Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thurlow Spurr & The Spurrlows - Christmas; Time For Song

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, 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.


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!



Ernie said...

Same thing happened to me, but I discovered the error before I made it all the way through the recording process. This makes a third cover for the same tunes. I'll give you back your quarter if you want. :) I often buy the same LP over again just for a different cover, so I can share the different variations. I even shared the other Spurrlow cover.

(That's a terrible scan, I don't know what I was thinking that night. Perhaps I was upset from discovering I had the same LP again.)

CaptainOT said...

Three covers for the same album? Sheesh!

I can understand your frustration... I have a stack of
LPs here that I wanted to transfer over but won't because
their available to purchase on CD.

Look for an upcoming yuleblog entry about those LPs.


Ernie said...

I transfer over plenty of albums that are on CD, mostly because I'm too cheap to pay nearly $20 for a CD. I don't share those out though, 'cause that would be wrong and the RIAA would sue me for all I'm worth!

Stephen said...

Cap, thanks for thinking of us over at For what it's worth, I appreciate your giddiness and hope you can actually find that nugget you so desperately want to share.

CaptainOT said...

Stephen - thanks for the comment and if you're in the
neighborhood tomorrow, you just might find something
that I want to share with the class!

Ernie - I think by copyright law you're allowed one
copy per album for archival purposes. So I think the
RIAA will leave ya alone... maybe.


Anonymous said...

I was a member of the Spurrlows in 1986/'87 and Thurrlow was and I'm very sure STILL looking out for # 1! We weren't even allowed to have personal items in our confined seats while he got a "love offering" of $10,000 in Loveland, Co. in 1986 and we still got a meager $115.00 allowance a week. In the meantime, he would try to give up surprise visits to see if we were keeping "his" ministry up to par as he pulled up in a rented Mercedes with his entourage of a freak whom I won't mention "HIS" name but there sure seemed to be more there than assistant. He also produced an album for a certain individual and only allowed the artist literally pennies as royalties while he bagged a hefty amount of money off the production. In just a few more words here? I do NOT care if I ever see that man or hear one more Festival of Praise or Spurrlow's song again!

Ernie said...


CaptainOT said...

Anon - Don't be shy - tell us how you really feel!


Anonymous said...

I don't mind a BIT telling the truth. I just hope Thurrlow has made things right with God. He knows what all he did. He sure does!