Showing posts from 2006

Merry Christmas!

My home at Christmas, 2003 I expect today will be the quietest day here at the yuleblog. So if you're reading this on Christmas Day, thanks for looking in and we wish you a very Merry Christmas! We hope Santa brought you everything on your list this year! We won't be open tomorrow for exchanges or returns. Nope. Not even open for business. We're taking the rest of the year off. It's going to take more than a week to sort through the massive amount of downloaded material we've compiled here at the yuleblog. At last count, we have over 160 complete albums we've downloaded through the sharity network. Add in the 50 odd Christmas comps sent to the yuleblog via our PO Box or downloaded on the net, and all of the Christmas CDs I purchased during this month and the ones I'll receive as Christmas gifts... There's only so many days on the calendar! Adding this to the pile doesn't count: This is my Christmas gift to you. Not exactly a "best of"

James Brown - 1933-2006

Early this Christmas morning, we lost a true pioneer in music. James Brown passed away at the age of 73 after a battle with prolonged pnuemonia. To honor his memory, I offer this classic Christmas song: James Brown - Merry Christmas, I Love You We loved you James... Dazzle them angels with your moves! Capt

My Favorite Christmas Memory

It's Christmas Eve... the whole world is settling down for tomorrow - one day of "peace on earth" (subject to change). There are a lot of thoughts running through my mind - most of which will be covered in tomorrow's post. I want to share with you a story I wrote several years ago. Some have read this, many have not. This includes several members of my family who are looking in for the first time. I hope you'll enjoy it. Originally published at on November 29, 2004: December, 1982 wasn't starting very well for many people. It had been a rough year with the economy and recession the way it was. No one knew that better than a middle aged woman standing in line at the gas company, ready to plead for leniency so she could continue to heat her home. Paying bills was all brand new to her since the divorce and she was barely staying afloat. Her 4th oldest son sat quietly in the waiting area, reading a book and secretly wishing the ga

Jim & Tammy - Christmas With Love From

This is it - the second of three posts on Christmas Eve and the last shared LP of the year! Boy, have I saved the worst for last! Err... that's best for worst! Wait... I meant to say best for least! No... it should be least for worst! Darn it... I've saved the least for last... ARGH! THE BEST FOR LAST!!! Don't count on it. Can you believe that this is the photo shopped clean version of the album cover? Someone must have used this in their garage under their engine when they changed the oil - it was that bad. The album was in great shape though. And regardless of what you might be thinking about this album, fear not. Tammy Faye Bakker (now Messner) only has ONE song on the whole album and the only contribution Jim Bakker made to this album was the back cover notes and an executive producer credit to his name. The rest of the album is performed by one time members of the PTL family in its heyday. To some, it's your standard 1980s teleevangelist type of album - u

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

I wasn't going to share this album out because who needs another Christmas organ music LP? This album and I have a long history. I found it earlier this year when I located just the record alone at a local Goodwill store. The album cover turned up much later. The front cover was in great shape. The back was hideous. Watermarks, coffee mug rings, a small food stain... was it food? It took me forever to clean it up in Photoshop. Why all this for a Christmas organ album? When you see the name "Sy Mann" on the back cover, you tend to overlook little details like coffee and food stains! For those who don't know who Sy Mann is, let me quote from a review I did back in August of an album I got last Christmas from our friend Ernie at his incredible blog Ernie (not Bert) (which he just upgraded to STEREO ! WOW!): "But organ music in the hands of Sy Mann, then it becomes something that deserves special attention. If the name Sy Mann sounds familiar, that's

Pat O'Brien - A Quiet Christmas

Who's Pat O'Brien? (For those who know, please feel free to skip ahead). Pat O'Brien was an actor whose work for Warner Brothers back in the 1930s and 1940s is legendary. He appeared eight times together with Jimmy Cagney; most notably in " Angels With Dirty Faces " in 1938. Two years later, he was forever immortalized in " Knute Rockne All-American " playing the lead role. Remember Ronald Reagan saying "win one for the Gipper?" This is it! My personal favorite role of O'Brien's came many years later in 1959. He played the Chicago cop who tracked down George Raft (and Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon to a degree) in " Some Like It Hot ". By the late 1950s, movie roles for O'Brien were scarce. He began appearing on television quite regularly in westerns, drama anthologies, and the like. In 1964, O'Brien scored a television special entitled "Here Pat O'Brien" which featured him singing and recit

