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...