Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Still Christmas Somewhere

We'll conclude this year's Christmas festivities with a little post-Christmas music for relaxing, perhaps around a fire with some wine or other Christmas spirits, after the kids have gone to bed.
This is a compilation of 40's/50's tunes that Savoy Jazz (SJL 1157) put out in 1985. It has recently been reissued on CD (available at the usual on-line suspects) with improved sound - the benefits of digital remastering, no doubt - in contrast to the somewhat wonky sound of this original 1985 vinyl.
Also, this particular disc has a rough skipping spot in one song that I simply couldn't get to track correctly, so my apologies for that.

White Christmas - The Ravens
Far away Christmas Blues - "Little Esther" Phillips with Johnny Otis
Love for Christmas - Felix Gross
Trim Your Tree - Jimmy Butler
Wonderful Christmas Night - Dan Grissom
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - A.B.Green
Silent Night - Big Maybelle
White Christmas - Charlie Parker
Mr. Santa's Boogie - The Marshall Brothers
Christmas Blues - "Gatemouth" Moore
Christmas Blues - "Washboard" Pete
Frosty the Snowman - A.B.Green
I Want to Spend Christmas with Elvis - Debbie Dabney
Santa's secret - Johnny Guarnieri with Slam Stewart

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Here's the penultimate post in this year's Christmas album festival, and it's a pretty good one. Frorm 1971, it's Columbia Record's The Christmas Album (subtitle: 20 Great Christmas Favorites Performed by 20 Great Artists) (a two-disc set, no less). Highlights include Johnny Cash (with a slightly odd rendering of The Little Drummer Boy), Burl Ives, Patti Page, Marty Robbins, and Mahalia Jackson, as well as the usual suspects (Andy Williams, Percy Faith, Johnny Mathis, etc.).
Even though it's two discs, the run time is not quite an hour, with five tracks per side.

Andy Williams
Mitch Miller
Doris Day
The Ray Conniff Singers
Tony Bennett

Johnny Cash
Jerry Vale
Anita Bryant
Andre Kostelanetz
Jim Nabors

Barbra Streisand
Burl Ives
Robert Goulet
Marty Robbins
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir/New York Philharmonic

Johnny Mathis with Percy Faith
Patti Page
Percy Faith
Mahalia Jackson
Frank Sinatra

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Retiring the genre

For this year, at least, this will be the last tire company album.

B.F. Goodrich began their Christmas album series in 1965 by issuing "For A Musical Merry Christmas Volume Two" (it seems that a Volume One was issued through Acme Markets, a chain of stores in the Mid-Atlantic states in 1963). This disc has a couple of tracks that are the standard Christmas recordings that you hear on the radio stations that begin playing Xmas music the day after Halloween.

Sleigh Ride - Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra
Wassail Song - The Robert Shaw Chorale
Carol of the Bells - Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra
The Little Drummer Boy - Hugo and Luigi Children's Chorus
We Three Kings - Gisele MacKenzie
Let There Be Peace on Earth - The Norman Luboff Choir
White Christmas - Melachrino Strings and Orchestra
Jingle Bells - Jim Reeves
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Skitch Henderson and His Orchestra
Silent Night / O Holy Night / O Come All Ye Faithful - Radio City Music Hall Orchestra and Chorus, Raymond Paige, Director and Dick Leibert, Organist

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12" of Christmas

Today we have some
Music for the Twelve Days of Christmas from RCA Records circa 1965. This one is notable (after you get past the mostly muzak-y first side) for Eddy Arnold's "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" and "Merry Christmas Neighbor" by the Bonanza TV Cast.

