Friday, October 10, 2008
If you take a blood sample from our friend Ernie (Not Bert), you'll find 80% red blood cells, 10% white blood cells, and 10% vinyl. This was downloaded on November 29, 2006 at 1:54 PM from his blog and nearly two years later, I'm getting around to reviewing it - sheesh!
Back in the late 1940s, MGM - the movie studio with the roaring lion - created their own record label. For a time, they were the only movie studio with its own record label. By the mid-1950s, television had so badly eroded the box office that other movie studios needed new streams of revenue.
In 1957, Paramount began its record label and Warner Bros. were undecided as to start its own label. That changed when Dot Records signed then-WB star Tab Hunter to its label. Even though Hunter had an iron-clad exclusive movie contract with WB, without a record label, Tab was free to sign with Dot.
Sure enough, plans for Warner Bros. Records went into high gear and in March, 1958 - the first record on the new label came out. WB had reclaimed Tab hunter and his new single "Jealous Heart" (ironic, huh?) was released - the only charting record for the entire year!
Another mistake from the get go was ignoring rock n' roll. WB decided to go with pop, jazz, classical, spoken word, folk and gospel (see Clint Walker below).
Christmas releases for Warner Bros. in 1959 included George Greeley's "22 Best Loved Christmas Piano Concertos", the Guitar's Inc. "Guitars At Christmas", Ira Ironstring's "Ira Ironstrings Orchestra Plays Santa Claus", and the album you're looking at now.
To quote Ernie:
"This LP came out in 1959, and features the stars from then-current TV shows produced by Warner Brothers. The Warner Bros. record label was brand new at the time, and they were putting out all sorts of interesting stuff. (After you've downloaded it, look closely at the back label. They had so little product out at the time, they were recommending other companies records on their jackets!)"
BIO LINKS / TRACK REVIEWS:
1.) Efrem Zimbalist Jr. - Adeste Fideles
Zimbalist's voice is astoundingly good (that led to other non-Christmas recordings). Majestic.
2.) Warner Bros. Stars - Deck The Halls
All the assembled stars on the cover merge as one to sing a few choruses.
3.) Connie Stevens - Away In A Manger
Breathy rendition from cutie Connie. She and Edd Byrnes had a HUGE hit the same year with "Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb"!
4.) Edward Byrnes - Yulesville
This song still has enough charm to give me a smile. That charm is almost used up. Next...
5.) Peter Brown - Winter Wonderland
Great voice and a snappy version of this song! He later starred with Pam Grier in "Foxy Brown"!
6.) Ray Danton - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
This guy could give Thurl Ravenscroft a run for his money. Another majestic song!
7.) Poncie Ponce - Mele Kalikimaka
Kazuo Kim sings again! Poncie got his start on "77 Sunset Strip", then moved over to "Hawaiian Eye".
8.) Eddie Cole - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
The older brother of Nat (listen and feel the similarities), this was recorded near the end of Eddie's career - it swings, baby!
9.) Bob Conrad - White Christmas
I dare you to knock the battery off his shoulder... Robert Conrad sings marvelously - too bad we didn't get to hear more of that in "Wild Wild West" or "Baa Baa Black Sheep"!
10.) Dorothy Provine - Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
From 1958 to 1968, Dorothy starred in many films and a great singing voice to match - then she got married and retired. This is a gem - she sounds a little like Dusty Towne from "SCTV"!
11.) Clint Walker - Silver Bells
A bonafide member of "The Dirty Dozen" singing a Bob Hope Christmas song! Remarkable! This was after Clint's walkout from Warner Bros. (see Ty Harden below) and his first album for WB - a gospel album entitled "Inspiration".
12.) Roger Moore - Once In Royal David's City
With his lordly British voice, Sir Roger narrates this song to great effect. The name is Templar... Simon Templar.
13.) Warner Bros. Male Chorus - Star Carol
I'm not sure if Clint, Roger, Bob Conrad, or Edd Byrnes sung on this - but whoever did does a nice job.
14.) Ty Hardin - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
This guy's Wiki entry is a trip - as for his singing... you gotta read this guy's Wiki entry. It's a trip!
15.) Warner Bros. Stars - We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Several choruses of this ol' favorite from everyone on the cover and presto! End of album!
Ernie said in his initial review "If you don't find something in here to love, you may as well quit looking." I agree. I especially liked hearing 007 recite his story, Dorothy Provine, and Eddie Cole.
Most of the artists on this album sing well and the arrangements don't subtract or detract from their singing. And then there's Ty Hardin...
It's hard to imagine from these beginnings came the colossus known as Warner Music Group. As for MGM and Paramount record labels, they're long gone but the WB survived.