Monday, December 25, 2023

More Merry Mervmas, Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle, Holiday Favorites (Gilmar)


DOWNLOAD: More Mervmas and Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle

I guess this will be my December 25 post (in fact, Christmas is nine minutes away).  I would have revived more "banned" posts and put up a couple more "new" LPs, but my storage options are limited, and I quickly exceeded's downloading bandwidth.  Which I don't want to do at pixeldrain.  MEGA?  Won't let me use it.  Clearly, I'm the only music blogger uploading material with any copyright-claim potential.  Obviously.  Oh, and thanks to all who recommended alternate hosting sites.

Things start with three Merv Griffin sides I present every Christmas. The first two--1950's Sleigh Ride and Christmas Time--date from Merv's time as vocalist for the Freddy Martin Orchestra. The third--1962's Christmas City--was recorded by Merv for the annual Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth, Minnesota. Nice song, well arranged, well recorded, and Merv is fine, my only issue being his pronunciation of "youth"--"Come this Christmas, and you'll suddenly find your youth," which initially sounded to my ears like, "...and you'll suddenly find you're you." Which sort of works, but not nearly as well as "youth."

And I'll skip ahead to the Gilmar Holiday Favorites 45 rpm EP, its A and B sides combined into one file.  Both sides feature a continuous groove, with awkward pauses and fades between selection fragments. The engineering ineptitude is of the have-to-hear-it-to-believe type, and many of the recordings are very familiar, though I can't place them.  Tops?  Eli Oberstein?  Maybe I'll have time to find out at some point.  I swear that the B side sounds like something cobbled together while the guy at the controls dozed off.  ("Wha... what?  Oh, yeah, I'm mixing a side.  I forgot.")

And the gorgeous Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (You Come Down From the Stars) is a 1732 Christmas carol featuring words and music by Saint Alphonsus Liguori of Italy.  Here's the wonderful comment I received in 2020 by Roberto of Milan, Lombardy.  The references are to guesses I'd made in my post:

"Hi, I have some other records from that series -not this one, so thank you very much-. You're right about the interpretation of "4 voci dispari": here it is second case, all-male adult/children. The plaque in the town of Nola (close to Naples, not LA) tells the song was written there in december 1754, yet those were the years indeed. For the Italian generations born no matter when from 19th to 20th century this one was the pretty first Xmas tune to be heard and learned by heart. The child introducing the song is a guest of the Orphanage -turned into a private high scool nowadays-: he calls himself "Ricciolino" [Curly] and he's 13. He's thanking all the benefactors, to whom this record is probably given as a freebie, wishing season greetings to all Italians in and outside the Country -emigrants were still many in 1959, that should be the year- asking everyone to remember and help the lonely like him and his companions. Then the song begins, just first verse and twice refrain. You won't escape the translation, just as horrible as only mine could be:

[O Blessed God!] 
You come down from the stars 
O King of Heaven 
[O King of Heaven] 
And come to a cave 
In the cold, in the frost 
And come to a cave 
In the cold, in the frost 

O my Divine Child 
I see you trembling here
O Blessed God
Ah, how much it did cost you 
For loving me! 
Ah, how much it did cost you 
For loving me! [2]

Even the manufacturer Cellograf-Simp survives today, with production and marketing strategies slightly different though... Always been into plastics, at those times it first finalized others' given masters, later starting an editorial branch of its own (Phonocolor/Style). From late 50s to early 60s it was the main flexis stamper in Italy and yes, a bit more thickness has always featured its production. They were mainly freebies: Italy was living an economic boom back then and after purchasing the right amount of any stuff you always got your flexi thrown to. Sorry the lengthy... Roberto - Milan, Lombardy -not so far from Desenzano-"

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 22, 2023

A gorgeous easy-listening holiday album (maybe the best ever). And, this time around, in stereo. And as credited to "George Jenkins."


Custom--a Modern/Crown sublabel.  Clearly a reboot of a Crown LP--in this case, 1959's Sounds of a Thousand Strings Plays for Christmas.  And Al Goodman received credit at some point, though I can't find the Goodman-credited release at Discogs right now.  This stuff gets complicated.

Last year, I revived the source LP, Singing Strings Herald Christmas, in this post (whose workupload link no longer works, of course).  That source LP was credited to The Stradivarius String Society and The Cologne Symphony Orch., conducted by Fritz Munch.  How those became the "Thousand Strings," I have no idea, though my guess is that the original label, Lester Records, folded quickly.  As in, very quickly.  All but the first track of this LP (White Christmas, and not from the Lester album) are in stereo, which means the original dates from either 1958 or 1959.  Thus, its migration to Crown happened right away.

