Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hugo Winterhalter - Christmas Magic

The stack of CDs that I acquired from Ernie's blog late last year is getting smaller and smaller. Here's another one that I'm just getting around to reviewing. From judging the comments related to Ernie's blog entry of this album, this was a well loved album by many in their youth.

Back in my youth, there was a radio station in Chicago simply called "FM 100" that played "beautiful music". Remarkably, many of these "beautiful music" stations thrived across the USA throughout the 1960s and 1970s, stocking itself with lush compositions from Jackie Gleason, Ray Conniff, The Living Strings, Percy Faith, and one Hugo Winterhalter.

Winterhalter was involved in the music industry for nearly 30 years and was a main purveyor of beautiful music during this time. He also helped several artists along the way: Eddie Fisher, The Ames Brothers, and Kay Starr.

This album was released in 1958 and the Winterhalter formula was firmly in place. Or was it?

The first song on the album is "White Christmas", done in a very lush orchestral way. Then the next three songs ("Winter Wonderland", "I'd Like To Hitch A Ride With Santa Claus", "That's What I Want For Christmas") feature an unknown female singer who does her best seven-year old girl impersonation as she sings, complete with a slight slurring in her speech like she's wrestling with newly fitted braces.

It caught me totally offguard and these three tracks are definitely the best on the album. However, Winterhalter pulls in the reins though because the rest of the album follows the formula to a tee. In some cases, the chorus gets in the way (I had really hoped for a few more instrumentals) but c'mon Hugo... it's a Christmas album... have some fun and let loose!

Overall, this was an okay album. It has moments but nothing major that I would rush to the boombox at Christmas dinner and put this one on.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...



PDMan said...

This is one of my favorite finds as well. I was also turned onto this LP (and many others) over at Ernie's blog.

The singer with the little girl voice is Judy Valentine. She has had quite a history, including runs on The Bozo Show and Captain Kangaroo. Also voiced a lot of commercials through the years. Wikipedia has a nice bio on her.

Anonymous said...

The version of "Carol of the Bells" on this albumn is the greatest of all time. Period. There is no debating the matter.