Tuesday, January 01, 2019

finally it's Christmas with the Singing Angels (1977)

finally it's Christmas with the Singing Angels was someone's idea of clever, and that's all that matters.  Don't capitalize anything but the proper nouns--what an artistic touch.  And, heck, why capitalize those?  Why no finally it's christmas with the singing angels?  They didn't have the guts, I guess.

And what's with "finally it's..."?  Finally what?  Christmas?  Or Christmas with the Singing Angels?  It could be either or both.

Fear not--the notes explain "finally": "Your friendly, neighborhood Professional Florist, a Member of The Florists Association of Greater Cleveland, Inc., suggests that, it's about time the Singing Angels made a Christmas Album...and here it is, a fabulous collection of beautiful music forever yours."  And maybe it's, about time, our friendly, neighborhood Professional, Florist, learned to, write.  Or at, least, punctuate.  And why are florists always friendly?  Are they, in fact?  There must be unfriendly florists.  Fawlty Florists.

Anyway, this LP wasn't forever the owner's, else it wouldn't have ended up in a Columbus Goodwill for me to finally get my mitts on.  Such a promising start--what is virtually guaranteed to be a fun version of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, and it's obliterated by clueless arranging.  I was never a fan of the trumpet whinny at the end, but it makes PBS "Pops" audiences happy ("Trumpet sounds like horse.  Ha, ha"), so what the heck.  And it works when played as intended--namely, trumpet whinny, tonic chord with whip crack.  The end.  Corny but ingenious.  There's no other way it can be done, but here the hotshot arranger has the singers slow down just before a rushed rendering of the trumpet effect, and then the kids do a LOUD unison, pitch-drop "WHOOOOOOOOOAAAA!!!!!" that belongs in a Twilight Zone episode, not a Kitschmas concert.  Maybe this was the moment the previous owner decided this was not to be forever his or hers, and into the "To go to Goodwill" bag it dropped.

Do things get worse?  No, but only because worst has already been reached with that "WHOOOOOOOOOAAAA!!!!!" ending.  Not that the arrangers are in a hurry to atone for their sins.  In the followup track, Coventry Carol, the harmonies are wrong, and I don't know how that's possible.  How to mess them up, I mean.  I'm not simply talking about the usual choral-style dressing up--the progressions of the first four bars are flattened out in a way that would embarrass the least adept, non-music-reading doo wop group of 1953 trying to do Stardust.  The writing is so bad, there's no conceivable excuse.  At least it doesn't end with a "Bye bye, lully, lul-LAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!"  Not sure how they missed that opportunity.

The rest is tolerable, and the arrangement of Let There Be Peace on Earth manages to not ruin this moving standard. Someone must have shamed the staff into erring on the side of respect for the material.  Meanwhile, Winter Wonderland is Barbershop a cappella, and you know I was never in a singing group, despite literally everyone's insistence I have a great voice (my ears don't detect it), because Barbershop always sounds to me like singers drifting on and off pitch.  Just use a dang piano and keep the vocalists on key.  Singers and singing groups always act like they, and they alone, understand how music works, and I'm like, here's the piano and a book of Chopin Etudes--give it your best shot, all-knowing sorts.  Show me how it's done, because I don't know music.  Meanwhile, my respect for Les Brown has dropped 40 elevator floors now that I know he's responsible for the slice of tripe known as We Wish You the Merriest, whose lyrics were hopefully penned by one of his grandchildren, which is the only possible excuse that comes to mind.  The words, to use the term loosely, are the stupidest, the stupidest, the stupidest.  Yes, the stupidest.  I imagine it all started with someone, maybe Les, realizing that "Yule cheer" rhymes with "New Year."  Except that it doesn't.  "Yule cheer"--"New Year."  These jazz folks trashed rock and roll for its idiotic lyrics and repetition.  Okay for them, not for the young kids entering the charts--their charts, thank you.  What's with these younger artists daring to have hits?  We'll sic Stan Freberg on them.  Shame them out of the business.

No, this has not been a memorable start of the year for me.  How'd you guess?

To the music forever yours, until you gift it to Goodwill: finally it's Christmas, etc.

Sleigh Ride
Coventry Carol
We Need a Little Christmas
Merry Christmas, Darling
White Christmas
Let There Be Peace on Earth
Christmas Was Meant for Children
Winter Wonderland
Caroleer Medley
We Wish You the Merriest
finally it's over

finally it's Christmas with the Singing Angels (SRS 1000; 1977)



Ernie said...

Well, I would have bought it either way. And I like it when the Three Suns did their horses whinny with an accordion. :)

Buster said...

I live near where these singers called home, and I never cared for them. At all. But I always liked "We Wish You the Merriest," which is supposed to be frothy.

Mac said...

Well, this was a nice little gift kind sir, I've had the merry Christmas darlin track for a while and have always enjoyed it - even though the thought that these little children are signing about "desire in front of the fire" is a bit creepy and then the male soloist just comes crashing in from out of left field - wonder if that is the conductor who just needed some air time?

anywho - big thanks for all that you do, very much enjoy your take and history on your posts - always enjoyable with a fair bit of snark....

Kwork said...

Love the comments. They really add to things. Thanks for the music too.