These stereo tracks sound way better than the monaural Lester LP's, though only after a good deal of declicking.  VinylStudio knocked out the main extent of the surface noise, but there were still clicks and pops (both quiet and LOUD) which had to be manually removed in MAGIX.  It took me about an hour, or maybe an hour and a half.  It was worth the effort--these are among the best "beautiful music" holiday renditions every recorded.

And who is George Jenkins?  I have no idea, and neither does Discogs.  But, wait--wasn't he that cartoon character?  "Meet George Jenkins/His boy Elroy, etc."?  No, that was George Jetson.  My bad.

Cover painting is nice, with the same art on the back cover.  I did a good job photo-shopping the ring wear, I think.  

Reader/listener Ronald Sauer alerted me to this material.  Ron left the following comment, detailing his excellent detective work:

These songs were on albums issued by Parade, Spin-o-rama, Custom, Yuletide, and other budget labels. I first heard them in the late fifties or early sixties on "Al Goodman and his Orchestra play a Christmas Symphony" on Parade Records. In addition, those same songs were credited on other records to George Jenkins, the Sound of 1000 Strings, and others. I finally tracked them back to what I believe is the original source: The Stradivarius String Society and the Cologne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fritz Munch "Singing Strings Herald Christmas" on Lester Records L1002. It was one of my favorites as a youth. It only took me about 50 years of searching for the source.

That's dedication! Many thanks to Ron!  And imagine the work involved in the days before Discogs and other sources.  Anyway, gorgeous tracks, fabulous stereo, and as for the opening monaural track--I have no idea from where that came.  But it fits in nicely enough.

Oh, and the track lineup is identical to that of the Lester Records original.  The only difference being the substitution of the monaural White Christmas.

DOWNLOAD: White Christmas--George Jenkins--The Christmas Strings (Custom CS 5; 1964?)

White Christmas
Silent Night
Come All Ye Faithful
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Deck the Halls
Joy to the World
The First Noel
Good King Wenceslas
O Holy Night
We Three Things


Sunday, December 17, 2023

A less than splendid example of a holiday novelty not expertly rendered: "Santa's Sleigh" (1955)


DOWNLOAD: Santa's Sleigh--Santa Claus (Bob Ellis) and Bob Ellis Jr., Elector Records MC-1000-45; 1955.

Regarding the backstory for 1955's Santa's Sleigh, by Santa Claus (aka Bob Ellis) and Bob Ellis Jr., all  can say is... hoo, boy.  Maybe grab a stiff drink before continuing.

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....

And, in 1970, Christine survived a plane crash--get the whole story here.

Back to the backstory, 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.  And, 

Now, I hate to describe as awful any recording by someone who might be reading this post, however low that probability may be.  In which case, it can come across as a personal attack.  But since Bob Ellis Jr. didn't pen this thing, I'll go ahead and pronounce the melody uninspired and the words terrible.  At this point in his development, Bob Jr. could not sing.  We don't expect expert vocalizing from children, but...

I want to question whether Santa might have changed his mind, after hearing this record, about letting Bob Jr. drive the sleigh.  And an inexperienced magic-sleigh driver?  Sorry, doesn't wash.

Anyway, Bob Ellis makes one terrible Santa.  Any successful SC imitation requires more than a mock-bass voice and echo-enhanced "Ho Ho Ho!'s.  Santa has to sound boundlessly generous.  A less than sincere Santa is a logical contradiction.  A successful Santa is all about giving, not posturing.  Despite the red suit, the fancy sleigh, and so on, Santa is a refreshingly humble icon.  His flashiness speaks to the many legends randomly combined into his person: Norse sky god Thor (bearing gifts at Christmas and entering homes via their chimneys, plus his chariot and goats which fly the night sky), the Christkind or Christkindl (the gift-bearing Christ Child, aka Kris Kringle), Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, and who knows who (or what) else?  Mythology hosts no requirement to mesh logically, and so we have a multi-multifaceted Saint Nick.  Which face is his true face?  A: All of them.

This is one of the perfect holiday novelties.  How can I be sure?  Because I don't know whether I'm doing a service or disservice to the celebration.  Probably both.  Thus, the ideal novelty!

And why is Santa's Sleigh placed in quotes on the B side?  I have no idea.  For that matter, why isn't the name of the label (Elector) on the label?  Which is where we'd logically expect to find it.


Friday, December 15, 2023

100 Golden Voices Sing at Christmas, or Golden Voices of Christmas (Premier XMS-13; 1965)


At Discogs, this LP is listed as 100 Golden Voices Sing at Christmas, by The Golden Voices, which is so classically redundant, we have to wonder if this is a rack jobber effort.  And, sure enough, it is--good ol' Premier, with good ol' Premier stereo.  Otherwise known as monaural, except the right and left channels are EQ'd a little differently.  I summed the channels, which produced a halfway okay mono signal, though with too much echo and harshness in the high freqs. These tracks probably sounded fine before some idiot decided to make them sound more... what?  Up to date (1965)?  In all fairness, he or she was most likely doing as ordered.

