Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ernie's 25 Days Of Christmas

He doesn't sleep. Trust me.

Over the past two Christmas seasons, my friend Ernie at his blog named Ernie (Not Bert) has been the very definition of the word prolific.

At one point in 2005, Ernie was averaging nearly two sharity albums a day. The total number of albums I downloaded from Ernie at was around 35.

Ernie held a "Christmas In July" last year and had daily downloads of winter or Christmas related songs for the entire month. 31 days, 112 songs = an average of 3.6 songs each day of the month!

This past Christmas, in the midst of one of the heaviest downloading season recorded on record, I downloaded over 60 albums from Ernie alone. SIXTY! When did he sleep? Oh yeah... he DOESN'T!

To paraphrase Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel: Here's another two months of reviews you've gotten me into!

For more background info, I've asked Ernie a set of questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here.

1.) When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?

Many years ago, back in the dark ages, when music was stored on black plastic disks, and could only be recorded onto magnetic plastic strips. I'm guessing around '94 or '95. They started out much like everyone's first Christmas collection. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, etc. But interspersed with clips from A Charlie Brown Christmas, or Madonna reminding you not to drive drunk. They got better eventually. Well, not better, but less traditional.

2.) Explain the process on creating your Christmas comp.

This particular comp was created by picking some track that sounded interested at the moment, which might explain how you get multiple versions of the same song on there. Each night in December, I sat down and tried to find something I liked at that particular moment.

Some of the tracks were things I'd known about for years, some of them were things that I wanted to listen to but hadn't gotten around to them yet, while others were stuff that made my ears perk up in the middle of an LP I played at random.

After the first few tracks, it sort of began to focus on more kiddie-type stuff, but I tried not to limit myself to that. I think everything also wound up being fairly old, too. And it's all from my scratchy vinyl collection, even if it was available on CD.

3.) Who do you share these compilations with? How many do you send out?

For several years, I made compilations on tapes and later CD, that I sent out to a few friends who I thought might enjoy them. They usually didn't get done until the week after Christmas, so I wouldn't hear back from anyone until the following Christmas. I doubt if I've ever shared out more than 20 copies of any of them. The one you're reviewing is the only one that was online only. I didn't make a single CD copy of that one.

4.) What is it about Christmas music that appeals to you?

I wish I knew.

5.) What kind of feedback do you get from the comp?

Well, CaptOT liked it.

6.) What other projects/websites do you work on other than Christmas?

I take pictures. Lots of pictures. (Check out his blog for the amazing pictures and some great music)

7.) Anything you would like to share with people reading this review?

I suppose I should thank my buddy Ben. Way, way back in college, he came over one night with a tape he made called Chessy Christmas. We weren't sure what he meant by Chessy Christmas, until we realized had had been drunk when he labelled it, and it should have been Cheesey Christmas.

It was a collection of all the outrageous Christmas music he could find. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the tracks he put on there, and he doesn't remember either. A couple of years later, when I started making my own Christmas collections, I started with Cheesey Christmas 2 and kept going from there. I think I made it to 6, averaging one every other year, before I did this latest one online.

But if Ben hadn't made that collection while he was drunk, I probably wouldn't be so excited about Christmas music today. (CAPT'S NOTE: On behalf of the online community, thank you Ben!)


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Light Christmas fare from the same guys who brought you "SH-Boom!" Cute song.
2.) A long forgotten song from Mr. Mathis - wonderful stuff! My mom will love this one!
3.) Here's a 1950s novelty Christmas song with a Chipmunk-like voice that's NOT annoying! Listen to that namedropping! Nice find Ernie!
4.) Nothing like Christmas banjo to keep the heart pumping. The Barons do an amazing job!
5.) A "One Mint Julep" like intro? WOW! A fabulous instrumental from a rilly, rilly big shew orchestra!
6.) Andy and his brothers sing a fine easy listening version of one of Andy's better known songs.
7.) The quality on this is amazing! A great bouncy song to that's not overly cute and catchy!
8.) Shaking my head in disbelief... Please Santa... put her out of her misery! From the crazy lady dead center in the cover above!
9.) WHAT A TUNE! This is in my all-time top five Christmas country songs! Hasn't lost one ounce of energy!
10.) Go man go! Billy May's come to swing! Not heavy on the Christmas flavor but who cares?
11.) "Da luvly Lennon Sisters with a song of Christmas..." Great, great stuff.
12.) This cover of Handel's "Halleujah" chorus on the MOOG no less is THE standout track on this CD. WHOA!
13.) Randy Newman wrote and arranged it, Ricardo Montalban narrates. Why hasn't this gotten its just due? Thanks Ernie for rescuing this great fable!
14.) Hi ho Steverino! A smooth voice to go along with a smoother song! Another great find!
15.) I need to find more TRUE Harmonicats Christmas stuff after hearing this one! Wow o wow o WOW!
16.) The unmistakable sound of Les Paul. Thanks Ernie for completing my Les Paul Christmas collection!
17.) Want an instant lesson in Italian? Try this great song out. Come on all you paisans, let me hear you sing!
18.) The follow-up song from the kid who originally sang "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". I prefer this song!
19.) My local easy listening radio station plays these guys heavily at Christmas time. For good reason!
20.) Speaking of easy listening... not a bad instrumental from the group who's appeared more often at Super Bowl halftimes (four!) than anyone else!
21.) There's a reason this hasn't been heard before... OMG this is horrible! Make it stop!
22.) Another entry in the "cute kiddie Christmas song" category. This one's cutesie wutesie with echo!
23.) The original 1955 version of this reworking of "Mr. Sandman" - both songs written by the same guy!
24.) I can't comment on this one... I'm laughing too hard to type... GONG!!!!
25.) They didn't give Tennessee Ernie his Ford on the record label! What a great song! Makes me hungry just listening!

This compilation has everything I like in a Christmas album - irreverence, solemnity, snappy songs, slow ballads, and a liberal touch of quirkiness that permeates throughout it all.

I've really enjoyed this one from beginning to end... many, many times since I first burned this CD on Christmas Day (along with the King's great ADVENTure In Carols 2006). It hasn't gotten old yet and that's the mark of a great Christmas CD to me.

Ernie's blog has been a veritable showcase for his many talents aka "wastes of time". He's got a collection of pictures that LIFE magazine would be envious of and his "Oodles Of Doodles" feature some of the best graphics of the back covers of old 1950s albums.

His most recent waste of time has been bundling this fantastic compilation into one BIG downloadable file. I would recommend reading each one of the blog entries and downloading the tracks individually. You'll get a better sense of the music, the fun, and the effort Ernie put into this comp.

UP NEXT: The two latest Christmas offering from the one and only Andy Cirzan!


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