Showing posts with label Christmas music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas music. Show all posts

Two new Christmas offerings from Bear Family Records

German-based Bear Family Records is one of the world's best reissue labels. For decades now, they've issued both single CDs and expensive, behemoth box sets specializing, mostly, in vintage U.S. country, pop and rock'n'roll. And, over the past few years, they've been issuing great Christmas compilations featuring tunes culled from those larger collections.

I've been keeping up with these releases and plan on getting both of these, too. If they're anything like their predecessors, the sound and liner notes are great (and in English) and the price is right (cheap). Groovy cover art, too.

Check 'em out. Click the links to order from Amazon. The details on each release come from the label.

Headin' For The Christmas Ball: 31 Swing And R&B Christmas Crooners

Nostalgic Christmas with 31 Lindy Hop-Jitterbug-Boogie-Jive and Easy Listening rarities of the years 1940-1967!

Among them the title song Christmas Ball, as well as the B-side of the rare 1951 Coral single of the Georgie Auld Orchestra with the great singer Bill Darnel, never before on CD!

Knuckles O'Toole & The Brigadiers' version of Jingle Bells is also included, as well as New Year's goose bumps classic Auld Lang Syne in the worn version by Guy Lombardo, and the famous version of the classic Sleigh Ride in the interpretation of orchestra leader Leroy Anderson, also known from the movie 'Polar Express'!

Besides The Andrews Sisters there are more ladies with their great voices, above all the stunning Dinah Washington, the crooner lady Dorothy Collins and last but not least Kay Martin, who makes it quite slippery and erotic.

They are joined by Jerry Lewis, Cary Grant and Mickey Rooney, three movie stars from Hollywood's golden era with their really rare recordings!

With this compilation we want to give more exuberance to the celebration of love, although some of the songs are nostalgic and dreamy and you might even feel transported back to your own childhood. This Christmas disc invites you to the Christmas ball, to dancing, to swinging, to contemplation and cheerfulness among family members, friends, like-minded people and guests. This music brings glamour into every hut, with all the candles, lights and crackling stoves, while outside it is snowing and stormy... Of course, the CD also comes with liner notes for each song, rare photos and many illustrations in the 24-page booklet!

Track Listing:

  1. Georgie Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnell - Christmas Ball
  2. Louis Prima & His Orchestra - Shake Hands With Santa Claus
  3. Bill Bronson s Overtones with The Tommy Ferguson Trio - Christmas Is On Its Way
  4. Roy Milton & His Solid Senders - Christmas Time Blues
  5. Jo Stafford - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  6. Knuckles O'Toole & The Brigadiers - Jingle Bells
  7. The Andrews Sisters - Jing-A-Ling, Jing-A-Ling
  8. Benny Goodman & His Orchestra feat. Peggy Lee - Winter Weather
  9. Georgie Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnell - It Ain't Snowin' Outside
  10. Leroy Anderson & His ''Pops'' Concert Orchestra - Sleigh Ride
  11. Art Mooney & His Orchestra - The Christmas Choo Choo Train
  12. Lawrence Welk's Little Band feat. Janet, Brian, Cubby & The Lennon Sisters - Outer Space Santa
  13. Barry Gordon - Zoomah, The Santa Claus From Mars
  14. Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians with The Glee Club - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  15. Dorothy Collins - Mister Santa
  16. Cary Grant - Christmas Lullaby
  17. Mickey Rooney - Susie, The Snow Girl
  18. Kay Martin & Her Body Guards - Come On Santa, Let's Have A Ball
  19. Kay Martin & Her Body Guards - Santa's Doing The Horizontal Twist
  20. Dinah Washington - Ole! Santa
  21. Ramsey Lewis Trio - Christmas Blues
  22. Dave King & The Keynotes - Hotta Chocolata
  23. Tina Robin - Winter Wonderland Cha Cha
  24. The Enchanters - Mambo, Santa, Mambo
  25. The Surfers - Here Comes Santa Claus In A Red Canoe
  26. Louis Armstrong - Christmas In New Orleans
  27. Noël Chiboust Et Son Orchestre, feat. Django Reinhardt - Noël Blues
  28. Jerry Lewis - I've Had A Very Merry Christmas
  29. Johnny Otis & His Orchestra - Happy New Year, Baby
  30. Ramsey Lewis Trio - What Are You Doing New Years Eve
  31. Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians - Auld Lang Syne

A great compilation of traditional country music, western swing and hillbilly.