Who are the Golden Voices, 100 or otherwise?  From the notes: "Non-professionals who started in a small New England village, years ago."  Okay.  Furthermore, the Singers "plied their way from community to community donating the beauty of their talents to their neighbors."  Before long, they "were beckoned to other parts of the country to thrill and delight people from Maine to Florida, from Atlantic to the Pacific."  Shouldn't Premier Albums, Inc. at least given them a back cover photo?

Is that their real story?  Probably as genuine as the "stereo," but who knows?  Meanwhile, this LP exists with at least three jackets, and I'm guessing neither of the other two editions offer real stereo.  Meanwhile, there's the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir, founded in 1886, though this is obviously not them.  For one thing, they'd be on a legit label, with a cover that doesn't scream "Cheap."

Not that cheap necessarily means bad--I find the cover art well done, and it's impossible not to love the oft-used Premier "A Merry Christmas From (name of purchaser)" Santa art:

The performances are terrific, suggesting a group which did not start as "non-professionals," and great to have Christians Awake, Once in Royal David's City, and The 12 Days of Christmas in the sleighlist, not to mention the gorgeous alternate melody for Angels from the Realms of Glory.  It's driving me nuts that I can't place the tune.  Given the level of sound doctoring, the monaural sources for 1965, and the unusual skill of the choir, we have to assume this is older material arbitrarily repackaged.  I'd love to find these outstanding performances in genuine mono. 

DOWNLOAD: 100 Golden Voices Sing at Christmas (Premier XMS-13; 1965)

Silent Night

The Wassail Song

Christians Awake

Once in Royal David's City

As With Gladness Men of Gold (sic)

Angels of (sic) the Realms of Glory

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

The 12 Days of Christmas

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The Holly and the Ivy

Ave Maria


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Merry Shellacmas, Part 3! I'd Like to See My Mom for Christmas, Hallejuah Chorus (Arthur Pryor, 1908), Vom Himmel Hoch (1904!), Richard Crooks, and two groove-wrecked goodies


DOWNLOAD LINK:  Merry Shellacmas, Part 3!

So, a 1933 The Star of Bethlehem whose lyrics can be understood!  I did my best with the 1910 recording thereof, but it proved next to hopeless.  (Hm.  What does "next to hopeless" mean?  It's like those snarky websites which reluctantly concede that the "precise" meaning of the Establishment Clause is not known, when the simple reality is that we either know or we don't know.  There aren't degrees of knowing/not knowing.)  Anyway, the two 1933 Richard Crooks restorations sound great, and of course I'd say that, since I made them.  And I hate to have to point this out, but it seems necessary: None of my rips are from Internet Archive (which goes without a "The," apparently).  It's against my blog policy to present anything but my own work.  But, of course, that is my personal, totally subjective position.  There's no right/wrong or true/false when it comes to a belief statement.

So, the truly burning question: Which involves more work--finding the right response curve and parametric EQ tweaks, or tracking down a recording date?  Well, sometimes the latter is the bigger challenge.  As with the Victor Concert Orch.'s 1939 March of the Toys (below), that marvelous Victor Herbert light concert work.  There were at least three candidates, including a 1927 vocal version (part of a medley) and a "Music of" album of (I think) 1927, also.  But this is clearly from a 1939 radio broadcast.  Or, rather, for a broadcast.  Because I doubt it was recorded from the radio--quite often, transcription discs were provided for broadcast purposes, which makes all the more sense when we realize that programming was often staggered during the days of this and that network.  Back when "live" didn't necessarily mean "live."

And... three astounding Arthur Pryor band performances, with both Handel and Tchaikovsky rendered in unreal, day-at-the-races tempi.  How the band so much as survived the course with Hallelujah Chorus and Overture Miniature, don't ask me.  That both sound fresh, and on recordings over a century old, is astounding.  Wait, I already used that word.

I'd Like to See My Mom for Christmas--an indispensable holiday standard of the weird variety, and not because of its theme (totally holiday-appropriate) but because it verges on creepy. Simply put, because our modern celebration of Christmas is all about family, it is nothing but fitting that lost loved ones be included.  But not literally!  There's a difference between "I miss my mom/girlfriend/dad" and "I expect visitation any time now."  Leave the ghost stories to Charles Dickens.  Oh, and songwriter Edgar Unger also wrote the oft-recorded Put Christ Back Into Christmas (same year: 1951).

