This was one of the first comps that fell onto my passenger seat when I cracked open Martin Johns' shoebox of Christmas comps he sent me.
The cover caught my eye. A family portrait by the Christmas tree tinted slightly for effect, complete with its own Star of Bethlehem in the window.
No, that's not the flash from the camera. The back cover was the same photo completely untouched and in its natural setting. The flash in the window was placed there later... I think.
In any case, a quick scan of the playlist shows me that this comp is more along the traditional lines of a Christmas comp (Bing, Frank, Dean, Durante, Garland) but also has a few surprises thrown in.
I've asked Martin to give us a small insight on every comp he sent us and we feature it in a spot we like to call...
For the most part, I avoid what I call "The Classics" (Bing, Dino, Frank, Perry, Andy...), except in very small doses. But that's where my head was when I did this one. The music seemed to select itself and came together instantly.
The graphics were a pain and took forever. I was trying to get that "old photograph" look (the folks in the picture are my sister-in-law and niece). For the record, I don't have PhotoShop. Mostly, my graphics are done with Print Explosion.
Listening to it, now, I'd say this is probably as close as I'll ever get to the sound and feeling of my childhood Christmases.
1.) I collect celebrity Christmas greetings (over 125+ and counting). This Shirley Temple greeting is 1:46 - over one minute of orchestra intro, 10 seconds of Shirley wishing troops Godspeed and Merry Christmas, followed by 30 more seconds of music. The Beethoven's 9th of Christmas greetings!
2.) Sinatra only recorded a handful of Christmas songs post-1970. This gem was recorded in 1975 and sat in the vault until 1994 when The Sinatra Christmas Album patched together songs from Frank's two different Christmas albums he recorded for Reprise.
3.) The Slim Man who? His lovely song fits right in among Frank and Shirley. From his 2000 "All I Want For Christmas" CD
4.) WOW! Surprisingly good retro sound from The Chenille Sisters! Very refreshing track taken from their "In The Christmas Spirit" CD on their own label called Can-Too Records!
5.) STEP BACK! Count Basie and Joe Williams are here! "Good Morning Blues" is a perfect example of their legendary collaboration! What a tandem! What a song!
6.) Kellee Bradley has a good country voice and a good Christmas song off a charity comp. However, up against Basie, The Chenille Sisters, and Sinatra, it's an odd fit when you hear banjo in a Christmas song.
7.) The Schnozzola asks the musical question "Isn't it a shame that Christmas comes but once a year?" with some zingers along the way. Never knew this existed! Sounds like it came from a V-Disc recording.
8.) The second incarnation of the Chad Mitchell Trio are still together and recorded this for the same charity comp mentioned in track 6 above. Fun song!
9.) Fantastic title track from Hiroshima's 2004 Christmas album! East meets West meets soft jazz - brilliant!
10.) Capitol wanted a full Christmas album but Dean decided on a winter theme - smart guy because "A Winter Romance" contains a great mix of winter and Christmas songs making it an easy listen any time of the year!
11.) Due to a musician's strike in 1956, the Goons needed to perform their own music on one episode. This was the result! A favorite of the file-sharing programs, I'm looking for this Goons CD which contains most of the music from the entire Goon Show run!
12.) WOW! Another Christmas song off my search list! This amazing song came from an amazing comp with a rather rude cover. Get past that though... there's some great songs on that comp!
13.) The title track from Bing's last full Christmas album of original material. Recorded in 1970 and 1971 with Les Brown and his Band of Renown, it was issued on Daybreak Records (???) at Christmas 1971 and was quickly lost. Polygram's CD of this is OOP? (I can't find it) but you can find it via Universal Music's budget label to purchase.
14.) Golllll-lee! The 1990 original pressing of his "Christmas Album" has this glorious song but other Nabors Christmas albums don't. If you want this song alone, try this Sony 3-CD Christmas comp.
15.) Owww. Disney's attempt at country music has produced SheDAISY, a group still struggling to be embraced by country music fans. Next...
16.) Who else to narrate a folky Christmas album full of parables, stories, and music than Andy Griffith?
17.) Eddy Arnold breaking down the word Christmas in his own timeless way. From his "Christmas With" CD.
18.) A soft, lilting version of "Away In A Manger". Peacock & Nery both record for Pure-And-Simple Music and this is from their joint Christmas album.
19.) Judy Garland reminisces on Christmas at war time (you can hear her fight back the tears). Taken from a V-disc recording to the troops.
20.) Gracie Fields has had many memorable songs like this one (find it on Living Era's "Nostalgic Merry Christmas To You"). Her best known song was "Sing As We Go" - better known as the melody to Monty Python's "Sit On My Face".
21.) Want to read a great story (worthy of a VH-1 original movie)? Click on this link of Sweetwater and from where this cool cover of "God Rest Ye" came from!
22.) Jose Ferrer recorded this one-off Christmas single in 1960 (RCA Victor 47-7823) which re-reads the famous "Yes, Virginia" letter. A solemn reading at that!
23.) A quaint song about putting kids to bed at Christmas so "children will smile" the next morning. I can't find a comp from where this came... any clues?
24.) WOW! Joni has a voice very similar to Karen Carpenter and Electra plays a lovely oboe. From Bishop's 1996 "Endless Christmas" album.
25.) Recorded in 1944 (at the height of WW II) but the timeless lyrics, the lush melody, and Judy's voice guarantees that this song will be played and listened to 100... 500... and 1,000 years from now.
This comp is very aptly named. If you can't listen to this one and not think of a memory of your Christmas past, time to makes some new Christmas memories. Two songs came off my search list with this one (The Robin Sisters and Jose Ferrer)! A solid Christmas comp Martin!
I also enjoyed researching this one. Who knew Bing had a Christmas album that went unnoticed? The story of Sweetwater is rather heartbreaking. Gracie Fields is a legend in Britain by not widely known around the world. The links I put up can fill in so much more of the stories. If you got a free day or two, click on them!
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