Monday, July 31, 2006

Woody The Woodchuck - Christmas Sing Song (STEREO)

A few blog entries ago, I reviewed this album that I originally discovered at Ernie's blog last year. At that time, I announced I had found the STEREOPHONIC version of this album. I then posted a poll at asking one and all whether or not they would love to hear this version.

Seven people voted. Five said yes. Two said no.

It took me over two hours to get Blogger to post a photo this morning. They knew this album was on its way and did its best to stop it.

This isn't exactly the way I wanted to end "Christmas In July" but a promise is a promise.

Woody The Woodchuck - Christmas Sing Song (STEREO)

Happy listening...


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ethel Smith - Silent Night-Holy Night

I was originally planning to post a stereo version of "Woody The Woodchuck - Christmas Sing Song" today, ending my Christmas in July celebration. However, the album you are looking might be my vinyl find of the year. It carries much significance because it was much sought after (by me at least), involves our good friend Ernie (not Bert), and in ways crystalizes what our royal highness, the King Of Jingaling, wanted to do when he started

You might be scratching your head wondering what I'm talking about but go with me here... read on and all will be revealed.

Ethel Smith was a graduate of Carnegie Tech who majored in music and language (she was fluent in French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and German) whose talents at the piano led her to movie houses, theaters, then vaudeville tours. Along the way, she worked at department stores demonstrating organs and became so proficient that she strictly played the organ from then on.

Around WWII, she toured Brazil and Argentina extensively (the languages helped no doubt). One night, she was in "a cheap dance hall" and came across a combo trio playing a certain song. She had never heard it before, quickly adapted it to her act, and brought it with her back to the United States. America's musical tastes were very South American at this time (Carmen Miranda was HUGELY popular at this time) and when Ethel played this song, crowds went wild.

The song was "Tico-Tico". Decca Records signed Ethel to a recording contract and her recording was a smash. Suddenly, Hollywood came calling. She appeared in many movie musicals of the day - including a memorable turn in the 1948 Disney movie "Melody Time" with Donald Duck and Jose (Joe) Carioca. Ethel plays "Blame It On The Samba" on the big Hammond organ (you also see her play bongos and dance) as the tune gets faster and faster. Ethel plays furiously to keep up while Donald and Joe stick dynamite under her pedals and blows the organ up!

For the next decade, Smith recorded nearly 30 albums and dozens of singles for Decca Records. Her first foray into Christmas music was in 1950 when she recorded a box of four 45 singles and called it "Christmas Songs" (Decca 9-92). A majority of these songs were released on a 2-EP set called "Christmas Music" (Decca ED 558) somewhere between 1951 and 1954. Finally, Decca repackaged this music one more time in 1955 on its very own LP called "Christmas Music" (Decca DL-8187).

By the end of the 1950s, two things happened to Decca Records that involved Ethel Smith. The first event was Ethel was appearing more and more in nightclubs and on television in acting roles. Smith gave up her organ for acting full time and her contract with Decca ended. The second event was Decca had relaunched Vocalion, a long defunct record label, to issue budget releases from its bulging catalog.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Vocalion churned out repackaged albums full of songs by great artists like Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby, and Ethel Smith but never printed the year of release on any of their albums, record labels, or sleeves. They could recall their product at any time, box it up, and resell it at a future time.

Thankfully, the official website of Peggy Lee has an extensive discography and shows that a Vocalion release by Lee ("Crazy In The Heart" VL-73903) was released in March, 1970. Using this information, I have determined that this Ethel Smith album (VL-73882) was most likely released for the Christmas season of 1969.

I had been searching for Ethel's "Christmas Music" LP for quite some time and didn't want to pay the $20 - $30 that I had seen it for on eBay. So when I discovered this album for 10 cents at a garage sale, I nearly passed out.

As I was driving home, I remembered that Ernie had posted some Ethel Smith tracks as part of his Christmas in July celebration and he too was looking for the full album. Ernie, thanks for helping all of us and myself celebrate the yuletide early.