My Christmas Symphony (1912) rip initially had me wanting to ditch the results, but it doesn't sound all that bad.   Not on second listen, anyway.  But there's no hope for the 1923 William Jennings Bryan holiday message, which I only managed to make listenable after 90 minutes of work.  And it's odd when a 1923 voice recording is lacking, but William sounds like he's in another room.  ("William, move closer to the horn... Oh, never mind.")

As far as I know, Emile Waldteufel's Skaters waltz wasn't intended as a holiday regular, but neither was Julius Fucik's Entry of the Gladiators intended as a circus match (as far as I know).  So there.  And I love this 1926 recording, which was trimmed for its inclusion on an RCA Camden reissue--thus, I was surprised when I first heard this unedited take.

1920's Kiddies' Patrol/Kiddies' Dance remains a fun "descriptive" novelty, with incredible work by the Brunswick Concert Orch. (an all-pro "house" band, no doubt), and the surface hiss is easily overcome by the vocal and musical moments.  Was the 1920 experience of this 78, "It sounds like children inside the cabinet!!"?  Or, "Hm.  Better check and see"?

The Trinity Choir's 1911 Joy to the World is a marvelous performance of a hymn which never grows old (to my ears, at least).  Like Jingle Bells, Joy is a repeat-play wonder.  And it is a hymn and not a carol, for those who value that distinction, and I've frankly forgotten its story.  Long credited to Handel, it is now (I believe) regarded as derived from Handel.  Meaning, it's not by Handel, and yet it is, sort of.  There'll be a quiz after this post.

The Paul Whiteman "potato head" Christmas record is one of the great novelties of the season--it's simply the fact that "Pops" made such a record in 1928, and one blessed with two expert charts (by Bill Challis and Ferde Grofe, respectively).  Superbly smooth, and we've heard far worse.  At this very blog, in fact.

Oh, and the 1904 cornet choir playing Vom Himmel Hoch (under its Norwegian title) sounds uncannily good 119 years down the line (and I love the chorale setting), and I'm glad my copy is a 1914-1925-period reissue, audio-wise.  Martin Luther's Vom Himmel Hoch is one of THE holiday classics, but don't tell Mariah Carey.

Please forgive the blank composer fields.  I forgot to tag them in advance (which involves a separate app), and if I fill in those fields now, I'll have to redo all of the file images.

March of the Toys--Victor Concert Orch., Dir. Nathaniel Shilkret, 1939

Silent Night, Holy Night (A: Challis), Christmas Melodies (A: Grofe)--"Pops" and the Gang, 1928.

Hallelujah Chorus--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1908

Joy to the World (Watts/Handel/Not Handel)--Trinity Choir, 1911

Kiddies' Patrol--Christmas Eve/Kiddies' Dance--Christmas Morning--Brunswick Concert Band, 1920

Vom Himmel Hoch (Fra himlen hoit kom budskap her)--Cornet quartet with organ and bells, approx. 1904

The Star of Bethlehem (Adams)--Richard Crooks, Orch. c. John Barbirolli, 1933

The Holy City (Adams)--Same

I'd Like to See My Mom for Christmas (--Bob Jones With the Williams Sextette, 1951

The Skaters--Waltz (Les Patineurs)--International Concert Orch., Dir. Nathaniel Shilkret, 1926

Nut Cracker Ballet (Dance Characteristique)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1911

Overture Miniature (From "Casse Noisette")--Same, 1912

The Lord's Prayer--William Jennings Byran, 1923

Christmas Symphony (F.X. Chroatal)--Prince's Orchestra


Monday, December 11, 2023

Another rescued post--Atypical Christmas singles. "Ghost on Christmas Eve," "Buzzy, the Christmas Bee," "I Wish You Christmas," and more!


From 2021, and I see that slow-arriving winters were already happening.

So, an Alfred Burt LP on Word that promises stereo but delivers mono.  And whose first side is a reissue of 1954 Columbia tracks.  It's all gotten me dizzy.  Or maybe it's my sinuses in this atypically warm December weather...  Anyway, I was behind on my Alfred Burt knowledge, which has been bumped up considerably.

Speaking of atypical, here are (let me count them) eleven atypical, other-than-normal Christmas sides that I've offered over the years--my favorites from that category.  I guess that Buzzy, the Christmas Bee would have to top the hive, though there's the weird Ghost on Christmas Eve, plus the dreadful Dear Lord and Santa Claus.  The latter is one of those "My Lord, why did they make this?" sides.

I was able to include a label image with each track, but this was only possible via my media player because the "album" field was different for each track.  This compelled Groove Music to treat these as separate tracks, and so I was able to insert separate images.  Whenever and wherever my media players see a single album name, then I'm stuck with a single image.  This may be unique to the process of exporting tracks from my MAGIX program, though.  Like today's tracks, it may not be something typically experienced.

