Thursday, September 25, 2008

Up With People - Merry Christmas To You All

Over the past several weeks, I've looked at albums I received as Christmas presents last December or purchased around the same time. Starting today, I am dusting off an old, OLD list of all the Christmas albums I've downloaded over the past TWO years. This list was started in August, 2007 but was called to a stop a month later due to my hectic schedule at the time.

This album was downloaded on November 26, 2006 at 4:55 PM EST from the blog of (you guessed it) Ernie (Not Bert). Since 2006, I've probably downloaded more than 200 albums from this guy so get used to seeing his name and handiwork around here for the next several.

It seems I was one of the lucky ones who got this downloaded. Or did he send it to me? I forget... In any case, Ernie discovered that this album indeed was released on CD (click here - it didn't work for me) and stopped sharing the album, FYI.

The next time you're at a Super Bowl party and really want to impress people with your acumen of football trivia, or if the game is ultra boring and you want to liven things up, or if you're a useless fount of knowledge like me (and you're used to stupefying looks on people's faces), try this puzzler:

Who is the artist or group who has performed more times than anyone else at Super Bowl halftime? Gloria Estefan? With two performances, it's a good guess. Carol Channing? She was there twice too - the question is why?

The group you're looking at has entertained at halftime a record four times (1976, 1980, 1982, and 1986). It's a dubious record that's unlikely to be broken. Here's a YouTube video of the 1976 performance (skip ahead to 1:30 if you dare):

NFL Films once captured a meeting that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had in his office concerning the Super Bowl's halftime show. Rozelle stated plainly: "There are three words I never want to hear again... Up With People."

Started in 1965, Up with People was founded by J. Blanton Belk as a positive voice for young people. Its initial cast had 140 performers that made its debut at a summer convention on the quaint island known as Mackinac in northern Michigan. From 1966 to 1967, the group began to branch out, picking up more performers along the way, and touring globally.

In 1968, the group officially became Up With People and continued to sing anywhere, anytime. Since then, almost 20,000 young men and women from more than 89 countries have been included in the group. One member went on to bigger and better things - her name was Glenn Close!

At Christmas, 1968, the group decided the time was right for a Christmas album. The multitude assembled into a Hollywood recording studio and recorded fourteen songs - ten of which are original songs!

This album is undeniably Sixties - the sound, the pop beat, the smell of dacron and polyester. At times, it goes so overboard that you will need scuba equipment to simply breathe.

There are fun Christmas songs ("Jingle Bell Beat", "A Present For Santa"), traditional carols ("Away In A Manger", "O Little Town Of Bethlehem"), and at times preachy songs ("Pat's Poem", "Up With People") with a hint of Christmas that makes them qualify for this album.

Overall, I liked the album and the soloists (Debbie Kirkpatrick, Linda Blackmore, Pat Ector) did a fine job when the spotlight shone on them. The group singing is very reminiscent of a hip Mitch Miller & The Gang and the 60s sound is a true flashback.

There are alumni associations all over the world and I would love to hear from some of the members who had a hand in this recording.

Up with People has visited 3,600 communities in 38 countries, nearly 3 million hours of community service have been performed by Up with People students, and 450,000 host families around the world have welcomed Up with People students to their homes. It continues to tour and take its uppity message around the world.

THIS JUST IN: The official website shop of Up With People states:

"Up with People does not currently have CDs for sale. We are preparing to release approximately 400 songs from our catalog that will be available for digital download through iTunes, Rhapsody, and other web-based music stores. We will even have a selection of Up with People Ringtones for you to download. Please check back for more details."



Ernie said...

Boy, you're really digging deep into the archives, aren't you? There's a second Up With People Christmas LP, too, but I haven't given it a listen yet. It takes a very special mood to listen to these things.

Oh, and there is a single track from this record on a collection I did:

It's good stuff. Thanks for the review, Cap'n!

stubbysfears said...

I have to agree with Pete Rozelle.

Tim said...



CaptainOT said...

Ernie - Another Up With People Christmas album? You're a brave, brave, brave, BRAVE man Ernie.

Sign off on this insurance policy, will ya?

Stubby - I think we all agree with Pete Rozelle.

Tim - Do not look directly into the polyester!


Creedmoor said...

Do they at least perform a Yuletide version of "Exodus" for their Jewish fans?

CaptainOT said...

Creedmoor - Not sure... but I hear they do do a MEAN "Hava Nagila"!


gworn2000 said...

I was one of the backup singers (a group of about 8) for the album - we rehearsed for a few weeks prior and recorded it in that Hollywood studio over just two days. One of the more exciting experiences of my life. I was 17 at the time and the backup singers were drawn from local Sing-Out casts fashioned after the International Casts. Sure some of it was schmaltzy (even at that time - c'mon - Rudolph's Swingin' Sleigh Ya Ba Ba Doo!!!) but it was fun and one memborable experience for me and I am sure the others.

CaptainOT said...

GWorn2000 - WOW! Thanks for sharing those memories with us! Were you listed on the album (searching for the back cover photo)?


Gworn2000 said...

I have a pic of the back cover - We were listed as "the choral group selected from the Sing-Outs of Southern California. No problem - like I said I was just a kid and I had no clue about getting credit. I think we were a group of about 8 or so (4 girls 4 guys) because the recording studio was very small. I was just thrilled to be in a professional studio, recording music and being directed by Herbert Allen

CaptainOT said...

GWorn2000 - Amazing memories! Thanks for sharing!

Do you qualify for being an alumni for UWP?


Anonymous said...

Sing out Verdugo, Anaheim, Burbank, Sant Barbara, lompoc...
Ah the memories! GWorn2000 you might want to check out
Their songs are available if you can take it. Songs like: Freedom Isn't Free, What Color is God's Skin?, Which Way America, and all those good'ol anti-hippie Moral Rearmament (MRA, ala Sing-Out/UWP) faves. Yes, UWPIAA welcomes the former Sing-Outers.

sambson said...

Holy Wow! (yep, it's a catch phrase thanks to yer blog) I never experienced this stuff, until I married my wife, who was a missionary kid. When she opened her restaurant about 10 years back, I jokingly added a wild looking Tammy Faye album I'd picked up, as part of the decor. She now has a massive collection of PTL items given to her by customers. I later ran across the PACE Up With People album "from The Schick Television Color Spectacular" and she flipped! For a while I was convinced no one remembered this stuff except her...boy was I wrong. A number of customers have commented on that LP as well, and now I find this entry packed full of great trivia. She will be thrilled! I'm completely addicted to this blog (and several others you have brought to my attention) and want to thank you sincerely for the great stuff (like Bobby Roberts & His Orchestra - Holiday Music For Happy People) as well as the massive "Cheese Sampler" that constitutes a number of your other Up With People. To quote their self-titled song "Up, up with people; they're the best kind of folks we know" (ummm...does anyone know of another KIND of 'folks' besides 'people'?) ;-)