26 songs selected by Nico Feuerbach and commented with great expertise and profound humour by Roland Heinrich.

Three tracks are released here on CD for the first time!

Bear Family also brings good cheer and will make your Christmas especially ''merry'' with an particularly compiled seasonal country CD. Bear Family's little sleigh stopper is not your average middle-of-the road cash in: Bear Family's 'Christmas On The Range' brings you vintage country music, western swing, and hillbilly from the 1940s and '50s. The stories are heartfelt and funny with just the right dose of Christmas corniness. The CD showcases well-known artists like Bill Monroe and Kitty Wells alongside obscurer colleagues such as Billy Briggs and Ray Salter & the Twin City Playboys. Also, three of the tracks included have never been available on CD.

This compilation helps you burn the extra cookie with hot dance tunes like The North Pole Boogie and the all-time great We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo by Terry Fell. Bob Wills is presented in a pensive and patriotic mood with his World War II classic Empty Chair at the Christmas Table, whereas Brenda Lee roars determined that she is going to lasso Santa Claus! If you party too hard around Mardi Gras you might end up with a New Baby for Christmas - George Jones will let you in on the whole story. Traditional country music always loved to exploit special occasions by tackling any imaginable topic, no matter how trivial or exotic. This CD brings you great novelties, great tear jerkers, and great dance music. It also brings great joy!

Track List:
  1. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - When It's Christmas On The Range
  2. Wilf Carter (Montana Slim) - Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  3. Gene Autry - Here Comes Santa Claus
  4. Bill Monroe - Christmas Time's A-Coming
  5. The Louvin Brothers - It's Christmas Time
  6. Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - Christmas Decoration
  7. Little Jimmy Dickens - No Place Like Home On Christmas
  8. Tex Ritter - Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
  9. George Morgan - Blue Snowfall
  10. Ernest Tubb - White Christmas
  11. Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers - Snowflakes
  12. Eddy Arnold - Christmas Can't Be Far Away
  13. Kitty Wells - Christmas Ain't Like Christmas Anymore
  14. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Empty Chair At The Christmas Table
  15. Jim Reeves - Blue Christmas
  16. Brenda Lee - I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
  17. Billy Briggs - North Pole Boogie
  18. Red Foley - Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  19. George Jones - New Baby For Christmas
  20. Wilf Carter - The Night Before Christmas In Texas, That Is
  21. Nelson Young - Home At Christmas
  22. Skeeter Davis - Santa Claus Is Coming
  23. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys - Santa's On His Way
  24. The Prairie Ramblers - Cowboy Santa Claus
  25. Terry Fell - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo
  26. Ray Salter & The Twin City Playboys - I Wish Every Day Was Christmas

Coming up: "The Monkees Christmas Party"

Out Oct. 12. Pre-order from Amazon now.


Featuring Newly Recorded Versions Of Classic Christmas Songs
Along With New Songs Written For The Band By Peter Buck And Scott McCaughey, Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge, And Album Producer Adam Schlesinger
Celebrate the season with The Monkees’ first holiday album featuring new vocals by Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork. The late Davy Jones’ unmistakable voice – taken from vintage recordings – also appears on two songs.
On CHRISTMAS PARTY, The Monkees put their unmistakable vocal stamp on a wide array of classic Christmas tracks, from the R&B holiday standard “Merry Christmas, Baby,” to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and Wizzard’s yuletide classic “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.”
After helming The Monkees’ critically acclaimed studio album GOOD TIMES! in 2016, Grammy® and Emmy®-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger reprises his role as producer on CHRISTMAS PARTY. All of the album’s 13 songs were recorded this year, with “Silver Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka” using classic Davy Jones vocals from the archives combined with newly recorded music.
Much like GOOD TIMES!, CHRISTMAS PARTY features songs newly written for the band by a group of talented songwriters, including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (“What Would Santa Do”) and Andy Partridge of XTC (“Unwrap You At Christmas”). Schlesinger and celebrated author Michael Chabon teamed up to write “House Of Broken Gingerbread.” Guitarists Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5 play on two songs – a cover of Big Star’s “Jesus Christ” and the album’s title track, which they wrote together.
CHRISTMAS PARTY also includes two songs with Michael Nesmith on lead vocals, with each track being produced by one of his sons. His take on the yuletide classic “The Christmas Song” was produced by Christian Nesmith while “Snowfall” was helmed by Jonathan Nesmith.

