In yesterday's review, we visited the magical country of Sweden with Anna-Lena Lodenius and her Christmas comps.
Today, we have two more Christmas comps from Sweden, courtesy of Mr. Dante Fontana and P.E. Fronning at the blog known as Martin Klasch.
Both these clever gents are also involved with the very popular blog known as PCL LinkDump who last year had an extremely hard time keeping their Christmas audio links refreshed!
Last year after our "Christmas In July" celebration ended here at the yuleblog, I did a deep search into the jungles of the sharity community and found their blog which featured their 2005 Christmas comp entitled "Santalicious".
Their link had expired and after some groveling and pleading, they posted it again for me! Glad they did because it was a spectacular CD full of old chestnuts and new music I had never heard before.
Remarkably, this was only the second Christmas comp they had put together!
I bookmarked their blog and awaited their 2006 comp last December. When Martin Klasch posted it, they also included their 2004 comp which I didn't have.
When I sent the questionnaire, they were happy to answer our questions but also reposted the comps in anticipation of our reviews!
Go download the 2005 comp and listen along as you read my review from last year. Then download the 2004 and 2006 comps so you can listen along as you read the track reviews below.
While you're waiting for those downloads to finish, here are the questions that I will be asking everyone whose comp will be reviewed here:
1.) When did you begin creating your Christmas compilations?
Santafobic - 2004 was my first one.
2.) Explain the process on creating your Christmas comp.
I try hard at least not to have the most known version of a song – you'll get that on any Christmas compilation in the store anyway. That rule even goes for the first compilation – Santafobic – even if it's a very straight one. So straight it could possibly sell as one in the record store.
My library of Christmas music was much more limited then and also I was focused on the people I was going to give it to - friends and family. That was really the goal for this compilation of mine - they were to be given away like Christmas cards and not to be uploaded by anyone on the Internet.
For the other two compilations – Santalicious and Santology – the target audience had broadened so I pretty much made them like I wanted them to be. Important guidelines: No replays from earlier years. Same songs yes but not the same versions.
Same songs may appear on the same comp only with a good reason. I try to keep some kind of rhythm to it all and that may be one of the most important things. In this process lots of darlings had to be shot down along the way – all in the name of rhythm keeping. The song should be as odd as possible but, in some way or another, nice to listen to, and not just funny.
You should be able to listen to the compilation throughout the holidays hopefully without ending up hating it. The variation and the fact that the selection is a bit odd and you don't get the same ol' versions you've heard all your life, the rhythm and the over-all relative niceness of it all – those are the key elements of a Christmas compilation released by Martin Klasch Records. Damn I'm letting out business secrets here!
3.) What is it about Christmas music that appeals to you?
Does it really? Well these somewhat quirky ones - mine included - personally compiled that we find on the Internet, does sometimes appeal to me. At least for one month a year. And hey, did you notice? There are a bunch of good classic Christmas songs ranging from Bach's Christmas Oratorio to Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto with James Brown.
But the truthiest truthiness is that I've always loved mixed tapes and nowadays mixed CDs. They are fun to make, cheap and you can put as much love into them as you like. Theoretically, that is. My personality does not allow me to give away something not thought-through and well executed. This includes the visual part of it all which is a subject I didn't touch in the question above.
Let's just say the importance of a nice cover can not be overrated.
4.) What kind of feedback do you get from the comp?
I did get some nice comments in the blog. However blog post comments in general seems kind of hard to get. And there are a lot of Christmas music out there to be downloaded. I'm not sulking because I know I ought to comment more myself. From friends the response has been very positive. Children have loved them and danced to them and their parents have had to play them all Christmas, they say. So maybe the parents hate me now.
5.) What other projects/websites do you work on other than Christmas?
Musselsoppans Vänner (An image dump blog)
Sometimes I post something at PCL LinkDump
Check them all out!
6.) Anything you would like to share with people reading this review?
I want to use this opportunity and thank those who have shared their music with me. Many of them will participate in this review series. I guess you kind of know who you are. Thanks!
SANTAFOBIC - 2004 TRACK REVIEW:
1.) Nice to hear some classical music on a Christmas comp! Refreshing!
2.) The Velvet Fog... I wish he recorded a Christmas album at the height of his popularity.
3.) You can never go wrong with the Vince Guaraldi Trio!
4.) This is actually Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer singing "Baby It's Cold Outside". Bing and Doris never recorded this song together or separately.
5.) Mmmm! Diana Krallllll! (spoken in my best "Homer" voice)
6.) Can anyone put an artist to this version of "Carol Of The Bells"? If so, leave a comment below!
7.) Karen Carpenter had one of the greatest singing voices ever. She proves it right here.
8.) You seldom hear this version by Elvis... nice to hear it here!
9.) For a split second, I thought this was going to be "There's A Santa Who Looks A Lot Like Elvis" from Bob Rivers! Der Bingle's great version instead.
10.) Recorded long before his "swinging" phase... I prefer the V-Disc version of this song by Sinatra.