1980's Where Is Captivity (Bring Them Home for Christmas) of course refers to the Iran hostage crisis. And the 1956 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Breaking Through the Sound Barrier) is an example of a totally unsuccessful "break-in" (or "break-in"-esque) record.  "Break-in" sides are supposed to be dumb but funny, and this side is, in my opinion (and it's only my opinion!), stupid.  But it's also plenty weird, and so I'm including it.  But I think it helps us appreciate Dickie Goodman all the more.  Hearing something done wrong can be an education.

I Wish You Christmas is a real "Huh?" title to me, and maybe I'm simply not enough of a poetry person or something.  I mean, when you're wishing someone a Christmas, you need to include an adjective.  Merry, Happy, Jolly, Lousy--whatever.  Meanwhile, Duke Mitchell was the father of Jeff and Sue Mitchell, and Duke is best known as one half of a fake Martin and Lewis team which starred in the really terrible Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. (1952).  From that title, it's hard to tell that the movie stinks, but trust me.  Lugosi clearly did not want to be in it.  Now, I have listened who-knows-how-many times to Buzzy, and I forget whether or not Buzzy performs any actual function for Santa and his team.  Any useful function, that is (besides buzzing).  He doesn't sting--I caught that much--but typically Santa's sidekicks, however off the bee-ten track they may be, have some specific duty, and I don't know what Buzzy's is.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

And, this time, I've added 1958's God's Christmas Tree, an oddity penned by Sid Lippman (Too Young, "A"--You're Adorable), perhaps not weird within the context of the pop-sacred genre of the 1950s but odd in its low-rent How Great Thou Art celebration of the miracle of the natural world.  Creation as God's "Christmas tree"?  A strained analogy which places the number more squarely in the "Christmas all year" category.

And, wow--one strange side for each of the twelve days of the holiday.  And, sorry about #15 for #12--it's a glitch Windows 10 isn't allowing me to correct.

DOWNLOAD:  Atypical Christmas Singles

Buzzy, the Christmas Bee--Jeff and Sue Mitchell

Elizabeth the Christmas Queen--Buddy Pastuck, the Roller-Skating Cowboy; 1978

I Don't Believe in Santa Claus--The Staffords

The "Let-Me" Song (Carroll)--Irene Carroll; 1956

Ghost on Christmas Eve--Allen and the Lads (1965-ish)

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Breaking Through the Sound Barrier)--Frank and Jack, 1956

The Ain't-Not Tree--Radio City Music Hall Chorus (Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1963)

I Wish You Christmas--Mary Fran Warren; 1981?

Memoirs of a Christmas Tree--Bud O.J.; 1966

Dear Lord and Santa Claus--Biddle (Bo) Peep

Where Is Captivity? (Bring Them Home for Christmas)--Lisa Wargo and the St. Peter's Children's Choir of Lorain, Ohio; 1980

God's Christmas Tree--Southwest High School Choir, 1958


Friday, December 08, 2023

More holiday Shellacmas (plus, a mini-Mervmas)! Another post rescued from "ban"-nation.

DOWNLOAD: Merry Shellacmas, Part 2 (The budget edition)

A revised 2020 zip and text, though only slightly so.  Gone are Merry Christmas Polka (featured last post) and my hopeless 1901 copy of The Holy City.  Maybe, at some point, I can give that another try, but it is demonstrating its age, to put it mildly.  1901 78s do that, sometimes.  And I found an electrically recorded The Star of Bethlehem 12-incher (for later), meaning we can together discover the lyrics.  The 1910 recording sounds like a hand held over the singer's mouth.

Two helpings of Merv Griffin, with 1949's Merry Christmas Polka, apparently a cover of the version by The Andrews Sisters and Guy Lombardo (Frankie Yankovic recorded it in 1951), and Snowflakes, with The Fontane Sisters and Freddy Martin's Orchestra (1951).  The Gilmar Christmas Favorites 78 is clearly a reissued Tops label release (big clue: "Tops All-Star Orchestra and Chorus"), complete with not-so-good fidelity (I think the tracks are reissues of reissues of reissues).  The Record Pak Christmas EP is cheap-label fun that sounds way better in this present (2020) rip than any of my previous tries.  The Ottar Agree Quinette's Santa Claus Polka, from 1926, sounds very 1926--and very polka.  Very polka-1926, we might say.  I just now found it listed in an ethnic discography at Google Books, and the discography confirms the year, which I had figured out using the matrix number.  