If if hadn't been for the King Of Jingaling setting up two years ago, I would have never met Ernie. Ernie and myself truly believe in the King's mission statement - "Preserving Memories Of Christmas Vinyl Past". You have been sorely missed this Christmas In July, mighty King, whilest thou sets up your new palatial digs and pray for thy speedy return to reign over your kingdom.

This album is dedicated to both Ernie and The King Of Jingaling:

Ethel Smith - Silent Night-Holy Night

Beats listening to woodchucks in stereo (yes, I'll post that eventually)! Happy listening...


Hugo Winterhalter - Christmas Magic

The stack of CDs that I acquired from Ernie's blog late last year is getting smaller and smaller. Here's another one that I'm just getting around to reviewing. From judging the comments related to Ernie's blog entry of this album, this was a well loved album by many in their youth.

Back in my youth, there was a radio station in Chicago simply called "FM 100" that played "beautiful music". Remarkably, many of these "beautiful music" stations thrived across the USA throughout the 1960s and 1970s, stocking itself with lush compositions from Jackie Gleason, Ray Conniff, The Living Strings, Percy Faith, and one Hugo Winterhalter.

Winterhalter was involved in the music industry for nearly 30 years and was a main purveyor of beautiful music during this time. He also helped several artists along the way: Eddie Fisher, The Ames Brothers, and Kay Starr.

This album was released in 1958 and the Winterhalter formula was firmly in place. Or was it?

The first song on the album is "White Christmas", done in a very lush orchestral way. Then the next three songs ("Winter Wonderland", "I'd Like To Hitch A Ride With Santa Claus", "That's What I Want For Christmas") feature an unknown female singer who does her best seven-year old girl impersonation as she sings, complete with a slight slurring in her speech like she's wrestling with newly fitted braces.

It caught me totally offguard and these three tracks are definitely the best on the album. However, Winterhalter pulls in the reins though because the rest of the album follows the formula to a tee. In some cases, the chorus gets in the way (I had really hoped for a few more instrumentals) but c'mon Hugo... it's a Christmas album... have some fun and let loose!

Overall, this was an okay album. It has moments but nothing major that I would rush to the boombox at Christmas dinner and put this one on.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Monday, July 24, 2006

Funky Christmas (Cotillion Records)

Here's one of my last offerings for FaLaLaLaLa's Christmas in July celebration. I was going to hold onto this one until Christmas but moved it up since it's so... well... funky!

This album was released at Christmas, 1976 on Cotillion Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. This label had an impressive roster of artists that included Jean Knight, The Fatback Band, Stacy Lattislaw, and even the Velvet Underground (before they imploded in the early 1970s).

Two of its major finds were Sister Sledge (of "We Are Family" fame) and a three member group by the name of Luther. Take a real good look at who's sitting behind the piano...

Yep, that Luther!

Each artist listed on the cover above get two tracks each on this album and clearly the best cuts on the album ("May Christmas Bring You Happiness" and "At Christmas Time") are from Vandross and company.

However, leave some room for the other artists. John Edwards shines, Willis Jackson is no King Curtis but his wailin' sax will make you feel great, Margie Joseph's two songs will haunt me forever - "Christmas Gift" had two major scratches on it and took me a full day to record, and the Impressions (without Curtis Mayfield) are in fine form with their two songs; the latter being an epic 5 minute, 50 second version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"!

Download it yourself and take a listen:

Funky Christmas (Cotillion Records)

This album works best if you happen to have shag carpeting, platform shoes, and either "Maude" or "Sanford & Son" playing on a black & white TV set softly in the background.

Happy listening...


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Menudo - Feliz Navidad

Guess where I found this album? 
That's right... over at the blog of Ernie (Not Bert). 

Please forward all e-mails and comments to Ernie, not ME!  But I digress...

Long before 98 Degrees, the Backstreet Boys, N'SYNC. Take 5, and Boyzone... Long before Hanson, The Moffats, Boyz II Men, New Edition, and New Kids On The Block... there was a boy band named for a Mexican soup.

