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Showing posts from January, 2006

Diana Krall - Christmas Songs

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This past weekend, I travelled to Chicago again and found this album at a used CD store... not a bad pickup for $10! Back in 1997, I was first introduced to Diana Krall thanks to an annual meeting of store managers of Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Musicland, and Sam Goody. On the last night of meetings, we received a HUGE box of freebie videos, pens, beverage warmers, and music CDs from the various studios and record companies we sold product for. Nestled inbetween two videos was Diana's first album "Love Songs". On the ride home, I listened to the incredible CD and was hooked for life. I recommended the CD to anyone I came in contact with and waited for her next album to come out. One year later (1998), I attended my last annual meeting with Suncoast and received yet another box of goodies. Plenty of videos, golf towels with the Playboy logo, desk accessories, and only three CDs. One of the CDs was Diana's first Christmas offering: "Have Yourself

Larry Ferrari - I Wish You The Merriest

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Outside of the Philadelphia area, many people probably haven't heard of Larry Ferrari. This talented chap played the organ at several differnt Philly churches and on many local Philly television shows. "The Larry Ferrari Show" began on Sunday nights in 1954, with Larry looking directly into the camera, playing pop favorites on the organ, and ending each show with a religious selection. His final broadcast was in 1997 - a remarkable 43 year run for a guy and his organ! This album was created in the early 1960s and features Larry playing his favorite Christmas songs on the Rodgers Theatre Organ. If you ever roller skated to Christmas organ music at any point in your life, this is what it sounded like! Each song has that wonderful Wurlitzer sound to it and Larry plays a mean organ! This is especially true in the several medleys performed on the album. He zips through "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "Jingle Bells", and "Frosty The Snowman"

Paul & Paula - Holiday For Teens

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Of all the things I've learned about Christmas music, the one major constant is this: people never forget the Christmas music they listened to as a child. In many cases, people will search for those old Firestone albums to bring back memories from Christmases gone by. Some look for that specific kiddie Christmas album put out by Peter Pan Records to share with their own brothers & sisters as a Christmas memory jogging gift. Some people pay top dollar for these memories. Our case in point: the album you see before you. Paul & Paula were in fact Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson, two college students in Texas when they recorded "Hey Paula" as a way to help the American Cancer Society raise funds. Someone at Mercury Records was listening and signed them to a recording deal in 1963. Their song went to number #1 on the Billboard charts, placed in the top ten on the R&B charts, and caused a wave of male/female pairings at other record companies (Marvin Gaye

Rev. Horton Heat - We Three Kings: Christmas Favorites

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A few months ago during the Christmas season of 2005, I purchased two new Christmas releases at my local Borders store with similar sounds but way, WAY different approaches. The first was Brian Setzer's " Dig That Crazy Christmas ". The second album is the one you see above. For those of you not versed in the ways of the good Rev. Heat, here's the backstory: Formed in 1985 in Dallas, Texas, the original members were Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath on guitar, Bobby Baranowski on drums, and "Swingin'" Jack Barton on upright bass. This manic trio began touring with a wild stage show that set them apart from other rockabilly groups like the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Imbibing plenty of Jagermeisters during performances (let's see Setzer do that onstage!), the band's antics - mixed with their incredibly hilarious lyrics and the sound of country, rockabilly, big band, and psychobilly - made them underground favorites. Shortly before they secu

Lorne Greene - Have A Happy Holiday

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Here's another lost Christmas album that I found at FaLaLaLaLa.com posted by FLLLL member Shemp - thank you, good sir! Lorne Greene came to America from Canada in the 1950s and hit paydirt when he became Ben Cartwright on the long running TV western "Bonanza" (start humming the theme song now). In 1962, RCA-Victor decided to cash in on "Bonanza's" popularity and sent Lorne and the other cast members into the recording studio. The first Bonanza album was so popular that Greene was allowed to record his first album "Young At Heart" in 1963 (which didn't sell). At the end of that same year, the "Bonanza" cast recorded their infamous Christmas album "Christmas At The Ponderosa" that features Dan (Hoss) Blocker singing "Deck The Halls"! Again, it was a popular hit! RCA-Victor knew a successful formula when it saw it. So in 1964 Lorne was allowed to record another solo album entitled "Welcome To The Ponder

