Thursday, December 13, 2018

Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (You Come Down from the Stars)

This gorgeous seven-inch Italian picture record, sort of a semi-flexi disc, showed up for me at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift that I go to all the time.  Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (You Come Down from the Stars) is an Italian Christmas carol written in 1732.

"Homage of the orphans of the Desenzano del Garda to their benefactors" says the reverse side.  There's a long introduction spoken by a young boy, and I don't understand a word, but it's wonderful to listen to.  This is followed by a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the carol.  A gem.

Click here to hear: You Come Down from the Stars


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Various Artists, Part 3--Tommy Allen, Granny, Dick Byron, Ernest Tubb, Nifo Lilii

When I say, "This is one of my weirder playlists," you know it's going to be an event.  And, by the way, this is one of my weirder playlists.

There's the "Spa--Hot Springs, Arkansas" 45 rpm EP, for instance, and I have no idea if "Spa" is the label, or if the label is the entire phrase up topside, or who put this out, or why.  I had to study the credits to figure out if the artist is "Mama Lady" or "Biddle (Bo) Peep."  I say it's Biddle (Bo), because Opal Wimstead is apparently the singer on "Mama Lady," in which case "Biddle (Bo) Peep" shouldn't be in all-caps.  But I'm fine with it.  I don't expect consistency from a label calling itself "Spa--Hot Springs, Arkansas."  The track is the usual cutesy fake-kiddie-voice number, and I wonder if that genre has been retired by now.  That's an interesting question for discussion.  I like intellectual debates.

The wonderful Golden Records Jingle Bells is a blog regular, and I used my 1.0 mil LP needle this time.  And it's glad.  Meanwhile, the allegedly comic Jingle Bells by "Usual Lee Wong and Granny" (with Eddie Osborn at the Baldwin Organ) is an atrocity, and the flip does its best to continue the tradition.  (Jingle Bells Flip--was that ever a dance?)  The humor is quite sophisticated.  Ha, ha--a cranky, sarcastic Granny played by a male.  Ha, ha--holiday fruitcake.  Ha, ha--Granny getting progressively drunker as the needle nears the end, which it couldn't do fast enough for me.  From 1963, an era when being drunk was considered the epitome of hilarity, for reasons I'll never understand.  And, of course, "Usual Lee Wong" is on the Jerry Lewis side of political correctness.

Granny is WKRC DJ Jerry Thomas, and this 45 came with a pic sleeve I don't have.

I'm surprised at the badness of the Ernest Tubb sides.  I wonder if he financed this Decca disc with the money his mom gave him for singing lessons.  The backing is expert, but that voice....  The far better Nifo Lilii is a Samoan singer, and I guess he put his record out himself, starting in 1965 (reissuing it annually for a while), and it's quite pleasant.  So what's it doing in this playlist?  Hmm....

Two more Bells That Couldn't Jingle, and I can only conclude Burt really wanted the tune to take off like a sleigh on Christmas Eve.  As far as I know, it never did.  But the list of artists who didn't record this song is shorter than the reverse.  As mentioned last time, the lyricist, Larry Kusik, is best known for the theme from The Godfather.  Patti Page's Boogie Woogie Santa Claus remains a magnificent disc, thanks to Patti's extraordinary R&B-covering abilities.  I think I even like it better than the original.  This side almost rocks the needle off the grooves, and this is from the person who gave us the pop cover of Tennessee Waltz!  I mean.

Extended Play Records was an ultra-cheap outfit that put out fake hits and such, and I just ruined the record by banging it into my Casio WK-3800.  Seriously.  I was picking it up, and, wham!  Gouged it to heck.  Good thing I got a rip first.  Rather weird Night Before Christmas and Happy Holiday, but the other three tracks are typical low-budget hit copies.  Perfectly competent.  And I can't believe I just destroyed this.  It's an event when I break or mar a record, because I do it so rarely.  And I'm not the most careful record handler--I'm just lucky.  Sorry about that, Extended Play Records.

"Kiko" a Christmas Story (no punctuation) is corny and competent, and I think it gets an A for originality.  Did you know that Santa's a migrant worker?  Me, neither.  The Bob Stamper side has music by William (Elementary, My Dear Watson!) Indelli, whose story would take up a post.  Tune is nice, words are awkward, but it's Christmas.  And, while the Robinettes sound like a girl group from the 1960s, this Robin Hood label group is clearly a product of the previous decade.  Thanks a lot, internet, for giving me no info on this record.

Oh, and a lovely 1959 side by the Four Voices--Christmas Lights.  I'm not sure it makes up for Granny or "Usual Lee Wong," but, realistically speaking, what could?

To the music:

Click here to hear: Various Artists, Part 3

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town--The Robinettes w. Orchestra Acc. 
Jingle Bells--Dick Byron and the Sandpiper Chorus, Dir. Mitch Miller
Christmas Lights--The Four Voices, 1959
The Bell That Couldn't Jingle (Bacharach-Kusik)--Paul Evans, Orch. Arr, and Conducted by BB, 1962
Jingle Bells--Usual Lee Wong and Granny (Jerry Thomas), Eddie Osborn at the Baldwin Organ, 1963
Granny's Holiday Fruitcake--Granny (Jerry Thomas), Eddie Osborn, 1963
Lonely Christmas Eve--Ernest Tubb, 1954
I'll Be Walking the Floor This Christmas--Same
Hello, Merry Christmas--Nifo Lilii, 1965
Neath a Blanket of White (In the Winter)--Same
Christmas Will Be a Little Late This Year (Indelli-Rainone)-- Bob Stamper, 1992
The Bell That (Still) Couldn't Jingle (Bacharach-Kusik)--Bobby Vinton, 1962
'Twas the Night Before Christmas--Douglas Cross and George Corry 
Happy Holiday--Same
Let It Snow--Jeff Clark and Arlene James
God Bless Us All--Patsy Ello
Frosty the Snowman--Johnny Curtis
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus--Patti Page w. Jack Rael Orch, 1950
Dear Lord and Santa Claus--Biddle (Bo) Peep
"Kiko" a Christmas Story--Tommy Allen (Regal 3468; 1984)



The worst Christmas record ever made

"You and your community can share experiences with Santa Claus that he has never before revealed."  The... the what?

I realize this is a pretty tall claim, but this Mutual Radio Networks Program promo, At Home with Santa, is the worst Christmas record ever wished on the world.  Not one of the worst, not possibly the worst, not the worst one until an even worse example comes along.  Because a worse one isn't going to come along.  This is it.  This is the worst Christmas record ever made.  Trust me.

And there I was, ready to nominate Granny's Holiday Fruitcake and its flip side.  Then I remembered this thing.  And I put it on for my first listen since 2015.  Lord save us.

At Home with Santa is not only awful in all departments, it creates new departments to be awful in.  The text is illiterate, the inept announcer's delivery is a primer in misplaced stress, both Santa and "Reporter Dick" deliver their lines as if rushing to the latrine with only seconds to spare, and God only knows precisely what the fractured text is trying to tell us.  Something about a twenty-one-day program, plus an hour special, plus personalized promos, and... and....  (Ring, ring)  Hello?  Oh.  Okay.

