Monday, August 21, 2006

The Town Pipers - Christmas Greetings From

Our last yuleblog entry brought to you The Pied Pipers. This entry brings to you The Town Pipers!

And like the Pied Pipers, I found this album at a blog that's rather obscure and I probably have never mentioned it before until now... a blog by the name of Ernie (not Bert)... curious.

What's more curious is that hardly anything (outside of references to Ernie's blog) is of note when "The Town Pipers" are googled.

On the back cover of this album is written the following:

Christmas greetings to all of you from the Town Pipers! This personable new group from Scranton, PA have a new, exciting sound which comes over with much impact and enthusiasm on this, their first recording.

Apparently their last recording as well... I have found no records other than this one by the Pipers anywhere (GEMM, Musicstack, eBay, Craig Moerer Records By Mail).

As for a new exciting sound that comes over with much impact and enthusiasm, it's there... in very limited quantity. You can feel the roughness of a first recording come across on this album. Their voices (sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes missing are occasionally outmatched by the orchestra.

Their vocal arrangements on several songs leave you shaking your head, notably "The Christmas Song", "Jingle Bells", and "Winter Wonderland". I'm not sure if they were going for a jazz feel or they were going off-key to achieve an effect but if you screw up a version of "Jingle Bells", you're asking for trouble.

However, when they sing a song straight, it sounds blended and in harmony - what a concept! "Joy To The World" is quite good, a nice job on "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", and "Santa's On His Way" is probably the best track on the album.

It would have been interesting to see what the Pipers would have done if they stuck together. If they went on the road to polish up their harmonies, gain some experience, and worked with a better producer or orchestra... or for that matter, a bigger record label. How would have this record sounded after they had two or three albums under their belt?

I'm pretty sure this sold thousands of copies in Scranton, PA at Christmas, 1959 when it was released. Outside of Pennsylvania, it went quickly to the bargain bin and then the vinyl bins at Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

I will pull this one out occasionally at Christmas, play it, and toast the unfulfilled talent and legacy of The Town Pipers. About two minutes later, I'll pull it out of my boombox, place it back on my rack, and not touch it for a long time.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Capt

7 comments:

Ernie said...

I liked this album, especially the Santa's On His Way track. I'm still searching for a stereo copy. I found one last year, but the seller wanted something like $25 for it. I have two mono copies, but no stereo.

Zarville said...

Fantastic how many more or less unknown christmas album there is,
thank you for presenting them!

CaptainOT said...

Ernie - I happen to see some copies of this album at eBay in stereo... Look under the auctions at the eBay stores!

Zarville - Thanks for the kind words! I browsed through your sharity site Zar - cool stuff! (click on Zar's name to get you there!)


Capt

merryot said...

I was very happy to hear that you enjoyed Christmas Greetings from the Town Pipers. My Uncle was the upright bass fiddle player for the group. They only made this album and the group broke up as several of them married and went on to raise families. They were well known in Vegas and played on the strip for several years before they made this album. To the best of my knowledge they played the music on their album. It is a Christmas tradition at our house, as you can imagine. My copy is well worn and I would love to find a new copy. I will look into the sites that you have mentioned. Thanks!

CaptainOT said...

Merryot - This album is available on CD or for MP3 download at Amazon.com!

It's great to hear about your Town Pipers memories! Thanks for sharing!


Capt

Anonymous said...

These comments were obviously written by a person who just listens to music,not a musician nor even a person who has an "ear" for music. Why give a slanted personal opinion rather than just let others listen to it for themselves?
Lee


-As for a new exciting sound that comes over with much impact and enthusiasm, it's there... in very limited quantity. ***Untrue. They were ahead of their time for the era.

-...You can feel the roughness of a first recording come across on this album.
***Untrue. They were seasoned musicians and singers. The recording, back up orchestra and equipment were all state of the art for that time.

They played the California and Vegas circuit for a number of years prior to this album and after.

-Their voices (sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes missing are occasionally outmatched by the orchestra. ***Untrue. The record studio, band and orchestra carefully planned each track. The arrangements were created by professional members of the music industry at that time. They were all talented perfectionists.

-Their vocal arrangements on several songs leave you shaking your head, notably "The Christmas Song", "Jingle Bells", and "Winter Wonderland". I'm not sure if they were going for a jazz feel or they were going off-key to achieve an effect but if you screw up a version of "Jingle Bells", you're asking for trouble.
***It is quite interesting just how little this blog author knows about music, other than a personal opinion!! Jingle Bells wasn't "screwed up", rather arranged in the jazz format. It was innovative for the time.

-If they went on the road to polish up their harmonies, gain some experience, and worked with a better producer or orchestra... or for that matter, a bigger record label. *** They spent most of their time on "the road" and had a lot of experience.

CaptainOT said...

Anonymous Lee - One of Webster's eight definitions of the word "review" reads "a critical evaluation". This is what I chose to do with this album.

I've been collecting Christmas music for over 20 years. I've heard hundreds of outstanding, great, fair, poor, and putrid Christmas jazz albums in my lifetime.

This album has high points and low points and I called it as I heard it. At best, this is a fair Christmas jazz album - that's my personal opinion. Take it or leave it.

If this band were so ahead of their time, as you claim, why don't we know more about The Town Pipers? Outside of this album, what have they done?

You claim the record studio, band and orchestra carefully planned each track, the arrangements were created by professional members of the music industry at that time, and they were all talented perfectionists.

So why doesn't it come across on their album? The Town Pipers won't be confused with Manhattan Transfer or Straight No Chaser any time soon on several of their tracks.

Lee, you claimed I offered a slanted personal opinion about this album. I didn't know anything about The Town Pipers before I got this, knew nothing of their work, hadn't heard one note of their music.

I wasn't biased against them, I found some good tracks on the album, but the bad outweigh the good. That's my personal opinion.

Case closed.


Capt