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Dig That Crazy Christmas

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Okay... when I went to my local record store last Christmas, this WASN'T the Brian Setzer Christmas CD I was looking for. But there it was and after some well deserved swearing under my breath, I did indeed pick it up. This is Setzer's follow-up to his 2002 CD " Boogie Woogie Christmas " and Brian did something very annoying (at least to my collector's sensibilities) with that album. Setzer is widely popular in Japan and has released CDs strictly in Japan (just like Alyssa Milano). When he released his first Christmas CD there in 2002, he added on a bonus track - an instrumental version of "Jingle Bells". I added it to my long list of CDs marked "Track down for one song". Then in 2003, the CD was reissued here in the U.S. for Christmas FIVE different ways: a regular version at most record stores an exclusive version to Wal-Mart (bonus track = "What Are You Doin' New Year's Eve?") an exclusive version to Best Buy (bon

A Novelty Christmas

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Two weeks ago , I purchased this CD from eBay and promised a review when it arrived at my home. When I first saw this on eBay, I thought this might have been a homemade compilation someone put together and was selling on the side. But with songs such as "Santa Got A Sunburn" and "All I Want From Santa Is A Girl From Atlanta", it looked very promising. The CD arrived yesterday and I discovered this wasn't printed off someone's computer. TRACK REVIEWS: Track 1 - "White Christmas (3 O'Clock Weather Report)" by the Sicknicks. Not only was the group mislabeled (it was actually Senator Bobby who had a Top 40 hit with " Wild Thing " earlier that year), the sound quality was not great - an obvious 45 rpm to MP3 transfer. Tracks 2 & 3 - Things improved with the break-in record "Santa Under Analysis (Pts 1 & 2)" by Chris Clay. Break-in records were popularized by Dickie Goodman and Clay does a fun job doing his best tr

Monterey Brass - Christmas Brass

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In November of 1968, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass released their Christmas Album before Christmas which reached almost legendary status when it hit the record stores and radio airwaves. In the wake of its release, many smaller record companies wanted to quickly cash in and released soundalike versions of this album. According to this Herb Alpert clone site , these are some of the titles that were released: The Acapulco Brass - Christmas South Of The Border Bobby Duvalle - Tijuana Christmas Party The Border Brass - Tijuana Christmas (probably the best and most famous soundalike out there) Christmas Brass With Tijuana Style V1 Mexicali Brass - Winter Wonderland (I just found this at my local Goodwill... will post soon!) Mexicali Brass - Jingle Bells Nashville Brass - Christmas With Phillips 66 Presents a Tijuana Christmas V2 Sound Of Brass - Tijuana Christmas Tijuana Voices With Brass Sing Merry Christmas (available at eBay as we speak!) Toreador Brass - Ti

Kooky Christmas

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Every music collector has come across this situation: you're looking at hundreds of titles in a section of your local music store. You come across the compilation section, begin looking at the repackaged collections (some you're seeing for the umpteenth time), and find that ONE song you've been seeking. This is very true with Christmas music. How many of you have purchased a Christmas comp knowing three, four, maybe 1/2 of the songs on the CD you already own? This was the case for me with this particular CD. Of the ten songs on this album, only THREE songs I didn't own. So the big question becomes "Do I spend x amount of dollars for three songs?" Unfortunately, if you're a Christmas music collector, the answer is yes. You're not going to be able to download these songs anywhere, legally or illegally. Also, most of the more obscure Christmas music - the stuff that makes collector's minds go batty - is available for three months out of the year