The United Artist label is actually the Bell label--or a subsidiary thereof, and all I know about Bell is that it was a Hawaiian label.  Not the famous Bell label.  Organist Edwin Sawtelle was a Waikiki Theater fixture (if you want to Google-search him, use both spellings of theater--"-er" and "-re"), as was the Waikiki Theater's Girls' Chorus.  This one's for Diane!  I would have included the flip, but it was badly worn, so I passed.  Frankie Carle and His Orchestra's The Winter Waltz is nothing other than Émile Waldteufel's 1882 Les Patineurs Waltz, aka The Skaters' Waltz, with words added.  The label says, "with vocal," but we get a good-sized sing-along chorus.  So why not "with vocal chorus"?  Maybe someone accidentally left off the "chorus" part.  It's always fun to hear pre-Mitch Miller sing-along sides.  There are many out there.

Enjoy!  Download link up topside.


I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Frosty, the Snowman

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Jingle Bells

White Christmas

Silent Night

O Come All Ye Faithful

Deck the Halls


Blue Christmas--Jeri Shannon w. Ralph Berger Orch. (Record Pak I-539; 78 rpm EP)

Auld Lang Syne--Same

I'll Be Home for Christmas--Jerry Smith w. Ralph Berger Orch. (Same)

Adeste Fidelis (sic) (O Come All Ye Faithful)--Same

Jingle Bells--Edwin Sawtelle, Waikiki Theatre Organ w. W. Theater Girls' Chorus (United Artist LKS 86)

The Winter Waltz--Frankie Carle and His Orch., unknown vocal, 1950

Merry Christmas Polka--Merv Griffin and the Martin Men, Freddy Martin Orch. (Promo vinyl 78, 1949)

Snowflakes--The Fontane Sisters and Merv Griffin w. Freddy Martin Orch., 1951 (78 rpm)


Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Merry Shellacmas! John McCormack, Trinity Choir, Collins H. Driggs, International Novelty Orch., Ottar Agree's Quintette (1910-1950)


54 minutes of 78 rpm goodies, all Santa-approved (you'll have to take my word).  Two of our selections are Pt. 1/Pt. II combinations in a single file (12-inchers, no less): Al Goodman's excellent Christmas Fantasy (1950, arr. by Goodman), and the Trinity Choir's 8/26/1926 Christmas Hymns and Carols, (I love it when that distinction is made) from a period when the "standard" hymns and carols had almost been codified.  Exception: Christians, Awake, Salute the Happy Morn, which should be a standard carol-sing title, but nobody asked me.  But evidently, it had its day in the snow--er, sun.  Sorry for the surface hiss--some early Victor electrics host a lot of same. 

John McCormack is magnificent in both acoustical and electrical form, and we get his classic 1914 Ave Maria (with Fritz Kreisler, and in the Bach-Gounod setting I prefer) and a wonderful Oh Come, All Ye Faithful from 1926 (with the Trinity Choir sounding stronger and brighter than ever).  But maybe the highlight of this sleighlist is the 1913 Prince's Orchestra Children's Symphony, aka Kindersinfonieand and Toy Symphony, which for a long time was falsely credited to "Haydn"--i.e., Joseph or Michael--but actually came from the pen of Benedictine monk Father Edmund Angerer (1740-1794). The chief challenge, performance-wise, is locating the original toys (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) for the sound effects.  And we already know that Spike Jones was hardly the first person to expertly employ musical racket, but this circa-1770 piece really pushes the date back.

Plus, Nathaniel (aka, Nat) Shilkret directs the International Novelty Orchestra, with Sigmund Krumgold on pipe organ, in the all-time version of Leon Jessel's 1897 holiday masterpiece, Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.  Recording date: 1/25/1928 (a month late!).  But not before Collin H. Drigg's 1940 Novachord recording, very possibly arranged by Ferde Grofe. Says Wikipedia, the Novachord is "often considered the world's first commercial polyphonic synthesizer." I'll buy that. Er, I would, if I could afford one.  (Or had a place to put it.)

1926 was a busy year for holiday recordings, if this sleighlist is any indication: and... 1926's Santa Claus Polka is a lively number given three alternate titles on this Columbia label, including "Vianoce-Polka." And Vianoce is the Slovakian word for the Christmas season (this particular relase was intended for that market). Ottar Agree's real name was Ottar Edvardsen Akre, or Ottar Agre. He was a Norwegian accordionist and composer. Anyway, proof that toe-tapping polka music was happening in 1926. And there was nothing new about holiday polka music--at the Library of Congress, there's sheet music for a "Merry Christmas Polka." Year: 1881.