THE RALPH HUNTER CHOIR - The Twelve Days of Christmas
MARIO LANZA - Come All Ye Faithful
BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA - A Christmas Festival
JOHN GARY - The Christmas Song
THE NORMAN LUBOFF CHOIR - The Little Drummer Boy
EDDY ARNOLD - Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
AMES BROTHERS - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
BONANZA TV CAST - Merry Christmas Neighbor


Monday, December 21, 2009

Well, let's move out of the easy-listening Firestone strings and chorus genre and move into the MOR singer genre. Today we have A Christmas Music Festival from Capitol Records.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Firestone

I thought that I had posted all of my Firestone albums, but here's one last one (probably).
FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAROLS from the Voice of Firestone starring Rise Stevens and Brian Sullivan and the Firestone Orchestra and Chorus MLP 7005 Produced by FORRELL, THOMAS & POLACK ASSOCIATES, INC.
Supervisor of Production: Richard M. Bradshaw Orchestra Condustor: John Lesko
Orchestration: Maury Laws and John Lesko
Vocal Coodinator: George Wilkins
Production Manager: Eleanor Fogelson

1. Medley: Joy to the World; Away in Manger; We Three Kings of Orient Are; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Chorus
2. What Child Is This? – Rise Stevens
3. O Come, All Ye Faithful – Brian Sullivan
4. Medley: A Virgin Unspotted; God Rest You Merry Gentlemen; Deck the Hall – Chorus
5. O Little Town of Bethlehem – Brian Sullivan
6. O Holy Night – Rise Stevens
1. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Brian Sullivan
2. The Friendly Beasts – Rise Stevens
3. Medley: Here We Come A-Wassailing; Good King Wenceslas; O Christmas Tree
4. The First Noel – Brian Sullivan
5. Silent Night – Rise Stevens
6. Medley: Jingle Bells; Up on the House Top; Jolly Old Saint Nicholas; We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Singer Me a Christmas Song

The more that I explore the world of custom Christmas LPs the more variety I find: tire companies, grocery and department stores, and today, a sewing machine manufacturer. Just look at that cover - Dad is very self-satisfied, the blond boy is either ecstatic or terrified, and the girl seems to be hiding her doll's eyes from the magnificence that is the sewing machine. Mom's bemused look, however, seems to me to be less "what a marvelous gift" and more along the lines of "that better be your pipe in your pocket, 'cause you just blew any chance for Xmas lovin' by giving me a home appliance as a gift."

Side 1

01 White Christmas
02 O Come All Ye Faithful
03 Joy To The World
04 Deck The Halls
05 O Holy Night
06 Silent Night

Side 2
01 The First Noel
02 O Little Town Of Bethlehem
03 Away In A Manger
04 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
05 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
06 We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Home For Christmas

A little late today, but continuing anyway.

Today it's 1964s Home For Christmas: A Joyous Evening of Yuletide Songs, which I include not so much for its musical merits (which are minimal) but for its rather scary in some ways cover art. While most of the family is focused on the pigtailed child playing the piano (or mesmerized by Dad's 70's era Ray-Mears-Vols-style plaid sport coat) the little blond girl in the lower right is apparently (based on the look on Granddad's face) stabbing him in the groin with safety scissors.

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joy To The World
Silent Night
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem/It Came Upon The Midnight Clear/The First Noel
O Holy Night
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Deck The Halls
Good King Wenceslas
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Away In A Manger
'Twas The Night Before Christmas
Ave Maria
Jingle Bells
Arranged and conducted by Henri Rene. Produced by Herman Diaz, Jr. Soloists: Marijane Maricle (Mother). Eric Carlson (Father).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You can't yell "Firestone" in a crowded theatre?

Finishing up my collection of Firestone albums today (but certainly not the entirety of the Firestone albums that exist) with Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Carols Volume 5.This disc features Julie Andrews singing with the Firestone Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn, so as you might suspect it's lacking in quirkiness and full of lush strings and brass.

Track list:
Joy to the World
Irish Carol
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Deck the Halls
Angels from the Realms
Away in a Manger
The Bells of Christmas
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Sunny Bank (I Saw Three Ships)
God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen
Wexford Carol
Jingle Bells

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Popular Christmas Classics

Taking a break from the tire companies today with 1977's Popular Christmas Classics from Capitol Records (though I have seen a picture of this album with a Firestone sticker on it, there is no indication on the album that I have that it is anything except a Capitol Records production).

Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song
Burl Ives - A Holly Jolly Christmas
Gene Autry - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Harry Simeone Chorale - The Little Drummer Boy
Leroy Anderson - Sleigh Ride
Margaret Whiting & Jimmy- Silver Bells
Tennessee Ernie Ford - The Star Carol
Dean Martin - White Christmas
Glen Campbell - Silent Night
Bing Crosby - Do You Hear What I Hear?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Not Tire(d) of it Yet...