The Murk Family - Christmas With

This is the first of two posts on this Saturday before Christmas that will contain TWO links! During one of my vinyl raids of a local thrift shop here in Fort Wayne, I came across this album whose cover definitely caught my eye. Then I found a different version of the album in another bin! The Murk Family are Jim & Donna (the parents) and Bill, Becky, Brenda, and Barbara (the alliterated offspring ). The name sounded familiar. Then I remembered this . Their family caught a big break in 1963 when Jim won the "Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour" - the "American Idol" of its time. This led to hundreds of appearance all over the world. If you ever saw them perform, you probably wouldn't have forgotten them. Each one of the kids plays a stringed instrument while mom plays the vibraharp (see the back album cover below). This only sounds bad but it's not. There's a lot going on in this album (or albums). The first album (ornament cover) wa

Five golden LINKS...

If you're getting bored with Christmas (or already are), here are five places to visit on the web that might shake you up out of the Christmas doldrums: 1.) Jeffco Christmas My Canadian brother Jeff has had albums and podcasts for your listening pleasure all month. If that's not enough, he has just posted his annual Christmas compilation "Christmas Turkeys 10" - a veritable feast of Christmas music that will make you smile, laugh, vomit, have convulsions, whatever. Still not convinced? Jeff's posted some of your favorite Christmas songs sung by the cast of "The Facts of Life"! 2.) This has been the place to be at Christmas for three years running. It's the final weekend over at the King Of Jingaling's palace. There's going to be some incredible surprises in store. Other like minded Christmas music people will be gathering to bask in the glow of Christmas memories via music. If you can't find something to re

A Country Christmas (Decca Records)

Alphabetically, "A Country Christmas" has been at the very top of my list of shared albums. Ironically, it's one of the last albums I'll be posting! To kick off the Christmas holiday weekend, I give you this absolute gem of an album from 1963. I found this LP in an antique store earlier this year. The cover hooked me and the lineup of songs reeled me in! I finally found a copy of "Captain Santa Claus" by Bobby Helms and "Tag Along" by the Wilburn Brothers! This isn't your average run-of-the-mill country compilation either. There are some excellent examples of the Nashville sound and pure vintage old school twangy country sung by some of the best artists Decca Records had in their corral of stars! You're going to find something on this album you're going to love. Be it the bluegrass sounds of Bill Monroe, the deep, rich sound of Red Foley's voice, or listening to pure storytelling on songs by Ernest Tubb or the three gu

O Tannenbaum - Christmas On The Rhine (Decca Records)

On the surface, this may seem to be an ordinary German Christmas album. If you look and listen a little deeper, you just might find some surprises.  There are abundant copies of this album anywhere you look. eBay probably has a few copies listed for auction as you read this. But... some album covers have some suspicious red writing directly under the words "Christmas on the Rhine". These words read: "Mixed Chorus and Orchestra under direction of Werner Müller " That explains why this album is a cut above the rest. When you heard the words "German Christmas record", visions of oompah bands and overbearing Teutonic singers straight out of a Wagner opera might have filled your head. Not this album. This is a well-orchestrated, well-arranged, and well sung album. Many of the standards are covered ("O Tannenbaum", "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht") but there are a few gems that standout from the rest. "Leise Rieselt Der Schnee (

