Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Merriest Of Christmas Pops (RCA Victor)

On first glance, this album has potential (any album with the RCA "Living Stereo" banner is a plus).

As you look down, you'll notice the song titles, the cute Christmas graphics, but not one artist listed on the cover - a sure sign of trouble. If you're too lazy to check the back cover, you probably wouldn't have purchased the album.

Thankfully, Ernie (from Ernie Not Bert) studied this album carefully and with his keen collector's eye saw the gold within and posted it on November 23, 2006.

As Ernie explained in his original post:

"The only problem is that parts of this record have been released on CD. Several years ago, they took the Esquivel solo tracks, as well as the tracks on which he backs the Skip-Jacks, mixed in some LP tracks that had a holiday theme, added a rather merry non-holiday B-side, a couple of tracks by a famous swing-revival DJ featuring a voice-over from the bed-ridden Esquivel, and called it an Esquivel Christmas album.

"It's short, but great. So that means I can't share 6 of the 12 tracks with you. Trust me, the remaining six tracks are well worth your time. The remaining tracks all feature Ray Martin And His Orchestra, and most of those feature lead vocals by Mimi Hines. She does a great job using several different voices to make each song sound a little different."

Ernie knows what he's talking about, folks. These six tracks are just plain phenomenal. Mimi Hines and Ray Martin aren't as space-age trippy as Esquivel but they're just as much fun.

You'd swear that was a six-year old girl singing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" or "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" but it's Hines singing it to perfection! Then marvel at her brassy adult voice on "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Baby". Granted, "Santa Baby" isn't as sultry as some the other versions out there but it's nice to hear her jazz spin on the number.

Ray Martin's two contributions are lush, stylish, and easy fare. On both songs ("Winter Wonderland", "I'll Be Home For Christmas"), Martin mixes it up between the choral group and strings taking turns on the melody as if he's inviting you to sing in the instrumental breaks - 1950s karaoke?

Overall, a great abbreviated album. I just have to get the Esquivel album out, add the missing tracks, and voila!

UP NEXT: What I downloaded on November 23, 2006 at 6:41 PM



Stephen said...

This is one of the holy grails of Christmas albums, and I was grateful to Ernie for sharing it. You're both absolutely right.

CaptainOT said...

Stephen - Makes me wonder why RCA hasn't decided to rerelease it!


Mark said...

I managed to come across a copy of this on eBay a couple years back. I already had the Combustible Edison / Esquivel CD, but these ALWAYS sound better on the LP. I'm less enamored of Mimi Hines' vocalese than others, the non-Esquivel (Ray Martin,etc.) tracks ARE lots of fun. Too bad Bob Thompson wasn't on it......