Most online Christmas collectors have known about The Three Suns for several years - the classic 1959 LP "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas" has been floating around in cyberspace for some time and everyone is still looking for a back cover scan!
Include me in that category... not the back cover scan part (well, actually, yes, but that's not important right now) but before 2004, I never knew The Three Suns existed. Thankfully, several people have chosen to preserve their works and share them with the world.
These two albums were saved by Ernie (not Bert) at his blog last year (Christmas Party link) (Sounds Of Christmas link). Though both albums aren't as dynamic or space-age trippy like "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas", you can still hear the distinct Three Suns style come way across.
Christmas Party was recorded in 1952 as a 10" LP. Even though it contains eight tracks, everyone is a standout in my book. Starting with a rollicking "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Here Comes Santa Claus", the Suns live up to their album title.
Then an unexpected switch of gears: the next four songs ("Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", "O Holy Night", "O Little Town Of Bethlehem", and "The First Noel") are more reserved, reverent, and traditional with the Three Suns touch. Very nice.
For the final two tracks, they grab your by the collar and whirl you into a frenzy with "The Merry Christmas Polka" and "Frosty The Snowman". The total time for the entire album clocks in at just under 20 minutes - my prescription would be listen to this twice and call me in the morning.
We skip ahead to 1955: Eisenhower was President (his wife Mamie reportedly was a HUGE fan of The Three Suns - can you blame her?), suburbia, cocktails before dinner, a Hi-Fi in the living room. It was a much simple time with much simpler tastes when "The Sounds Of Christmas" - a full 12" album with TWENTY tracks - was released for the yuletide of '55.
This is a very mixed bag because it adds full strings and orchestration to the mix. In some songs, there is little to no sound of the Suns to be found while in others, it comes across and grabs you by the collar once again.
The standout tracks include "Rudolph" again (orchestra complementing well), "Winter Wonderland", "White Christmas" (a little overblown but hey...), "Jingle Bells" and "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" both rock, and an interesting Suns' treatment of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that actually makes this very solemn carol enjoyable to listen to - WOW!
What's amazing about these two albums (and the subsequent "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas") is how the Three Suns sound kept evolving. Elements from the first Christmas album made it through to the third album, their style kept getting bigger and better, and how it reflected the age they lived in. Quite a remarkable group.
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...
UPDATE - August 15, 2006 - There has been some discussion within the comments of this yuleblog entry about alternate covers of "The Sounds Of Christmas". This cover (also pictured above) was the original.
Another cover (or covers) surfaced with Rockefeller Center as the Christmas backdrop. The second cover was found via PDMan and posted at Ernie (not Bert)'s blog.
A third cover was discovered at a thrift store last week by myself (but it was posted late last year by our man Ernie once again at his blog) and the title was different. "The Sounds Of Christmas" was now "The Sound Of Christmas". Here is a pix of my cover.
If there are any other covers, please let us know!