Back in June, our good friend The King Of Jingaling offered this album as part of his "Christmas And A Half" celebration (and is still available to download over at FLLLL).
Not much background is available about Gunter Kallmann online. According to SpaceAgePop.com, Kapp Records was looking for a Horst Jankowski sound-alike and searched for a German choral/instrumental group that didn't have a distribution deal in America.
Enter Kallmann. His group didn't enjoy the international success of Jankowski but they did release nine albums between 1965 and 1970 (almost two a year!).
The release date of this album has been guesstimated around 1971 and it definitely has a 70s feel. Each one of the twelve tracks on the album is a medley, fusing two or three songs into one.
This album, in a nutshell, is an experience!
The chorus sings their heart out, complete with German accents and tones. In the middle of one medley, the chorus sings the soft, reverent tones of "Silent Night", then burst into "Ding Dong Merrily On High" with all the force of an oompah band!
The orchestra swings, one moment lush and full of strings, then getting down and funky with the bassline coming across loud and clear. Throughout most of the album, the arrangements tend to favor the orchestra member on glockenspiel, chimes, or bells. It's cute at times, annoying most of the time. By the end of the album, you want to shove those bells down someone throat.
The standout track is song number one - "We Wish You A Merry Christmas / Jingle Bells / Where Did My Snowman Go?". "We Wish You" begins in a rather Teutonic way, then switches into smooth 70s mode. It then switches into a bells blazin' version of "Jingle" only to be followed by a funky cover of "Where Did My Snowman". It's a mini opera and sets the tone for the rest of the album handsomely.
Other favorite tracks on this album include "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer / Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "Once In Royal David's City / The Holly And The Ivy" is an epic, "Happy Holiday / I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", and "Mistletoe And Holly / Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow".
This type of album is the type that I strive to find while searching the vinyl bins of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Most of the time, I fall real short. It's a testament to the King Of Jingaling who keeps coming up with these amazing albums. Thanks for sharing this one!
On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...