Monday, November 10, 2008
At first glance, this may seem to be "just another Christmas organ LP". However, if you know your Christmas organ music like our friend Ernie (not Bert), then you know how totally wrong that statement is.
First, let us travel back to an earlier time - December 9, 2005 to be precise. It was on this date that Ernie posted his first Dick Liebert Christmas LP - a great album entitled "The Happy Hits Of Christmas" showcasing Liebert's virtuoso on the organ he called home for many years at the Radio City Music Hall in NYC.
If Ernie never posted another Liebert album ever again, this would have been more than sufficient. But come onnnn... this is Ernie we're talking about! Back on December 3, 2006 (scroll down to the very bottom and work your way up), Ernie had himself a field day with Dick Liebert.
Starting with a great album I reviewed called "A Christmas Sampler (Westminster Records)" (which featured several tracks from Liebert), Ernie then posted in quick succession:
Sing and Rejoice! Christmas Carols Played by Dick Liebert (RCA Victor, 1951)
The Sound of Christmas On The Radio City Music Hall Organ (RCA Victor, 1962)
Christmas At Radio City Music Hall (RCA Camden, 1973)
This was a reissue of the two albums listed above - Ernie posted the way groovy gatefold sleeve to look at.
Christmas Holidays At Radio City Music Hall (RCA Victor, 1958)
Ernie posted the Rockettes-red-glare album cover... wiping up drool here... is this one still available on CD?
Two stray Dick Liebert songs compiled by Ernie
I probably lost about 50% of my readers who are clicking on all those links. Which is why I'm hesitant to post this next link. However, it's for the album I'm reviewing at this very moment so I'm forced to post the link (and watch more readers head for Ernie).
Want further proof that all roads lead to Ernie? Try a Google search on Dick Liebert and look at the second link provided.
There's not much out there on Dick Liebert which is a pity. This is a man who was hired by Radio City Music Hall to be one of its main organists shortly after they installed the famous WurliTzer organ - a job he held from the 1930s well into the 1960s.
What's left are these amazing albums - including the Westminster LP pictured above. What's different about this album from all the rest is Liebert wasn't playing with a home field advantage. This album was recorded behind the Mighty WurliTzer at the Byrd Theater in Richmond, VA.
Is everyone back from clicking all those links? Does everyone have this downloaded? Good...
1.) Sleigh Ride
If there was ever a song made for the Mighty WurliTzer, it's this one... amazing sound!
2.) White Christmas
Liebert plays this rather solemnly but the genius of Irving Berlin shines through.
3.) Winter Wonderland
If you don't pick up on the theme from the get go, this one's a little rushed and muddled.
4.) Jingle Bells
Liebert starts this one on a trot, slows down the tempo at the 1/2 mile marker, then finishes fast and strong to the wire.
5.) I'll Be Home for Christmas
I swear I heard a theremin in here - ghostly version that grows on me with repeated listenings!
6.) Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Whenever I hear orchestral versions of this song, I'm immediately turned off by it. Whenever I hear this song on the organ (especially the WurliTzer), it takes on a whole different quality I tune into. Wonderful stuff.
7.) The Skater's Waltz
Images of roller rinks, ice ponds, Olympic figure skaters, several cartoons, and some bad TV variety magicians come to mind when I hear this song. I want this song played next as a "couples only" skate.
8.) Home for the Holidays
Man, this one had me singing along... follow the bouncing ball, folks!
9.) Santa Claus is Coming to Town
The song has all the feel of Santa's workshop as elves get ready for the big day.
10.) Christmas Fantasy - O Little Town of Bethlehem / Silent Night / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Three standards linked together. The best part for me is the improvisation Liebert plays as he links "O Little Town" and "Silent Night" - virtuoso stuff!
This is a fine album by Liebert done very early on in his recording career. The Christmas albums he recorded for RCA Victor remain the absolute summit of his days with Nipper and the gang. I'm very partial to "The Happy Hits of Christmas" as Liebert's best work - although I haven't heard the album with all them Rockettes on it so I reserve judgement.
But you can't go wrong with this album. Lots of fresh sounds, wondrous arrangements, and with Liebert at the WurliTzer, you're in for one heck of a ride.
Thanks for keeping the memory of Dick Liebert alive Ernie!