We're still looking at comps created by Martin Johns of Greenville, South Carolina and this is the last of three comps dealing with all vinyl Christmas music.
This might be my favorite cover of the whole Johns lot. Not because of the laissez-faire attitude of the record clerk. Not because of the glorious stacks and stacks of vinyl.
Not because of the Arthur Godfrey album (which I now own in my vinyl collection) or "A Christmas Record" located above the record clerk's head.
I love this album cover because of the PhonoLog on the counter.
In this day and age of the Internet and online databases that can find someone or something with a few clicks, it's good to see those glorious yellow and gold pages awaiting someone to unearth its treasures.
That and the "Help Stamp Out Opera" sign are just priceless.
For more on this all-vinyl comp, we ask Martin yet again for his special insight revolving (get it?) around this one in a segment we call...
I see the All Vinyl CDs as something of a trilogy. They were showcases for a handful of singles I desperately wanted to track down and share. Sascha Burland for "Solid Gold Christmas V2", Phil Moore for "Mo' Xmas Vinyl", and, on this one, it's The Leopards and John Cafferty.
It just happened that the acquisitions were split by time. That said, it IS necessary to fill out the discs with other good and interesting music. Truth be told, I transfer the vinyl and get close to a final mix before I ever check to see if the cuts are on CD, somewhere.
If a track is on a CD, I'll drop it, unless that CD is as hard to find as the record... or unless I don't feel like dropping it. But I definitely strive for the vinyl orphans, favoring those from artists people might recognize.
I listen to my CDs dozens of times before I run them off, to ensure that songs will withstand repeated plays (a subjective call, to be sure). I am WELL aware that "Little Becky's Christmas Wish" can barely withstand a single play, but it's such a "collector's item" that I felt I had to include it, painful though it may be. Blondie ("Yuletown Throwdown") was also in line for a spot on this CD, but one unlistenable track seemed more than enough.
I also couldn't do anything about the noise on the opener - caused by water damage that, I am told, affected the entire "found box" of this 45. The noise dies down fairly quickly and, anyway, I have a soft spot for all those funky sounds (pops, clicks, cue burn...) you can only get from vinyls.
1.) I'm guessing this scratchy but great sounding 45 never made past the western Lake Erie region in Michigan and Ohio. Thankfully, Martin found a copy and preserved it here. Want a copy? eBay is calling you!
2.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! The FULL version with Mel, Kim, and Griff Rhys Jones! Every file sharing program had the 45 version which edited out the comedy before and after. This is from the 12" single - awesome!
3.) WOW! Very reminiscent of the "Gimme Dat Ding" sound by The Pipkins! This song by The Leopards would always get airtime on Vin Scelsa's NY radio program at Christmas - a favorite of Martin's (now mine!).
4.) Candypants chose a minor 1963 hit from The Pixies Three as a B-side to their 2003 "Happiest Time Of Year" Christmas single. This is an incredible song! Visions of Phil Spector and The Ronettes are dancing in my head!
5.) A reggae flavored cover of Carla Thomas' classic song by the same group who brought us "Funky Nassau"! Fabulous stuff, mon!
6.) "Sleigh Ride" by Roxy Music? Be still my heart! According to this Roxy site, Phil Manzanera and sometime Roxy Music member John Wetton were the driving forces behind this single for Christmas, 1980. However, Andy Mackay and Manzanera, under the guise of "The Players", release an FULL album entitled "Christmas" on Rykodisc at the same time!
7.) Martin admits this song is on compact disc in his liner notes. The 78 record that this came from gives it such a rich warm sound though that's a CD will never duplicate.
8.) You'd never guess this was recorded in 1960 - you'd swear it was a forgotten blues artist from an era gone by! Black Ace is NOT forgotten and this song ranks with the best Christmas blues out there.
9.) Bill Cosby had a strange 1970s. Two failed TV shows, a batch of bad movies, and his kiddie contributions (Electric Company, Fat Albert) were his best known stuff. This song from 1977 give Cos the chance to do his best Barry White impression ("I want to be your Santa Claus, Mama, and look down your chimney..."). Only Cosby could get away with this...