As for 1910's The Star Of Bethlehem, my ears can make out 50 percent of the lyrics, and right up to the halfway point.  I can decipher, "And childhood came again to me with all its dreams divine" (upon sighting the Star of Bethlehem).  The singer is led "up to God," though I was expecting maybe the manger.  The folk concept of an eternally repeating Nativity was part of the holiday tradition for many hundreds of years, but we don't get a replay thereof in this number.  Music by Stephen Adams, who wrote the far more memorable tune for The Holy City (1892).  Though Star sounds (to me, at least) like a follow-up to the more famous number, it actually preceded it by two years, publication-wise at least.

Lillian Currie's Children's Toy March (Pince's Band, 1912) was presented at a faster clip in 1911 as part of the descriptive piece On a Christmas Morning.  I see that I posted same at my Shellac City YouTube page in its Harmony label edition.  Anyway, this more mellow rendition of the march has its charms...

Oh, and I always feel the need to note that "Adeste Fideles" is not "Fidelis," though we see that typo pretty often.  Oh, and when I posted my YouTube upload of the Driggs 78 at Facebook, a number of synthesizer enthusiasts were more than slightly impressed.  Synths have a longer history than we imagine.

DOWNLOAD: Merry Shellacmas!  (1910-1950)

Adeste Fideles (Oh Come, All Ye Faithful)--John McCormack, Trinity Choir, 1926

Gloria from "Twelfth Mass" (Mozart)--Trinity Choir; pipe organ: Mark Andrews, 1926

Messiah--Hallelujah Chorus (Guess who?)--Same

Christmas Hymns and Carols, Pts. I and II--Trinity Choir, Dir. Rosario Bourdon, 1926

Christmas Fantasy (A: Al Goodman)--Al Goodman and His Orchestra, 1950

Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)--John McCormack, Fritz Kreisler, 1914

The Star of Bethlehem--Evan Williams, Tenor, 1910

Parade of the Wooden Soliders (Jessel)--Collins H. Driggs, Novachord solo, 1940

Santa Claus Polka--Ottar Agree's Quintette, 1926

Parade of the Wooden Soliders (Jessel)--International Concert Orch. Dir. Shilkret; pipe organ: Sigmund Krumgold, 1928

Children's Symphony (Father Edmund Angerer)--Prince's Orch., 1913

Children's Toy March (Lillian Currie)--Prince's Band, 1912


Tuesday, December 05, 2023

What's Christmas without "Merry Christmas, from Line Material"?

1949 sleeve (above) and disc (below)

So, since workupload decided my LM posts should be banned, that must mean that... workupload is run by idiots?  Or that the Ambrosian Singers collectively complained?  Hm.  Which proposition is the more probable one?  Anyway, my 2019 post, with all the sides in a single zip file.

Here's info on Line Material, if you want to read about the company.  (Or maybe not, since the site seems to have changed.)  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'm also including a giveaway from 1949, with narration by Jim Ameche, though it's a very standard affair and nothing remotely like the elaborate, joyous productions to come.  Also, their 1956 The Magic of Christmas (kindly donated by Ernie), 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 (note: as of 2019).  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)."

UPDATE: And the King of Jingaling has the 1956-1962 LM accompanying-book scans here (save for 1957): LM books. Many thanks to Brad!

DOWNLOADLine Material Christmas singles, 1949-1962.

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
Keeping Christmas--Don Amache, 1949.
The Magic of Christmas, 1956


Monday, December 04, 2023

The return of "Christmas Is for Children": When Pickwick budget fare was thoughtfully produced, and with cool jackets!

Good morning, and welcome to "Revive a Post," a new holiday tradition made possible by workupload dumping most or all of my uploads.  And no wonder--Merv's estate needs the money, I'm sure. The money I have shamelessly swiped by sharing his music for free.  There must be some logic there, and so I'll keep looking.

This delightful Pickwick collection contains material re-re-recycled for years.  I believe the year is (er, was) 1957.  So these are all close to the source.  And, wow: This LP is as old (er, young) as me.  A number of these tracks were later released on the Playhour Records label and (I'm sure) beyond.  And, also, in the worst fake Design stereo (in awfulness, second only to RCA's).

Pretty cool jacket art--Design would eventually decide that such was too much trouble/expense.  But, in 1957, this attitude had yet to change.  And is Christmas, in fact, for children?  Well, that's been the general direction of its evolution.  Nowadays, I'm not so sure.  Banning traditional aspects of the holiday (including its standard carols and hymns) is a pretty common event, which means my childhood experience of Christmas is not the current edition thereof.  Which is fine--time marches on.  Sensibly or not.  My own take, simply put, is that Christmas is the people's holiday in the U.S. This is plenty obvious, given that 92 percent of us observe it.  Inevitably, this group includes Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, atheists, agnostics, and so on.  I'm not all that thrilled over the pointless watering down of the holiday, and my idea of eternal punishment would be perpetual exposure to grocery-store Christmas "music," but it's all an inevitable aspect of Christmas as a holiday for everyone.  That is, a culture's dominant, all-are-welcome holiday is going to lose some of its edge.  Various staples of the holiday, as it has evolved over 1700 years, will be casually tossed aside, but such is the price of fame.  We can't expect Christmas to endure in the format we experienced as kids, and especially in our age of MASS mass mediation.  Personally, I miss the age when TV ads were packed with traditional holiday symbols.  But I have no power to bring those back--or to declare the current status quo incorrect.  I want to age a little more graciously than that.  The new replaces the old.  That's just how it is.  And the stock human tendency is to not jump with joy over the demise of traditions WE knew and loved.

