If you're a serious Christmas music collector, then you're probably familiar with this 1962 chestnut (pun intended).
However, if you've never heard or seen this album before, pull your eyes away from the bodacious cover and let me explain to you several tidbits about this album.
I first became acquainted with this album around 2002 or 2003 when Basic Hip - the granddaddy of all vinyl sharity sites - first offered it around Christmas time - a simple clean rip of the album and an average scan of the front cover only.
BTW, that is NOT Ms. Martin on the cover. Like many adult party records of the day, an anonymous model would grace the cover with all the right body parts covered. More on Kay in a moment.
As the years went by and I started to seriously collect Christmas music, I began to learn how special this album was. This wasn't an album to the Christmas music community - it was a secret handshake that gained you entrance into the fraternity of die-hard holiday music lovers. Christmas music enthusiasts like Ton Rückert, Anna-Lena Lodenius, Martin Johns, and April Winchell have all used tracks from this album to amuse their circle of friends.
At least three times a year, copies of this album will appear on eBay and sell for $60 and up. In 2004, an auction ended with the winning bid around $135. Copies in good condition are quickly disappearing from the marketplace.
In late 2006, I began to actively search, watch for, and bid on any copy of this album on eBay before it was too late. It was also around this time that I began to discover other Kay Martin material sold just as well on eBay, GEMM, and Musicstack. Her various party albums are much sought after collectibles that fetch a mighty penny anywhere you look.
However... out in the west Texas town of El Paso (or El Chuco depending on what side of the border you're on), Mondo Loco runs the great little music blog "The Groove Grotto". Last Christmas, he posted this very album you're reading about at his place - along with good scans of the album artwork (thank you Mondo!). The album is still available at his site... so click on this link, zap it, but come right back!
The back cover of the album gave me the first inside glimpse of Kay Martin. It gave a brief history of the act, where they've played, her measurements (not important but...), and revealed that she was the proprietor of the Kay Martin Lodge, three miles south of downtown Reno. A quick Google search revealed that the lodge is still open for business but gave no clues on if Ms. Martin was alive or not.
I dashed off a introductory letter in hopes she would agree to an interview. While waiting for a response, I explored the Groove Grotto again and found yet ANOTHER Kay Martin album to download! In May of 2006, Mondo posted the first album from Kay Martin & Her Body Guards (Roulette Records, 1958) that features a very naked Martin (no anonymous model here) on the record cover.
The cover is the only thing risque on the album - this album features some extremely good covers of sultry standards like "Fever", "Blue Moon", "Sentimental Journey", and "Summertime". Kay Martin can belt out the notes and stop on a musical dime to get breathy or soft - quite the album!
The back cover liner notes filled in more holes in Kay's life. Written by Jess Hotchkiss (one of the Body Guards and creator of the act), I discovered that Kay was born in Bakersfield, CA, is part Cherokee Indian, and learned that Kay and the boys first began the act in 1953 and appeared at every lounge and casino in the state of Nevada by the time this album was recorded.
I hadn't heard back from the Kay Martin Lodge so I decided to write again, asking for any info and the chance for an interview.
Earlier this year, I discovered a website that was listing all the records issued on the Laff record label that included two Kay Martin albums (one of which was "At Las Vegas"). The "gentleman" who ran this website also posted a wish list of albums he was looking for and wanted to trade.
I contacted the "gentleman" and set up a trade; he wanted five items off my list for the two Kay Martin albums I wanted. I sent the albums, the "gentleman" claims they never showed up (even though a month later those very titles I sent him were conspicuously not on his trade list), and never returned any of my e-mails.
Some "gentleman" (I can think of several other words I can use).
Shortly after this episode, I travelled to Chicago for a long weekend and found the copy of "At Las Vegas" that was featured today at the 365 Days Project. Upon first listening, I recognized several things. The first was that none of the songs on "At Las Vegas" were live as I had thought. Bonus.
The second was that I recognized several of the non-Christmas songs on the album. These same songs were featured in their live act on side two of the Christmas album. Another bonus.