Started in Puerto Rico in 1977, Menudo was the biggest selling act in Latin music throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Menudo has had more members than any other band (including the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys) thanks to its policy of "you're out of the band when either you reach 16 years old or your voice changes".

If you think you can handle the full history of this band, click on this Wikipedia link. We wish you luck.

This album was released at Christmas, 1983 - six months before they recorded the title track to "Cannonball Run II" (a career highlight for sure) and one year before Ricky Martin broke in with the band.

As for the music...

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

1983 Air Force Public Service Spots - Disc V

As FaLaLaLaLa's Christmas In July celebration slowly winds down, I'm offering this special Christmas promo 45 to all those people (like myself) who create annual Christmas compilations and search for those unique sound clips that you can use as a bridge between songs or use them as a stand alone track on the CD.

In my opinion, the best year during the entire decade of the 1980s was 1983. "M*A*S*H*" finally went off the air, Stephen King wrote "Christine" and "Pet Sematary", and radio gave us Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Culture Club, Prince, and a slew of memorable 80s one hit wonders. I'll stop now - I've been known to babble about why this year was the best.

The US Government may very well be the largest distributor of Christmas promotional albums and singles of all time. Since WWII and the V-Discs, they have released almost on a yearly basis promos for each branch of the military, VA hospitals, US Savings Bonds, the Post Office, you name it.

Like most of my government promo albums / 45s, I found this single at that online mecca of great finds called eBay. I didn't pay that much for this one (unlike others) and despite having this in my collection for the past two years, I have never used it on any of my Christmas comps.

If you're putting a Christmas compilation together and you can use this, I wish you the best.

1983 Air Force Public Service Spots - Disc V


If you do use it, please send me a copy of your Christmas comp - I'd love to hear it!

Happy listening...


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Ralph Hunter Choir - Christmas Surprises From

"This is an album I downloaded from Ernie (Not Bert)'s blog last year..." "Here's an album that Ernie offered at his blog late last year..." "My friend Ernie had this album to share at his blog during the 2005 download season..."

Pick one of those and let's get going... This is a very interesting album because 1.) where it came from and 2.) I can't find anything online about the artist.

Lifted from the very blog entry via Ernie:

"The original release is seen above (at Ernie's blog - it might be above or just to the right for my blog), as credited to The Ralph Hunter Choir. The second time around, RCA decided that old Ralph wasn't drawing enough attention so they called it 'Living Voices Sing Christmas Music'. 

"And that release spawned a whole series of albums by any number of different groups as Living This or Living That. ... And, oddly enough, the record you see above (at Ernie's blog and, by now, my blog I'd wager) is an Australian pressing. It used to belong to a little girl who loved Rick Springfield by the name of Annette Haessher. 

"I only mention this because I had to spend several hours getting her name and love notes to Rick off of the cover via Photoshop. Thanks Annette, I didn't have anything better to do the week before Christmas, anyway!"

I didn't find much other than Ernie's link when I Googled "The Ralph Hunter Choir". Which is a pity because this is a pretty kickass Christmas album.

It starts off rather bouncy and upbeat (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers, Jingle Bells). Then ol' Ralph slides into coast mode with some pretty, pretty versions nice and slow (Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song, White Christmas). End of side one... already?

Side two is mostly traditional Christmas songs (Here We Come A-Wandering, Carol Medley, The First Noel) which begins to stale by the time we reach the standout track of the album: Indian Christmas Carol. This one came out of left field with soft ritual drumming and soft trumpet accents. Then the male members of the choir chant one of the most haunting Christmas songs I've heard in quite some time.

Not to be outdone is the following track: Latin Lullaby (Cancion de Cuna). From the first beats of bossa nova, you're hooked and it's a fantastic blend of music and harmony. The album ends with Silent Night (shouldn't all Christmas albums?); stoic, hushed, and reverent.