10.) Another rare track from The Cajun Cook! Justin Wilson speaks the intro to this song and then tears it up with a Dixieland behind him! This is a fabulous track and I won't say "I GARONTEE!" because it's been done.
11.) Long before the current lineup, long before they hit it big, The Dixie Chicks self released this Christmas single in 1991. It's a typical twangy country homage that many bands record trying to get noticed in Nashville. Click on the link to read all about it.
12.) I officially declare "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" by Augie Rios the SECOND best Mexican flavored Christmas song ever! This one wins by a landslide! Read a good biography of Lalo Guerrero at his son Mark's website, order a FULL CD of his comedy records here, or look at the ton of material Lalo donated to CEMA!
13.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Sarducci sings it straight (weird) and tries to capture the flavor of a 1960s Christmas pop song. Makes me wonder what Father Guido heard in confession to get this record released in 1980!
14.) "Eddie & The Cruisers" was released around the time I reached high school and I still can't figure out its appeal. Two bad movies, "EDDIE LIVES" T-shirts, and music that stank up the airwaves. This Christmas song is catchy but, like the "Eddie" phenomenon, is way too long and I tuned out quickly.
15.) The Allstonians have a great little ska number here! To quote Wikipedia, "the group is notorious for its extremely high number of ex-members, as well as of its love of alcohol." Find this song on their "Early Years" comp!
16.) Originally released as a Christmas single in 1981. 21 years later, Ray Curtis re-recorded this song for the "Santa's Got Mojo" comp. This version is just dynamite!
17.) WOW! Edgy but simple Christmas rock! According to Martin, the writer of this song is John Kaspar (who lives in Whitehouse Station, NJ) who heads up the John Kaspar Band. Google didn't even come up with this!
18.) What a tune! A long lost forgotten Christmas single I never knew existed! For more info, read Marv Goldberg's amazing notebook on The Larks.
19.) Loungy Christmas song sung by Hollywood Joe. This one really must be obscure - even Joe isn't selling it at his website!
20.) The A-side to the Candypants single (see #4 above). Not your average Christmas song - very mellow and a melody that will get stuck in your head.
21.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Off all the Vietnam Christmas-themed songs out there (and there are more than you think), this Becky Lamb track is the heartbreaker of them all! Listen as Becky writes to Santa asking for her older brother (who just died in Vietnam and alluded to throughout the song) to come home for Christmas.
22.) Pearl Jam has been issuing Christmas fan-club singles since 1991 but only four are Christmas tunes. "Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time)" / "Ramblings" were both released in 1991, "Don't Believe In Christmas" in 2002, and this extremely well done Stevie Wonder cover from 2004. Click on a link...
23.) A Bob Dylan soundalike singing "White Christmas" in 1984. Someone posted this on Napster back in the illegal days and gave credit to Dylan. Not to be confused with "Bobby The Poet" from back in 1967.
24.) Back in the day, budget record companies would throw some demos and subpar songs recorded by their stable of stars onto a LP and cash in quick. This great doo-wop flavored Christmas song is taken from one such compilation featuring other stars like The Belmonts (without Dion) and Charlie Francis.
Where do I begin? Like his previous two vinyl comps, Martin has given us a treasure trove of pure, golden vinyl Christmas goodies. And like his two previous vinyl comps, I wholeheartedly enjoyed every moment of this.
Genuine surprises were abound in this comp. The Candypants, The Larks, Mel & Kim, Justin Wilson, you name it! It's surprising to me that many of these great songs aren't on compact disc. They truly deserve the all-star treatment and would brighten any of the tired Christmas comps that the record industry continues to issue every holiday season.
In closing, I want to share this. Back in 2000, I first laid eyes on the Goldmine Christmas Record Price Guide and cribbed about 30 or 40 titles from it that I wanted to find. Entering 2007, about ten songs remained on that original list.
In the course of two weeks, Martin Johns has helped me scratch off NINE of those ten songs with his three vinyl comps. Becky Lamb and Father Guido Sarducci were taken off the list with this comp and only one song remains (Vaughn Meader's JFK single called "St. Nick Visits The White House" - released then withdrawn at Christmas, 1963 for obvious reasons).
Thanks Martin for all the help and let the searches continue...
UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2006-0364-020 - Hand Crafted Christmas