" still sells so well.
So, RCA cheapened the album and cheats the fans of the original album and Kenny solos. Nice job.
Kenny almost signed with Columbia in 1983. I bet if he did, Sony Music would have this album out in its full version.
Too bad.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2007
Format: Audio CD
My children and I began listening to this music at Christmas when they were small after seeing a TV special with Kenny & Dolly featuring this music. (They are now 27 & 31.) I fell in love with it then and there. I still have the original record that filled our home with the feeling of Christmas. We had recorded the record onto tapes so that we could have Christmas in our cars. This album has been a family favorite for more than 20 years. I found the CD a few years ago and now each one of us has our own copy and it still isn't Christmas until Kenny & Dolly sing for us. You are missing the best Christmas CD EVER if you don't own this one! Buy it now so that you can enjoy a hard candy Christmas with a fast talking lover and some slow burning wood. You won't be sorry!
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