This one's getting some airplay on my Christmas boombox during the Christmas season. I'm sure Rick Springfield won't mind all the extra work you put into this one Ernie!

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


A Pink Panther Christmas

There hasn't been a rush of children's Christmas albums this summer. So I decided to unveil this little pink gem. This is our second album that we're offering as part of FaLaLaLaLa's Christmas In July celebration.

This album comes from the good folks at Kid Stuff Records, a label that sprouted up back around 1982 and released strictly kiddie fare for a full two years then prompty disappeared. Strawberry Shortcake, The Care Bears, Masters Of The Universe, and the like weren't good enough for these hardy fellows.

They soon began released kiddie records based on video games as well: Missle Command, Asteroids, Yars Revenge, and Pac-Man (whose Christmas album I did share late last year over at

Does anyone know more about Kid Stuff Records? Was it another name or separate branch for Peter Pan Records? How about that label that released all those Caroleer Singers albums back in the day?

I don't particularly like kiddie Christmas albums. I never had them growing up at Christmas time and until last year, I never understood the fascination with them.

At a Christmas party last year, a friend came up to me who received my annual Christmas compilation and began talking about Christmas music in general. He distinctly remembered all the Firestone albums that his mother would play repeatedly at Christmas time and wanted me to locate some of them for him. I reminded him there were around 22 volumes of the Firestone albums but he didn't care.

"To me, that's Christmas." he stated matter of factly.

And there lies the secret of Christmas music. Many of your most intimate, favorite Christmas memories are forever interlinked with the Christmas music you remember as a child. That's why kiddie records like A Merry Monster Christmas and A Cabbage Patch Christmas remain for some as the most precious Christmas music of all time.

This album was released in 1981, a year after the untimely death of Peter Sellers (the original Inspector Clouseau - sorry Steve Martin; you plain sucked in that remake) and one year removed from the end of the long-running Pink Panther animated series that this album is based on.

It follows the Kid Stuff formula to a tee: play a song, tell part of a story, repeat. Listen for yourselves:

A Pink Panther Christmas

I must admit that the first song (the title track) DID rattle around in my brain after hearing it. It took me several hours to get the tune out of my head... maybe my attitude towards kiddie Christmas albums is softening...

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thurlow Spurr & The Spurrlows - Christmas; Time For Song

This is another album from Ernie's blog from last year... get use to that statement folks because I have about another 20 albums or so to go that I downloaded from him and yet to review!

At first glance, you might think this is a Haight-Ashbury poster and the music within would be classic guitar-driven rock or some trippy acid rock. Then you notice the Santa hat perched atop the title and realize it must be Christmas related and then really begin to wonder.

You then listen to the album and hear a choir singing Christmas carols beautifully with no loud feedback or drug inspired songs or lyrics ("Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" is not about a drunk reindeer, thank you).

I give you Thurlow Spurr & The Spurrlows.

Thurlow Spurr is a deeply devoted Christian man who has been involved with gospel music since 1959 - the very year he formed the Spurrlows. Performing across the country, Spurr caught the eye of the Chrysler Corporation who needed a group to promote car safety (guilty conscience on behalf of Chrysler maybe?). It was an association that lasted for seven years - the first sacred singing group to be sponsored by a major secular company.

Spurr continued to play around the country - in the past four decades Spurr has put over 50 different groups out on the road and even performed in front of four U.S. Presidents (Nixon / Ford / Carter / Reagan). I'm reminded of the quote by Eugene McCarthy who said "...Nixon killed the Presidency, Ford embalmed it, Carter buried it, and Reagan proved there is life after death."

Speaking of presidents, Thurlow Spurr is a former president of the Gospel Music Association and has helped produce various made for TV specials, including the Dove Awards. He continues to perform with the 350+ member Michigan/Ohio Concert Choir - a job he's had for the past 34 years.