Let's hit the road again with Firestone - this time it's Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Music Volume 4.

  • MEDLEY (The Young Americans)
  • ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH (James McCracken & The Young Americans)
  • I WONDER AS I WANDER (Dorothy Kirsten & The Young Americans)
    • WE THREE KINGS OF ORIENT ARE (The Young Americans)
    • HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING (The Firestone Orchestra)
  • DING DONG MERRILY ON HIGH (Vic Damone & The Young Americans)
  • THE CHRISTMAS SONG (Julie Andrews)
  • THE CHRISTMAS SONG (Julie Andrews)
  • JOY TO THE WORLD (Dorothy Kirsten & The Young Americans)
  • AVE MARIA (James mcCracken)
    • AWAY IN A MANAGER (The Young Americans)
    • SILENT NIGHT (The Firestone Orchestra)
    • COVENTRY CAROL (The Young Americans)
  • ROCKING (Little Jesus, Sweetly Sleep)(Julie Andrews & The Young Americans)
  • MASTERS IN THIS HALL (The Young Americans)
  • THE BELLS OF CHRISTMAS (Julie Andrews & The Young Americans)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Battle For Passenger Tire Supremacy Rages on the Racetrack!!!

er, and apparently also in the record rack, as I've got Christmas LPs from Goodyear, BF Goodrich, and Firestone. The latter company will be the focus this week (by request, no less). In comparison the the Goodyear discs, which feature a mix of folks in many genres, including country and semi-rock, the Firestone series seems quite a bit stodgier, with a lot of classical and MOR [middle of the road (heh - well, that's an unplanned pun)] artists. I wonder if that reflects a marketing decision of the time?

Today's disc is from 1963.

Firestone Presents Your Favorite Christmas Carols Volume Two

1. Opening - The Columbus Boychoir and Chorus
2. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Rise Stevens and Chorus
3. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing/The First Noel - The Columbus Boychoir and Chorus
4.We Three Kings of Orient Are/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Brian Sullivan and Chorus
5. Angels We Have Heard On High - Rise Stevens, Brian Sullivan and Chorus
6. Carol Of The Bells - The Columbus Boychoir and Chorus
7. Hallelujah - The Columbus Boychoir and Chorus
8. Deck The Halls - Brian Sullivan and Chorus
9. Away In The Manger/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - Rise Stevens and Chorus
10. Joy To The World - Rises Stevens, Brian Sullivan and Chorus
11. Silent Night/O Little Town of Bethlehem/Jingle Bells - The Columbus Boychoir and Chorus

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Sorry, I missed a day due to a bit of pre-holiday illness. During my day at home I discovered this 1992 cassette that I had put aside to feature on the blog and then forgotten.

I suspect that this is simply a bunch of studio guys having a lark, but I can't verify that.

Side One (Calypso) 1. 3:08 Caribbean Christmas 2. 3:45 It Came Apon A Midhtnight Clear / Hark The Herald Angels Sing 3. 3:53 Jingle Bells / I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day 4. 3:17 Joy To The World 5. 3:47 Go Tell It On The Mountain 6. 2:49 Up On A House Top

Side Two (reggae) 7. 2:51 We Wish You A Merry Christmas 8. 3:17 Deck The Halls 9. 2:57 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 10. 3:43 We Three Kings 11. 4:10 What A Child Is This / Away In A Manger 12. 3:25 O Come All Ye Faithful / O Little Town Of Bethlehem

You can get the CD for $200.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas, Carol, Ted, and Alice

Today we get something a bit different - instead of Christmas music, we get Christmas Theatre (of the mind) with noted thespian Lionel Barrymore in the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" (we also get an LP syde of syrupy choir versions of Christmas carols). The Christmas broadcast of this story was an annual tradition for Barrymore - there are several recordings out there, including one with Orson Wells as the narrator (Richard Hale narrates this version).