Bob Ralston - Christmas Hymns & Carols

This album (my last repost of the 2006 downloading season) was originally offered at last December. To quote from I wrote a year ago: "Bob Ralston came from a show biz family: his mom was the 13th employee hired by Walt Disney – she was the voice of Minnie Mouse! "After his formal music training ended, he played six nights at week with the Freddy Martin Orchestra from 1959-62 at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood. "When that stint ended, he was approached by Lawrence Welk to be a pianist / organist / arranger for his Champagne Music Makers in 1963. It was a job he held until Welk and company went off the air in 1982 and continues to hold as arranger / organist for the occasional Welk reunion road show that tours the US. "Today, Ralston presents five one-hour pops concerts each month in an intimate (40-seat) setting at his home in Granada Hills, CA. In addition to these regularly scheduled programs, he offers custom concerts to bus tours that vi

The Alcoa Singers - An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Are you a fan of Schoolhouse Rock ? Do you find yourself humming its catchy song " Conjunction Junction "? You probably will after reading this next yuleblog entry. The album you see to the right was released in 1979 by the Alcoa Singers in conjunction with the rebroadcast of the 1978 Rankin-Bass animated TV special " The Stingiest Man In Town " - a musical based on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" written by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre. The album features selections from the animated TV special that were originally sung by the likes of Dennis Day, Tom Bosley, Robert Morse, and (in the title role of Scrooge) Walter Matthau. More on the Alcoa Singers and their album later. This wasn't the first time these songs were sung on television. When I found this album by The Alcoa Singers, immediately behind it was an album that conjuncts (if such a word exists) with everything described so far! The second album I found was the ORIGINAL soundtrack

Orion Samuelson - Christmas 45 - SINGLE

Our family weekend in Chicago was a blast - it brought back many great memories for my wife and myself, added new ones to our collection, and a brand new mess of memories with our kids for their folder. As a kid who grew up in the Chicago area, I have memories so thick dealing with Christmas and Chicago radio that you'd need a whole new blog to catalog them all in. WGN-AM (720 on your radio dial) is known as "Chicago's hometown radio station". It began broadcasting its 50,000 watt radio signal in 1924 - on clear nights, its signal can be heard as far away as South America! Even though it pioneered the "news/talk" format long ago, the staggering variety of radio shows hosted on WGN is legendary - sports, news, cooking shows, radio dramas, you name it. Since 1960, Orion (Oh-REE-un) Samuelson has hosted the farm report for WGN - helping the Midwest's farmers with crop prices, hog futures, and other agricultural news. In this day and age of instan

Bob Mantzke Choralaires - Christmas Songs

Of all the albums and singles I've offered this Christmas, this might just be the most plain, the most obscure, and the least likely to download album in the whole pile. Back in the 1960s, Bob Mantzke was a religious leader of choirs in Minnesota and issued several albums (which can be found on eBay here and here ). His leadership caused his Choralaires to win the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Folk Festival back in 1961 - the first U.S. choir to win that competition. Only three U.S. choirs have ever won in Llangollen and Mantzke's won it twice! Other Google searches show that Robert Mantzke (minus the Choralaires) wrote several Christmas musicals for kids that can still be licensed for performance. Whether or not Bob is alive or dead is a mystery. So is the fate of Vend-O-Matic Sales, Inc - the company who issued this album some time last century. If anyone can fill in the blanks out there, drop us a line. The music? If you're looking for a choir

Christmas Weekend Getaway - Part 2

( singing like Bing & Bob ) We're off on the road to Chicago... For the past several years, my wife and I brave the elements and the crowds to give our three children the Chicago Christmas Experience - Michigan Avenue, The John Hancock Center, and that jewel on State Street - Marshall Field's . Some of you may know but for others, the store that was featured in the movie "Miracle On 34th Street" (a four letter word in our house with an apostrophe S) purchased Marshall Field's and removed their name off the marquee - an unpardonable sin that pure Chicagoans will never forgive or forget. We're gone for three days! Another weekend Christmas trip means a chance for you to check your 2006 downloading season scorecards and catch up on anything you've missed: 1983 Air Force Public Service Spots - Disc V Pat Boone - White Christmas Bowen & Csehy - Christmas Steepletime CLM Industries - Christmas 1961 - SINGLE Jimmy Dean - Christmas Card Fogwell Fl

