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
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)