That was God.  Turns out he doesn't know.  Now what?

Either this was produced in a mental institution, or the Mutual Radio Network was an amateur outfit to end all amateur outfits.  But how could it have been?  Read the Wikipedia page.  These can't be the same guys.  But they must be.

"After all, your Chamber of Commerce and local radio station should be happy to offer a program to their community that no one else can offer."  Right.  I mean, if you don't care about the shut-ins and impoverished kids, well, there's the prestige of airing a program that no one else can offer.  Who let these guys out?  Was there a power outage, and they escaped before the back-up generators could kick in and reboot the alarms?

Let me put it in a 2018 fashion.  The.  Worst.  Christmas.  Record.

To fully enjoy this record, it helps to hate yourself.

To the fun: At Home with Santa


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Merry Christmas from Line Material, 1956-1962

Here's info on Line Material, if you want to read about the company.  I'm sure there's more material (no pun intended) out there regarding LM, but for our purposes, what matters are the marvelous Christmas sides they produced as giveaways for their employees, starting in 1957 and ending in 1962.  I have a LM 78 rpm giveway from 1949, but it's not especially good, and my copy sounds terrible--so it's not included here.  As far as I know, their next holiday freebie disc (included with their yearly booklet) was 1956's The Magic of Christmas, which isn't all that bad, and which ends this playlist. I didn't want to place it first, since it hardly compares to the 1957-1962 efforts, which were arranged by London-born John McCarthy (1919-2009), best known for his Ambrosian Singers Christmas sides.  I wonder if the superbly professional singers on these 45s are those same folks.  From 1961 to 1966, the Ambrosian Singers were known as the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and it's possible their services exceeded the holiday give-away record budget of LM at this point, since the last McCarthy LM side is the 1962 Let's Trim the Christmas Tree.  It could have been recorded the year before.  It's interesting that the Singers' increased status corresponds with the end of McCarthy's services to LM.  I feel bad for all the kids who, after six years of enjoying Christmas giveaway sides of a major-label quality, had to go without.  That must have been a bummer.

These are new rips.  I had been reposting my c. 2007 rips, but these should be an improvement, as I used my 1.0 mil mono stylus and VinylStudio declicking.  I've also acquired clean copies of every side but the 1962 title, which isn't all that nicked up--just moderately.  Nearly all its surface noise is no more.

If you haven't heard these before, you'll very possibly be surprised by the stunningly good quality of performance and production.  I consider it highly improbable that any other company's holiday sides came anyplace near these.  Oh, and, "Merry Christmas... from Line Material.  Merry Christmas... from Line Material. (Repeat till fade)."

Click here to hear: Line Material Christmas Singles, 1956-1962

Santa's North Pole Band, 1957
The Sounds of Christmas, 1958
The Kinds of Christmas, 1959
Santa's Factoree, 1960
The Day That Santa Was Sick, 1961
Let's Trim the Christmas Tree, 1962
The Magic of Christmas, 1956


Merry, merry re-up time

Click here to hear:  Christmas Songs

Jingle Bells
Holy Night (Silent Night)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
Glory For a Child Is Born (Joy to the World)
The First Noel
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Christmas Card (It Came Upon the Midnight Clear)
Christmas Tree (O Christmas Tree)

Tower TWK-6 (10-in., 33 1/3)

Click here to hear:  The Mistletoe Singers (Tinkerbell SX 1732)


'Twas the Night Before Christmas
Every Little Snowflake
Good King Wenceslas (typo on zipfile--"Wesceslas")
Go Tell It On the Mountain
Gather Around the Christmas Tree
The Mostest, Bestest, Merriest Christmas Time
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The Shepherd's Carol
I Wonder as I Wander
Rise Up Shepherd and Follow
A Favor for the Little Christmas Tree
Cantique de Noel

Christmas picture discs....

Click here to hear:  Cheap picture discs

Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town--Pampers
Recording of Your Favorite Christmas Carols--L&M T.V. Quartet, 1960
Christmas Greetings--A Christmas Medley--Sapphire


"Season's Greetings" Christmas card from our former Toledo, Ohio neighbors

Record cards, postcard records

Monday, December 10, 2018

Sing Along with Santa's Helpers (1959)--A blatant rip-off?

Discogs lists this Tops label LP as by The Pixie Helpers and Santa Claus, but the title says "Santa's Helpers," so that's who I'm crediting.  After all, the cover uses big red lettering for "Santa's Helpers" but merely small blue lettering (in a simpler font, too) for "The Pixie Helpers."  And so I, myself, can only conclude that "The Pixie Helpers" was intended to modify  "Santa's Helpers."  As in the sentence, "I got this cool album by Santa's Helpers--or, as some people (who prefer smaller font) might call them, The Pixie Helpers."  Sure, arguments can be produced on both sides of the issue--Santa's Helpers vs. The Pixie Helpers and Santa Claus--with the debate going into the a.m. hours, with tempers wearing thin, and chairs and objects tossed, and police called, and people feeling pretty silly after bail is set, and everyone going home with court dates to meet.  It's just not worth it.

So, I say it's Santa's Helpers, not "The Pixie Helpers."  After all, these guys are helping Santa, not pixies.  What would pixies need help for?  Being pixies?  "I'm having trouble being a pixie.  Can someone help me?"--Pixie.  Ridiculous.

This is, needless to say, an LP for children.  Or, I guess, for parents whose wallets preferred the Tops label over Liberty, where the Chipmunks were booked.  So, is this a blatant rip-off of Alvin and the Chipmunks?  No.  More like an outrageously blatant-to-end-all-blatant-rip-offs rip-off.  Good grief.  Good thing for Tops that formats can't be copyrighted.  Well, allegedly.  That's what I'm always told.

And the weird thing is, the Chipmunks' Christmas LP didn't happen until 1962, three years after this.

My copy of this LP is in decent shape, though the jacket is warped and the seams half-shot.  But seam tears don't affect scans, so I got a nice image.  And I can't believe I just typed "seam tears don't affect scans."  That sounds like a weird Scottish dialect or something.  "Seam tears don't affect scans."  "You don't say."  "Aye.  Every season 'bout the noo."

Sorry--no disrespect intended.  I was in Scotland for three years and heard "noo" and "on the noo" more than once.  I was told that "on the noo" means "now."  In fact, I heard "Ach (och?) aye the noo," meaning, "Okay on the now," meaning, "Okay for now," meaning, "Okay."  And I still haven't given you a reason to download this file.  Because I can't think of one!

To the music:  Sing Along with Santa's Helpers  (Close pop-up page, then hit "Download Now" a second time.)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Sleigh Ride
The Animal's Christmas Song
O Come All Ye Faithful/Silent Night
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Frosty the Snow Man
The Christmas Song
Joy to the World
Deck the Halls

Sing Along with Santa's Helpers (Tops L1700; 1959)


Christmas is for kiddies, Part 2--Labels are strange

You'll notice that the Peter Pan fake-hit versions of 1956's Love Is Strange and 1957's La Dee Dah have Christmas label designs.  Don't ask me.  An accident?  The label's notion of a Christmas single for kids?  Dunno.  But I ripped them both.  My 2.7 mil 78 need sounded best, though I tried at least two other needles.  There's a science to this.