This album features the Spurrlows in fine form. There's nothing fancy about the arrangements - both vocal and orchestral. It's a big, big choir singing standard songs and it's pretty pretty when you first listen to it. After the third or fourth song, it all sounds the same and by the ninth or tenth song, you're comatose on the floor, curled up in the fetal position.

To be fair, a lot of albums released in 1968 did that to people. Of course, most of those people were taking heavy duty pharmacuticals and the albums had very little to do with it. I might be wrong on the release date being 1968 but here's my theory. According to the liner notes from this album, it was nine years previous when Spurr formed the Spurrlows (1959 + 9 = 1968).

I thought this would be the extent of my Thurlow Spurr Christmas but I was wrong. While perusing the vinyl bins at my local Goodwill store, I found this:

When I first laid eyes upon this album, I thought I had found a totally different album by the Spurrlows! What a find! Wait until I share this one with everyone at my blog! I'll post a notice at, everyone will come and download this, and I'll be giddy!

I paid my 25 cents, ran home, set up my turntable, and began to transfer the album over to digital files. Side one went smoothly, side two was just as easy. I washed it through my audio restoration software, placed into a folder, began breaking down the individual tracks, configured the cover scans, and quickly burned it to CD.

It was probably one of the fastest transfers I've done to date.


Talk about depressed... I did a quick search online to find when "Christmas Splendor" was released - 1965.

The mere mention of Thurlow can cause me to sink into a foul mood. Listening to it can be even worse. I tried to demand my quarter back at the Goodwill but they just stared at me like I was nuts.

This album (along with the "Christmas Splendor" CD) will be buried DEEP inside my collection and will NEVER see the light of day ever again (just like the Mannheim Steamroller albums).

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection... RAPIDLY!


Monday, July 10, 2006

Pete Fountain - "Candy Clarinet": Merry Christmas From

Here is the next review... Not only is this yet another album I downloaded from Ernie at his blog last year, but I have I been obsessively listening to this album for the past week.

I'm hoping that this spasm of typing will get this album out of my system. I fear it won't. It will be like any other addiction - you go cold turkey, it gnaws at you, you crave the fix, and eventually you give in.

Up front: This was one of my favorite albums downloaded last year.

Now you may be asking to yourself "Who is Pete Fountain?". Others might be asking "Okay, is this a hypothetical question or just a segue into today's history lesson?"

In any case, Pete Fountain is one of the premier clarinetists of this or any era. Born in 1930 in New Orleans, Fountain was surrounded by Dixieland from the cradle to his formative years. This was the era of Benny Goodman and Irving Fazola, a New Orleans clarinetist who greatly influenced the young Pete. Fountain quickly developed his own "fat" sound from the clarinet and by age 16, he was playing with several jazz bands up and down Bourbon Street.

As the 1950s began, he was performing with the best known Dixieland bands of the era: The Dukes of Dixieland, The Basin Street Six, and a young trumpeter starting to make a name for himself named Al Hirt. Around this time, Pete met a young gal by the name of Beverly Lang - his future wife of 54 years and counting.

Then came rock-n-roll. The Dixieland music market quickly dried up and Fountain needed a place to play his clarinet. Where to go and who to see? That's as simple as counting... And ah-one and ah-two! Pete became the in-house clarinetist for Lawrence Welk and company - good timing too. It was between these years (1957 - 1959) that Welk's TV show was the most popular according to the Nielsens.

However, Fountain longed to be home near Beverly and his beloved New Orleans. So he left Welk and returned to his hometown, opened his own place (Pete Fountain's Jazz Club) where he still occasionally plays, went on to record over 100 albums, and toured all over the world bringing Dixieland into the far reaching corners of the Earth.

"Candy Clarinet" was recorded and released in 1967 and still sounds incredibly vital and fresh today. The first licks off the clarinet stick will hook you and not let go. If you can, listen past the clarinet and you'll hear some fantastic jazz as well. Standout tracks include the title track "Candy Clarinet", "Winter Wonderland" is just plain haunting, "The Little Drummer Boy" - great bass playing, and "Christmas Is A-Comin" ends the album with a fantastic jam from all involved.

