Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Yuleblog Sampler - 2009



Merry Christmas!


Here it is - my last share of the 2009 downloading season. I look forward to this one just as much as some of you!

While I'm searching for albums throughout the year, I'm looking through 45s and 78s to locate those lost Christmas singles that might have fallen through the cracks. When I find a certain record, I purchase it and place it on the "
TBD sampler" pile.

Although my vinyl search and rescue missions this year didn't yield as much as I would have liked, I did manage to locate several vintage jewels. With the care of a gemologist, I carefully transferred them over to digital and packaged them in one nifty package.


Your 2009 Christmas Yuleblog Sampler:


Track 1 - Miss Frances - 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Part I)
RCA Victor -
WBY 28 (F2CW-5193)- 195?

Long before "Sesame Street", "Mr. Rogers", and even "Captain Kangaroo", there was "Ding Dong School" with Miss Frances on NBC. Here she gives us part one of Clement Moore's classic tale.



Track 2 - Don Mason - Here's Wishing You A Merry Christmas
Scepter Records - S12372A - 1971

I wish I knew more about this single - it was 1971, the Vietnam War was still ongoing, the label states this is a special release, and who is Don Mason?

BTW, the song is pretty good!



Track 3 - Susan Dodd & Steel Wheels - Merry Christmas I Love You
ARC Records -
IRDA 571A - 1979

Either Susan and Co. were aspiring artists who got a shot to record a Christmas song or they were a group of session musicians given a chance to record a Christmas song as their bonus that year. Interesting...



Track 4 - St. Nick (Performed by Just For Laughs Players) - Jingle Bells WB Records - WBS 49877 - 1981

Here's a novelty single that even Dr. Demento rarely plays. If that doesn't set off your warning alarm, I can't help you...



 





Track 5 - Lu Ann Simms - I Dreamt That I Was Santa Claus
Columbia Records - J 4 170 (
ZSP 14477) - 1953

Found this on eBay for a remarkable low price - couldn't pass it up. Little Lu Ann is backed by the one and only Percy Faith!

Check out the delicious picture sleeve here!




Track 6 - The Gorman Sisters (Barbara & Viv) - Jesus Is My Santa Claus
Arrow Records - Record No. 721 (H715) - 1957

This is a lovely little Christmas single that tries to refocus Christmas away from Kris Kringle. It only sounds preachy...






Track 7 - Spike Jones & His City Slickers - Santa Brought Me Choo Choo Trains (But Daddy's Having Fun)
RCA Victor - 47-5497 - 1953

There's a handful of Spike Jones Christmas singles that haven't seen the light of the CD laser; this is one of them. The Spike Xmas catalog needs an update and new release!  Another great vocal by George Rock and featuring
Thurl Ravenscroft as the dad!

Track 8 - Tommy Wills (man with a horn) - Blue Christmas Juke Records - JB 2020 (JB 2020A) - 196?

According to his website, Wills is still playing his horn! Based in the Indianapolis area, I tried several times to contact him about this single - no response.






Track 9 - Lynn White - If You Can't Come Home For Christmas Waylo Records - Waylo 125 A - 198?

I was set to write this one off as a 1970s one-hit wonder - but this website states Lynn's career was active on
Waylo Records in the late 1980s!

A blues-influenced soul Christmas song - all right!



Track 10 - The Music City Chorale - Hark The Herald Angels Sing
Hit Records - Record No. 909 (6203) - 196?

Straight-forward rendition of this Christmas carol. The music label was based out of Nashville and specialized in sound-alike version of (you guessed it) hit records.  Sam Moore (of "Sam & Dave" fame) and Ray Stevens ("The Streak") both got their start on this label.


Track 11 - Eddy Howard & His Orchestra - There's A Christmas Tree In Heaven
Mercury Records - 5752 (4519) - 1951

The first selection off two 78
RPMs on this sampler. This is a great (but somber) Christmas song!





Track 12 - Loy Blanton - Christmas At The Jersey Lily Lounge Soundwaves Records - SW-47444-NSD - 1984

This 45 came with its own unique jukebox label that catches your attention! If someone ever asks you what old school country sounds like, try this one on for size.  Watch carefully - another
Soundwaves label is coming up soon!


 

Track 13 - The Keynotes (with Primo Scala And His Banjo And Accordian Orchestra) - The Mistletoe Kiss
London Records - 302 - 1948

This is the second 78 RPM on the sampler. I thought this was another early 1950s product but this Google Books result informed me otherwise.

Billboard called this one a "pleasantly
hoky seasonal ditty done with proper bounce" - a correct description!
Track 14 - Bobby Starr - Jake The Flake
Continental Arts Records - 575A - 196?

I wish I knew more about this amazing Christmas single! It has everything - a teen idol voice, an easy guitar that could work as rock or easy listening, choral and small orchestra backing, and even some Chipmunks-like voices for Jake!