The 1951 Golden Records version of Parade of the Wooden Soldiers is superb, and this is probably my best-ever rip of the track, thanks to VinylStudio's curve-adjusting feature.  I included the flip, Bob Merrill's Sparrow in the Treetop, rewritten for kids ("Children's Lyric").  The original words would be a little over the heads of the young ones, maybe, since they involve a sparrow afraid to come home late, lest his wife think he's been hanging around the wrong nest.  Also recorded at 78 rpm on yellow vinyl and less than 7" (never did figure out the radius of these) is Frosty the Snow Man, with side 2 sung by Frosty himself, and I can't think of any wordplay here, so I'll just say, "sung by Frosty himself."  Wait, I know--I don't carrot all for his singing.  Get it?  Carrot all?

And this year's rerun of the delightful 1962 classic Santa's Christmas Party by Ruth White, sounding better than ever, thanks to my 1 mil LP needle.  (Gotta include the technical specs so I sound like I have any idea what I'm doing.)  Ruth White, believe it or not, is this Ruth White.

Let me make sure I've migrated these tracks, then I'll get a zip done, and then....

Click here to hear: Christmas Is for Kiddies, Part 2

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Jessel)--Anne Lloyd, The Sandpipers, Mitchell Miller and Orch., 1951
Sparrow in the Treetop (Merrill)--Same
Frosty the Snow Man (Nelson-Rollins)--Pat O'Malley, The Sandpipers, Mitchell Miller and Orch., 1951
Santa's Christmas Party (Ruth White)--Narration: Kathryn Hume, Sung By Grace Lynne Martin, 1962
Love Is Strange--Ricky and Sally, 1956? (Peter Pan 10, 7" 78 rpm)
La Dee Dah--The Grasshoppers, 1957? (Peter Pan 10, 7" 78 rpm)


Various Artists, Pt. 2--Bob Ellis, Joey Alfidi, Merv, Alex Houston and Elmer

I've switched back to Zippyshare.  Just close the pop-up page, press the download button again, and you should be okay.

Merv, Ray Stevens, Russ Morgan, and the yearly classic, Buzzy. the Christmas Bee.  Joey Alfidi performs with a lot of spunk but no singing ability on The Santa Claus March, a 1956 regular at this blog.  I can't stand the flip side, a slow, nothing ballad, so I didn't rip it.  Toymakers Song is a cute polka (well, polka-waltz) side with good sound effects, and I'm assigning it 1960 for the year, since someone wrote "1960" on the label.

The two 1956 "break-in" sides, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Jingle Bells, may be the least funny artifacts of that particular record genre, and that's saying a lot.  Or not a lot.  Not sure which.  Anyway, "break-in" discs broke out after Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman's The Flying Saucer. (1956), which Wikipedia calls a "mashup."  Whatever.  The Buchanan and Goodman record was genuinely funny in an idiotic way--an intentionally silly effort, skillfully edited.  These two sides are without a point, though the sound effects are cool, at least.

As for Bob Ellis' Santa's Sleigh (see third scan above for label art)... hoo, boy.  Let me cut and paste what I wrote in 2016 regarding this strange artifact.  Bob Ellis was the stage name of Raymond Asserson, Jr., the great-grandson of Rear Admiral Peter Christian Asserson. Raymond was the fourth husband of Christine "Cee Cee" Cromwell, daughter of American diplomat James H.R. Cromwell and Dodge Motor Company heiress Delphine Ione Dodge. Christine got none of the Dodge fortune when her mother Delphine died in 1943, whereupon it was discovered Delphine had disinherited James H.R. Cromwell (after their divorce, I'm guessing) and anyone related to him, which meant "Cee Cee" and her half-sister Anna Ray "Yvonne" (Baker) Ranger. But it doesn't sound like Christine was without dough....

 In 1970. Christine survived a plane crash.  Get the whole story here.  This record was made during Bob's (Raymond's) marriage to Christine. when he was co-managing her night club in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  You never know what kind of history is going to pop up behind a thrift and/or eBay acquisition.  Maybe it's better not to know, sometimes.

Bill Monroe's 1951 recording of Benjamin "Tex" Logan's Christmas Time's A-Coming is the first-ever, says Wikipedia.  Wiki describes Logan as "an American electrical engineer and bluegrass fiddler."  He performed with Monroe in the 1960s.

Some would call Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus the worst holiday side of all, but it's merely cornball country comedy of the Grand Ole Opry type, and it's for kids, besides.  The concept is kind of cute, really.  It's just that voice--ugh.  But who cares what I think?  No less a country star than Charley Pride gave his endorsement for the LP which yielded this track.  Years ago at this very blog, I heard from the lady who, as a little girl, said "Wait, Peter Cotton Claus.  Wait for me!" on this record.


Click here to hear: VA, Part 2--Christmas 2018

Buzzy, the Christmas Bee--Jeff and Sue Mitchell
The Santa Claus March--Joey Alfidi w. Russ Morgan Orch., 1956
Merry Christmas You Suckers (Roberts)--Paddy Roberts, 1962
Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)--Les Paul and Mary Ford, 1953
'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Breaking Through the Sound Barrier)--Frank and Jack, 1956
Jingle Bells (From the Sound Track)--Same
Christmas City (Don Peterson)--Merv Griffin, 1962
The Song of the Christmas City (Don Peterson) Merv Griffin and Maureen Reynolds, 1962
Toymakers Song--Keith Williams and his Orch., v: Mr. Claus and his helpers, 1960?
Santa's Sleigh--Santa Claus (Bob Ellis) and the La Motta Bros. Orch.
Cowboy Santa--Larry Cartell
Christmas Time's a-Coming (Tex Logan)--Bill Monroe, 1951
Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus--Alex Houston and Elmer, 1972
Santa Claus Is Watching You (Stevens)--Ray Stevens, 1962
Sidewalk Santa--The Merrill Staton Choir, 1960


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Various artists--John McCormack, Teresa Brewer, Merv Griffin, Nelson Pendergrass

Only here will you find a holiday playlist which includes both John McCormack and Nelson Pendergrass.  Some repeats from last year, a few not, and at least one that's "new."  And I have no idea what I just typed.

The Teresa Brewer side, from 1975, is too much for even me to take.  Sure, it's just a combination of standard Christmas song cliches: A kid making a selfless holiday plea, a message to Daddy that we're doing okay, the whole "Dear Santa" bit.  But what pushes it over the top for me is the line, "Please fly down Heaven's chimney 'stead of mine."  Heaven's chimney?  I couldn't come up with something that awful if I spent a hundred years!  Let's face it--I'm jealous.

The John McCormack side is from 1941, and I used to have it on a U.K. Decca 78, but I damaged it with a drop of my gramophone needle (back when I had an HMV cabinet gramophone).  These days, I could have simply ripped a file and cut out the noise, but back then....  Anyway, it's the nicest Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring I've ever heard.  McCormack may be my favorite singer of all time.  In fact, he is.