It's a great, great album.

Almost a year ago, Hurricane Katrina paid a visit to New Orleans and its massive destruction misplaced many people - including Pete and Beverly Fountain's home. They still reside in New Orleans and have committed themselves to helping rebuild the city and state they've known all their lives. At 75, Pete can still blow a mean clarinet.

Thanks Pete for a great Christmas album, all that you've done with your "Candy Clarinet", and all that you're doing in the Big Easy.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Friday, July 07, 2006

The Ray Charles Singers - Here We Come-A-Caroling

An often told joke during the 1950s and 1960s amongst the music industry:

First session musician: I'm doing an album next week with Ray Charles.

Second session musician: Which one? The blind one or the deaf one?"

He's actually the one in glasses on the cover of this album - one of two albums by the Ray Charles Singers that Ernie (not Bert) offered at his blog late last year.

The other Ray Charles has had quite a full career. During the 50s and 60s, Ray and his singers put out dozens of albums in their own right while being the house orchestra and chorus for Perry Como - a job they held from 1950 to 1985!

Ray also was the choral arranger on the TV version of "Your Hit Parade" from 1950 to 1957 and worked with many famous names on various TV specials such as Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews, Glen Campbell, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra. If you're still not impressed, here are three facts that prove the other Ray was hip:

1.) He wrote the song "Letters, We Get Letters" for Perry Como whenever he read mail. Flash forward to near present day and you'll hear Paul Shaffer play the song for David Letterman when he dips into his mailbag.

2.) Ray Charles was the musical director of a TV show between 1976-1981 that was the most successful globally syndicated TV show before "Baywatch" claimed that title - a little show called "The Muppet Show".

3.) You've probably heard this Ray Charles sing dozens of times before and you don't know it. Perhaps hundreds of times if your a fan of a certain show. Don't know the theme?

Come and knock on our door, we've been waiting for you...

Yep, that's him!

In 1956, Ray and his singers (no orchestra) released this album for the holiday season. Each of the 21 acapella tracks feature nice tight harmonies and great vocal arrangements. Standout tracks include "Good King Wenceslas" and "Rise Up Shepherds And Follow", two carols that should be required for all carollers to sing.

The standout track is "I Saw Three Ships". This is not one of my favorite Christmas tunes because I've never found a great version of it. However, this is it! No overorchestration, no overvocalization (think Michael Bolton). This version is joyful, bouncy fun!

I was going to type "This album is perfect at low volume at your next Christmas party..." but got a better idea for it. This Christmas, take this album up and down the block at high volume in a boombox of your choosing. I don't think the neighbors are going to mind...

The other album that Ernie offered at his blog was this little gem:

Also released in 1956, this album features several Christmas songs (with orchestra this time) such as "Jingle Bells", "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow", and the title track "Winter Wonderland".

It also features other winter-related songs such as "Button Up Your Overcoat", "Winter", "By The Fireside", and one of my favorite Bing Crosby / Dean Martin tunes called "June In January". This alone makes this album highly recommended. Looks like the other Ray Charles has soul as well...

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Home For Christmas - A Joyful Evening Of Yuletide Songs

This is my first offering for FaLaLaLaLa's Christmas In July - an album that I first learned of there, sought out, and discovered at a vinyl swap meet just last month. It's not the best Christmas album in the world, but there's a lot going on here that make it pretty unique.

First, the cover. If you look very closely in the bottom left hand corner, you'll see the signature of Amos Sewell. Sewell was one of the legendary Saturday Evening Post cover illustrators during its heyday along side of J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell. If only real Christmas get togethers looked this good...

Second, the musical director. Henri Rene was born in Germany and trained at Berlin's Royal Academy of Music. During the 1920s, he emigrated to the U.S. where he played in a number of orchestras before returning to Germany in the early 1930s. However, he fled again as the Nazis rose to power and became the head of RCA-Victor's international arm in 1936. After serving with the Allies in WWII, he came back to RCA and worked in the classical music field for a brief time.

