Friday, January 19, 2007

Ira Ironstrings - Plays Santa Claus (Christmas Music For Those Who Have Heard Everything)

I have been a collector of Christmas music and CDs for nearly 22 years. I have close to nearly 800 CDs in my collection (with another 125+ awaiting review here throughout 2007).

I'm not the brightest bulb in the box (I readily admit that).

When I heard about this Christmas album for the first time two years ago (you've NEVER heard about this one?) at Ernie (not Bert)'s blog, I put it on my list and never actively searched for it (I know, I know...).

Last year as the Christmas season wound down, I remembered I had about $15 left in my PayPal account and used that to purchase this on eBay.

This album was released in 1959. Rock-n-roll had pushed conventional pop music off the charts for good and if it didn't have the Elvis sound, it didn't sell. Along came Ira Ironstrings.

With titles like "Ira Ironstrings Plays for People with $3.98", "Ira Ironstrings Destroys the Great Bands", and "Ira Ironstrings Plays with Matches" (that's too funny!) and the right mix of light comedy, amazing performances from studio musicians, and offered by Warner Brothers as an antidote to doo-wop and rockabilly, the darn albums sold en masse!

Music industry people marvelled at the popularity of the albums and began to wonder: Who is Ira Ironstrings

(Click on the link, read the "" entry on Ironstrings, and come back. I'll wait.)

To quote from the liner notes of this CD:

"It can now be told that Ira Ironstrings was really Alvino Rey. You see, at the time when Warner Brothers released the Ira Ironstrings albums, Rey was signed to Capitol Records. Hence, Warner Brothers couldn't announce who Ironstrings really was.

"You might remember Alvino Rey as the musical director from the 1960s TV show "The King Family Variety Show" with the King Sisters (to whom Rey was married to sister Louise!). He was also known mostly for his "talking" pedal steel guitar playing in everything from big bands to small combos."

Speaking of liner notes, the original liner notes were reprinted as well:

Collector's Choice Music re-released this album in 2003 after being out of print for many years. My hope is they continue to re-release the Ira Ironstrings albums.

This Christmas album is a veritable house on fire from beginning to end, new musical surprises at every turn, and completely vibrant in every which way. Bassoons, vibraharp, ragtime piano, duck calls, brass sections afire, banjos that leap out of your speakers, Dixieland jazz, sections of songs that remind you of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, chimes, hot drum playing throughout.

Give me what they were drinking in the studio when they recorded this! If you think I'm exaggerating, you need to listen to this for yourself. After one or two listenings, you'll be gushing about this album a la Niagara Falls!

Quite simply, this is one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. If you can listen to this one without cracking a smile or tapping your foot in rhythm, you need to consult a doctor. Rapidly.

UP NEXT: The most controversial Christmas release of 2006. And you get to put your two cents in!



Ernie said...

This was the album I most wanted to share out on my blog, until I discovered that it was on CD. But I suppose that's a good thing for those without the vinyl.

CaptainOT said...

I failed to mention that Ernie's original blog entry that I linked contained his scan of his LP cover.

That's why I posted the liner notes from the CD - a somewhat complete set of cover scans!


mom2gr8girl said...

My dad and uncle played some of the percussion on this album. I remember his stories of the recording session. It just isn't Christmas without this album. I heard it every year throughout my life.

WallisAnn Jondal said...

I was 17 years old in December of 1958 when I walked past MUSIC CITY in Minneapolis,MN. This album was playing on the loudspeaker onto the street. I was so captivated by the wonderful sounds that I bought the vinyl then and there. We have transferred it to tape,CD and now I just downloaded it to my laptop computer. This is the album I have played for the past 56 years
to kick off the Christmas Holiday. My kids got to hate it but as they got older they really looked forward to Ira Ironstrings for the Holidays. WAJ