Finally, I was excited to see three Christmas songs on "At Las Vegas". However, each one is a different take on "The Night Before Christmas" - Jess sings it as a beatnik, Bill sings it drunk (see "The Night Before Christmas Binge" below), and Kay sings the exact same version as on side two of the Christmas album with very little break-ins from the Bodyguards or audience reaction. WOW!
It was around this time of purchase of "At Las Vegas" that I reviewed Otis Fodder's brilliant Christmas comps and he invited me to contribute to the 365 Days Project. Great timing, huh? (Thanks Otis for the opportunity!)
Then, out of the blue, eBay had three copies of "I Know What He Wants For Christmas" for auction. I passed on the first copy (sold around $75), then the second ($65). I bid on the third, held my breath, and $35 later, I finally, at long last, had a copy of this album for my own!
When the album arrived, I quickly took it to my local Kinko's to make color copies of the covers so I can patch them together on my computer. So I'm very proud to offer what might be the first high-resolution scans of this Christmas album anywhere on the web (click on the album covers, above and below, for larger images):
1.) Hang Your Balls On The Xmas Tree
Grandma brings some popcorn balls for Kay and the boys to hang... double entendres ensue, all accompanied by an enthusiastic Salvation Army reject.
2.) I Want A Casting Couch For Christmas
This is a clever Christmas song, sung to perfection by Kay. You can hear the wisdom in her voice when she sings "I don't wanna be a slouch on anybody's casting couch"!
3.) Come On Santa, Let's Have A Ball
This song only last one minute and nine seconds. After hearing it, I bet you'll never forget it for as long as you live!
4.) The Night Before Christmas Binge
Bill Elliott (the wacky second banana to Jess Hotchkiss who also plays the accordion) sings this as an inebriated drunk. Ha ha.
5.) Santa's Doing The Horizontal Twist
Okay... Kay sings that a "fat man" came a calling on Christmas Eve and they... ahem... wanted to try the latest "dance"... wink wink. The writers from "Three's Company" could only dream these double entendres!
6.) Santa's Going To Be Late Tonight
Kay does her best "Continental" impersonation - or a possible nod to word jazz poetry - trying to explain why Santa's missing some stops on Christmas Eve - the lucky son of a gun!
7.) The Girls Were All Happy
Yet another take on "The Night Before Christmas". This one explains how Santa visited several women at once on Christmas... after all, Santa does get around on Christmas Eve!
8.) I Know What You Want For Christmas
The naughty clever title track - possibly the best song on the album. Kay sings it sly, sets it up beautifully, and the punch line that's delivered at the end of the song caps it all off perfectly (nice choice of breed too!).
9.) A Funtastic Panorama Of On-Stage Humor
This track is the entire side two, taped live on stage (around 16 minutes long). It features a bevy of dittys, dirty jokes, double entendres, some homophobic jokes, and plenty of Kay's naughty songs.
Granted, this album isn't for the faint of heart, or for the kiddies or more sensitive or religious folks. These aren't probably the first songs you'll reach for if you're putting together a Christmas comp for your friends and family. But the remarkable thing about this album is 45 years on, it still contains enough titillation to amuse.
I dare you to listen to this whole album and not let out one smile or chuckle. You won't be able to do it now, or ten years from now, or 50 years from now.
Last week, as I was readying the "As Las Vegas" album for the 365 Days Project, I still hadn't heard back from Ms. Martin. I decided to call the Lodge directly in hopes I would be able to speak to her. The desk clerk on duty told me that I would have to speak to her husband because Ms. Martin "was under the weather" (she's alive!).
As soon as her husband came onto the line, I identified myself as the owner / editor of a Internet site and that I had sent several letters about possibly speaking to Ms. Martin. The immediate phone click hanging up on me came around the moment when I gave my name.
I tried calling back twice but thanks to their caller ID (presumably), they never lifted the phone off the hook and let it ring. And ring. And ring. Point taken.
Kay, if you're out there and you're reading this, your albums consistently sell on eBay for a reason - they're entertaining and your sex appeal hasn't diminished one iota since their first release. Thanks for all the songs and laughs you've provided over these many years and for one truly remarkable Christmas album that will live on into eternity.
Thanks for reading everyone!