Wow--a group of rack jobber classics, plus a deep-thoughts essay!

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Is for Children (Design DLPX 2; 1957?)



Sunday, December 03, 2023

A budget label Christmas--at this blog? Of course! "The 100 Voices of Christmas"--a Tops Records classic.


Well, maybe "classic" is an overstatement, but it's quite good.  And (I hate to say it), especially for a rack-jobber label like Tops Records.  Well, actually, Tops put out its share of outstanding titles, including Page Cavanaugh Plays for the Cocktail Hour, which is in my jazz Top Ten list.  Dave Pell produced that one, too.  Meanwhile, John Gustafson (not the rock bassist), who conducts the Christianaires Choir of the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, California had an interesting career which included background singing for the movie version of Brigadoon (1954).  He also appeared on the Word, Christian Faith, and Light labels, not to mention the 1955 MGM release, I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean, alongside Van Johnson.  And he has solo tenor spots on this LP's O Little Town of Bethlehem and What Child Is This.

I love the 1954 Brigadoon, and despite Gene Kelly being in it.  Maybe because it stars Gene Kelly and not his ego.  For a change.

This is a standard lineup of carols and hymns, all very well done (as noted), and as always I'm amused by Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  That is, by the lack of punctuation, not the number, which is still terrific after 284 years (and its Charles Wesley text still wonderful).  Obviously, "the herald angels" are the angels heralding Christ's birth, and so "Hark" should be "Hark!"--as in, "Listen!" Or, "Listen up!"  Many sources get it right, including the Methodist hymnal and even a Pickwick release.  And what do the herald angels sing? "Glory to the newborn King," and so on.

Glad I cleared that up.  And that Pickwick LP (the Don Janse Chorale) would have been part of my sleighlist--had the copy I encountered at Goodwill not been trashed.  How this Tops release survived the decades in savable shape, I know not.

"Cool it, cats, and dig the heavenly scoop!" might have been the beatnik title for "Hark!"  Who knows? In other news, Deck the Halls (originally, Hall) pleases me best at a snappy tempo, but the 100 Voices give us a fairly sedate rendition.  Good, nonetheless.  In fact, kind of interesting for not being Allegretto.  And I've never understood the notion that the text is anything but perfectly clear in its meaning.  "Deck the hall"=put up Christmas decorations.  (Duhh.)  "Don we now our gay apparel"=it's time to put on our cheeriest apparel.  Clothes.  Hello?  "Donning apparel" means the same thing today as it did in the 19th century.  No wonder people are confused.

But, then, I once had a cyber-exchange with someone who thought, "Congress shall make no law respecting..." meant "respecting," as in, "having respect for."  Good grief.  Obviously, "respecting" means "in respect to."  English usage hasn't changed that much.

An awfully cool cover for Tops, I think we have to admit.  Cool art, fine performances, and the extra expense of two commas.  A home run for Tops.  As for "Are there 100 voices?" the truth is, I don't know.  I suspect "100" is meant to convey a first-rank performance.

DOWNLOAD: The Christianaires Choir, Cond. by John Gustafson

O. Come All Ye Faithful

Silent Night

O Little Town of Bethlehem (tenor solo: John Gustafson)

Carol of the Bells

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Joy to the World

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Away in a Manger

What Child Is This (tenor solo: John Gustafson)

Deck the Halls

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Angels We Have Heard on High

The 100 Voices of Christmas (Tops L 1697; 1959)


Saturday, December 02, 2023

Okay... It are Christmas.

 So, Christmas 2023 has started at the blog.  I think.  Don't quote me.

I have revived three shares "banned" by workupload.  Please remember I'm at a disadvantage, since everyone except ME is allowed to use MEGA.  I have no idea why this is.  But it is.

Meanwhile, here are the three revived shares (and their posts).  More to come, plus some "new" material.

Pac-Man Christmas Album (1982):

Johnny Zell--Heralding Christmas (1979):

Carol of the Little Drummer Boy (the story of the theft of Katherine K. Davis' Carol of the Drum):