In the mid 1950s however, he began a successful run of "Stereo Action" albums such as "Compulsion To Swing", "Music For Bachelors", "Riot In Rhythm", and "Music For The Weaker Sex". In 1954, he lent his talents to an up and coming star named Eartha Kitt. Those "boom-boomssss" you hear at the beginning of the Christmas classic "Santa Baby" was the work of Henri Rene and His Orchestra.

This album was released in 1964 both in mono and stereo (I ended up with the mono version). If you only had to choose one album to play at your Christmas party, then you need to revise your playlist. If you add this album, you probably won't get many complaints.

Download and judge for yourself:

Home For Christmas - A Joyful Evening Of Yuletide Songs

Happy listening... On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...


Jamie deRoy & Friends - Vol. 3: 'Tis The Season

This may come as a shock... but here is an album that I DIDN'T get from Ernie at his blog! Take a moment - let it sink in and we'll proceed...

Several weeks ago, I celebrated my 37th birthday and a few of my family members gave me various gift cards to purchase Christmas CDs. They gave up trying to purchase Christmas CDs for me years ago - wonders why...

There were several Christmas CDs I wanted to choose... but there were several DVDs that I've had my eye on for quite some time. A good portion of the gift cards went for DVDs and what remained was used for two CDs. This is the first to arrive.

About two years ago, I was searching for a specific song (more on the song later) which led me to a fellow Christmas music collector who had it. It turns out it was from this very album. We quickly set up a trade and presto! I had the CD!

What I didn't have was the artwork - the trader didn't have a scanner. Luckily, I found a JPEG of the cover online and I had a temporary cover until I could get the full artwork scanned. During the past year, I've been trying to replace CD-R copies with the full Christmas CD and this is one of those upgrades.

Chances are if you live outside of the Broadway community of New York City, you're asking "Jamie who?"

Jamie deRoy is a cabaret performer / actress / singer / comedienne / record producer / TV talk show host. She has worked every club and cabaret in NYC and had her own TV talk show for 15 years. She has helped hundreds of struggling performers on the cabaret circuit that she is affectionately known as "The Fairy Godmother Of Cabaret" - how's that for a title?

Back in 1999, deRoy asked a few of her cabaret friends (Kathie Lee Gifford among them) to help her record an album. It was so well received they recorded a second album in 2000, and a Christmas album in 2001.

Standout tracks include Stephanie Pope's jazzy version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", a bluegrass-country version of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" by KT Sullivan, and a truly demented song by Dee Hoty called "The Twelve Days After Christmas" featuring these opening lyrics:

The first day after Christmas my true love and I had a fight.
And so I chopped the pear tree down and burned it just for spite.

It goes downhill from there. But can you believe this wasn't the song I wanted the CD for?

No no... the winner of this CD is a 4 minute, 4 second version of "Santa Baby" done by one of the huskiest voiced actresses / singers around. She not only has acted in hundreds of movies since the 1950s, her voice has led her to be heard on both radio and TV commercials, even audio books. Are you pacing the floor in anticipation? Do you want to know who sings this song?

The one and only Sally Kellerman - the original Hot Lips from the movie "M*A*S*H*"!

Her singing borders on sing-talk but after 20 seconds, you don't feel a thing anymore. It's sultry and disturbing all at once. It turns you on... then off quickly. You have visions of an enchantress running through your mind only to open your eyes and discover it's your Aunt Claudia warbling the second stanza of "The Star Spangled Banner".

Man, I love that kind of stuff! Thank you Ms. Kellerman, wherever you are!

At times, this CD borders on "too Broadway-ish" - you can hear some singers flashing the jazz hands as they reach for the big finish. However, the good outweighs the bad in this instance and this is quite a fun Christmas CD. Probably the perfect "we'll put on a show, over-the-top, big finish" Christmas CD you'll ever hear.

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...