When the shoebox arrived and I read Martin John's letter, he specifically referred to this comp the way a fine jeweler would show you a breath taking diamond that he had cut and polished as a display of his craft.
As I went through the twenty comps Martin sent me, my organizational skills began to kick in. I instinctively sorted them by year and placed the comps that made me go "WOW" towards the top of each pile.
When I was done with my initial sort, I noticed an additional two things about this recommended comp:
1.) It was the only comp from 2003 that Martin had sent.
2.) Like yesterday's "Solid Gold Christmas V2", this one had songs bulging out at me that I couldn't ignore.
The heart can only take so much...
For more information on this comp, we present the area of each review set aside for Martin to share his side of the story as...
In 2003, I'd finished my mixes for the year and I was just a tiny bit bummed. It was an OK crop, but there just wasn't anything to "knock your socks off." The 2001 and 2002 sets had been really outstanding, I thought, and there's a desire to at least maintain that level (if not top yourself).
I had finally obtained the number one item on my wishlist via eBay - Phil Moore & The Phil Moore Four. But that was on 78 and, without a player, it was destined to be 2004's highlight. I was resigned to a year of comp mediocrity.
One day, I was at the local CD shop and noticed these blank CD-R's that looked like little records (Verbatim). I thought they were kind of cool, but, as I was done for the year, I put them back.
The wheels started turning. I couldn't sleep for about three days as my mind started putting tracks together and laying out graphics. This was all in my head and it was driving me crazy. It was about December 9 when I finally said, "I can do this! I HAVE to do this!"
I contacted my good friend Stu in Boston to ask if he could transfer the 78s for me, would he mind doing it, and could he do it yesterday. Stu has been extremely tolerant of my eccentricities through the years, has been my go-to guy for technical support, and has supplied a lot of tracks for non-Christmas projects.
I express mailed the 78s to Stu and he e-mailed the MP3s to me. The whole disc, from phone call to completion, was done in about four days. And the end result is, to my mind, my best effort so far.
1.) Long before Sonny and Cher, long before Louis Prima and Keely Smith, there was the married musical couple of Butterbeans and Susie. This great Christmas song is very typical of their comedy - released on the "Where Will You Be Christmas Day?" comp.
2.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Another song scratched off my search list! And man, this platter of grooves is the wildest, ya dig? This Phil Moore record has been a favorite of both Dr. Demento and the elusive Eddie G.
3.) Hey now! A wild yet typical track from the WGJB! Our friend Ernie (not Bert) offered this entire 1972 album at his amazing blog back in 2005 and again in 2006!
4.) Martin says he got this wonderful rockabilly Christmas tune from Al Aitchison. You can get it at the Lustre Kings website on good old fashioned vinyl for $5
5.) From the man who singlehandedly caused an explosion of hardboard sales in Australia. Rolf Harris (the guy who sang "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport") and his wobble board are heard here in the original version of this song which tells how Santa gets around Australia (whose summer falls at Christmas).
6.) WOW! I didn't think this record existed anymore! My mom was a huge Tommy Edwards fan during her adolescence - she's gonna drop dead when she hears this one! Thank you Martin!
7.) Why is the singer of "Angel In The Morning" singing a rather bland version of "White Christmas" off a TV soundtrack called "Scrooge's Rock 'N' Roll Christmas" (with Jack Elam as Scrooge)???
8.) Another brilliant song. From the legendary "A Midnight Christmas Mess" album.
9.) This is from the Led Zeppelin bootleg "Osaka 9/29/71"? Someone must have added this song from a 1984 "Saturday Night Live" appearance on as a bonus.
10.) Direct from the liners - "The retro-sound was big for awhile in the mid-80s and these women did it better than most". Very 80s... you can hear the big hear and shoulder pads! Not much else on the Charmettes is known...
11.) WHOA! Billy Taylor was a brilliant jazz pianist before hooking up with David Frost and becoming his television musical director. This cut (with Frost's blatherings edited out - thanks Martin) is from their 1970 Christmas album.
12.) Recorded in 1963 at the peak of his popularity, Soupy Sales also capitalized on the current surf trend in this long lost Christmas song. I FINALLY OWN A COPY! Eh-bey-beh!
13.) I suspect at some point (if it hasn't happened already) the entire Christmas CD of Brave Combo with its many varied musical styles (like this cha cha of "O Holy Night") will end up totally disseminated by Madison Avenue and you'll hear these brilliant pieces of music as commercial backgrounds.
14.) Found a fantastic blog entry about Lynn White and Waylo Records but very little about this long, pretty uninspired Christmas song from the 1980s.
15.) A very simple Christmas song set on the river bank, complete with banjo. This is wonderful! The John Hartford anthology CD has this track.
16.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! This Herb Dodson 45 sat on eBay for six months ($45) and I was thisclose to buying it when this comp arrived! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Martin!
17.) A Christmas song that reads off the Christmas list of every teen recording artist alive at the time! According to this reference site, this song by the Aztecs was recorded in 1964 (scroll down to the Az's)
18.) One from the early 1960s folk era. Sounds very much like the Folksmen from "A Mighty Wind".
19.) WOW AGAIN! See #6 above. The Frankie Lymon cover is great but this original just soars! Considering this one for my annual Christmas comp.
20.) Smoooth! Another cut from Billy Taylor (see #11 above). Was going to add this album to my vinyl search list but it has David Frost... grrr!
21.) "Twas the blink before Christmas and all through the crib..." And this was 1953!!! Would make a great twin spin with any of the Babs Gonzales "Santa" recordings he made!
22.) HOLY GUACAMOLE! An obscure band, an obscure album, and a track that may or may not be Christmas. Martin took a chance and it paid off - a rock epic that incorporates some of "The Lord's Prayer" but listen to that SOUND!!!
23.) Mitch Albom is a fantastic writer - be it sports or books. He even wrote this doo-wop Christmas tune (not bad). But Mitch, stick to your day job and never, EVER sing again! An expensive piece of karaoke this.
Like yesterday's "Solid Gold Christmas V2", I want to say this is the best comp I've heard so far from Martin (giving this one a slight edge over "Solid Gold V2"). There's so much more music to review so I can't definitively say this is Martin's best work. It's the frontrunner though - a truly phenomenal comp from A to Z.
Great sounds, nice variety, more songs removed off my search list (SIX on this one - both the Phil Moore and Tommy Edwards songs, Soupy Sales, and that amazing Herb Dodson track), I can feel the pride come through on each track and can easily see why Martin considers this his best work.
Martin, this one will get worn out before the rest. Be sure to have plenty of backups on hand. Thanks!
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