One of my favorite sampler songs.


Track 15 - Julius LaRosa - The Christmas Gift
GP Records - GP 592 - 1981
LaRosa took a moment from appearing on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon to record this lush, easy-to-listen Christmas song circa 1981.

I wish Julie had recorded more Christmas music... but what counts is that he recorded it - that's the important thing!


 
Track 16 - Don Mason - Shepherd Boy
Scepter Records - S12372B - 1971

The
flipside of track two (see above).

This one's a mini-soft rock opera! Be careful - I've been humming this one incessantly since I heard it. The melody can get trapped in your skull...



Track 17 - Lu Ann Simms - I Just Can't Wait 'Til Christmas
Columbia Records - J 4 170 (
ZSP 14478) - 1953

The
flipside of track five (see above) and I think it's better than Side A! A great little Christmas ditty - great work Ms. Simms and Mr. Faith!

Be sure to check out the great picture sleeve as well!

 

Track 18 - The Vel-Mars - Jingle Bells
Continental Arts Records - 575B - 196?

This is the
flipside of track 14 (see above). Was this a double "A" side single? Hmmmm...

Great surf instrumental version of "
JB" by an unknown group based out of New York City (???). Hang ten, dudes!


Track 19 - The Gorman Sisters (Barbara & Viv) - Silent Night
Arrow Records - Record No. 721 (H716) - 1957

The
flipside of track six (see above).

Interesting arrangement... the girls are really singing their hearts out on this one!



Track 20 - Shell Bowling - Born On Christmas Day Soundwaves Records - NSD/SW-4690 - 1982

The 1970s ended two years earlier but someone forgot to tell the label makers at
Soundwaves!

Mr. Bowling wrote himself a Christmas song and tries to sing it a la Vegas Elvis circa 1972. No kidding!

 

Track 21 - Tommy Wills (man with a horn) - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Juke Records - JB2020 (JB2020B) - 196?

I need a song with absolutely no singing after hearing track 20. This fits the bill perfectly.

Thank you, man with a horn!



Track 22 - Eddy Howard & His Orchestra - Auld Lang Syne
Mercury Records - 5752 (4520) - 1951

It's not Guy
Lombardo & His Royal Canadians... but Eddy and Co. do a great rendition!

Try this one at your New Year's Eve party!

 



Track 23 - Miss Frances - 'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Concluded)
RCA Victor -
WBY 28 (F2CW-5194)- 195?

Miss Frances finishes the story that she started at the beginning of the sampler.

Around the 1:07 mark, you will notice a definite skip in the narration - that's where a nasty divot took up residence on the 45. Tried like mad to get past it... but couldn't make it work (sorry).



Two Bonus tracks...



Wonder what these could be???











 
UPDATE: 12/22/11 - REMASTERED


As with samplers past, this is the segment where I share some personal info with you, the readers of this blog.

For starters, I have approximately 130 comments that have been left here that I haven't responded to since April of this year. I wasn't purposely ignoring them, I was simply beyond busy this year. At some point down the road, I will respond to all of the comments - both new and old.

I mentioned last year that I wanted to shed some excess weight. My exercise regimen really didn't take off until this autumn when all three of my children started school. I found myself dropping the kids off at 7:15 AM and heading to the gym by 7:30 AM.

It was during this time that I began to feel some tightness across my chest after workouts. I was able to find a cardiologist who discovered two arteries in my heart partially blocked. He told me that the diet / workout regimen is a good start and he's monitoring me well. My cardiologist even began working out himself at the same gym I use!

I'm happy to report that I am under 300 pounds for the first time in over a decade. I can't wait for school to start again - I haven't been to the gym in over a week and I feel horrible. Here's hoping I'll be around 250 next year and my cholesterol will be normal!

As for the blog... big changes are coming. This is due to the fact that Santa will reward me this year with a brand new Dell Inspiron desktop to replace my eight-year old Compaq Presario 5250. And my wife tells me that come tax return time in several months, I'll probably get a new USB turntable to go with it.

I've done the best I could do with an eight-year old computer and a crappy turntable. I'm hoping to turn that around in 2010 by changing the format of the blog and remastering all of the albums I've posted here.

Along the way, I've got a BOATLOAD of album reviews I need to post here - some dating back to 2006! The Christmas sharity network has really outdone themselves in the past several years and it's time I honored their work with some hard work of my own.

As I type these paragraphs, I realize I'm in a Catch-22 situation: I can continue to lose weight by being away from the computer but can only work on all these projects if I'm in front of the computer. I have to to find a balance inbetween somehow...

In any case, I want to thank you for visiting us and sampling our wares and shares. If you read the back cover of this year's sampler carefully, you'll discover that this year's edition is dedicated to Christmas music enthusiasts around the world. This means you.

I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you are. Peace...