Connie Francis' Baby's First Christmas (1962) and the Lauritz Melchior's Ave Maria (1947) were St. Vincent de Paul 45 rpm finds.  The latter is a reissue of a 78, using the same catalog number, and while I prefer John McCormack's version of this Bach-Gounod classic, Lauritz is just fine.  And Baby's First Christmas is very well done--certainly, less corny than I expected.  Maybe once a person has heard Take a Message to Jesus, anything sounds serious by comparison.  When Santa Does the Polka sounds just about as you'd expect, except for maybe the children's chorus.  I like the idea of polka music giving Santa's reindeer the energy to make their rounds.  And Ron Oliver, who gives us a terrific version of Victor Herbert's March of the Toys, was really someone else--years ago, a reader told me his real name, but of course I don't remember.  If anyone knows, please share.

Two 1950 tracks of Merv Griffin with Freddy Martin, The Cadillacs (better known for Speedoo) giving us an R&B Rudolph, Ruby Wright singing Merry, Merry Christmas (my other copy of this 45 says Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas), our yearly square dance version of Jingle Bells (with calls by Lawrence Loy), Bobby Helms doing his 1965 version of Burt Bacharach and Larry Kusik's The Bell That Couldn't Jingle, and two sides by Nelson Pendergrass on the Tulsa OK label Pride.  I do not know who Nelson Pendergrass is, except that he recorded for Pride.

Larry Kusik is much better known for Speak Softly, Love from The Godfather.

And this mouse pen is driving me nuts.  I'm so used to the traditional mouse.  Plus, sometimes I have to click any number of times to get things to open, and I'm not yet sure why.  I'll figure it out.

Click here to hear:  Various Artists, Christmas 2018

Baby's First Christmas--Connie Francis w. Don Costa, 1962
Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)--Lauritz Melchior w/ Georgie Stoll and the MGM Orch., 1947
Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach)--John McCormack, 1941
When Santa Does the Polka--California Connection, 1991
March of the Toys--Ron Oliver and His Orch.
Sleigh Ride (Anderson)--Merv Griffin w. Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1950
Christmas Time--Same
Take a Message to Jesus--Teresa Brewer, 1975
Massachusetts Mixture (Jingle Bells)--Leonard Loy w. Wilbur Waite's Pokeberry Promenaders, 1951
Merry, Merry Christmas (Lyons)--Ruby Wright w. Cliff Lash and his Orch. and The Dick Noel Singers, 1957
Santa Comes Tonight (Pendergrass)--Nelson Pendergrass
Christy the Christmas Tree (Pendergrass)--Nelson Pendergrass
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer--The Cadillacs, 1956
The Bell That Couldn't Jingle (Bacharach-Kusik)--Bobby Helms, 1965


Friday, December 07, 2018

The Sound of Christmas--The Melachrino Strings (Vocalion VL 73809)

My scanner is excellent, except for one glitch: it doesn't always get the colors correct.  In this case, the LP jacket is aqua, but, as you can see, it turned out pure blue.  Otherwise, it's a good scan.

I can't find that this came out on CD, so I'm putting it up.  It's a lovely collection, and despite the "enhanced for stereo" business, the sound is quite acceptable.  The arrangements are overdone, but this is a Christmas LP, so that's not only okay, it's sort of required.  Highly creative tracks, and I don't know if George (Melachrino) did his own scoring or not.  Whoever it was, he or she was quite gifted.  Despite the over-arranged aspects.

And it's wonderful to have The Angel on the Christmas Tree, a delightful number that appears to have been pretty big in the UK, but not hereabouts.  At the moment, I'm getting used to my new pen mouse--came in the mail today.  It's quite a change from a regular mouse, but I'm hoping it will give my wrists a break.  I'm already getting better at using keyboard commands to move things along, and maybe there are keyboard commands for cutting and pasting, since it's a nightmare doing it with this thing.

The box doesn't say, but I'm assuming this is made in China.  "Pen mouse (Fairy) Series," it says.  Fairy series??  Maybe "fairy" means "magic," as in the old term, fairy stories or fairy tales.  Another gem from the box: "The Spider takes styling cue from modern European Sports Design for maximum style."  Hm.  They don't say.  So, it's the Spider, from the Fairy series.  Okay.

I should take a pic of it.  This is it:

And, while I'm getting used to my Fairy Series Spider, it's time to give the Melachrino Strings a spin:

Click here to hear: Melachrino Strings--The Sound of Christmas

Winter Wonderland
The First Noel
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Silent Night
Sleigh Ride
Jingle Bells
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
The Angel on the Christmas Tree
Skaters' Waltz
Adeste Fideles

The Sound of Christmas--The Melachrino Strings (Vocalion VL 73809)


Christmas Songs and Carols (Singcord ZLP 872S)--Sixteen Singing Men, Caravan Singers, more!

A highly entertaining 1972 V.A. (various artists) LP on the religious label Singcord, the tracks selected from other Singcord LPs.  Behold:

I loved every track except the two Jerry Barnes numbers--too much Vaughn Monroe in his voice.  (Well, actually, he's not that nasal.)  But he did a terrific LP with the Kurt Kaiser Singers on Word called Hymntime Sing-Along, a medley of classic gospel numbers.  Sixteen Singing Men are always wonderful to hear, Jimmie McDonald is outstanding, and the two very period Caravan Singers tracks steal the show, especially We Wish You a Merry Christmas.  Like the Terry Baxter LP last post, this is stylistically diverse, and it'll have me grabbing any other Singcord LPs I spot in the thrifts (except any Jerry Barnes solo efforts).  Religious LPs rarely show up in mint shape, but I don't think this one was touched by a needle before I got my mitts on it.  To the various Singcord artists:

Click here to hear: Christmas Songs and Carols (Singcord ZLP 872S; 1972)


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Terry Baxter Orchestra and Chorus--Home for Christmas (Columbia House DS 950)

A Christmas without Terry Baxter is like... a Christmas without Terry Baxter.  This is a Columbia House mail-order LP, and I like the way it touches all the bases, musically--Silver Bells to Some Children See Him to Rudolph to The Holy City to Hallelujah Chorus.  I was expecting same-sounding tracks, but the arranging styles vary a lot, with tracks that recall Ray Conniff, Robert Shaw, Johnny Mann, and George Melachrino. I especially like White Christmas, which uses musical quotations almost to the point of comedy, but it's all the more fun because of them.  Meanwhile, Rudolph sounds like a joint Henry Mancini/Floyd Cramer effort, and there's a beautiful brass version of The First Noel, though at one point it sounds like an organ has joined in, creating a serious mismatch in resonance.  I still like it. The Holy City is a standout, too, with an elaborate, George Martin-esque sound.  I've always wanted to type "a George Martin-esque sound." Silver Bells gets a sort of bluesy treatment--Ray Charles Lite.   I love the ways the styles bounce around.