Alex Houston & Elmer - Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus

Last December, I was making the rounds online and came across Lee Hartfield's incredible blog Music You (Possibly) Won't Hear Anyplace . His entry of December 3rd of last year had a picture of the album cover that stayed with me for a long time (thanks Lee!). That image came in handy when I found a copy of this album among a stack of kiddie records at a antique store in Valparaiso, Indiana. I'm not sure which purchase made me giddier; this album or the copy of "Sesame Street Disco"? From the age of five, Alex Houston wanted to be a ventriloquist. He found his future partner in High Point, North Carolina and bought his dummy Elmer from a local sheriff for $50. Their career spanned 50 years! They got their first break in 1954 on Jimmy Dean's first TV show, stayed there for five years, moved to Nashville and worked as an opening act to country stars like Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, and a newcomer named Charley Pride. Pride and Houston w

Through rain, snow, sleet, and hail...

I visited my post office box this morning and came away with four new Christmas compilations. That brings our running total to 27! Thank you to all who have sent your comps in - they will be given a good home here in Fort Wayne! There's still time if you'd like to send one in... each compilation will be reviewed in February here at the yuleblog. It will be very interesting to see the different themes, songs, and styles that other Christmas home enthusiasts employ on their comps. And from the ones I've received so far, this February is going to be a month to remember! Capt

DeWayne Fulton - Christmas Greetings From

Our next offering is of the quiet variety... and it doesn't get more quiet than Christmas harp. Mention the harp and some people think immediately of Harpo Marx . Others think of Robert Maxwell . Or Bianco . How about DeWayne Fulton? Anyone? I found this record at a garage sale for the very low price of free. As the family thanked me for taking a small stack of albums off their hands, I asked for more info on this album. "It was one of our uncle's albums and he never played it at all." was all I could get. Google searches came up with very little until I came across a cryptic web entry ( ) that listed an interview with Fulton from the Folk Harp Journal . According to the interview, DeWayne Fulton was a founding father in pop/jazz harp. He recorded sixteen albums over his long career, played for Emperor Hirohito and Presidents Lyndon Johnson & Ronald Reagan, studied at Julliard, the Vienna Academy of Music,

The Mexicali Brass - Winter Wonderland

In January of this year, I reviewed "Christmas Brass" by Monterey Brass, an album I found at FaLaLaLaLa last December. In that review, I listed a number of albums that were released in the wake of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' "Christmas Album" in 1968. The LP you see to the left was even mentioned in that review: " Mexicali Brass - Winter Wonderland (I just found this at my local Goodwill... will post soon!) " Better late than never! This is one of three albums I know of released by the Mexicali Brass - " Jingle Bells " (released with many covers) and " Christmas With " (available at FLLLL). Of the nine songs on this album, there's three you'll recognize instantly ("Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow", "Sleigh Ride", "Go Tell It On The Mountain"). However, pay close attention to the other songs flavored with that Alpert / Tijuana Brass sound - little gems in their own righ

Bowen & Csehy - Christmas Steepletime

The day I have been dreading has come... We can't put it off anymore... Today I begin hauling the 14 giant Rubbermaid boxes of Christmas decorations and our 6-ft Christmas artificial tree and deck the halls with boughs of holly - FaLaLaLaLa , la la la la (what an original plug. Zzzzz). Today is the first Sunday that was free and clear for the entire family to be in one place. Lately, it's been a blur of Christmas school plays and parties, trips to the shopping mall to find presents, organizing Christmas get togethers for families and friends, shovelling snow all day Friday, and trying to find time inbetween all of this for my ramblings here at the yuleblog. In the meantime, here's an album that you're either going to love or hate. It's an appropriate album for a Sunday since it was released on the Singspiration Steepletime label - formerly a division of Zondervan. Beyond that, I have no clue about Mrs. Wilmos Csehy who plays the vibraharp or Georgina B

