Saturday, December 12, 2009
Christmas Eve (Grofe, 1934)--Barron Smith at the John Wanamaker Organ, Philadelphia (1958). From LP on Urania label. Click here to hear: Christmas Eve (Grofe).
Joyous Christmas Spirit--Sleighbells Through the Snow (Jingle Bells)--Church Bells Ringing--Christmas Eve Church Service (Hark the Herald Angels Sing)--Silent Night--Santa Claus Coming in the Distance--Going Down the Chimney, Depositing Toys, Up the Chimney and Off Again--Christmas Morning--Children Playing with Toys--Church Bells Ringing--O Come All Ye Faithful.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Christmas 2009, Part 12--They're Coming to Tow Me Away, Ha-Haaa!!; Santa Claus Is Flying Through the Sky; more
The Tow Me Away ad, possibly my favorite commercial ever, ran for two years in a row (1997 being one of them), courtesy of BP. I don't remember whether 1997 was the first or second year, but it did run for two. BP's current ads (with "real" people blathering on about alternative energy, which somehow includes oil!) are among the most annoying ever aired.
Santa Claus Is Flying Through the Sky appeared on both the Tops and Treasure Chest labels, and probably others. Memory fails me right now. (Good thing I'm not a PC.) The track I ripped for today's sleighlist was actually mistitled by Tops as Santa Claus is Riding Through the Sky, but I took the liberty of correcting it. If this constitutes tampering with history, I plead guilty. I figure it's pretty low on the historical-controversies list.
And we have a re-redo (or maybe re-re-redo) of Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms, this time from 1975. If I had the minutes, I would locate the exact year, in case it was recorded prior to the LP comp I ripped it from. Discographical info is out there, someplace, in the vast cyber-void. Then, 11 Sohio radio ad spots from a radio station acetate which I found at Volunteers of America ten or so years back. I think June Foray has been reader-i.d.'d as one of the voices. It's all a blur.
Oh, and the must-have track of the season--the Nashville Banjos playing Little Drummer Boy. Though I'm being a wise-acre about it, it's actually quite good. So to heck with me.
Aaaaaaand... Dee Mullins' Remember Bethlehem. Also, the jungle feedback effects of the late Les Paul on Les and Mary's 1953 Jungle Bells. With a u. Melody-wise, note the use of Mule Train's chorus. Or bridge. Whichever it is.
Any technical issues with the file, please contact my assistant, Otto D. Office. No, really--let me know. But I expect no issues. Which means, of course, that they will happen. That's always how it works. To the file:
Christmas 2009, Part 12
THEY'RE COMING TO TOW ME AWAY, HA-HAAA!! (BP television ad, 1997)
SANTA CLAUS IS FLYING THROUGH THE SKY--Tops Orch. and Choristers (Tops L-1525)
RANDI THE HANDI ELF--Dan Marshall and Tommy's Chorus (Amlin 1266)
MARCH OF THE TOYS (Herbert)--Renato de Oliveira and His Orch., 1956.
BOOGIE WOOGIE SANTA CLAUS--Patti Page w. Jack Rael Orch., 1950.
SOHIO ET #64--11 ad spots
JINGLE BELL ROCK--Bobby Helms, 1975 (Power Pak PO-507).
REMEMBER BETHLEHEM--Dee Mulline, 1975 (Same).
LITTLE DRUMMER BOY--Nashville Banjos, feat. Vic Jordan, 1975 (Same).
JUNGLE BELLS (Dingo-Dongo-Day)--Les Paul and Mary Ford, 1953.
Ernie wondered whether the 1952 Trapp Family Singers recording of Carol of the Drum could possibly be the first, given the song's year of composition, 1941. I consider it very possible, since Drum was a choral piece (for young singers and/or young girls specifically) and in all likelihood first published in a choral collection. That is to say, it wasn't written with an eye on the pop song market, and its entry into that market 17 years later was an uncommon stroke of luck. As my previous playlist suggests, Drum was on its way to becoming a choral standard by 1957, and Harry Simeone obviously figured he could and should put his sole stamp on it. That it would become a huge pop hit couldn't have been anticipated. Though as much has probably been claimed after the fact. Once something becomes a hit, someone will insist that he or she knew it all along. Which doesn't account for the huge predominance of non-hits....
On the original manuscript, composer Katherine K. Davis, who specialized in choral works for children (especially girls), designated the work as a Czech carol, "freely transcribed" by one C.R.W. Robertson, who happens to have been her. The jury is still out on the Czech-carol part--much doubt has been expressed by experts. However, whatever the music's source, the transcription and words belong to Davis, who copyrighted the material. Simeone, though, must have figured he had a good case for crying "P.D." if called for making the number his very own. Ernie discovered this 1960 Billboard entry, which reports that Simeone and his partner in borrowing, Henry Onorati, were sued. I always figured they must have been.