Rob Martinez
aka CaptainOT

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It happened again... Journal Gazette, Part Deux

I received a phone call this morning from my father-in-law, a hearty fellow with a dry sense of humor. If you happened to see "The FPT Christmas Revue", you might remember a character from Act II - a retiree who was spending his first Christmas in an assisted living facility.

That character was loosely based on my father-in-law (you gotta write what you know about).

Ed called here early this morning as I was waking up: "I wanna thank you for scaring all the mice out of our house..."

Huh? I'm not sure what he was getting at...

"They printed your interview in the morning paper... Front page too!" he stated plainly.

Then I really woke up. A few weeks back, I was interviewed by Frank Gray, a gent who works for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, for a piece I had hoped would run before the run of the revue ended. As it turned out, they pushed it back to run today (of all days).

If this seems familiar, this was the same newspaper that ran a Christmas Day article two years ago about my Christmas collection and my annual Christmas CD that I send to family and friends.

So... I'm in the paper... Again... I sound like Forrest Gump... Again...


Capt

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Call for Links and All...

Here's is my final UPDATED list of what I have shared - click on a link to explore:


1983 Air Force Public Service Spots - Disc V

The Alcoa Singers - An Olde-Fashioned Christmas

Marian Anderson - Christmas Carols

Anonymous - Two Christmas Songs

Around The Christmas Tree - A Special Christmas Day Program

Jan August - Christmas Favorites

The Banjo Barons - Selections from "Play Music For Happy Times"

Ben Best - Happy Christmas Party

Bielefelder Kinderchor - Christmas In Germany

Pat Boone - White Christmas

Bowen & Csehy - Christmas Steepletime

Owen Bradley & His Quintet - Joyous Bells Of Christmas

The Bravo Singers & Instrumentalists - Christmas Sing-Along

Bobby Breen - Songs At Yuletide

Anita Bryant - The Miracle Of Christmas

Al Caiola & Riz Ortolani - The Sound Of Christmas

The Canterbury Choir - Christmas Hymns And Carols Sung By

Capitol Production Music

The Chicago Swedish Glee Club - Songs At Christmas

Christmas 1953 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1954 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1965 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1966 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1971 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1976 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas Favorites EP (Mercury Records)

A Christmas Greeting (L.A. Unit of Recording For The Blind)

Christmas Greetings (U.S. Navy)

Christmas In Italy (Capitol Records)

A Christmas Yuleblog Sampler - 2008

CLM Industries - Christmas 1961 - SINGLE

Dorothy Collins - Won't You Spend Christmas With Me? (STEREO)

A Country Christmas

Vic Dana - Sings Little Altar Boy & Other Christmas Songs

Jimmie Davis - Going Home For Christmas

Jimmy Dean - Jimmy Dean's Christmas Card

Bill Doggett - 12 Songs Of Christmas

Dragnet - The Christmas Story

Fogwell Flax & The Ankle Biters From From Freehold Junior School - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Pete Fountain - Candy Clarinet: Merry Christmas From (STEREO)

DeWayne Fulton - Christmas Greetings From

Funky Christmas (Cotillion Records)

The George Mitchell Minstrels - The Magic of Christmas

Will Glahe & His Orchestra - Christmas On The Rhine

Earl Grant - Winter Wonderland

Ken Griffin - Christmas Organ

Walt Harper - Open Pantry Presents Christmas Eve With

Heino - A Festive German Christmas

The Hollywood Pops Orchestra - Great Instrumental Christmas Music

Alex Houston & Elmer - Here Comes Peter CottonClaus

Irwin The Disco Duck - Christmas & New Year's Party

Åke Jelving - Christmas In Sweden

Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra - I Want To Wish You A Merry Christmas

Jim & Tammy - Christmas With Love

KFUO Presents Christmas Hymns

KFUO Presents Christmas Hymns and Carols

The Kid's Bible Club - At Christmastime

The Klaudt Indian Family - Peace On Earth; Christmas Greetings

Carmen Le Nard - Jolly Snowman - SINGLE

Liberace - 1954 Christmas Greetings (w brother George) - FLEXI

L'il Wally - Dance Around The Christmas Tree With

L'il Wally & The Harmony Boys - A Polka Christmas

Joe Longstreth & John Escosa - Christmas With

Vincent Lopez & His Orchestra - Christmas Music

Fred Lowery - A Family Christmas

The Lutheran Voices Children's Choir - Silent Night

Vera Lynn - Christmas With

Ruth Lyons - Selections from "It's Christmastime Again"

Sy Mann & The Malvin Carolers - Let's All Sing Christmas Carols

The Manhattan "Pops" Symphonic Band - The Sound Of Christmas

The Manhattans - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

The Bob Mantzke Choralaires - Christmas Songs

Robert Maxwell & His Harp - 40 All-Time Christmas Favorites

Mary Mayo - The Magic Of Christmas

Mickey & Bunny - Sing English Xmas Carols in Ukrainian

The Mom & Dads - Merry Christmas With

The Murk Family - Christmas With

Selections from "Nashville Christmas Party" (RCA Victor)