11.) Sorry... Marilyn Monroe never recorded this. Internet file sharing programs have been mislabelling this one since 1997. This is C. Basinet and it's a very lovely version!
12.) My favorite Elvis Christmas song. You can just feel those hips swiveling!
13.) This is the original by Jimmy Boyd... Another Internet file sharing screw-up!
14.) If you like brass and trumpets, this is the Christmas song for you!
15.) Great, swinging rendition of this song by the First Lady of Jazz!
16.) The credited artists on this one is Ferrante & Teicher and Les Baxter. From the "Christmas Cocktails 2" CD.
17.) Crosby and Kaye are correct but it's Peggy Lee and Trudy Stevens on this one. Clooney was contractually forbidden to appear on the "White Christmas" soundtrack and Vera Lynn could barely hold a tune.
18.) This is Andy Williams and it's his signature song. Sorry to nitpick...
19.) I remember hearing this song on a Christmas ride to my grandmother's house circa 1974. Great stuff!
20.) Satchmo's voice makes you sit up and take notice. I can listen to this again and again... and I will!
21.) Henry Mancini trying to outdo Mitch Miller and Ray Conniff. The decision: a three-way tie!
22.) Dino's version was bastardized this year by Visa card commercial. I still love this song but it will be a while before I lose that image of a smiling house eating Christmas party goers.
23.) There's something in Sinatra's voice when he sings standard carols that I find freakish. He's better suited to the contemporary stuff.
24.) On the other hand, Perry Como's voice was much better suited for the standards (and pretty damn good with the other stuff too!
25.) Nat King Cole may have had the perfect voice for, well, ANYTHING! Dynamite!26.) Jim Reeves... another amazing voice. My father-in-law's all-time favorite singer!
27.) More Vince Guaraldi... perfect. Ends the CD nicely!
SANTOLOGY - 2006 TRACK REVIEW:
1.) 100 years from now, they'll still be playing Esquivel's stuff. Truly remarkable.
2.) Hmmm... I wonder where they got this one from... this song's stuck in my head (again)!
3.) I wish radio stations would play more Four Seasons at Christmas. Cuts through the fog every time!
4.) WOW! I've never heard this version before! It's a kiddie song that doesn't sound like one! Fantastic track!
5.) I'd take this instrumental version of "Jingle Bells" over all the rest. Sir Duke and the boys flat out SWING!
6.) A cutesie wutesie holiday track from "Madeline". Pardon em moi, on to the next track!
7.) I have never been a big fan of the Caroleers. However, this track is outright fun. I'll have to give these guys a second listen.
8.) The original version by Gene Autry. If you want a laugh, seek out Joe Pesci's version of this one! Holy F word!
9.) Okay, I'm officially not a fan of this song. I can handle the Three Stooges with this one but if I hear little Gayla one more time...
10.) Jimmy Durante was the perfect choice to record this one. Puts all the others to shame.
11.) I love the sound of Alpert & The Tijuana Brass... even with this song which I don't consider a Christmas song.
12.) A lovely track that should be played for new infants' first Christmases everywhere.
13.) Hugo's version of "Carol Of The Bells" is so multi-layered that one listen won't do it!
14.) This is a standard playing of the organ & chimes. You won't find any of the Hanna-Barbera character's lurking here.
15.) The opening trumpet makes this one sound like an old Marlboro commercial! Conniff does it again!
16.) This is Thurlow Spurr... let's move on quickly. I MEAN IT!
17.) Les Baxter does his best Fred Waring with this one. Wonderful stuff.
18.) Herman Apple's LP has gotten a lot of mileage since it first appeared at FaLaLaLaLa.com. For good reason too!
19.) Lou Rawls... silky smooth and always timely. His Christmas stuff is a must for all collectors.
20.) Otis Redding... Martin Klasch are pulling out the BIG GUNS now! Awesome!
21.) There's done and overdone. This one is a full-blown, class four hurricane that tears everything up in its path. The jury's out on this one...
22.) I'm thinking if Santa heard this one, he'd be heading back to the North Pole... Excruciatingly bad!
23.) The Carpenter's signature Christmas song. That voice of Karen is an instant melter!
24.) Fresh! Did Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 record a Christmas album? Hmmm...
25.) About to pass out giddily... Peggy's got me in her Christmas spell... sighhhh.
26.) Another great Caroleers track! What album is this off of? Do I have this album? Did I pass this up? WOW!
27.) What album is this off of? Do I have this album? Did I pass this up? WOW AGAIN!
28.) Unmistakable sound of the Three Suns. Classy, goofy, and lots of fun wrapped into one!
29.) Another Vince Guaraldi song to end another CD. Great stuff!
You can tell how far these guys have come. Most of the 2004 lineup are songs you'd hear just about anywhere. Then take a look at their 2006 lineup. They are mixing it up nicely, balancing the old and the new, the instrumentals and the vocals.
It's nice to know that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Sweden. Well done Mr. Martin Klasch! Good show!
UP NEXT: Mash-up Saturday - FOUR reviews (who needs sleep?)