Mighty Blue Kings - The Christmas Album

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According to the WorldCat online search engine for libraries, only a handful of libraries around the globe carry this album you see before you on their shelves. I have been made to jump through hoops of fire to try to get library workers on both ends to agree to an interlibrary loan so I could just listen to the CD. Five months and several dozen attempts later, I finally decided to purchase the CD over at Amazon.com . Shortly before I moved from Chicago to Toledo in 1996, the lounge music craze was forming slowly. The Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were just picking up steam when several talented Chicago musicians decided to join into the fray. Naming themselves the Mighty Blue Kings, they began playing in clubs before landing the house band gig at the legandary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago. After several successful tours of the Midwest and the West Coast, they formed their own record label - R-Jay Records. Their first release was 1997's " Mee

Santastic! Holiday Boots 4 Your Stockings

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I first became aware of mash-ups when a Google search for The Beatles Christmas album led me to the website of Go Home Productions . I found "Beatles Bootles", a clever mix of Beatles songs with other songs to create a 15 minute extravaganza. What caught my attention was "Christmas On The Block", a mash-up of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" and Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny From The Block". This led me into the world of Christmas mash-ups. Shortly before Christmas, 2004, I downloaded a full Christmash CD online entitled "Merry Christmash" from a now-defunct site from the UK. I also purchased a mash-up CD entitled " A Mutated Christmas ". This led me to GYBO , the holy grail web site for bootleg / mash-ups. You can probably spend around 40 hours here listening to amazing mixes of whatever musical genre you can think of. This led me to a name that I recognized from the earlier Christmas CDs. A Boston masher

It's A Blackbean & Placenta Christmas

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When "Christmas In July" took place over at FaLaLaLaLa.com , someone posted this rather obscure album. I quickly downloaded it onto the pile and didn't pay it too much attention. I didn't know much about Blackbean & Placenta when I downloaded it nor did i know much about Ned Norland, the person who uploaded the album. From the limited information I was able to gather from Google, Blackbean & Placenta was an indie label created by Mike Landucci out of his home. He created his own compliations, welcomed contributions from bands, started a Blackbean & Placenta Tape Club (closed now) and over time amassed a nice-sized catalogue of indie bands. Mike, if you're out there... if I've left something out, please add a comment. I would love to know more of the whens, whys, hows, and history of your label. And if any of the bands on the album want to share their comments on this album, on the whole Blackbean & Placenta experience, I would love to k

Coyote Run - Tend The Fire: Christmas With The Coyotes

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This was the ONLY Christmas CD I actually received as a Christmas present for the entire 2005 holiday season. I don't get too many Christmas CDs as gifts anymore; my family and friends gave up long ago. My friend Heather Jinmaku knew I wouldn't have this album and sent this CD to me. Heather is a great singer in her own right (check out her first CD here ) and surprised me when I discovered she is one of the backup singers on this album. To quote Brian Belge, the artistic director of the Maine Renaissance Faire: "Coyote Run is a multi-talented, personable group of 5 musicians playing about a bazillion instruments. I think the only instrument they don't include is the kazoo, but it's probably a matter of time before they do. The music hails from lands (and times) far and near; from traditional Celtic to original American Folk to the Macarena by way of Yankee Doodle. As if that weren't eclectic enough, a bit of Whale Song and a Polka are thrown in for good mea

Jo Stafford - The Joyful Season: The Voice Of

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After doing some Google searches on Jo Stafford, it's remarkable to see so many similarities in her career to Frank Sinatra's. Both were unknowns given their big breaks by Tommy Dorsey in the late 1930s - early 1940s. Both left Dorsey around the same time; Jo signed with Capitol Records, Frank with Columbia Records. Around 1950, both flip-flopped to the opposite record labels, each had their own television shows, and their recording career both blossomed in the 50s. Stafford had a successful career recording albums of American and Scottish folk airs, country blues, hymns, spirituals, show tunes, and jazz. She even won a Grammy award for Best Comedy Record for the duets she sang with her longtime husband Paul Weston as Jonathan & Darlene Edwards . She recorded her first Christmas album in 1955 called Happy Holiday (an album I must add to my wish lists). In 1961, Stafford went back to Capitol Records (just as Sinatra was starting his own label Reprise) with a six albu

