Friday, August 25, 2006
Last month, Ernie had a "Christmas In July" to remember. For one month at his astounding blog, he had daily downloads of winter or Christmas related songs. 31 days, 112 songs. He was averaging 3.6 songs for each day of the month.
I promised I would create a two or three CD set of all the MP3s he offered and review them here. However, Ernie beat me to the punch by offering a "Best Of" compilation disc at his blog on August 4th. It's still available to download so do yourself a favor: if you haven't downloaded it yet, download it here, and continue reading.
I felt so compelled to do something fantastic other than a ringing review. So I broke out the ArcSoft PhotoStudio and did some custom artwork which you may download to use for this CD.
And in case you're wondering, that IS our man Ernie on skis - earlier this year, he tried his hand on the slopes which cushioned his falls very handily (forgive the pun). When I put together the artwork, I figured the picture looked close enough for a "Christmas In July" celebration.
The music on this CD is superb, much like the entire month at his blog. Every track is a gem, unearthed and refined by Ernie's turntable, polished and presented the way a fine jeweler shows a potential bride to be her wedding ring. I suspect many of these fine songs will find their way onto countless Christmas compilations across the country later this year.
Here is a track by track review:
1.) Clebanoff & His Orchestra - Bobsled
Did I put in an Ultra-Lounge "Christmas Cocktails" CD? This one is a ride! Hence the name, right?
2.) Ted Heath & His Music / Edmundo Ros & His Orchestra - Baby It's Cold Outside
It might be cold outside but the cha-cha rhythms on this swinger will warm anyone up!
3.) Lionel Hampton - Gin For Christmas
I love anything by Hamp... doesn't have a Christmasy feel, but it's a definite toe-tapper. Great riffs abound!
4.) Marty Gold & His Orchestra - High On A Windy Hill
The wind sound f/x through much of this song takes away from the lush strings and arrangements.
5.) Eastman-Rochester Pops, Frederick Fennell Conducting - Brazilian Sleigh Bells
Another version of this song I own (Harry James & His Orchestra) lasts about 1:00... This one is UNBELIEVABLE!
6.) Dinah Washington - I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
The big, brassy voice of Dinah makes this version of this song my favorite of all time. Smooth!
7.) Henry Mancini - Latin Snowfall
Smooth to follow smooth... dim the lights, sit on the ottoman, and watch gravity pull the snowflakes down!
8.) Yuji Takizawa & His Blue Bones Orchestra - White X-mas
A very Guy Lombardo sound alike orchestra from Japan... What a present! Sweet sounds!
9.) Will Glahé & His Orchestra - The Skater's Waltz
I've never heard an oompah band perform this waltz before... oddly enough, it works!
10.) Esquivel & His Orchestra - Sun Valley Ski Run
An Esquivel recording is like a great painting by Picasso - you'll always hear (or see) something new! One of his best.
11.) Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra - The Chipmunk Song
WOW! Sounds like Mitch Miller, Ray Conniff, and JoAnn Castle all wrapped into one. Can we ditch the original for this version?
12.) Percy Faith & His Orchestra - Little Bells And Big Bells (Glocke Und Glockchen)
Not a Christmas song and not very bellsy... Was hoping for more from Mr. "Theme From A Summer Place"...
13.) Lawrence Welk & His Champagne Music - The Merry Christmas Polka
This song took me back to my grandmother's apartment on the north side of Chicago at Christmas... Thanks Ern!
14.) Jerry Murad's Electronic Harmonicats - March Of The Toys
What starts as a parade ends as a great jam of harmonica that demands repeat hearings.
15.) Richard Hayman & His Harmonica Orchestra - Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers
Harmonica follows harmonica... This is a proud parade throughout and loads of fun... Great tune!
16.) Ian Fraser & His Orchestra - Sleigh Ride
For those of you who prefer slow sleigh rides, this one's for you! A very nice change of pace for this tune!
17.) Eddie Layton - Winter Wonderland
A wonderful mix of organ and xylophone that bring new life to an old favorite! Sweet stuff!
18.) The Smothers Brothers - Swiss Christmas
Beautifully set up by straight brother Dick and brought home in Tommy fashion by Tommy.
19.) David Rose - Christmas Tree
This tree must be located by Santa's workshop because that's how it sounds like... A cool tune!
20.) Eydie Gormé - Winter Night
What a voice! This is a fantastic song that WASN'T included on Steve & Eydie's Christmas album... shocking, no?
21.) Bernie Green With The Stereo Mad-Men - The Skater And His Dog
This is definitely not a Christmas song but I'm glad it's hear... the spirit of Spike Jones lives on!
22.) Enoch Light & The Brass Menagerie - My Favorite Things
You mean this ISN'T Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass? That's what Enoch went for and nailed perfectly! F-U-N!
23.) The Four Freshmen - Santa Claus Is Flat Gonna Come To Town
I always thought the Freshmen were too cheeky... and this song proves it! Send these guys to detention.
24.) David Carroll & His Orchestra - The Ski Song (Slalom)
I tried to like this one... but it's just too far busy, even for a skiing song.
25.) The Monterey Brass With Vocals By Mary Louise & The Michaels Brothers - We Need A Little Christmas
More like "We Need A Little LESS Christmas"...
26.) The Three Suns - Busy Holiday
Simple, bouncy, snappy. The Three Suns can do no wrong in my book. Hotcha!
27.) Six Fat Dutchmen - Sleigh Bell
It's fun to start but then all sounds the same... unfortunate because this could have gone somewhere!
28.) Billy May - Snowfall Cha-Cha
Wait... this one is ON a "Christmas Cocktails" CD... Do I have the right CD in?
29.) Dick Schory's New Percussion Ensemble - Holiday In A Hurry
I really liked, nay LOVED this song! Doesn't that mad rush at Christmas time sound like this? Anyone?
30.) Armengol & His Orchestra - Ave Maria
When I arrive at the Pearly Gates, can I request this song? It's just perfect!
31.) The Crew-Cuts - Auld Lang Syne
About as clean as they come... This is a perfect way to end the CD!
Somewhere in all my entries here, I commented that I had enough CDs to review "right through the summer". Most of those reviews were about albums from Ernie (who else?) and I've had fun relistening to some, listening for the first time on others, and shaking my head at more than a few.
For all the hard work transferring the albums, for offering them at your blog, and for all the work you're going to do this year, thank you Ernie. I'm very honored to have you as a friend.
Next week, a short stack of Christmas CDs that did NOT come from Ernie... but downloaded elsewhere and even a few actual purchases! Haven't done that in a while!
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...