This is another album from Ernie's blog from last year... get use to that statement folks because I have about another 20 albums or so to go that I downloaded from him and yet to review!
At first glance, you might think this is a Haight-Ashbury poster and the music within would be classic guitar-driven rock or some trippy acid rock. Then you notice the Santa hat perched atop the title and realize it must be Christmas related and then really begin to wonder.
You then listen to the album and hear a choir singing Christmas carols beautifully with no loud feedback or drug inspired songs or lyrics ("Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" is not about a drunk reindeer, thank you).
I give you Thurlow Spurr & The Spurrlows.
Thurlow Spurr is a deeply devoted Christian man who has been involved with gospel music since 1959 - the very year he formed the Spurrlows. Performing across the country, Spurr caught the eye of the Chrysler Corporation who needed a group to promote car safety (guilty conscience on behalf of Chrysler maybe?). It was an association that lasted for seven years - the first sacred singing group to be sponsored by a major secular company.
Spurr continued to play around the country - in the past four decades Spurr has put over 50 different groups out on the road and even performed in front of four U.S. Presidents (Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan). I'm reminded of the quote by Eugene McCarthy who said "...Nixon killed the Presidency, Ford embalmed it, Carter buried it, and Reagan proved there is life after death."
Speaking of presidents, Thurlow Spurr is a former president of the Gospel Music Association and has helped produce various made for TV specials, including the Dove Awards. He continues to perform with the 350+ member Michigan/Ohio Concert Choir - a job he's had for the past 34 years.
This album features the Spurrlows in fine form. There's nothing fancy about the arrangements - both vocal and orchestral. It's a big, big choir singing standard songs and it's pretty pretty when you first listen to it. After the third or fourth song, it all sounds the same and by the ninth or tenth song, you're comatose on the floor, curled up in the fetal position.
To be fair, a lot of albums released in 1968 did that to people. Of course, most of those people were taking heavy duty pharmacuticals and the albums had very little to do with it. I might be wrong on the release date being 1968 but here's my theory. According to the liner notes from this album, it was nine years previous when Spurr formed the Spurrlows (1959 + 9 = 1968).
I thought this would be the extent of my Thurlow Spurr Christmas but I was wrong. While perusing the vinyl bins at my local Goodwill store, I found this:
When I first laid eyes upon this album, I thought I had found a totally different album by the Spurrlows! What a find! Wait until I share this one with everyone at my blog! I'll post a notice at FaLaLaLaLa.com, everyone will come and download this, and I'll be giddy!
I paid my 25 cents, ran home, set up my turntable, and began to transfer the album over to digital files. Side one went smoothly, side two was just as easy. I washed it through my audio restoration software, placed into a folder, began breaking down the individual tracks, configured the cover scans, and quickly burned it to CD.
It was probably one of the fastest transfers I've done to date.
IT'S THE SAME LOUSY ALBUM! THE SAME LABEL NUMBER (WST-8310 LP), THE SAME SONG LINEUP, THE SAME, THE SAME, THE SAME!!!
Talk about depressed... I did a quick search online to find when "Christmas Splendor" was released - 1965.
The mere mention of Thurlow can cause me to sink into a foul mood. Listening to it can be even worse. I tried to demand my quarter back at the Goodwill but they just stared at me like I was nuts.
This album (along with the "Christmas Splendor" CD) will be buried DEEP inside my collection and will NEVER see the light of day ever again (just like the Mannheim Steamroller albums).
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection... RAPIDLY!