Friday, March 30, 2007

JohnsCDs 2006-0364-020 - Hand Crafted Christmas

One of the reasons I chose to review homemade Christmas comps is because of the personal touches each compiler brings to the table.

While others dazzle with graphics, others astound us with the music. Some create comps for family and friends unlike others who create for themselves. Many are sent personally by mail while a majority post them online.

However, the one constant throughout it all is the planning, the care, the execution that goes into making a comp.

The personal side of the individual pushes the direction in which the comp will take shape, showcasing not only their creativity and ear for music but their very own personality as well.

This Christmas comp that Martin Johns sent us via the P.O. Box is a very personal one. This one has family written all over it. For more on this, I'll let him doing the talking as...


Every year, I try to work up a Country mix for my father. As it happens, there's a much larger constituency for Christmas Country among my friends than I would have imagined. It's not my personal genre of choice, so I'm sure these Country comps are an uneven bunch.

But at least I did get to showcase my mother's considerable talent; she made the cover Christmas scene for me several years back, as well as the Christmas teddy-bear on the back cover. And folks at FaLaLaLaLa got to check out some of her homemade ornaments, too. (I love you Mom and Dad.)

I should also thank my Canadian friend (everybody's got one, right Cap?) Roy Forbes, who (being an avid collector of 78s) always manages to point me in the direction of a vintage track or two. On this one, it's Johnny Bond, Jesse Rogers and Doye O'Dell.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1.) Extremely slow version of this Christmas standard... by the four minute mark, you're numb. From the 2005 "Sounds Of The Season" country Christmas comp.
2.) Fine Christmas song by Lonestar that somehow missed their 2000 "This Christmas Time" album but found a home on the same "Sounds Of The Season" comp as above.
3.) I've admitted it before - I'm a fan of old school country. I will stand by Tammy Wynette as she sings this classic any day of the week. Easily found on her "Christmas With" CD.
4.) WOW! Sounds awfully like Gene Autry! This Jesse Rogers & His 49ers cover came from a 1949 RCA record (78 RPM) transfer.
5.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Sunshine Ruby was the LeAnn Rimes of the 1950s! This was the A-side of her 1953 or 1954 Christmas single (RCA 47-5474) and ended up on the "Sweetheart Of The Big 'D' Jamboree" comp from Cattle Compact.
6.) A good but typical bluegrass rendition. From the "O Santa Where Art Thou?" compilation
7.) Jim Lauderdale's melody is catchy and is quite the line dancer foot stomper! From an impressive 2005 compilation recorded to benefit Kate, a three year old girl from Nashville with an extremely rare genetic disease.
8.) Title says it all and only a country song could get away with it. A pretty good song from Kenny Chesney off his "All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan" CD (see what I mean about country and titles?).
9.) Wynonna's had a bad week and we wish her nothing but the best here at the yuleblog. This song was released in 1994 on "The Stars Come Out For Christmas" comp but inexplicably left off her solo Christmas album last year!
10.) WOW! The Oak Ridge Boys and Christmas music are a perfect match. Why it took them so long to record a Christmas album is beyond me. Lost a little respect for these guys since two of them admitted they were Chicago White Sox fans... grrrrr!
11.) Written when Brad Paisley was a lad of 13, we hear a tape of him playing this live onstage first. Full grown Brad takes over, and both end up singing at the end of this song - a beautiful song about Joseph, Mary, a manger, and baby Jesus.
12.) Name a stringed instrument on this song and Rhonda Vincent can probably play it - great song from her 2006 "Beautiful Star: A Christmas Collection" album (and check out that cover!).
13.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! Several years ago, I found this online (BearShare). My elation was short lived as a computer crash entombed the song (and a TON of other Christmas stuff) on the hard drive. Glad to re-add this gem by Elton Britt once again. That reminds me... when did I backup last?
14.) Another great 78 RPM transfer! For a wee bit more on Johnny Bond (and where to find another Cattle Compact comp with this song), click on Bond's name!
15.) Sweet country version of "The Christmas Song". Taken from the benefit comp (see #7 above) from the group BR5-49. Once again, that's BR5-49... Yee haw!
16.) GREAT JUMPIN' ICEBERGS!!! "There's a buckboard zoomin' through the Christmas night with Ole Tex Kringle at the reins..." You can't get more country than that! Doye O'Dell has a full career and this came from an import comp entitled "If Tears Were Gold".
17.) The second Jody Lynn song I've heard on Martin's comps (the other was on "Progressive Christmas V4"). Still can't find an artist site for Jody but the liner notes state this song comes from the 1999 Christmas comp called "Rockin' Blues Christmas". I suppose both songs came from the same source, yes?
18.) Ed Ames recorded several Christmas albums, both with his brothers and solo. Unfortunately, none of his solo albums are available on CD; you can find the odd track here and there on countless compilations. This ballad of the Christmas donkey (think the ugly ducking) is as lovely as any song in the Christmas pantheon and deserves radio airplay at Christmas.
19.) WOW! This great Christmas country song (recorded by Chess Records of all places!) takes on more importance when you read the tragic tale of Jimmy Donley - this may have been one of the last songs he ever recorded!
20.) Another fine song from Misty River! The second song that Martin has used (the first was on "Great And Small") on his comps. This is from their 2004 Christmas album.
21.) Interesting! Mindy Wade takes "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and gives it a different, country melody. The end result is quite good! Bravo! Off her debut album (a Christmas one at that!).
22.) Dennis Jay has a remarkable voice (think Randy Travis but not so twangy and deep) and even throws in some yodel! WOW! This excellent song comes from a 2002 holiday comp while his 2003 solo album "What You See" contains the song "Christmas In The Badlands".
23.) Lovely version of "Silent Night" by Steve Oliver. Liner notes state this is "audio from television appearance" but you can get all of his Christmas song (including this one but not this performance) on his "Snowfall" album.
24.) Garth Brooks freely admits he's a George Strait wannabe. One of the best selling singers throughout the 1980s, he laid the groundwork for the explosion of country in the 1990s and beyond. And last Christmas, he released a new Christmas album through the Hallmark stores from which this wonderful rendition came from.

I love old school country (pre-1985). I'm not a big fan of contemporary country music. However, I really enjoyed this comp. Even if I wasn't a fan of country music as a whole, I could listen to this and find something I would absolutely treasure:

Old school - Elton Britt, Ed Ames, Jimmy Donley, Sunshine Ruby, Doye O'Dell. New school - Brad Paisley, Rhonda Vincent, Dennis Jay, BR5-49, Mindy Wade. Not counting the Sara Evans track, every one of these tracks I could foresee using down the road at some point!

This comp is very special. Some time after I began reviewing the first of his comps, I learned from Martin that his father - the very person this country Christmas comp was made for - had passed away from an undisclosed illness he fought for nearly two years.

Martin, I wish you again our deepest sympathy for your loss. I hope you'll take comfort knowing that I have heard all the time, effort, and love you put into this country Christmas compilation last year for your father and it really comes across.

UP NEXT: JohnsCDs 2006-0566-027 - Christmas In Tikrit


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