Monday, December 24, 2018

Dreck the Halls with Premier Albums--tra, la, la, la....

One glance at the back cover tells us this is the outfit that gave us Coronet and Spin-O-Rama.  In other words, Premier Albums, Inc., which didn't even bother to provide a label name for this one.  So you know it's going to be maximum bang for your dollar-bin buck.  Sure enough, it's a cobbled-together effort with mostly dreadful audio quality, but it does have the best fake-hit version of The Little Drummer Boy I've so far come across, a recording which also appears on Ultraphonic and Tiara, and a 45 rpm single whose label I can't recall.  It's ruined by a barely visible but bad scratch, so I substituted my Ultraphonic version, which was mastered at a slightly faster speed--I slowed it down to match the one on this LP.  Other tracks are fine, scratch-wise, if not sound-wise.  The fun and lively stuff happens on Side A, with Side B devoted to Silent Night, O Little Town, etc. The 21 minutes of fun ends with a dreadful version of I Heard the Bells, whose words were written by Longfellow.  I didn't know that.  This track doesn't use the traditional tune (Waltham), which I was never crazy about but which tops this one.  To be fair, it's hard to judge the quality of a tune when it's this badly arranged and recorded.

The clunky rendition of Deck the Halls (once known as Deck the Hall) sounds very familiar, but I can't place where else I heard it.  It's one of my shares for this year, but which one?

The front jacket is terrific.  Premier's covers were usually at or below Design-label standards, so I don't know what was happening here.  A totally cool cover when you least expect it.

The Caroleers are credited with these tracks, and they sure had a knack for sounding like eight or nine different outfits.  I'm guessing "The Caroleers" is a totally made-up credit.  They show up on other collections, and I don't know if that generic credit was unique to Premier, or what.  If I did know at one time, I don't at this one.  To the fun....

CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  The Little Drummer Boy (Premier Albums, Inc.)

The Little Drummer Boy
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Jingle Bells
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Twas the Night Before Christmas
Silent Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
I Heard the Bells

The Little Drummer Boy--Christmas Songs for Children (Premier Albums XM-8)




Ernie said...

I don't know how you keep track of where you've heard what...

Diane said...

Where DO you find these things? I swear, I thought I'd seen every holiday LP ever released in my thrift shop trollings -- yet you find dozens I've never run across anywhere. Maybe they released 'em regionally? Or you're just better at this than me? Either way, great job! And merry Christmas, Lee!

DonHo57 said...

I know how but can't explain how it works. I can hear something on a recording I haven't heard in 30 or 40 years, but remember exactly what it is and who recorded it, and on which label. Some of us have brains that go that way. I can remember pretty much every chess game I played in tournaments in high school and college, move-by-move. Can't tell you when my next appointment with my GP is, and only remembered my late wife's birthday because it was July 4th. I am thankful for calendars and day planners.

Buster said...

I like how there's a place on the back where you can inscribe this as a gift to someone.

Alan said...

Merry Christmas Lee!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I recognized this because I keep close track of the "fake" versions of LDB, and because this one is so exceptionally well done. I seemed to recall it was on my two Ultraphonic "Tops in Pops" LPs--LPs issued with the same tracks and label number, but different covers, both hilariously tacky. Sure enough, it (LDB) was there. I ripped the better-condition copy. Both "Tops in Pops" albums say "Record Distributors of New Jersey" on the back, and the font and wording are clearly a modification of "Record Corporation of America," meaning the stuff had been bought from Eli Oberstein. Then the same LTD track shows up on a Tiara label boxed set, in stereo if my memory is correct. The Tiara boxed set contains material I know from SPC (Prom label, mostly), but which appeared on other, seemingly unrelated labels. And that's where I start laughing uncontrollably and the medics have to cart me away.


Yes, memories that focus on the least practical and useful details. My foster father, John, remembered song lyrics down to the last word but couldn't keep up with seven items on a shopping list--too confusing. He went to Swarthmore College on a math scholarship but a simple shopping list had him lost. I have the same kind of brain, but it's sometimes little use in tracing the dime-store tracks, because these cheap label details pile up too fast, and there's almost no pattern. Tracks label-hopped with no apparent logic. Labels were bought up by other groups, and obviously a good number of tracks were leased for use by whoever was willing to pay the fee, meaning that Tops, SPC, and Record Corp. of America were getting their stuff from one or two places--we're talking late 50s. They were conspiring, in the non-sinister sense of the word--i.e., working together toward a common goal. Namely, that of cutting costs by outsourcing things to whomever. Why have five or six unique "fake" versions of a current hit, when you get by with two? I have no proof this was happening, but it's the only logical explanation for the otherwise inexplicable amount of label-jumping. Even though these outfits were market parasites, I have a feeling they wouldn't have stood for another dollar-bin label simply swiping their stuff. Outsourcing is the most logical explanation. It's Occam's Razor.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Merry Just Another Holiday in December to you, too, Diane! (The PC edition of Christmas.) I appreciate your compliment, and at the risk of praising myself (which I do very rarely, actually), I have this weird gift for sniffing out these things. I have scores of stuff I've let go off that I shouldn't have, because replacing it would cost a lot of dough, and typically I got it for 50 cents or a buck. There's a principle involved. And a limited income.

I was never into holiday LP collecting until I started blogging, so it was a steep learning curve. Nevertheless, from the start I came up with plain bizarre stuff and/or classic but little-heard-of mainstream stuff, like the Line Material discs--which, btw, I was not the first to post. But... I was the first to post them in good-sounding files. That's one of my posting tactics--make the things sound great, and people will come back.

Ever year, some of my Christmas LPs and singles go MIA, and it drives me nuts. I looked through every last one of my 45s for "The Ghost on Christmas Eve," and I guess it has become a ghost itself, joining the Choir Invisible without telling em. So I guess I'll have to find the CD-R(s) I burned it to, which means going through God-knows-how-many of the things. A few LPs got up and walked away, too. Science should be looking into that mystery--the way LP jackets evolve limbs with which to walk, and in the span of less than a year. And they're not even lifeforms. But does science bother with this question? Nope.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Merry Christmas to you, too!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I forgot you! Sorry. Kind of dopey today. I like that, too, and there's tape residue which suggests someone put a label over that part. Why didn't they simply fill it out? It could even be glue residue. I photo-shopped it out. I wonder sometimes if I should make the jackets look better than they are, that I'm defacing the document. Then I go ahead and photo-shop things out, anyway, so I must not be too conscience-stricken over it.

Buster said...

Lee -

I like to use whatever tools at at my disposal for the covers. I don't think it's any different than improving the sound.

Kwork said...

Thank you very much!