In a previous post, I mentioned that Christmas carillon music was beginning to become a subgenre in my Christmas collection. I also mentioned in the same post about the origins of this album:
"Last December, I've began searching my local Goodwill, Salvation Army, antique stores, vinyl resale shops, and garage sales for unique Christmas music that I can digitally transfer over.
"I found a RCA Victor "Living Stereo" album cover entitled 'A Christmas Sound Spectacular' by John Klein at a local Goodwill (no record enclosed unfortunately) that piqued my interest. Thankfully, I found a site that sells this very CD and ordered up a copy."
The site mentioned above is Schulmerich Bells of Sellersville, PA. Not only was this album recorded at their factory back in 1959, they used the 1,453-bell Carillon Americana, the largest carillon in the world at the time, for the recording with two manual keyboards on the carillon and a pedal clavier controlling all the bells (and at different pitches!).
John Klein was an organist, pianist, and musical director for radio dramas and documentary movies. His talents took him to Europe where he played many music festivals and the Brussels World Fair (where he played the carillon twice a day) in 1958. Klein owned a nearby antique store in Rahns, PA when he was asked to participate in this project.
In the previous album of Christmas carillon music I reviewed, it was simply a sound engineer standing in a garden, recording the carillonneur playing Christmas music.
This album is completely night and day from the other album. It adds an orchestra, chorus, and arrangements that keeps you guessing. Don't be surprised if you actually get this album and hear elements of Jackie Gleason, Henry Mancini, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Esquivel, and Billy May. All these elements greatly add to this album and can make for a definite change of pace.
Two standout tracks are "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Frosty The Snowman" thanks in large part to their fun, fast arrangements. The other standout track, "Winter Wonderland", benefits from its big band feel and the carillons themselves which add a snowy touch to the song. If there was an instrument more perfectly suited for "Winter Wonderland", it's the carillon... I checked the window several times to see if snow was falling!
I'm glad I found the cover back in the Goodwill months ago... you can't go wrong with this album!
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...