A Christmas Carol

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Released by Warner Bros. as a promotional holiday compilation for Christmas 1988, I've kept this mostly for the beautiful colored vinyl and the brief holiday greetings (which I used to drop randomly into mix tapes). The music - eh, not so much. Los Lobos are always good, 54-40 is a favorite band, and Pee Wee is OK, but...

Winter Warnerland 01
Winter Warnerland 02


Jeff Lorber -

God Rest The House


A2 Good Question - Winter Wonderland 3:30
A3 Cold Chillin' Juice Crew* - Cold Chillin' Christmas 4:31
A4 Nelson Wilbury - Holiday I.D. 0:28
A5 Gardner Cole - Maybe This Could Be The Christmas 3:38
A6 James Ingram - Holiday I.D. 0:30
A7 Apollonia - Holiday I.D. (English) 0:14
A8 Apollonia - Holiday I.D. (Spanish) 0:08
B1 PM (7) - Once In A Blue Moon Rising 2:51
B2 Secret Weapon (2) - I'm Coming Home 4:17
B3 Daniel Lanois - Fais Do Do 2:11
B4 Mark O'Connor - What Child Is This 3:28
B5 Jim Horn - Silver Bells 3:21
B6 Pee-Wee Herman* - Christmas Medley 0:29
B7 Tommy Page - Christmas Without You 4:00
C1 No Artist - Santa's Harley 0:19
C2 ZZ Top - Holiday I.D. 0:22
C3 Bulletboys* - Holiday I.D. 0:42
C4 Jesse Ed Davis - Santa Claus Is Getting Down 3:54
C5 Los Lobos - Rudolph The Manic Reindeer 2:00
C6 R.E.M. - Deck The Halls 1:13
C7 Hugo Largo - Angels We Have Heard On High / Gloria 3:25
C8 Lou Reed - Holiday I.D. 0:28
C9 Danielle Dax - Blue Christmas 1:36
C10 Throwing Muses - Santa 3:50
C11 Ofra Haza - Holiday I.D. 0:18
D1 54-40 - 2000 Years Of Love 4:47
D2 Honeymoon Suite - I Believe In Father Christmas 3:06
D3 Julie Brown - Ways To Save Money At Christmas 1:20
D4 Peter Cetera - Holiday I.D. 0:05
D5 Peter Cetera - Silent Night 2:19
D6 Randy Travis - Holiday I.D. 0:05
D7 Randy Travis - How Do I Wrap My Heart Up For Christmas 2:46
D8 Pee-Wee Herman* - Don't Drink And Drive, Duh 0:15
D9 Pee-Wee Herman* - Pee-Wee Wilbury I.D. 0:30
D10 No Artist - Santa's Jet 0:07

Monday, December 07, 2009

Filet of. . . soul

Let's kick the week off with something completely different from the grocery store LPs - a Soulful Christmas from Mistletoe Records*.

*this particular pressing is on Mistletoe. Other versions exist on other Christmas-themed labels, such as "Holiday".

This Time of the Year - Brook Benton
(It's Gonne Be) A Lonely Christmas - Sonny Til and The Oreoles
Winter Wonderland - Patti LaBelle
Merry Christmas Baby - Charles Brown
Silent Night - Jerry Butler
You're All I Want for Christmas - Brook Benton
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve - Sonny Til and The Oreoles
Blue Christmas - Patti LaBelle
Let's Make Every Day a Christmas Day - Charles Brown
O Holy Night - Jerry Butler

Friday, December 04, 2009

Still Lost in the Supermarket

Today we'll finish off the grocery store chain-sponsored Christmas albums with one that I've owned since I was very small (as opposed to the majority of these Christmas posts, which are albums that I've accumulated in the last decade or so). I don't remember where the ACME was in the Cumberland, MD area (any area folks feel free to chime in) [edit - I have a vague memory of a small store in Cresaptown that might have been an ACME]. For the last 40-something years I've thought that this was one of the series of tire company-issued albums that my Dad brought home yearly, until I read the fine print a week ago and saw that it was "Created exclusively for ACME Markets by Columbia Special Products."

This one actually has more than a handful of interesting tracks which do not appear on my other Christmas albums (Dave Brubeck, The Banjo Barons, a groovy Les Brown, Skitch Henderson) along with the usual suspects (Ray Conniff, Andre Kostelanetz, Rosemary Clooney, etc.) and of course the Man in Black, Johnny Cash.