Everything is expertly done, of course.  Well, nearly everything--the piano-dominated instrumentals are pretty tacky compared to the rest of the LP, and they contain enough keyboard bloopers to warrant retakes. Maybe these were rushed to meet a deadline.  But the rest of Home for Christmas is top-notch in the musicianship department.  A much better LP than I would have expected from Columbia House.  That'll teach me.

Some groove wear affecting the high frequencies, though the numerous light clicks vanished after VinylStudio's declicker got done with them, with a little help from MAGIX.

Click here to hear:  Home for Christmas--Terry Baxter Orch. and Chorus

White Christmas
The Little Drummer Boy
The First Noel
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine
When Christmas Comes
The Holy City
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Joy to the World
Angels We Have Heard on High
Silver Bells
Some Children See Him
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Hallelujah Chorus

Home for Christmas--Terry Baxter/His Orchestra and Chorus (Columbia House DS 950)


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Another Christmas With the Blue Ridge Quartet

An excellent offering from the excellent Southern gospel singers, the Blue Ridge Quartet.  I'm sad to discover from the Wikipedia page that the group is no more.  This looks '70s--maybe 1977-ish.  Traditional hymns and carols mixed with four pop titles, one of which--All I Want for Christmas Is You--is obviously not the Mariah Carey song.  I can live without hearing Mariah's recording.  I don't mind looking at the gorgeous Mariah, but listening to her is another issue entirely.

Christmas Island was written by Lyle Moraine and was a 1946 hit for the Andrews Sisters, backed by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.  Ernest Tubb recorded it in 1950.  Now you know.

Meanwhile, Little Toy Train is better known as Little Toy Trains, and it was written in 1967 by Roger Miller under the title Old Toy Trains.  Every time I hear a Miller song that's new to me, I'm reminded how brilliant that guy was.  Extraordinary wordsmith.

Sound is nice.  It was recorded at Jewel Recording Studios in Cincinnati, Ohio and manufactured by Queen City Album, Inc., also in Cincinnati.  I see tons of Queen City Album LPs in the local thrifts.  "This recording will never become obsolete," says the back jacket, a claim that showed up on many a vinyl album cover.  And it's true--so long as you have a turntable and the LP hasn't been tossed around or otherwise rendered unplayable.

My two-word review: great singing.

Click here to hear:  Another Christmas with the Blue Ridge Quartet

The Christmas Story (Recitation)
Oh Little Town of Bethelehem
The First Noel
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings
I'll Be Home for Christmas
All I Want for Christmas Is You
Christmas Island (Inst.)
Little Toy Train
Oh Come All Ye Faithful


Adventures in misleading record jackets--"The Jeri Mann Singers"

Cool--a nice choral LP for kids.  By the Jeri Mann Singers.  Awesome.

That's what our eyes tell us when we see the cover.  Our ears tell a different story when we lay the needle down.  Our ears hear Johnny Kay on Side A--the same tracks I just posted, save for It Came Upon....  And they hear an orchestra on side B.  What happened to the Jeri Mann Singers?  Did they fail to make it to the session, and so Sutton substituted Johnny Kay and an uncredited orchestra?

I typed in "Jeri Mann" at Discogs and all I got was a bunch of "Jeri" matches.  Then I put quotes around the name and chose the Artist category for more specific results--still no Jeri Mann.  If Jeri Mann is reading this, feel feel to comment.

UPDATE: After a nearly 50-year search, Ronald Sauer (see comment section) traced this LP's instrumental tracks to their source: Lester Records L 1002, The Stradivarius String Society and Cologne Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Fritz Munch--Singing Strings Herald Christmas.  Many thanks, Ronald!

The instrumentals are nice, so I ripped them.  I skipped the Kay tracks, of cousre.  Pretty nice sound, considering the label--Sutton.  Click on the link for Discog's lowdown on the label.  The tracks are in true stereo, which is good, because Sutton's fake stereo was some of the worst.  I would have preferred less echo in the mix, but we've heard worse.  These numbers will have you thinking you're shopping at Grant's in 1969.

Once again, I've been taken in by a dollar-bin label.  I believed what I read on the jacket.  D'oh!  On the other hand, the artwork is classic!

The Jeri Mann Singers--not

Christmas Carols and Songs for Children (Sutton SSU 96X, Side B)

Deck the Halls
Joy to the World
First Noel
Good King Wenceslaus
Holy Night
We Three Kings

Unknown orchestra.  LP credited to "Jeri Mann Singers."  Fooled again!


Mary Mayo--The Magic of Christmas (1956)

Mary Mayo's voice is lovely, and the LP gives us "completely new" songs by Fay Tishman (lyrics) and Marjorie Goetschius (music).  The songs are described as the duo's "creative reaction" to "the string of silly and meretricious Christmas songs which have dominated seasonal music for the past several years," and certainly titles like No Room at the Inn and Mary's Lullaby suggest a daring new approach to holiday songwriting, one completely free from cliche.   Just take the lyrical genius of The Christmas Bells Are Ringing: "The Christmas bells are ringing, The world tonight is singing."

From the notes: "The title of this album collection comes from the essential idea in the work of Mrs. Tishman and Miss Goetschius (the wife of musician Emery Deutsch).  What they wished to express in their songs were all the varied aspects of 'THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS.'"  I'm impressed. Too few songwriters even make an attempt to express the varied aspects of the magic of Christmas. Also from the notes: "NO ROOM AT THE INN tells dramatically of the denial of comfort to the Virgin Mary and the humble circumstances of the barn that sheltered the birth of the Blessed Babe."  Really?  It's not about botched Holiday Inn reservations?  Oh, right--Christmas.  Got it.

"The Star in the East led The Three Wise men to the little cradle in Bethlehem." If these songs don't get better, in a little while, I'm gonna pitch this LP in the circular file.  No, just kidding.

So maybe the songs are pap.  Maybe they're not completely worthy of Mary's talent, but that's no reason for me to be a Scrooge about it.  Surely, the cover is charming enough to warm even the coldest heart.  I especially like the cluttered left side, with the little girl blocked by the presents, the yellow lettering, and the fake tree branch.  The barely readable titles over the chintzy, pipe-cleaner tree makes for a nice touch, too, and the tinsel is so creatively arranged.  There's Mary in the middle, her face turned away so we can't see it, and that's cool, because personally I don't like seeing the singer's face--it takes a little mystery out of the experience.  And I love the way the cover is less about Mary than the back of the guy's jacket.  Another plus: the songs are short.

Click here to hear:  Mary Mayo w. LeRoy HolmesThe Magic of Christmas--, 1956

A King Without a Crown
No Room At the Inn
The Lonely Shepherd
Mary's Lullaby
I Bow My Head
Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men
The Christmas Bells Are Ringing
The Star in the East
The Magic of Christmas
Each Christmas Remember
God Bless You, Little Children
The Angels Lit the Candles

The Magic of Chrismtas --Mary Mayo w. Orch. and Chorus conducted by LeRoy Holmes (MGM E3452, 1956)


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

If you want the feeling of floating, buy Super Boron!