The Pac-Man Christmas Album

You're stunned, right? This cover does have that effect! Here's another album that I posted last year at FaLaLaLaLa - the home of preserved Christmas vinyl memories! Here's what I wrote at the time: The only thing I could find about Kid Stuff Records is that it was active between 1982-1984 and put out about a dozen or so of these albums based on popular video games of the day (Asteroids / Yars’ Revenge / Missle Command / Donkey Kong). I originally bought this album on eBay so I could include the cover in my annual Christmas CD compilation [in 2004] when I saluted the 1980s. I’ve never completely listened to this album but it follows the standard kiddie record formula: tell a story, interrupt it with a song, repeat. I must admit I’m not a huge fan of kiddie records… Maybe it’s because I never had them as a child. I was too busy listening to my mom’s records – Rat Pack, Lawrence Welk, early Elvis & other 50s rock-n-roll albums. Sometimes I would raid my old

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

Whew... give me a second... I'm shortwinded from typing out that title! This Christmas single comes to us from across the pond - a British single that made the rounds back in 1981. Fogwell Flax was (still is) a comedy performer / impressionist whose big break came on the now legendary British kids show " Tiswas " in its final year of 1981-1982. For more on this anarchic, pie-flying, and show, check out " Tiswas Online " Looking at the picture sleeve seen here, Mr. Flax is holding a CB radio surrounded by some of the ankle biters. So that should give you an idea behind the title of "One-Nine For Santa". My first reaction was: "Why did Flax release this CB radio themed Christmas song so late?" By 1981, the CB craze was all but dead in America. Not so in England. Their craze occurred for several years in the early 1980s. There are picture sleeves and there are picture sleeves . You can probably tell which category this one falls into

The Piano Rolls & Voices - All Time Christmas Hits

Here's a fun album that was one of my first posts over at FaLaLaLaLa last year: LINER NOTES: While this album was being recorded, a young man was invited to observe the session from the control room. He enjoyed the sound but was astonished to look through the studio glass and see no one at the keyboard! He was watching a Duo-Art instrument at work, and being too young to remember the national craze for Pianola player pianos required an explanation of how this new and fascinating instrument operated. Air forced through tubing by a pump, he was told, causes hammers to strike the proper strings of the piano, all regulated by a continually moving perforated paper roll. Although a familiar sight fifty years ago, the Pianola has not lost its charm. In fact, a whole new audience has developed for this “live” form of reproduced music. Piano rolls and players are very much available today, and the Aeolian selections used here demonstrate the versatility of the instrument. Singers p

Earl Grant - Winter Wonderland

Well... how do I follow up from yesterday's longwinded but true story? How about a shortwinded true story about the album (or albums) in this yuleblog entry? Around this time last December, I went on one of my first power Christmas album searches throughout the Fort Wayne area and found this copy (pictured above) by Earl Grant. The album cover (in good shape) stated this was a re-release and the record was in excellent shape. I can't remember what I paid for it but I knew it was a steal. With album in hand, I went to my local Kinko's to create color copies of the covers so I could transfer them over to my computer at home. I arrived home with the copies but left the album at Kinko's! I immediately called the store and they couldn't find the album on the glass or around the workstation! I was depressed beyond belief! I called the following day (different shift, different people) and got the same answer. Two weeks passed and I found myself back at Kinko

The Toledo Fire: Ten Years Out Of The Ashes

For those of you who have received this year's version of my annual Christmas CD, this picture may look familiar. For those of you who didn't receive it, have I got a story to tell you! Ten years ago - December 6, 1996 - a date which will live in inflammatory. My then-fiance-now-wife and I were suddenly attacked as a result of a basement fire in my apartment building in Toledo, Ohio. THE FAR, FAR BACK STORY: Ann was a fledgling medical student from Indiana who had come to Chicago to attend medical school. I was working for CD Exchange, a used CD store chain in the Chicago area. Ann would come into the store periodically to sell compact discs for money when her student loans ran out. Before I left that job for the Suncoast Motion Picture Company as an assistant manager in 1994, I had asked Ann out on a date. She said yes and the rest was history. A year later, we were engaged and Ann received her medical degree. Her training took her to the metro Detroit area and I rem