December 14, 1998 12:00 PM

>Holiday music

Again this year a host of new CDs ready for a holiday spin has arrived in stores. Below, a quick sampling:

Christmas with Babyface Babyface (Epic) Ten-time Grammy winner Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds gift wraps a collection of soulful, R&B-tinged seasonal standards, including a very slinky “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Elmo Saves Christmas Various Artists (Sony Wonder/CTW)

Kids, at least, will appreciate these selections—from the home video of the same name—performed by Elmo (Kevin Clash) and the Sesame Street gang, including Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, the Count and even Snuffleupagus.

Bing Crosby: The Voice of Christmas Bing Crosby (MCA)

Crosby’s “White Christmas” is the bestselling Christmas song of all time, and this 2-CD, 44-track compilation of holiday songs recorded from 1935-56 for Decca includes four versions—even his slightly imperfect very first take.

Winter’s Crossing James Galway & Phil Coulter (RCA Victor) Celtic music performed by flutist Galway and pianist Coulter isn’t exactly Christmas fare, but it’s seasonally perfect.

Holiday Pops The Boston Pops Orchestra/Keith Lockhart (RCA Victor) Conductor Lockhart leads the orchestra, with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, through carols old and new, plus a new twist on an old favorite: “Good Swing Wenceslas.”

Merry Christmas…Have a Nice Life! Cyndi Lauper (Epic) The usual chestnuts and some new tunes (“Minnie and Santa”), plus that trademark voice, make for a surprisingly lovely Christmas CD.

Jingle Bells: Swingin’ Barnyard Christmas Various Animals (Oglio)

This novelty album features a dozen animal “artists”—including the Moo-Tones, Duck Ellington and the Gobbler’s Five—barking, clucking, meowing or otherwise performing “Jingle Bells.”

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