NORAD Tracks Santa - Christmas 1968

Pat O'Brien - A Quiet Christmas

O Tannenbaum - Christmas On The Rhine

The Pac-Man Christmas Album

Frank Pellico - A Spirited Christmas

The Piano Rolls & Voices - All Time Christmas Hits

A Pink Panther Christmas

A Power Pak Christmas - THREE ALBUMS

Bob Ralston - Christmas Hymns & Carols

RCA Victor Holiday Promo 45

Bobby Roberts & His Orchestra - Holiday Music For Happy People

Mickey Rooney - Merry Merry Micklemas

Del Roper & The Mason Swiss Bell Ringers - I Heard The Bells

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and David Arnold - Hooked On Christmas - SINGLE

The Royale Story Tellers - Christmas EP

Marlin L. Ryan - York, PA Traditional Christmas Carols

Sacred Heart School Choir - Sings Croatian & English Christmas Carols

Carlos Salzedo - Christmas Carols in Hi Fi

Orion Samuelson - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Sebastian's Zither - Christmas Dreams

Harry Secombe - White Christmas

Seeburg Corporation - The Sound & Color of Christmas

The Sing 'N' Do Company - Christmas Windows

Shirley & Squirrely - Christmas With

Ethel Smith - Silent Night-Holy Night

The Soulful Strings - The Magic Of Christmas

The Sounds Of Christmas (Warner Bros. Records) (MONO)

Phil Spitalny & The Hour Of Charm - Christmas Carols By

The Stonemans - A Stoneman Christmas

Paul & Nancy Steffen - Christmas Bells

The Three Suns - The Sounds of Christmas EP

The Town That Arrested Santa Claus

Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin - Christmas In The Congo

Bobby Vinton - Christmas Promo EP

Jimmy Wakely - Christmas On The Range

The West Creighton Avenue Christian Church Bell Choir of Fort Wayne, Indiana - Selections from

We Three Bings: Vital Music's N.Y. Trash Xmas Comp

Patricia Wilde - Christmas Carols In Percussion

Justin Wilson - A Cajun Christmas With

Ingvar Wixell - Christmas Music of Sweden

Merrill Womach - Sings Christmas Carols

Archie Wood & His Friends - Christmas Album

Woody The Woodchuck - Christmas Sing Song (STEREO)


Happy listening...


Capt

Monday, December 21, 2009

Frank Pellico - A Spirited Christmas


Okay... you're probably saying to yourself "Self, that cover looks awfully familiar. Have I seen that somewhere before or have I just drank too much eggnog???"

Before you dial up the EggNog Anonymous hotline, this identical cover was used as an alternate of The Murk Family's Christmas album. It later appeared as an alternate cover for Mickey Rooney's Christmas album (but if you saw the other cover, you'd understand why this one was used... you've been warned!).

When I saw this album at a thrift store in Chicago, I was half tempted to pass it up - who needs yet another Christmas organ album and I don't need a THIRD album with the same cover in my collection. Or did I? I read the back and kept asking myself "Why does the name Frank Pellico ring a bell?"

I added the album to the pile and continued on my merry way (you can never beat 25 cents for an LP). Only after I left the city limits of my former hometown and got back to my current hometown of Fort Wayne did I discover the treasure that made the 150+ mile trek east.

Frank Pellico grew up in Chicago during a time when roller rinks regularly featured live organists playing skating music. In high school, Frank studied the organ under the tutelage of Al Melgrand, the legendary organist of the massive Barton organ installed in Chicago Stadium during Chicago Blackhawks hockey games.

Pellico began playing at roller rinks throughout Chicago and played nightly at the Matterhorn Supper Club in Palos Hills, IL. His reputation as a top-notch organist was secured when in 1970, he was hired by the Chicago Cubs to play the Lowrey organ at all of their home games at Beautiful Wrigley Field.

It was around this time that Frank recorded an album entitled "Touching" that featured his amazing organ skills on the Hammond X-66 organ:



In 1976, Pellico and the Cubs parted ways (the new organist was Vance Fothergill - real Cub fans know this stuff). Frank continued to play all over Chicago as well as continue his recording career. That takes us up to 1978 - the year of the Christmas album you're looking at.



Disco was ruling the airwaves at the time and Frank wanted to stay current. Click on the back album cover to read what you're about to listen to.

When you hear the very first notes of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", images of "Hill Street Blues" will immediately come to mind. Then the cool organ kicks in and transforms the experience to a whole new level.

It's a unique album - a true testament to its times. Any sports bar in Chicago would be proud to have this album in their collection and would gladly play it on their speakers during happy hour.


Frank Pellico - A Spirited Christmas


As the 1980s began, Frank still recorded his music and played the organ wherever and whenever he could. It was around this time that amazing things were happening for the occupants of Chicago Stadium.