Christmas album of the day: "Snowbound for Christmas"

Issued by the UK "public domain" label Jasmine, this one is a real grab bag, but it includes some real gems - namely seven seasonal tunes by Les Paul and Mary Ford. The pair do their overdub thing, performing lovely renditions of "Jingle Bells," "The Christmas Song," "Silent Night" and more with lots of great guitar and harmony parts.

The only dud is "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," sung by Mary in a grating baby-talk voice. There's lots and lots of other stuff, too, spread out over this two-CD set, including several tunes by the Anita Kerr Singers, songs from Dinah Shore, Red Foley and more, including a handful of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Singers performance you likely have on Bing's own Christmas releases. Still, it's cheap.

Christmas album of the day: "Big City Christmas"

Issued last year by Bear Family, this is a compilation of seasonal tracks from the German reissue specialist's lineup of rock, rockabilly and pop releases.

The most familiar track, "Run, Rudolph, Run" by Chuck Berry, is featured in splendid sound, as are all the more obscure tunes, such as Johnny Preston's (I Want A) Rock And Roll Guitar," Sheb Wooley's "Santa Claus Meets The Purple People Eater" and a rare alternate version of Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" titled "This Year's Santa Baby."

Christmas album of the day: "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas" by the Three Suns

I first heard this one several years back as an online "sharity" needle drop and it's been in seasonal rotation ever since. Now that Real Gone Music (another plug. I swear, they don't even send me review copies) has reissued it in remastered form, it's even nicer to hear.

The album is goofy, instrumental fun. Arrangements of classic carols bounce alone to a tuba beat, suddenly veer into guitar jazz and tumble back into a nice section played on accordion. Also, lots and lots of bells. All the tunes are upbeat. There's not solemn "Silent Night" to be found. But for Christmas cocktails and trimming the tree, this one will put you in the spirit.

Christmas album of the day: The Supremes "Merry Christmas"

This one is out in a new 2-CD version from Real Gone Music, but I still play my needle-drop of the vinyl classic. This is Diana, Flo and Mary at their best - and at their cheesiest. "Little Bright Star" is a thumping floor-filler as good as any non-Holiday Motown single. Same with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." "Christmas Children's Song," on the other hand, features bonkers spoken word sections from Di and she does the Santa parts on "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in a campy British accent. But this is why love her, right?

Christmas album of the day: Booker T. and the MG's "In the Christmas Spirit"

This one always puts me in a festive mood, from it's grooving take on "Jingle Bells," through an excellent arrangement of "Silver Bells" to a "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" you can boogaloo to. One of my faves.

Christmas album of the day: "Songs for a London Winter"

Tired of hearing about Christmas from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, take a music trip across the Atlantic for a different perspective on Yuletide.

This compilation assembled by members of the great pop band St. Etienne features a selection of pop and light jazz tunes from the 1950s and pre-Beatles 60s, all celebrating the season British style. Artists featured include the John Barry Seven, Alma Cogan, Billy Fury and Adam Faith. Nothing too rocking, but the Echoes' "Sounds Like Winter" sounds like "Tel-Star."

Fun stuff, and a nice diversion from the usual fare.

Today's Christmas Album: "Christmas Cocktails"

From the opening, bonkers, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo" to Julie London's sultry "I Want You for Christmas" and Ray Anthony's surprisingly girl group groovy "Christmas Kisses," this is a fun and eclectic Santa bag of goodness.

Many of the tunes are obscure, such as Les Brown and His Band of Renown's very nice, extended "Nutcracker Suite," but it also includes the original version of Nat King Cole's all-time holiday classic, "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)."

The original "Toys for Tots" PSAs from Cole, Peggy Lee and Nancy Wilson are a cool addition.

Pop Notes: Christmas music, so long 2016, book reviews, Bruce Springsteen, more

As we wind up yet another year of blogging here at PCS, I want to say thanks for tuning in, whether you're a long time visitor or someone new.
With social media and the migration to reading-by-phone, it's good to know there's still a modest audience for a pop blog like mine - at least so far as I'm able to tell via my stats, which may or may not be reliable. Maybe it's just one guy clicking and clicking ...

A holiday hello, also, to my fellow pop bloggers, represented in the blogroll to your left (scroll down a bit). If you have a blog, or know of one, that should be added to that list, please let me know.