I found this 12-inch transcription in a Columbus, Ohio thrift about ten years back.  At the time, the store was a great place for record hunting.  However, during a recent visit, I discovered that they've taken to vastly overpricing the vinyl.  And, to add insult to sticker shock, they've decided to use huge price labels which, from the looks of them, would be heck to remove.  And to place these stickers on both the label and groove areas.  Why don't they simply take a hammer and break the things into pieces?  They'd have just as much chance of selling them.

Totally nuts.  I was very sad to see that.  Across the street, though, is a huge Goodwill store with enough LPs to keep a person looking for an hour or so.  Which is great.  Unfortunately, when I was there, the LPs were in long, poorly placed rows on shelves not quite big enough to hold them.  I was forced to position myself sort of sideways in order to keep the rows pushed back.  I maintained this posture for at least fifteen minutes, and when I stood up fully, my knees buckled, and I almost fell over.  I fought to keep my balance, and I must have looked like someone having a seizure.  No one noticed.  Or at least no one seemed to.  It's almost more embarrassing when people don't say something.

So, we have an acetate disc containing eleven Sohio radio spots.  Nothing specific to Christmas here, but these go with winter, so here they are.  Sohio, of course, was Standard Ohio of Ohio, and I remember it, and I also remember Boron--I thought the word was funny.  I don't remember Ex-tane, though.  I just learned from Wikipedia that Ex-tane became Extron, then Octron.  All three sound like monsters out to get Godzilla.

Sohio's headquarters were in Cleveland, which likely explains "Cleveland Recording Company" on the label.  I have no idea on the year, but it's vinyl and it's 33 and 1/3, and it has a strong early-sixties sound to it.  Radio ads sounded like this when I was a kid.  However, it plays best with my 2.7 mil 78 stylus--the LP needle produced muddy sound.  I don't know why radio stations would be using 78 needles in the early 1960s, but there are a lot of things I don't know.  Sohio's use of the line "the feel of floating" tells us this is pre-Woodstock, anyway.

I ripped this three times, using different styli, and it was the third rip that did it.  I combined all the spots into one file, but split it in two to make a zip file.  Linking to non-zips is a problem at MEGA, and I'd rather avoid it.  For some reason, the first ad spot begins at a low volume, with the volume ironically picking up on the word "pickup." 

My favorite spot is the fifth one, with the narrator losing the meter.  ("Get that great new driving feel.")  In his defense, it was a very tricky merging of words with accompaniment.

Click here to hear: Sohio ET #54 radio spots


A Sears, Roebuck and Company Christmas!

When I found this Silver Seal LP, I thought I'd really found something.  Alas, despite its lack of artist credits, it's just an edition of this Johnny Kay LP (image swiped from discogs):

Darn.  Oh, well.  Perry Como-soundalike Kay had a nice voice, and these under-rehearsed arrangements are adequate enough (the background singers get lost at times), but there's so little change in tone and feel throughout the album, things get a bit monotonous.  To my ears, anyway.  Plus, to me, Kay sounds like the winner in a Perry Como Sound-Alike contest, with an astonishingly similar voice but without Como's soulfulness.  Como was very laid-back, of course--that was his brand--but I think he sang more smoothly and with more warmth.  Of course, many find Perry too bland, but I'm right and they're wrong.  A famous blues singer--I'm almost sure it was B.B. King--named Como and Tony Bennett as two of his favorite artists.  The interviewer wasn't sure he'd heard correctly, but he had.  It's always funny when a big-name blues or R&B artist ends up liking someone we wouldn't expect him to, but we're all allowed to like whatever and whomever we choose.  Blues singers, too.  It's in the Constitution.

Here I am, presenting a Johnny Kay LP that Sears didn't bother to attribute to him, and I'm talking B.B. King, Perry Como, and Tony Bennett.  But I really did enjoy this, because I've read a lot about Johnny Kay (he has his fans), and I have him on some Prom/Promenade sound-alike tracks, so this is a chance to hear him twelve times.  (Once per track.)  And the sound is mostly excellent, for which I have to thank VinylStudio's amazing declicker.  After VS declicked the LP, I exported it to MAGIX, where I did some more work and placed track markers, etc., but most of the cleaning was VS's.  If you could hear what this sounded like when I set the needle down vs. the final result--well, pretty amazing.  I wasn't sure I could save it.  Merry Christmas from VinylStudio.

Christmas Carols--Johnny Kay (Silver Seal 1000)

Silent Night
The Wassail Song
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Away in a Manger
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
I Wonder As I Wander
We Three Kings
Oh, Tannenbaum
O Little Town of Bethlehem
O Come All Ye Faithful


Monday, December 03, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 8!--The shellac keeps spinning!

Yes, the holiday shellac keeps spinning here at MY(P)WHAE.  Guess I'll have to have the turntable looked at.  (Canned laughter.)  But, seriously....

No Christmas is complete without Gennett Sound Effects, and you know it.  Here, we get one side of continuous "Horse and Sleigh" sounds--lots of fun at parties--and a deconstructionist side featuring "Approach, Pass, Recede," "Approach and Stop," "Riding in Sleigh," and "Running Over People."  No, just kidding.  And "Start and Recede."  The last one is over almost before it starts, but I gave all four bands their own file.  I have no idea why.  Oh, I remember--because I can't cram all those subtitles into a single listing.

Vernon Dalhart returns to the blog with 1928's Hooray for St. Nick and Santa Claus, That's Me! and, boy, is my copy in other-than-mint condition.  But I heard two awful-sounding postings at YouTube, so here we are with a file which, despite the noise, sounds like a guy singing with a  guitar accompanying him.  The ones I heard on line sound like cries for help from another planet picked up on a transistor radio.  1939's Jingle Bells Fantasy is a delightful Rosario Bourdon arrangement, and my copy is a reissue from whenever.  A quick search didn't yield a year.  The fortissimo ending is all shredded grooves, but I used my 2.7 mil needle on that part, and did some filtering, and I think I saved it.  The rest sounds awesome.

The two Eddie Unger compositions are on the Unger Music label, so we can assume they're Unger-approved, and possibly the original versions.  Unger's Put Christ Back Into Christmas was recorded by a bunch of people, though, thankfully, his I'd Like to See My Mom for Christmas was not.  The latter is pretty amateurish--not near the level of its flip.  And we have Merv Griffin and Freddy Martin, from 1949, giving us the Merry Christmas Polka, and no Christmas is Christmas without Merv.  This is from the DJ 78 pressed in clear green vinyl.  Then it's Jack Owens with a well-sung White Christmas, and a novelty number co-written by Jack that I don't find very amusing--The Mistletoe Song.  But it's your opinion which matters, not mine.  What else?  Oh, yeah--two wonderful sides by a German brass ensemble.  Specifically, Blaserchor unter Leitung von Professor Hugo Rudel.  I wasn't able to find a year.  It's on RCA Victor, but the prefix is a mystery.  1950-ish?  Vom Himmel Hoch might be my favorite Luther composition.  The guy was one heck of a musician, in case you didn't know.