The Blackhawks sported a new look with youngsters like Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour, and Chris Chelios. The Bulls were putting a nucleus of talent together around a kid from North Carolina... some guy who wore #23... name of Jordan...

In the early 1990s, the Blackhawks and Bulls were packing them in at the Stadium as a vacancy opened up for an organist on the old Barton organ. They needed someone who understood the massive organ, someone who had experience, someone who could rile up the crowds.



One last note: as many sports arenas around the country move toward the school of "ESPN Rock Jams" and phase out organists altogether, Chicago stands alone as one of the few sports towns that openly embrace their organists.

Nancy Faust has been playing for the White Sox since the mid-1970s and is credited with introducing the "Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" song to sports. Gary Pressy has had the Chicago Cubs job since 1987 and played with Harry Caray all those 7th inning stretches. He now plays with tone-deaf celebs during the stretch (GROAN!!)

Frank Pellico's been with the Blackhawks since 1991 and the ownership recently tried to cut into his playing time. The fans quickly rallied to his side and he's still a fixture above the home ice.

You've got the last word Frank:




Happy listening...


Capt

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The FPT Christmas Revue in Review & Stan Freberg Revues All!


Several hours ago, the curtain came down on the run of "The FPT Christmas Revue". It was a project that I was closely involved with since the beginning of this year; a journey full of challenges, frustrations, joy, and remarkable achievements while bringing a totally new work to the stage.

I must thank Thom Hofrichter and Joel D. Scribner for this amazing opportunity. These two gentlemen gave me a chance to showcase my perspective on Christmas and they were supportive of the whole process. I owe them a lot and I look forward to working with them on other shows at First Presbyterian Theater.

Over 1000 people came out to see the show over its run and saw a plethora of talent. We had 30+ people in the cast, ages ranging from five to 70-something. We had members of five different families within the cast, a wide range of Christmas songs to sing, and each member of the cast gave it their all every night on the boards.

To my fellow cast members, thank you so much. I got to know many of you in those small moments of waiting around for another go around on a particular song or waiting for your moment to rehearse your lines. I shared your moments of accomplishment, swapped the latest jokes about Tiger Woods, and laughed with all of you throughout the whole process.

Thanks to all of you wonderful people for making this Christmas incredibly special. I say to all of you:



Of course, we can't forget this guy either...



Imagine answering a voicemail left on your cell phone in July and hearing the legendary voice of Stan Freberg returning your phone call! It was that phone call that began the process of securing the right to perform "Green Chri$tma$" for possibly the first time live on stage anywhere.

Stan and his wife Hunter provided our little theater group the greatest gift of the year. We had enormous fun putting it on the stage and the audience immensely enjoyed the work. Every night, you could hear a pin drop when our Bob Cratchit reminded everyone about "whose birthday we're celebrating".

Freberg revealed to us a never-before hilarious story behind the creation of "Green Chri$tma$". Ever wonder what cash register they used for the end of that song? Download to hear the story for yourself along with a Christmas greeting from Stan himself:


Stan Freberg - Green Chri$tma$ Greetings



Happy listening...


Capt

Friday, December 18, 2009

The FPT Christmas Revue - December 3 - 20, 2009



FINAL PERFORMANCE TODAY!

If you live in the NE Indiana / NW Ohio area and want to
see a Christmas revue like no other you've ever seen,
then this is your LAST chance!

Come on out!

Call the number on the poster to reserve your tickets!

If you've seen the show, leave us a comment
and tell us what you thought about it!

See you on the stage!


Rob
aka Capt

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dorothy Collins - Won't You Spend Christmas With Me (STEREO)


In yesterday's post, I gave props to Buster over at Big 10-Inch Record for posting some darn good shares this downloading season. Late last month, I posted an entry that mentioned that two albums I originally had planned on sharing out were already posted to Buster's blog.

One of those two albums was this gem of a Christmas album. I was ready to file it away for the winter and move on to other shares when our friend Ernie (not Bert) pointed out in a comment that Buster had posted a high-fidelity copy of the album whilst mine read STEREO!

It's commonplace here for me to miss small things like that. Maybe it's the early stages of Alzheimer's... Thanks for bringing that to my attention Ern!

Backstory: Marjorie Chandler was born in 1926 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada - just across the river from Detroit, Michigan. She developed a love for music and began singing on radio stations on BOTH sides of the river in her teens. It was also during this time she adopted a new stage name: Dorothy Collins.

On a trip to Chicago in 1940, 14-yr. old Dorothy met bandleader/composer Raymond Scott and was quickly hired into his band. Throughout the 1940s, Scott mentored, tutored, and taught everything Collins needed to know about phrasing, breath control, etc., and became a popular vocalist of the day.

In 1949, CBS asked Scott to take over the bandleading duties for one of its popular shows, "Your Hit Parade". Just as they were getting their feet wet in radio, NBC decided to create the television version of "YHP". With her good looks and style, Dorothy quickly became a fan favorite and rose to stardom.