Last time, I forgot to ask everyone to notice the three-part harmony in the Trapp Family version of 1952, which might sound a little odd since we're used to standard lead duet. Also note the "ox and ass kept time" in the lyrics--apparently, this was subsequently changed. Nothing like "ass" in the lyrics to get kids laughing and giggling. Not that I was ever that immature.
Prior to Harry Simeone's 1958 stealing of Katherine K. Davis' 1941 children's choral piece Carol of the Drum (Simeone retitled it The Little Drummer Boy), the song had been recorded at least four times, beginning with the Trapp Family Singers' 1952 recording for Deutsche Grammophon, whose arrangement takes the tempo faster than any other I've heard. Artiest version of them all, by far.
We'll be hearing the Trapps, plus three 1957 recordings of Drum, one of which was arranged and recorded by Jack Halloran. Reports Halloran's daughter (and I believe her), it was Jack's arrangement, with slight modification, that Simeone used to get his monster hit. My copy of Simeone's 1958 LP Sing We Now of Christmas not only gives Simeone song credit but sole song credit! Charming.
Davis must have protested, since her name was subsequently returned to the byline, though she lost 2/3 ownership of her song (Henry Onorati claimed the other 1/3).
Composer-gets-screwed-over stories are a dime a dozen, I guess, but that makes them all the sadder as a comment on the pop music racket. At any rate, at least two sources I consulted cite Halloran's 1957 recording as the first, but today's playlist begs to differ. For, besides the 1952 Trapp version, we'll be experiencing two others from 1957. Will the record ever be set straight? It depends on whether or not your turntable has a removable spindle, allowing you to manually center the disc. My Stanton doesn't, but yours might.
If you're confused, don't worry--everyone has a data-saturation point. For example, I stopped trying to figure out what was happening with the health care bill about twenty compromises ago. Click here to see one of my earlier Drum entries. Meanwhile, to the playlist, to which I've added two other choral pieces by the great Ms. Davis, including the show-stopping As It Fell Upon a Night: Pum-Pum-Pum-Pum (Well, more like, pum... pum... pum... pum....)
CAROL OF THE DRUM (Katherine K. Davis)--Trapp Family Singers, 1952.
CAROL OF THE DRUM--Jack Halloran Singers, 1957.
CAROL OF THE DRUM--St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir, 1957.
CAROL OF THE DRUM--The Testor Chorus, 1957.
AS IT FELL UPON A NIGHT (Davis)--The Testor Chorus, 1957.
SWEDISH DANCE CAROL (Davis)--The Testor Chorus, 1957.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Bet you can't tell that I cloned the upper portion of the label (where it was overlit) using portions from the rest of the label, so smoothly did I manage to accomplish this (not).
Well, it's the bought that counts. (You know, in a recession, when we're supposed to be buying things.)
This wonderful album showed up at Goodwill in a plain white jacket, leaving only the label to tell me who it is. The selections I had to look up on line, using first lines. The titles preceded by a * represent my best (or worst) guess. What we have are 21 selections by Grades 1-3 and Middle Grades 4-6 at Granville (Ohio) Elementary School. See label credits.
Those in the know chuckle at the idea of a "war on Christmas," yet it seems that Christmas carols and hymns are being banned in public schools across our worried-that-it-might-offend-someone nation. Those portions of our great musical-education heritage that rate as religious have to be either eliminated from public-school concerts or inserted carefully and with justification (and not, repeat not, on account of their seasonal or religious attributes). Now, just for the record, I have yet to be shown the portion of our Constitution that requires our public school system to push a secular agenda--in fact, the SCOTUS decided a while back that neutrality in that regard is a must. But, apparently, either some honestly believe that a secular bias constitutes neutrality (!) or else they think they know better than the SCOTUS. Which wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Of course, with everything from science to democracy defined as "secular" (such things are actually neither/nor), when someone like me talks about a secular agenda, it sounds like I'm dissing Darwin. Hardly. But we've ceded our language to the secular set, allowing them to claim ownership of all those details of culture they (it's all about them) find useful or praiseworthy. I've often wondered what they would do if we said "No" to such takeovers. Bully us in their best Carl Sagan accent? ("Billions and billons...." "No, stop!! Our popular lexicon is yours! Take it!")
In short, bureaucratic moronship wins again, and the portion of the left that has led this assault on our vernacular music heritage is, mega-ironically, the same portion that snickers at the idea of a war on Christmas. Heck, there's no war. Save for the one they're waging. This leftie disowns such censorship-happy twits, regardless of their political stripes, but not everyone is willing to tell them where to park. And that's too bad.
Yes, I suppose it's vital that our children be protected from such harmful fare as classic European carols, Mendelssohn's Say, Where Is He Born?, and Bach's O Savior Sweet, O Savior Kind and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. As for Handel, I imagine someone has written a secular Messiah by now.