A reminder that PCS has two sister blogs: The Glass Onion Beatles Journal, which is going strong, and Pop '66!, which winds up its mission this month. Traffic over there has been ... modest. Still, reliving the pop culture of 50 years ago has been both fun and eye-opening and I don't regret the experiment. I learned a lot. The posts there will remain intact and I hope you'll tune in, because a special announcement over there is coming soon.


Along with blogging (and writing a book and working and being a dad, etc.), I continue to contribute book reviews to the long-running print mag, Beatlefan, and to Wink Books. Click here to see my review of George Khoury's super fun "Comic Book Fever," which nearly anyone who like PCS will love. You can also read my recent interview with George here.


I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan - more of the man than of his music. I have a couple of his LPs, but have always admired his down-to-earth, man-of-the-people persona, which, from all accounts, is genuine. He seems like a great guy.

And it's a pleasure to hear him being interviewed and sharing some of  his favorite music in this new episode of the BBC's long-running, and awesome, Desert Island Discs radio program.

None of the Boss' musical selections are a big surprise (Elvis, Beatles, Dylan, etc.), but his frank recollections about growing up, his relationship with his dad and his early days as a performer are very much worth a listen. Check it out.


I didn't re-post my selection of top Christmas albums this year - just felt like I'd done that plenty of times. But I did pick up some new and new-to-me holiday LPs this season that I wanted to flag:

The Roches - We Three Kings is a  1990 collection by the eccentric sister-harmony trio that ranges from the sublime (most of the time) to the unhinged (a few tunes). At 24 selections, it's a bit on the long side - I think Christmas LPs are best kept to 12 songs or so - but there are some wonderful performances. Nobody sings/sang quite like the Roche sisters.

She & Him - Christmas Party is just the right length, 12 tunes to add to the dozen the duo issued in 2011 on their previous holiday player, A Very She & Him Christmas. This one is in the same retro-pop mode, if a little more stripped down than its predecessor. Tunes include the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which always sounded like a 1960s holiday tune and sounds even more that way here.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - It's a Holiday Soul Party!  Bowie, Prince, Sharon - 2016 has been a terrible year of musical losses. I'm glad I got to see this group twice - the second time early this past summer. Jones was noticeably weakened by her battle against cancer, but by no means out. She sang with utter commitment. I think performing helped her - it certainly helped those of us watching and listening. She was an inspiration - and listening to this album makes me joyful - about what I've experience and what lays ahead, not matter what it might be.

St. Etienne Presents Songs for a London Winter is a holiday-themed compilation of pre-Beatles English pop and light jazz curated by music writer/musician Bob Stanley and his bandmates. Those featured include the pre-Bond John Barry performing with his jazz combo, the John Barry Seven, along with Johnny Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Billy Fury, Adam Faith and Lionel Bart. Sure, some of it's a little cheesy, but there's an air of sophistication present on many of the tracks, too. And they're so rare, and so British, that they present a nice change of pace by American holiday standards. I just finished reading Stanley's book, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce," which I also highly recommend. I don't agree with all Stanley's views (I love the Clash, for one thing), but the connections he makes between performers, genres and time periods are fascinating and will make you listen to familiar music in new ways.

Snowbound for Christmas - Fun Songs, Classics and Rarities is a 2-CD set on Jasmine, a UK public domain label. Considering all the songs included are "needle-drops" off vintage vinyl, the sound is pretty good and the selections are entertainingly diverse, a mish-mash of holiday tunes off singles, EPs and LPs from the 1940s and 50s. Those represented include Les Paul and Mary Ford, Ernest Tubb, Guy Lombardo and Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. Nice vintage fare that will make you nostalgic for holidays you never experienced.

Big City Christmas is a higher class of vintage grab-bag, as compared to the entry above. Germany's Bear Family does things right, with pristine sound and informative, picture-filled booklets. This one is a great listen all the way through, including tunes from various pop, rock and r&b greats, including Brenda Lee, Dean Martin, Chuck Berry, Eartha Kitt, Ricky Nelson and Tennessee Ernie Ford. The choices are on the rare side, which makes it all the more fun.

Kenny Burrell - Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas captures the jazz guitar group in a variety of settings - big band to small combo and even one tune on acoustic - doing his sophisticated, groovy, bluesy thing on a variety of holiday chestnuts. Burrell's Midnight Blue is one of the best LPs ever released by the Blue Note label. If you have that, you'll like this. If you don't have that, you'll want it and this.