Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Retro Christmas (Ultra-Swank)

Nearly two weeks ago, we travelled across the Atlantic to look at some amazing Christmas comps from Sweden - two from Anna-Lena Lodenius and two from Martin Klasch.

We quickly cash in some frequent flier miles and head back once again to the country that brought us ABBA, the Nobel Prizes, and Ann-Margret to find a blog that's... well, Ultra Swank.

A lad named Chris runs this amazing home of "playful lifestyle and design adventures from a happier time."

Since he began the blog in September, 2005, he has posted a treasure trove of stylish postcards, links to other design sites, and incredible music from the lounge age.

It was one of Chris' earlier compilations that led me to his blog. Last July, he issued the phenomenal comp "Retro Shopping Volume 1 - Music to Buy Toasters By" that featured brilliant music, including some of the famous Capitol Hi-Q recordings. This is the same stuff Ren & Stimpy used in their cartoons and it's STILL available to download.

Chris has also issued three "Space Age Lounge" volumes ("V1 - Ultra Swank Living", "V2 - Red Carpet Ride", "V3 - Love at First Flight") that are also still available to download. If that wasn't enough, Chris released this comp you're looking at last December.

Unfortunately, it's NOT available to download at the present time. I tried to contact Chris to ask him the standard set of questions I've asked everyone who sent in a comp. Sadly, my efforts weren't successful and as of press time, he hasn't responded.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Snappy rendition from the man who sung the theme song to "The Love Boat". Smooth!
2.) Esquivel's space age version of "Frosty" hasn't aged one iota since its release many moons ago. Zu-zu , zu-zu, zu-zu...
3.) Not exactly James Brown but it doesn't get much lush than this, folks!
4.) From the 1969 James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - vocals by Nina Van Pallandt.
5.) "Rudolph mith your nose so bright, Won't you guide mein sleigh tonight?" Only Dean could have gotten away with giving Santa a German accent!
6.) The Mancini sound is in full evidence - a great double bill of Christmas tuneage!
7.) Anything Christmas by Eddie Dunstedter will quicken the pulse and raise your temp. Guaranteed!
8.) Possibly the best Christmas carillon album around, John Klein's "A Christmas Sound Spectacular" is just that!
9.) An Esquivel recording is like a great painting by Picasso - you'll always hear (or see) something new! One of his best.
10.) Elevator music to some, but there is an inherent cool about the Hollyridge Strings. Lush.
11.) Listen to the small touches Mancini adds - the vibes, the piano, the glockenspiel - gives it a jazzy classy feel!
12.) The timeless sound of Bacharach takes this otherwise dull song and brings it to life!
13.) This is my favorite Christmas track by Esquivel - those guitar and electric harpsichord fills just kill me!
14.) The Strings throw in some drums and bass, giving this a trippy 1960s feel. This whole album is still available at FaLaLaLaLa.com ... just so you know!
15.) Henry Mancini trying to outdo Mitch Miller and Ray Conniff. The decision: a three-way tie!
16.) A great song from a better album! Why can't I find this on vinyl anywhere?
17.) Why does my gut tell me this was an edit from the "Christmas Cocktails 2" version of this one?
18.) 100 years from now, they'll still be playing Esquivel's stuff. Truly remarkable.
19.) Irving Berlin was a huge Dean Martin fan - the scuttlebutt was he preferred Dean's version of this over Bing's!
20.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! This is the standout track (believe it or not)! From a library of production music, this one's available on the "Retro Shopping" CD mentioned way above.
21.) The beginning trumpet on this one sounds like it was soaked in bourbon; a drunk weary feel that's oh so Mancini!
22.) The big band feel and carillons add a snowy touch to the song. "Winter Wonderland" was made for the carillon!
23.) I've used different edits of this very song for my own comp closing for nearly 11 years. To hear it in its entirety is rather frightening. I forgot how fun this one is... WOW!
24.) I just melted... Julie London has that effect on me! Lovely, lovely song!
25.) This is the second comp to end with Kenton's pastiche I've reviewed... here's the first!

Chris, you've put together quite the retro lounge Christmas comp! I applaud all your choices on the CD - it was good to hear the James Bond song again and all the Esquivel (four songs), Henry Mancini (four songs), and the Hollyridge Strings (three songs) - heavy yes, but I didn't mind one bit.

Good luck with your swingin' blog and I hope there'll be a "Retro Shopping V2" with more of that delicious production music, and more importantly, a "Retro Christmas V2" later this year! God Jul!

THIS JUST IN (24 HOURS LATER): Chris has left a comment regarding this comp - click on the comments section!

UP NEXT: Check The Cool Wax V2: Christmas Wax



dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Capt OT, back with 'nother Christmas comp, and with two Dinosongs. How cool that Mr. Berlin was a huge Dinofan, like musta made him feel so proud to have our Dino sing his song. And, man, so right you are that only Dino could have gotten away with singin' "Rudy" in his own cool swagger style. Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool. Thanks again for sharin' more DINO!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is one super comp! Absolutely first-rate graphics. We should start a petition to have it reposted. If begging is required then begging we should do...


Chris said...

This is the first time anyone has ever reviewed any of my compliation, this is such a cool treat and a very good review I might add!

It seems that you have tried to contact me with some questions, I am afraid I have not received any e-mail? I saw your comment on my blog today and had to pop over here. Please resend your e-mail to me at info at thirdphaze dot com

I recently removed the download links to the compilation, because Christmas is over 3 months away. But I guess, that doesn't apply on this blog?

Well, let me see what I can do about getting it reposted, just for you guys. Thanks again for the ultra cool review, and keep up the good work Capt!

stubbysfears said...

Thanks for the repost, Chris!

Now that I'm having the chance to listen to this one, it's clear that Chris has a strong feel for this music.

This is an awesome comp, and I really, really, really hope Chris will grace us with another Volume come this December.

Chris said...

You can grab the repost av the Retro Christmas compilation here if you haven't already seen it.


Roque Ehrhardt de said...

I am 64 and LIVED the 50's and 60's... I am brazilian living in Brazil and lived in the USA in the 70's and early 80's... I have a lot of Esquivel in CD´s modern version including the bachelors whatever one... I also have compiled im MP3 a huge amount of such music dumped from direct tv... I would gladly send it to you if I had an address. This blog is blind. I am at camposre001@hotmail.com

Chris said...

I have alot of Esquivel albums, the guy did a zillion albums all with the words "Hi-Fi", "Adventures", "Space Age" included in their titles. You can reach me at "chris at ultraswank dot se" if you want to talk.