"Your Hit Parade" was a huge hit on television throughout the 1950s. People tuned in weekly to see and hear the popular songs of the day with male vocalists Snooky Lawson, Russell Arms, and another popular female Canadian vocalist named Gisele MacKenzie!

Then came rock-n-roll. With the advent of Elvis, Ricky, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and others climbing the charts, "Your Hit Parade" tried desperately to stay in touch with the times.



Needless to say, "Your Hit Parade" took a dive in the ratings. Before its run ended, Collins went into the recording studio to create the album you're looking at. With the backing of Nathan Van Cleve & His Orchestra, she recorded twelve straightforward rendtions of Christmas songs.

Nothing really jumps out at you, style wise. Except Collins' wonderful voice.

After the demise of "YHP" in 1959, Collins appeared on television shows and in musical theater. In 1971, she was one of the original cast members in the Stephen Sondheim landmark musical "Follies" and was nominated for a Tony Award for her role.

For five years (1974-1979), she was co-host of a syndicated version of "Candid Camera" with Allen Funt. One such stunt that I remember was Dorothy driving a Volkswagen bug into a gas station and asking the attendant to fill it up. They had replaced the gas tank with a 55-gallon drum inside the car! One guy stood there for 20 minutes in bewilderment!

After "Candid Camera" ended, Collins settled into semi-retirement and made occasional public appearances after that. She had suffered with asthma for most of her life and as she got older, the disease took its toll in 1994. She was 67.


Dorothy Collins - Won't You Spend Christmas With Me (STEREO)


Happy listening...


Capt

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bobby Breen - Songs At Yuletide


"My mother is in pictures,
You've seen her on the screen.
She gave chicken pox to Alan Ladd
And mumps to Bobby Breen."

Excerpt from "Ode from a Germ's Eye Viewpoint" by Percy Dovetonsils (aka Ernie Kovacs)


I first encountered the genius of Ernie Kovacs on my local PBS station in 1977. In those days, my brothers and I would place a tape recorder next to the speakers of the TV, record the audio, and listen to it repeated in lieu of a VCR. I quoted this poem frequently, placing the same emphasis on "Bobby BREEN" they way Percy Dovetonsils did.

That was the first time I became aware of someone named Bobby Breen. Curiosity got the the better of me and I went to my local library to consult its newest collection of World Book Encyclopedias. Breen was born in Canada and made his way to Hollywood as a youngster.

His first big break was several appearances singing on Eddie Cantor's radio show in the late 30s. His natural soprano voice separated him from many of the other child singers of the day and led him to RKO Studios. RKO featured him in several singing roles (go figure) in nine movies between 1936 and 1942.

His last film was "Johnny Doughboy" that featured 15-year old Bobby as one of several has-been child stars who want to put on a USO show for the troops! With his voice changed permanently thanks to puberty and a fading movie career, Breen turned to the stage and radio throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

This 10-inch record was released by London Records in 1950 and features nine Christmas songs by Breen (competently backed up by Bruce Campbell & His Orchestra - no, not THAT Bruce Campbell!). Most of the songs are standard Christmas carols and Breen fully sounds like a young adult as he sings; no evidence as a boy soprano here.

In later life, he appeared as a guest pianist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra and hosting a local New York TV show in the early 1950s. He continued to get work in nightclubs and television spots well into the 1960s.

Amazingly, in 1964, Breen signed with Motown Records and released several singles that sold very little. A full album was recorded but never released... anyone have a copy of that album?

Three years later, Breen gained immortality by making the cover of The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". He appears over George Harrison's left shoulder (unlike the hand over Paul McCartney which either belongs to a priest blessing a corpse or is a signal of death in Norway - I forget).

In the late 1970s, Breen retired for good and moved down to Tamarac, Florida. Restless, he started a local talent agency in 1978 and continues to run this enterprise today - at the ripe ol' age of 82!

Merry Christmas, Bobby!


Bobby Breen - Songs At Yuletide



Happy listening...


Capt


P.S. This 10" share is dedicated to Buster, the gent who runs the darn good blog Big 10-Inch Record. Check out his blog for other rare and exotic 10" records, included some amazing Christmas shares!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The George Mitchell Minstrels - The Magic of Christmas


To modify an anonymous quote that has become famous: "Never judge an album by its cover".

Earlier this year, I was surfing through the holiday album listings at eBay when I discovered this album. I was shocked two different ways - the first being that I was able to track this album down at a reasonable price, the second was that stupefying cover.

Let's start at the beginning to fully understand this.

George Mitchell had come from a musical family - his grandfather was a well-known Scottish choir master and both of his parents were singers as well. He learned piano at an early age and during World War II, he organized military choirs and made a name for himself throughout the armed forces.