The 1909 Stille nat, Helige nat is a Victor label side by the Zonophone Orch., only disguised as a Norwegian issue.  Some of the ethnic sides from the acoustical period were U.S.-produced recordings masquerading in this fashion.  Cool, creaky sound.  The band takes it so slow, you almost wonder if the members were fully awake.  But it's still cool.  And there's the Collegiate Choir and the Criterion Quartet on a 1924 Brunswick issue, though the Quartet side sounds earlier.  And yet another "Fantasy"--this time, organist Mark Andrews, from 1925.  Bear with the groove wear at the start--the sound quickly improves.  The classic Glenn Miller Jingle Bells is from my 78 copy, though Windows Media Player seems to think I got it from a CD.

Click here to hear:  Christmas 2018, Part 8

Jingle Bells Fantasy (Arr: R. Bourdon)--RCA Victor Salon Orch., Dir. Rosario Bourdon, 1939
Merry Christmas Polka--Merv Griffin, w. Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1949
Put Christ Back Into Christmas (Eddie Unger)--Organta Trio, feat. Jack Allyn
I'd Like to See My Mom for Christmas (Eddie Unger)--Bob Jones with the Williams Sextette
Christmas Carols--Collegiate Choir, 1924
Christmas Fantasy--Pts. 1 and 2--Mark Andrews, Pipe Organ Solo, 1925
The Mistletoe Song (Owens-Tobias)--Jack Owens and Sam Cowling, Eddie Ballantine O., 1947
White Christmas--Jack Owens w. Eddie Ballantine and His Orch., 1947
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her (Luther)--Blaserchor unter Leitung von Professor Hugo Rudel, Brass Ensemble
Lobt Gott ihr Christen allzugleich--Same
Jingle Bells--Glenn Miller Orch. w. Tex Beneke, Ernie Caceres, and the Modernaires, 1941
Stille nat, Helige nat--Apollo Musikkorps (Zonophone Orch.), 1909
Day of the Lord (A Carol Scene)--Criterion Quartet, 1924
Horse and Sleigh (Continuous)--Gennett Sound Effects 1195
Horse and Sleigh--Approach, Pass, Recede--Same
Horse and Sleigh--Approach and Stop--Same
Horse and Sleigh--Riding in Sleigh--Same
Santa Claus, That's Me! (Heagney)--Vernon Dalhart, 1928
Hooray for St. Nick (White)--Vernon Dalhart, 1928


Saturday, December 01, 2018

Christmas Is for Kiddies--more or less classic 78s for kids


The cats thought the post title was "Christmas Is for Kitties," and that's understandable, but I thought I taught them better reading skills.  Anyway, so far I've posted a number of children's holiday sides, and here are some more.  I was able to find out nothing on child singer Martin Walker, beyond locating a review (and therefor the recording date) in an online scan of CASHBOX.  Meanwhile, Scotty MacGregor must be the artist AllMusic describes as "One of the most nonconforming children's artists ever to get national airplay."  (Does AllMusic save money by not having editors?)  These sides don't strike me as the work of a "nonconforming children's artist," let alone one of the most in that class, but since I have no idea what AllMusic means, I'll just say these Remington sides (the Junior label was theirs) are very fun.

Martin Walker has a very nice voice, and it's too bad I can't find out anything about him.  Cantique de Noel is of course better known as O Holy Night.  While stationed in Scotland, I heard the piece for the first time when the organist for the Catholic services asked me to accompany her for the Christmas Eve service in the base chapel.  She had been with the Metropolitan Opera but her career had gone nowhere; she was a Navy wife.  Her voice was astonishingly good, and though we hadn't even had a chance to rehearse, the performance went perfectly.  When you're accompanying a pro, things just magically gel.  There's a kind of ESP that happens.  With that kind of an introduction to the piece, I naturally love it a lot.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is a cleverly conceived song, and I don't know why I hate it so much.  Davey Piper does a good job--sometimes kid singers on novelty records are chosen for their awfulness, as if the label considers that part of the camp aspect, but Piper just sings.  He almost makes the number bearable.  Groove damage at the start, but it plays well enough, and the pic sleeve is awesome.  I posted the sleeve below, using last year's scan.  Pretty good for a budget outfit.  The flip is an excellent cover of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a wonderful standard with an important anti-bigotry message.  I imagine people forget that it's a message song.

I include Little Drummer Boy simply because it's not the Katherine K. Davis Christmas creation stolen by Harry Simeone and Henry Onorati and originally called Carol of the Drum.  "Copyright law" is pretty much an oxymoron; all someone has to do is "arrange" something, and they get some or part of the royalties.  It's theft.  But this isn't that tune.  It's a harmless number in the "Go to sleep" genre about a kid who played soldier all afternoon and now needs a nappy-nap.  AllMusic calls singer Larry Cotton "a popular smooth tenor big band vocalist in the 30s and 40s," and I'm starting to wonder if they're the folks leaving these word-salad comments at the blog.  Cotton's voice does nothing for me.  The side is pretty beat-up, but I saved it.  I think.  Anyway, to the music.  If my elaborate theory about the MEGA link issue is correct, then there'll be no downloading issues:

Click here to hear: Christmas Is for Kiddies

It's Santa Claus--Scotty MacGregor, 1948
Jingle Bells--Scotty MacGregor, 1948
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus--Davey Piper w. Enoch Light, his Orch. and Chorus
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer--Dolph Dixon w. the Prom Orch. and Chorus
I Just Wrote to Santa--Martin Walker w. Sammy Spear Orch., 1953
Cantique de Noel (Adam)--Same
Little Drummer Boy--Horace Hedit and his Brigadiers, v: Larry Cotton, 1938


Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Christmas Fantasy--Al Goodman and His Orch., 1950

I could help myself--I had to follow up A Christmas Fantasie with A Christmas Fantasy.  With a y.  The 45 rpm edition of this single came out in 1950, so I'm giving this 12-inch 78 the same year, because I can't find dates for 12-inch RCAs from this period.  The 28 prefix doesn't show up in the two dating guides I use.  Well, actually I have three, so why don't I check the third one?

Nope, no luck.  The third guide at least lists the RCA 28 prefix, but only a single side in the series.  Why is this information being kept from us?  What foul, sinister plot is behind this?  I ask you, dear downloaders.

Meanwhile, here's Al Goodman.  I'm a fan of Goodman--he's recorded a lot of high-quality light music.  And when he ended up on junk labels, he continued to do good stuff.  He also did the all-time best version of the Pops standard, A Hunt in the Black Forest.  I used to know that piece's year of composition--1897 or so.  I think.  Anyway, to the Fantasy:

Click here to hear: Christmas Fantasy--Al Goodman and his Orch., 1950


A Christmas Fantasie--The Columbia Children's Music-Story Group (1940)

Using his imagination specs, a boy travels to the North Pole, where he meets Jack Frost, Eskimos, penguins, singing toys, the Snow Queen, the north wind, and Santa Claus.  I don't think the boy's name is mentioned anytime during the six 78 rpm sides, but I guess it's not important, because this is about the power of childhood imagination, so the child in the story could be any child.  Except we know the child is a he, because he has a male voice.  Sorry, girls.  Anyway, it's a standard kiddie-record theme: child falls asleep, meets Santa Claus.  But it's done in a delightfully old fashioned style, with the composer channeling Victor Herbert, so I give it an A.  The sound, by contrast, is about a C-plus.  I first ripped this with my standard 2.7 mil 78 stylus, and the sound lacked detail, with the surface swish nearly blocking it out at times.  My 3.5 mil stylus made night-and-day difference, turning lousy fidelity into mediocre fidelity.  It ought to--I paid enough for it.  And so we have a fairly decent rip to enjoy here.

