Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Alcoa Singers - An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Are you a fan of Schoolhouse Rock? Do you find yourself humming its catchy song "Conjunction Junction"? You probably will after reading this next yuleblog entry.

The album you see to the right was released in 1979 by the Alcoa Singers in conjunction with the rebroadcast of the 1978 Rankin-Bass animated TV special "The Stingiest Man In Town" - a musical based on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" written by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre.

The album features selections from the animated TV special that were originally sung by the likes of Dennis Day, Tom Bosley, Robert Morse, and (in the title role of Scrooge) Walter Matthau. More on the Alcoa Singers and their album later.

This wasn't the first time these songs were sung on television. When I found this album by The Alcoa Singers, immediately behind it was an album that conjuncts (if such a word exists) with everything described so far!

The second album I found was the ORIGINAL soundtrack to the first television broadcast of "The Stingiest Man In Town". Back in 1956, "The Alcoa Hour" first broadcast "The Stingiest Man In Town" as a live-action television special, was rebroadcast on television every Christmas several years thereafter, and a soundtrack was released in conjunction with that:

This soundtrack has long been out of print (what a coup!). Upon my first listen, I discovered that several of the songs listed were contained within tracks on the album and weren't separate. I transferred the album in two formats - the original LP format and a separate track format - and was set to offer it this Christmas.

Then I discovered the soundtrack was released onto CD for the first time this year. If you've been after this album forever, click on the link and purchase your very own copy.

Back to these folks.

Resplendent in polyester gear and sporting some wonderful 1970s hair styles, the Alcoa Singers got their start in 1961 as a volunteer group who would perform in (dare I say it?) conjunction with holiday functions for Alcoa employees.

Their singing is quite good. I enjoyed their versions of the "Stingiest Man In Town" songs (especially "The Christmas Spirit") but their other songs make the album.

They do wonderful jobs with such reverent songs like "The Little Drummer Boy" and "O Holy Night". "Here We Come A-Wassailing" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" pack a lot of punch (both last under a minute in length).

If you're looking for standout songs, you should take a listen to their version of "Jingle Bells" and the last track of nineteen overall on the album - a medley entitled "Sunshine Christmas". "Sunshine" lasts over six minutes and features 1970s "Godspell" like rhythms and singing. It's a true testament to its era.

Here's the link (no conjunctions necessary):

The Alcoa Singers - An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Happy listening...



Ernie said...

Hmmmm, my copy of The Stingiest Man In Town has a different cover. Now I have more scanning to do tonight...

Erick Monsterama2000 said...

I finally listened to this album. Great stuff, thanks.

traci said...

Oh my gosh, you have no idea how happy i was to see the Alcoa Singers album. They are from near my town and we actually owned this album and did it in a Christmas play at my church. Now I dont have to rip MP3s from my album THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

CaptainOT said...

Ernie - I'd love to see it but you've got enough on your plate as is!

Erick & Traci - Glad you enjoyed the album. Thanks for the kindness!


Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for the link to this album! I grew up listening to this beautiful music, and finally found a vinyl copy on eBay a few years ago. I've been intending to record it to share with my sisters, but have always been too busy around the holidays to do it. I just bought copies of the CD to share with everyone in my family. Thank you for sharing this information! A very happy New Year to you... Becky

CaptainOT said...

Becky - Thanks for the wonderful compliments. Hope this brings back many memories for your family and you!


Bob said...

Are the Alcoa Singers actual employees of Alcoa?

Anonymous said...

It is so much fun to see this post! My father is Marlin A. Preus in the photo and my aunt is Diane Sabolic, who later married my uncle and also became a Preus. In response to Bob's question, currently the singers can also include spouses. My mom and dad were singing tonight at the Pirates game for the anthem by the Singers. I was looking for a recording of it which is how I happened upon this site. I grew up on this album!

CaptainOT said...

Frizzie - Thanks for answering Bob's question above and I'm thrilled you stopped by with your additional info!


Anonymous said...

I grew up with Basil Rathbone and Vic Damone. I was born in 1955. My dad worked for ALCOA and the beginning of the Christmas season started with "Old Scrooge was such a stingy man...the tightest man since time began...." on the day after Thanksgiving. I have a copy (LP) that was re-issued in 1974. Some things are missing from the original but I know all of the songs by heart.

Anonymous said...

My husband worked at Alcoa when this album was produced. I just loved it. I have the cover and the words but my children broke the record. I now am directing a children's choir and wanted to do the Christmas Spirit song (that's how I discovered the broken record. Thank you for sharing the music with me. It's still so good. Now, if I can only find a soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the singers. We recorded this in July/Aug, when it was 90 degrees, a real mood setter for Christmas songs.
The soundtrack for the Stingiest Man that we sang to was done by the London Phimarmonic Symnphony for the TV special. The music for the rest was done by our accompaniest and studio instruments by chorus members dubbed over the recordings we did.
It was great to listen to it again.
I can still sing along to most.

SallyJune said...

Now that I've heard the original (thanks to Ernie), I have to say IO prefer the Alcoa recording. Their voices are great, the arrangements also. Nothing says break out the eggnog like: Holly Ho Ho Ho !! THANK YOU for introducing me to this great album, which I never would have heard otherwise.