After the war, Mitchell went to work for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and organized radio choirs and shows utilizing his own handpicked glee club entitled "The George Mitchell Choir". As television began its ascent in popularity over radio, Mitchell began working on variety shows and specials for the new medium.

In 1957, the BBC decided to run a special entitled "The 1957 Television Minstrels" and called in Mitchell. With female dancers called "The Television Toppers" and a rechristened male choir called "Mitchell's Minstrels", the basis was formed for the show. It was a ratings winner.

The following year, the BBC and Mitchell decided to expand the special into a regular weekly series. The newly named "Black And White Minstrel Show" began broadcasting on Saturday nights, featuring a Mitch Miller-type singalong format for the home audiences.

In addition to solo and group minstrel numbers (complete with red make-up which looked black on camera), folk, foreign, and country/western songs were featured as well. The show was an instant hit and became a Saturday night tradition in England.



It was around this time that the Minstrels began a successful recording career. Their first album, "The Black and White Minstrel Show", was released in 1960. Other top-selling albums were "Another Black and White Minstrel Show" from 1961, and "On Stage with the Black and White Minstrels" in 1962.

If this wasn't enough, Mitchell began a stage show in 1960 that featured live performances by the Minstrels. It ran successfully throughout the entire decade and beyond. By 1964, the BBC TV audience had reached a staggering 16.5 million viewers each week - the same year the civil rights movement here in America was reaching its peak.

In 1967, the BBC decided that "The Black And White Minstrel Show" would be one of the first shows to shown in colour. Bad mistake.

John Lennon described it as "a stupid show". A group called "The Campaign Against Racial Discrimination" regarded the show as "insulting" and delivered a petition to the BBC requesting that it be taken off the air. Mitchell's solution to the problem was inviting actual black performers onto the show to sing with the others in blackface.

The controversy never fully went away and the show remained on the air. However, it began a long, slow slide in popularity and its regular viewership was now around eight million every Saturday night.

In 1970, Mitchell decided the time was right for a full-blown Christmas album. Rounding up his minstrels and his talented soloists John Boulter, Margaret Savage, and Dai Francis, they recorded the album you see before you.

When you drop the needle on this album, all controversies and preconceived notions instantly disappear. This is a remarkable album that grabs you from note one and doesn't let up until the very end. There's not one bad track in the lot.

Each side contains two amazing medleys of Christmas songs and each soloist is given plenty of room to shine. Mitchell's exceptional arrangements really come across well in each song. This is, by far, the album I'm most proud of presenting this Christmas.


The George Mitchell Minstrels - The Magic of Christmas


As the show entered the 1970s, the format remained the same and the once-acceptable blackface aspect of the show was dropped in an effort to qualm the controversy. It didn't matter - the ratings still were dropping slowly thanks to raised racial awareness. The fact they were playing music that dated back to the American Civil War undoubtedly hurt as well.

The stage show ended its run in 1972 after an amazing 6,477 performances and went onto the road, touring the English countryside with live shows. On one such tour, a young British comedian named Lenny Henry appeared with the troupe and has regretted the move ever since.

In 1975, George Mitchell was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II and continued with "The Black And White Minstrel Show" for three more years on TV. The BBC finally decided to cancel the show in 1978 - an incredible twenty year run for the program.

Mitchell handed the reins of the "Minstrel" show empire to his son Rob, and retired to America. The Minstrel show was kept alive on tour for another decade or so. One Internet source claims the final show was in 1987. Another source puts the date around 1992. It might still be running somewhere (who knows?).

Never judge an album by its cover... How true, how true.

Happy listening...


Capt

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Have you sampled some of these?

Here's is an UPDATED complete list of what I have shared here - click on a link to explore:


1983 Air Force Public Service Spots - Disc V

The Alcoa Singers - An Olde-Fashioned Christmas

Marian Anderson - Christmas Carols

Anonymous - Two Christmas Songs

Around The Christmas Tree - A Special Christmas Day Program

Jan August - Christmas Favorites

The Banjo Barons - Selections from "Play Music For Happy Times"

Ben Best - Happy Christmas Party

Bielefelder Kinderchor - Christmas In Germany

Pat Boone - White Christmas

Bowen & Csehy - Christmas Steepletime

Owen Bradley & His Quintet - Joyous Bells Of Christmas

The Bravo Singers & Instrumentalists - Christmas Sing-Along

Anita Bryant - The Miracle Of Christmas

Al Caiola & Riz Ortolani - The Sound Of Christmas

The Canterbury Choir - Christmas Hymns And Carols Sung By

Capitol Production Music

The Chicago Swedish Glee Club - Songs At Christmas

Christmas 1953 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1954 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1965 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1966 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1971 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas 1976 Veteran's Administration Hospital Program

Christmas Favorites EP (Mercury Records)

A Christmas Greeting (L.A. Unit of Recording For The Blind)

Christmas Greetings (U.S. Navy)