The First Noel - Jerry Vale
White Christmas - Rosemary Clooney
Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash
Adeste Fidelis/O Holy Night) - Frank DeVol
It Came upon the Midnight Clear/Silent Night - Andre Kostelanetz
We Three Kings of Orient Are/Deck the Hall with Boughs of Holly - Ray Conniff
Sleigh Ride - Skitch Henderson
We Wish You the Merriest - Les Brown
Jolly Old St. Nick/JingleBells - The Banjo Barons
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Dave Brubeck

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Music To Shop For Xmas Dinner By

Today we get volume five of A&P's Christmas Greetings series. Although I hate to be a scrooge, there's not a whole lot to recommend on this one, with the possible exception of the Tanya Tucker and Charlie Rich tracks. Everything else drips schmaltz. I suppose the Mitch Miller Sleigh Ride is one of those classics, but I don't especially need to hear it again.

A&P - Christmas Greetings Volume 5

Andy Williams - Joy to the World
Ray Conniff and The Singers - Away in a Manger
Robert Goulet / Carol Lawrence - The Christmas Waltz
Tanya Tucker - Silver Bells
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir / The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble and Percussion - O Holy Night
Richard Tucker - The Lord's Prayer
Julie Andrews - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
John Davidson - Mary's Little Boy Child
Mitch Miller and The Gang - Sleigh Ride
Charlie Rich - White Christmas
Andre Kostelanetz with The St. Kilian Boychoir - Oh, Tannenbaum
Johnny Mathis - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Goin' to the grocery store to get me some...records?

Tire companies and department stores were doing it, so why not grocery stores? It, of course, was putting out store-branded Christmas albums, and The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, AKA A&P, jumped into the fray with the Christmas Greetings series. Today we have number three in that series, which has a few highlights, including Johnny Cash with a nice Blue Christmas, Lynn Anderson with Mr. Mistletoe, and Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders) rocking a great beard and essaying a surprisingly-good version of Greensleeves.

A&P - Christmas Greetings Volume 3

Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra - Skater's Waltz
Tony Bennett - Medley: We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Silent Night, Holy Night / O Come All Ye Faithful / Jingle Bells / Where Is Love (from "Oliver!")
Vikki Carr - It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Johnny Cash - Blue Christmas
Carol Burnett - The Christmas Song
Johnny Mathis - O Holy Night
Anna Moffo - Ave Maria
Barbra Streisand - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Eugene Ormandy - Joy to the World
Lynn Anderson - Mr. Mistletoe
Mark Lindsay - Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)
Doris Day - Toyland
Cary Grant - Here's To You

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Twelve Inches of Christmas

This December will (hopefully) find us working our way through the last pile of Christmas LPs (at least until I discover more under the bed, in the attic, under my desk, etc.).

We start this series with another disc from my Grandmother's collection. As I've mentioned before, my grandparents lived in rural West Virginia, so the entertainment options for a city boy were slim (swatting flies, trying to tune in the one TV station that barely came in, or listening to LPs on the Silvertone console stereo).

Though this is a Christmas album, the slim selection of LPs lead to it being a candidate for play any time we were visiting. Side two is typical holiday schmaltz, but side one has a couple of finger-snappin' hep-cat-groove variations on Christmas standards, including the opening highlight "Nutty Jingle Bells" (which to my ears is a pretty silly Louis Armstrong knock-off, but fun none-the-less) (also arranged by my favorite space-age pop guy, Dick Hyman).

Al Hirt - The Sound of Christmas

Nutty Jingle Bells
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause/Here Comes Santa Claus
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Sleigh Ride
Silver Bells
The Christmas Song
Santa Clause is Comin' To Town
Deck The Halls/Good King Wenceslas/We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Ave Maria
What Child Is This?/Oh Little Town of Bethelehem/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
O Holy Night
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Joy To The World/O Come, All Ye Faithful
We Three Kings/The First Noel

Consumer warning: This album has sort-of been reissued on CD, but 5 tracks have been left off.