Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vincent Lopez & His Orchestra - Christmas Music

Vincent Lopez was a band leader for most of his life, beginning in 1917! In 1921, he was one of the first bands to utilize the latest thing in technology called radio; his trademark opening for all broadcasts was "Lopez speaking!"

Throughout the 1920s, he had one of the top bands in America. It didn't hurt that he had talented musicians in his band like Artie Shaw, Xavier Cugat, Glenn Miller, and two brothers named Dorsey before they went out on their own. Lopez's piano stylings were flamboyant - influencing younger pianists such as Eddy Duchin and Liberace!

He also discovered talents such as the blind whistler himself Fred Lowery and a young girl who made her debut with Lopez right here in my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN - Betty Hutton. Both Fred and Betty were featured in this musical soundie from 1939:

In 1941, Lopez and his orchestra played an engagement at the Taft Hotel in New York City and didn't leave for twenty years. They were the house band and every Wednesday through Sunday, Lopez had the ballroom jumping. He helped the USO during World War II, made more soundies, and continued his appearances on radio.

As the 1950s began, Lopez found another young talent. Miss Gloria Parker helped write songs for Lopez, appeared with him on a radio show called "Shake The Maracas" from the Taft Hotel, and sang and played the musical glasses with Lopez and Co..

They even co-wrote a Christmas song entitled "My Dream Christmas" that Lopez recorded (but not on this album or on Parker's Christmas album) possibly as a single (?). When this album was recorded in 1957, Lopez was nearing the end of his career and decided to go out in a blaze of Christmas glory.

There are 21 songs total and the covers are excellent listens. But the original songs are the winners here - fun, festive, bouncy, and bright! "Whistling Otto", "Here Comes The Fattest Man In Town", "Christmas Rush", "I'd Like To Find You In My Stocking" and others just get better especially in repeat mode.

Lopez speaking:

Vincent Lopez & His Orchestra - Christmas Music

I found this on eBay in mid-2006. It was sent to me by a seller who had absolutely no clue how to ship an album - two pieces of cardboard taped around the album doesn't constitute a "package". What's worse is that when it arrived at my home, the mailman left it on the front porch in the middle of a rainstorm.

Thankfully, no major damage was done. I quickly got a P.O. Box and never again had to worry about the elements.

Happy listening...



Ernie said...

This was probably my favorite find of the last year. Just that cover alone is worth the price of admission. But mine skips on a track or two. Thanks for shaaring this out so I can have a clean sounding copy.

(Word verification is getting worse. This time it's 'bless'. When did they stop trying?)

CaptainOT said...

Ernie - This is my second favorite share of 2008 - first being the Bobby Roberts album.

Glad to help you complete your album, my good sir.


The Blue Carbuncle said...

Wonderful album that should be:

a) on your annual play list;
b) a source for cuts on your annual comp; and
c) reissued on CD so many more people can enjoy this blast from the past.

CaptainOT said...

Blue Carbuncle - I agree, I agree, and (whaddya know?) I agree! Thanks for the comment!


D said...

My father was a "Lopezian" and played bass on this alblum. It remains one of my favorite Christmas Albums for obvious reasons, but my copy has gone missing. He spent many years of his professional life at the Taft Hotel.