Now, while I'm certain there were a-holes back in 1961 just as happy to tinkle on Masters in This Hall, people weren't about to put up with such behavior. And so we have wondrous documents like the one we're about to enjoy. Whenever something beautiful and meaningful is smothered by zealots with an agenda, there's never a valid excuse. There are some on my side of the political fence who need to learn that this truth applies to them, too.
Click here to hear: 1961 Christmas Program.
SLEIGHLIST--1961 Christmas Program, Granville Elementary School
GRANVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL--GRADES 1, 2, 3
UNDER THE STARS, ONE HOLY NIGHT
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
*COLD DECEMBER FLIES AWAY
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
*THE BIRDS SING THEIR CAROLS
AWAY IN THE MANGER
SHEPHERDS, SHAKE OFF YOUR DROWSY SLEEP
O SAVIOR SWEET, O SAVIOR KIND (J.S. Bach)
*A GENTLE BABE LAY SLEEPING
HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS
MASTERS IN THIS HALL
SAY, WHERE IS HE BORN? (MENDELSSOHN)
*SUCH A NIGHT THERE NEVER HAS BEEN
WHAT CHILD IS THIS
HE SHALL FEED HIS FLOCK (Handel, from Messiah)
AS JOSEPH WAS A WALKING
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
JESU, JOY OF MAN'S DESIRING (J.S. Bach)
*--My best guess at the title.
My favorite rip of the season. Such finds make this hobby the joy it is.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
From the liner notes: "The High Spirits are a group of outstanding young Children who go to Holy Spirit School in the City of Whitehall Ohio and are from the 3rd to the 8th grade; Under the direction and leadership of Sister Carol Ann Krell, this fine group has been able to put it all together and come up with something real big."
And: "The songs are done in harmony. No sheet music was used--only the natural ability of the students to listen, appreciate, and learn and imitate."
From 1973 and released on the Mus-I-Col label of Columbus, Ohio. These are energetic performances, all closely supervised but obviously meant to sound less so. Notice how "natural ability" is cited in league with "no sheet music." But music-reading is an ability, isn't it? (Just not "natural," perhaps.)
Recording quality is pretty good, though there was a lot of hiss in the audio equipment and/or master tape. The credits have been typed as they appeared.
To the LP: The High Spirits of Holy Spirit School--Christmas, 1973.
SING WE NOEL
GO TELL IT ON A MOUNTAIN
WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
A CHRISTMAS ROUND
AWAY IN A MANGER
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
'NEATH THE SILENT STARS
I HEARD THE BELLS
VIRGIN MARY HAD A BABY BOY
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
When I first saw Rhonda the Reindeer's Magical Tail, I thought Rhonda was the name of a magical tail. Which would be the case if there was a comma following Rhonda, but there is not. In fact, the title is about the tail that belongs to Rhonda the Magical Reindeer. The name of Rhonda's tail, presumably, is Rhonda's Tail.
Aren't you glad I cleared that up?
"Little Susie"'s Christmas Season and Who Put the Gum in Santa's Whiskers?, both from 1956, are tracks you'll be playing again and again. In fact, I can picture entire sleighlists consisting of these two numbers repeating one after the other. No, I can't. Seriously, I can't.
The two Rae-Ann sides are from 1969, I just found out, thanks to this link. Rae-Ann Records' annual Christmas single--cool. Maybe there are more.
Speaking of Rae-Ann, I mislabeled Neath a Blanket of White as Neath a Blanket of Blue. Sorry about that! Just noticed it.
To the sounds: Christmas 2009, Part 8
RHONDA THE MAGICAL REINDEER'S TAIL--Frank Trainor, 1986.
THE HOUSE IS DARK--Same.
CHRISTMAS SEASON (Hayes-Teri)--Little Susie, w. Orch. Dir. by Bob Hayes, 1956.
WHO PUT THE GUM IN SANTA'S WHISKERS? (Hayes)--Same.
WINTER WALTZ (Arr: Phil Medley)--The Jingles.
MERRY CHRISTMAS (TO ALL THE LITTLE CHILDREN)--The Little Jingle Singers.
HELLO MERRY CHRISTMAS (Sarah Ann Warner)--Nifo Lilii, 1969.
NEATH A BLANKET OF WHITE--Same.
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (IN TEXAS, THAT IS)--Freddy Martin and His Orch., featuring Murray Arnold, vocal, 1951.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Excellent Christmas gospel from Word's Canaan label. What a line-up: Goodman and Lewis Families, Jimmie Davis, the Florida Boys.... You know you want to download this one.
Click here to hear: Canaan Country Christmas
O HOLY NIGHT--Goodman Family
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM--Mercy River Boys
FORGIVE ME SANTA--Jimmie Davis
THE FIRST NOEL--Rex Nelon Singers
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN--Cathedral Quartet
AWAY IN A MANGER--Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters
BEAUTIFUL STAR OF BETHLEHEM--Florida Boys
SILENT NIGHT--B.J. Thomas
WHAT CHILD IS THIS?--Inspirations
(Canaan CAS-9877; 1981)