Christmas In Italy (Capitol Records)

A Christmas Yuleblog Sampler - 2008

CLM Industries - Christmas 1961 - SINGLE

A Country Christmas

Vic Dana - Sings Little Altar Boy & Other Christmas Songs

Jimmie Davis - Going Home For Christmas

Jimmy Dean - Jimmy Dean's Christmas Card

Bill Doggett - 12 Songs Of Christmas

Dragnet - The Christmas Story

Fogwell Flax & The Ankle Biters From From Freehold Junior School - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Pete Fountain - Candy Clarinet: Merry Christmas From (STEREO)

DeWayne Fulton - Christmas Greetings From

Funky Christmas (Cotillion Records)

Will Glahe & His Orchestra - Christmas On The Rhine

Earl Grant - Winter Wonderland

Ken Griffin - Christmas Organ

Walt Harper - Open Pantry Presents Christmas Eve With

Heino - A Festive German Christmas

The Hollywood Pops Orchestra - Great Instrumental Christmas Music


Alex Houston & Elmer - Here Comes Peter CottonClaus

Irwin The Disco Duck - Christmas & New Year's Party

Åke Jelving - Christmas In Sweden

Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra - I Want To Wish You A Merry Christmas

Jim & Tammy - Christmas With Love

KFUO Presents Christmas Hymns

KFUO Presents Christmas Hymns and Carols

The Kid's Bible Club - At Christmastime

The Klaudt Indian Family - Peace On Earth; Christmas Greetings

Carmen Le Nard - Jolly Snowman - SINGLE

Liberace - 1954 Christmas Greetings (w brother George) - FLEXI

L'il Wally - Dance Around The Christmas Tree With

L'il Wally & The Harmony Boys - A Polka Christmas

Joe Longstreth & John Escosa - Christmas With

Vincent Lopez & His Orchestra - Christmas Music

Fred Lowery - A Family Christmas


The Lutheran Voices Children's Choir - Silent Night

Vera Lynn - Christmas With

Ruth Lyons - Selections from "It's Christmastime Again"

Sy Mann & The Malvin Carolers - Let's All Sing Christmas Carols

The Manhattan "Pops" Symphonic Band - The Sound Of Christmas

The Manhattans - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

The Bob Mantzke Choralaires - Christmas Songs

Robert Maxwell & His Harp - 40 All-Time Christmas Favorites


Mary Mayo - The Magic Of Christmas

Mickey & Bunny - Sing English Xmas Carols in Ukrainian

The Mom & Dads - Merry Christmas With

The Murk Family - Christmas With

Selections from "Nashville Christmas Party" (RCA Victor)

NORAD Tracks Santa - Christmas 1968

Pat O'Brien - A Quiet Christmas

O Tannenbaum - Christmas On The Rhine

The Pac-Man Christmas Album

The Piano Rolls & Voices - All Time Christmas Hits

A Pink Panther Christmas

A Power Pak Christmas - THREE ALBUMS

Bob Ralston - Christmas Hymns & Carols

RCA Victor Holiday Promo 45

Bobby Roberts & His Orchestra - Holiday Music For Happy People

Mickey Rooney - Merry Merry Micklemas

Del Roper & The Mason Swiss Bell Ringers - I Heard The Bells

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and David Arnold - Hooked On Christmas - SINGLE

The Royale Story Tellers - Christmas EP

Marlin L. Ryan - York, PA Traditional Christmas Carols

Sacred Heart School Choir - Sings Croatian & English Christmas Carols

Carlos Salzedo - Christmas Carols in Hi Fi

Orion Samuelson - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Sebastian's Zither - Christmas Dreams

Harry Secombe - White Christmas

Seeburg Corporation - The Sound & Color of Christmas

The Sing 'N' Do Company - Christmas Windows

Shirley & Squirrely - Christmas With

Ethel Smith - Silent Night-Holy Night

The Soulful Strings - The Magic Of Christmas

The Sounds Of Christmas (Warner Bros. Records) (MONO)

Phil Spitalny & The Hour Of Charm - Christmas Carols By

The Stonemans - A Stoneman Christmas

Paul & Nancy Steffen - Christmas Bells


The Three Suns - The Sounds of Christmas EP

The Town That Arrested Santa Claus

Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin - Christmas In The Congo

Bobby Vinton - Christmas Promo EP

Jimmy Wakely - Christmas On The Range

The West Creighton Avenue Christian Church Bell Choir of Fort Wayne, Indiana - Selections from

We Three Bings: Vital Music's N.Y. Trash Xmas Comp

Patricia Wilde - Christmas Carols In Percussion

Justin Wilson - A Cajun Christmas With

Ingvar Wixell - Christmas Music of Sweden

Merrill Womach - Sings Christmas Carols


Archie Wood & His Friends - Christmas Album

Woody The Woodchuck - Christmas Sing Song (STEREO)


Happy listening...


Capt