I joined all six sides of this three-record set into a single file, because there are no actual pauses in the program, save the ones caused by having to flip over each side.  The disc order is not arranged for a changer, which is cool, because that's always a pain.  It makes ripping easy, because the flip of J 22-1 is J 22-2, and so on.  In changer order, the flip side of J 22-1 would be J 22-6.  Alexa wants to know what on earth I'm talking about.

We have Ernie to thank for this post--he asked me if I'd heard of this set, and I remembered that I have it.  I recall I was going to put it up a few years back, but I didn't have my wider 78 stylus at the time, and I'm sure the lousy 2.7 mil fidelity changed my mind.  Yet I kept the set, luckily.  And here it is:

Click here to hear: A Christmas Fantasie (1940)


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 4!--Even more 78s! Trinity Choir, Olive Kline, Thelma Gracen, Arthur Pryor

I was reading on line about a lack of cultural inclusiveness on the part of Christmas.  Let's see--celebrated around the world by billions of people.  Hm.  Yeah, that's hardly an inclusive festival.  Sounds to me like a members-only affair.  We need to fix that.

While we're fixing that, I have yet more holiday shellac to share.  And "shellac to share" is one heck of a tongue-twister, at least when I try to repeat it.  Anyway, I'm posting things our of order with the time I rip them, so I have to look at the list to see what we've got.  So, two recordings of the Trinity Choir doing the same hymns, same arrangement.  Only the first (from 1912) is acoustical and the second (1926) is electrical.  So it's a rare opportunity to listen to an acoustical side and then hear how it would have sounded with the electrical method.  Pretty cool.  They're also fine performances.

Bud Roman's Frosty the Snowman is from 1952, according to Discogs, which is two years after Gene Autry made it famous.  The flip, The Night Before Christmas, is a reissue of a Record Guild of America side.  The recording date was possibly 1948.  In fact, I think I have one of the label's picture-disc versions of it, but I recall it's badly damaged.  Somebody folded it.  Not good.

1950's Christmas Symphony, by Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., with a vocal by Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, is a wonderful oddity for the season.  I have it on a pretty beat-up MGM vinyl 78, but I did some MAGIX tricks, and it sounds okay.  Gracen is a good singer--too good for the band, really.  (Not to insult Shep, but....)  Thelma went on to record for Wing and Verve.  She also sang for Jan Garber.  Near the start, where there's considerable groove damage, I substituted a portion of the repeated section.  I did quick fade-in/fade-outs, and it fools even my ears when I listen to it.  This was a major rescue job, but it worked.

Ringing the Old Year Old, from 1911, is a little early, unless we take into account that the disc is 107 years old, in which case it's pretty past due.  It was composed by Lillian Currie, who also gave us On a Christmas Morning and Children's Toy March.  No luck in finding internet info on her, unfortunately.  There's a possible newspaper mention, but I'd have to pay.  Love to know something about her, because I really love her "descriptive" pieces.  So did Charles A. Prince, apparently.

The charming numbers by Olive Kline and Elsie Baker were apparently from children's songbooks, possibly for school use.  The books, I mean.  The 78s may have been used in that fashion, too, though the sides--Victor 17869--aren't designated for school use.  I repeated Around the Christmas Tree, because it goes by so fast (another clue it may have been for classroom use).  The classroom songs of my day were nowhere near this level, musically.

The two Nutcracker selections are cool, because they're well done and very old.  Casse-Noisette is the French word for "nutcracker," hence the Overture Miniature credit.  The Victor labels use the old spelling of Tchaikovsky--"Tschaikowsky."  Arthur Pryor's musicians were extraordinary, as we hear here.  I love typing "hear here."

Two more Trinity Choir selections, speaking of excellent musicians.  And we have tenor Evan Williams singing The Star of Bethlehem on a murky-sounding disc, especially by 1923 standards.  My copy looks good, so it should sound better--it's the Victrola label, after all.  Bad day at the pressing plant, maybe.  Christmas Chimes is an oddity on the Conqueror (Sears mail order) label. and I gave it 1932 for the year, because of where it falls in the label's discography.  But darned if I can find any info on it.  There's an earlier Christmas Chimes on this label (from 1927), so maybe this is a reissue with different credits?  I did my best to silence the disc's rumble, but there's still some there.  The piece was composed by Frederick William Vandersloot, Jr. (1866-1931), whose name is all over my older pieces of sheet music.

The 1911 Victor recording of the German carol O du frohliche, o du selige is a gem.  Gorgeously sung, and to one of the most memorable tunes of its type, which, thanks to Wikipedia, I can identify as O sanctissima.  An on-line translator tells me that Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett means "Weimar MOORSIH Vocal Quaret."  Sure enough, "sches" means "MOORISH" in German-to-English, but why the all-caps, I don't know.  The Victor label keeps things simple: "Quartet German."  Works for me.  The mistimed intro is kind of amusing, with the bell player and organ on two different parts of the page.  Did the bells start too early, or the organ too late?  It's a little too late to do it over.

Joy to the World is credited to Handel and Isaac Watts on the Trinity Choir 78, though it's now the consensus that Lowell Mason wrote the tune, not Handel.  The Watts credit is correct.   FWIW, the words to Amazing Grace fit with this melody.  They also go with the theme to Gilligan's Island.  To fit words to any given melody, you need to know the number of syllables per line.  That's the purpose of the confusing Metrical Index included in hymnals.  On that note...

To the sounds: Christmas 2018, Part 4

Christmas Hymns and Carols, Nos. 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1912
Christmas Hymns and Carols, Parts 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1926
Frosty the Snow Man--Bud Roman and the Toppers w. the Hal Lomen Orch., 1952
The Night Before Christmas--The Music Hall Drama Group, 1948?
The Christmas Symphony--Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., v: Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, 1950
Ringing the Old Year Old--Descriptive (Currie)--Prince's Orch., 1911
Merry Christmas--Sleighing Song--Olive Kline, Soprano w. orchestra and Sleigh Bells, 1913
Around the Christmas Tree--Christmas Shoes--Elsie Baker, Contralto w. Orch., 1914
Overture Miniature (From Casse Noisette)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1912
Nut Cracker Ballet (Dance Characteristique)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1911
The Star of Bethlehem (Adams)--Evan Williams, Tenor, 1923
Christmas Chimes (Chimes with String Quartette, Vocal Refrain; Vandersloot)--Salon Orchestra, 1932?
Joy to the World (Watts-Handel, though it's really Watts-Mason)--Trinity Choir, 1911
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful (Oakeley-poss. King John IV of Portugal)--Same
O du frohliche, o du selige--Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett, 1911