Tony Orlando & Dawn - A Christmas Reunion

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I'm sure you're sitting there stunned... I'm sorry! Yes, I was one of the eight people who bought this CD last holiday season. When I first came across this in the racks, I rolled my eyes and thought "Oh my sweet Lord...". A quick scan of the playlist showed that the trio has aged well, most of the standards are covered, and not one stitch of a yellow ribbon was in sight (thank heavens!). I quickly chuckled and placed it back into the rack... All throughout the season, something kept drawing me back to this disc. It was showing up in every store that I shopped at, it was derided in several Christmas articles online and in print. It wouldn't go away. People were asking me at Christmas parties if I had heard about this album and whether or not I already owned it. Amazon.com kept throwing this in my face every time I signed on. My favorite Fort Wayne Christmas radio station began playing Christmas music and "The Spirit Of Christmas" was a hea

Jimmy Smith - Christmas '64

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Back in the late 1940s, Jimmy Smith was just another WWII vet, attending the Hamilton School of Music on the GI Bill. As he progressed into a fairly good R&B piano player, a fellow piano player named "Wild" Bill Davis introduced Smith to a new instrument: the Hammond B-3 organ. Smith paid a local Hammond organ dealer $1 an hour to practice on the instrument. Working in jazz, gospel, and R&B to create "soul-jazz", Jimmy soon became a revolutionary figure in music and was crowned "King of The Hammond B-3 Organ". After Jimmy's successful 10 year run on Blue Note Records ended, he went to work on the Verve label and as the title of this album states, indeed it was Christmas '64 when it was released. As I type these words, I'm listening to the CD on my computer. I wish there were words to describe what I'm listening to! From the first drumbeats on the timpani and orchestra, you are drawn in. Jimmy then hooks you with incredible lic

The Four Seasons' Christmas Album

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Before the Christmas season ended last year, my mother was hospitalized with congestive heart failure and other problems due to her diabetes. I'm happy to report that she's doing much better now (not out of the woods yet) and we're glad St. Nick and all the other saints smiled on my mom. During my visit to see her at the hospital outside of Chicago, I broke away for an hour to check out some used CD stores that I used to shop at when I lived in the area. With only three days before Christmas, my selections were limited. However, the one store that I visited yielded this absolute gem of an album! I had known of this album and CD for many years but this was the first time I listened to what Frankie Valli and the others had to offer. The first track "The Merry Christmas Medley" was a mix of strings, harpsicord, and lush arrangements. As tracks 2 thru 7 played, I thought to myself that the album was going to miss the target terribly. The only bright spot was t

The Salsoul Orchestra - Christmas Jollies II

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During the days before Napster began legal downloads, I searched for Christmas MP3s day and night. It was during one of these searches that I came across several tracks from the Salsoul Orchestra. I had never heard of this orchestra so I downloaded the tracks, expecting to hear one guy on his Casio playing synthesized Christmas music. When I heard it, I was quite surprised. This was REAL, honest to goodness, glittery 1970s Christmas disco! I quickly did some research on the Salsoul Orchestra and found out it formed in 1974 at the dawn of the disco era. After recording their "Christmas Jollies" album in 1976, they helped Charo create not one but two albums (including a Christmas cover single of "Donde Este Santa Claus" that my friend Ernie had at his blog last December), and disbanded shortly after recording "Christmas Jollies II" in 1981. After getting a copy of the first "Christmas Jollies" several years ago, I searched to find "Chr

Jimmy McGriff - Christmas With

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Found this CD over at Amazon in their used section! A few years ago, I used to moderate the " Strange Records Collecting " group over at Yahoo. If you happen to click on the link, you'll find this original album cover on its home page. For some strange reason, I wasn't able to pull it down after Christmas 2003 so it remained! I first became aware of Jimmy McGriff on the 1996 Capitol Records release of " Christmas Cocktails " in which his renditions of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "White Christmas" were fused together as one track. He then appeared on the 1997 followup " Christmas Cocktails II ". This time, his version of "Jingle Bells" was paired up with Caiola & Ortolani's "Sleigh Ride" and made for a fun track. So when a FULL copy of this album came around, I jumped at the chance to hear the whole album! This album contains only eight tracks (just eight tracks? - disappointing at

Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme - That Holiday Feeling!

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I've lived in my current hometown of Fort Wayne since the summer of 2000. One of the best memories of that first Indiana Christmas was driving crosstown to do some Christmas shopping and listening to a then new trend in radio: 24 hour Christmas music! Suddenly, a Christmas song that I had never heard came onto the radio. I turned up the radio and was treated to the title track of this album by Steve & Eydie - talk about SMOOOOTHHHH!!! Note to self: add this album to your Christmas CD wish list. The song ended and the disc jockey came onto the air: "Isn't that a great song? That's Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme with "That Holiday Feeling", their title track from their 1964 Christmas album. It's a shame that's not on CD or tape..." STAB ME IN THE HEART, WHY DON'T YA? Don't tempt me like that. Don't play something that I can't get at my local Best Buy or Sam Goody store. It didn't bother me. Not at all. Like hell it

Twelve Girls Band - Twelve Girls Of Christmas

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I first saw this CD at Barnes & Noble in early November when all the music stores start making shelf space for Christmas CDs both new and old. I wasn't sure what to make of it: was this one of those specialty groups that PBS uses to fund raise? Was this Shonen Knife in classical Chinese music form? Should I purchase it or not? I was set to purchase it when I spied a copy of the Rev. Horton Heat's We Three Kings CD and immediately swapped, settling the issue. I saw this CD a few more times at different stores during Christmas, 2006 but never purchased it. Then I read a favorable review from Christmas Reviews on New Year's Day that changed my mind. I ran back to Barnes & Noble (who kept their Christmas music on the shelves through New Year's Day - bravo to them!) and purchased this CD. The Twelve Girls Band not only play traditional Chinese instruments but add in strings, piano, drums, and electric guitar for flavor (sorta like MSG). They mix Christm

Regis Philbin - Christmas Album

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Some of you are looking at this CD and asking yourself "Why?" Some of you are looking at this CD and thinking "Ooooo, not for a million bucks, final answer!". Some of you are looking at this CD and wondering "Why don't I have that in my collection?" Whatever you may be thinking or feeling right now (nausea most likely), you have to applaud the one and only Regis Philbin . He is a unique personality who has held down more jobs than Dick Clark can even dream about and holds the Guinness Book World Record for "Most Hours On Camera" - approximately 15,600+ hours and still going! This isn't Reege's first attempt at an album. Back in 1968, when Regis was the sidekick on "The Joey Bishop Snow", he recorded the immortal " It's Time For Regis! ", an album that contains more Vegas cheesiness than allowed by law. I sadly don't own this CD or even the LP - although I do want to get the LP for one reason only. The

Welcome!

Hello everyone! If you're reading this, you either share my interest, my passion, or my obsession with Christmas music... maybe all three! I've been an avid Christmas music collector since 1985. I began creating Christmas tapes using Christmas music taped off the radio and my family's Christmas LP collections. Having grown up in a house where any music released after the breakup of the Beatles was forbidden, my musical selections were limited. As time progressed, I began collecting more music off the radio from NPR, old time radio shows (lots of great samples from those), and other Christmas LPs. My family (being five steps behind in every technological aspect of everyday life) purchased its first CD player in 1989 and everything changed. My first Christmas CD was "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio; a CD that has been played in my boombox once every Christmas since. My CD collecting took off slowly since I was attending Columbia College in C