Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Big Christmas Album for Merv Griffin & TV Family

Merry Christmas 2016! I'm excited to return with a new album to share. The good news I've already matched my output from the each of the past three years — with a single album!

I think this is a good one to do it with too — A Big Christmas Album for Merv Griffin & TV Family (MGM Records SE-4401 / Stereo / 1966), a.k.a. "And a sled.. and a catcher's mitt... and a puppy... and a popgun... and a big Christmas Album for Merv Griffin & TV Family".

This is like Merv Griffin's Christmas Circus of the Musical Stars, with a varied cast of performers include Arthur Treacher ("Santa Claus is Comin' to Town"), David Soul ("Children Go Where I Send Thee"), Gilbert Price ("O Holy Night"), Pat Marand ("Silver Bells") and little Frankie Michaels ("I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".) Griffin joins in on several tracks, with the whole thing arranged and conducted by Mort Lindsay, who served as musical director for the Merv Griffin Show from 1962 to 1986.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Merry Christmas - Richard Lefevre and His Orchestra

Welcome back, it's been awhile, hasn't it? About a year! While I only managed to share one album last year, I hope to at least double that amount this year.

Let's get started with this (1968) gem from Richard Lefevre and His Orchestra, on the Kapp label (FCS-4257) and recorded in France (says so right on the back.)

I was lucky to track down a sealed copy of this LP, so the recording you're listening to is the first time this record has been played in 47 years. One of the benefits I'm finding of these still-sealed LPs is that they a) smell fresher b) make my task of recording, cleaning and editing these albums a heck of a lot easier.

Raymond Lefevre's Merry Christmas is easy-listening, orchestral Christmas music at it's best — lush arrangements, aah-ooh-choir, lilting flute trills. Seriously, this is one of the better Christmas albums you'll ever hear. In fact, the music might be as good as the cover photo — a young lady in a mini-skirt Santa costume, hoisting a stack of presents in front of a white Christmas tree. I've seen many Christmas album covers that wowed the eyes, but the contents never thrilled the ears. This is an exception — as there's plenty of highlights here, including the opening "Silver Bells", and "Jingle Bells" ("Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Oo-woo-oo-oooo!"), surely the inspiration for John Debney's main titles for the Elf soundtrack.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas Barbershop Style - Evans Quartet

Howdy, Christmas music-seekers. You didn't think I'd forget about you this year, did you? Never.

Kicking off this (very) shortened sharing season, here are the Barbershop vocal stylings of the Evans Quartet. From the notes on the back cover (Decca DL 74162 / Stereo):

"The Evans Quartet — Turk Evans, tenor; Pres Evans, lead; Gene Smith, baritone; and Shirl Beckstead, bass — were the 1960 International Champions of the well-known S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America), and they were Medalist winners for two years previous."

The program is enjoyable, but your tolerance of the barbershop style may vary — as this is strictly the quartet, with no musical accompaniment. Also of note, the arrangements are much slower than you might be used to, to allow for those elongated barbershop harmonies.

When you prepare your next Christmas compilation of harp, zither, organ & chimes, clarinet, music box, etc., add a little barbershop to the mix.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Golden Christmas Sing-A-Long - Sandpiper Chorus and Orchestra

A Golden Christmas Sing-A-Long Sandpiper Chorus and Orchestra
You folks must have been real good this year, as here's another rarity (no alternate download spots on Google — my barometer for whether something is available!) — A Golden Christmas Sing-A-Long by the Sandpiper Chorus and Orchestra (Golden Records L67 / Arranged and Conducted by Jim Timmens, 1962.)

Like to sing-a-long with Christmas music? Well, here's your chance! "Performed in the proper keys for children", this album is complete with instructions on how and when to chime in on your seasonal favorites. The Sandpiper vocals even drop out at key moments for you to fill in ("... so be good for goodness ____.")

This gem will either excite you or enrage you (for instance, there's virtually no variation in the arrangements from track to track.) Chances are, however, if you're here in the first place, A Golden Christmas Sing-A-Long might just end up being your favorite download of the 2013 Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas from Bonnie Guitar

Merry Christmas from Bonnie Guitar
My apologies for slacking off this season... I hope this album will more than make up for it!

I was surprised to find that in this great universe of Christmas music blogs, Merry Christmas from Bonnie Guitar (Dot Records DLP 25746, Stereo) had not already been shared.

Released on LP in 1966, and (to date) never re-issued on CD, this smooth collection features a coo-ing Bonnie Guitar on vocals, complemented with period-appropriate background vocals, strings and pop ensemble (arranged by Cliff Parman) — all in the style Guitar was popular for at the time as a performer.

The album kicks off with the original "I'll Be Missing You (Under the Mistletoe)", gently breaking in the festivities for what was likely a Country music crowd. Of particular note is "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", a great, late-Christmas Eve option for those reflective moments before bedtime, and the drum-led "Joy to the World", which the background singers amping things up.

This album may also be the first appearance of "Last Christmas" — but it's not the mega-hit recorded by '80s pop group Wham! This one is an original tune.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Update

Howdy, folks! Just a couple of weeks before I start posting some new (old) albums here at Hi-Fi Holiday! In the meanwhile, please enjoy some updated links. If you've tried to grab a classic christmas record in the past 6-10 months but the link was dead, please try again. They're now completely fixed! See you in November...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Merry Christmas with The Four Aces — The Four Aces

Christmas is a many-splendored thing... When you're spending the holiday with The Four Aces! Welcome to Hi-Fi Holiday, 2012 edition!

The first post of the season is Merry Christmas with The Four Aces (Decca / 1955 / mono) — an album, despite the notoriety of the artists, which has never appeared on CD (allegedly released on cassette, however.) Note that this album is available to download via iTunes and, though both appear to be taking advantage of it's lapsed international copyright status.

This is a solid, if simple Christmas collection split into two distinct sides — side A is for the kids (the vinyl's rough condition as testament) and side B, for mild-mannered grannies and the traditionalists. Highlights include "Silent Night" and "O Holy Night", though "Silver Bells" sounds great on the Aces' vocal harmonies.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Welcome, Christmas 2012!

Hi, folks — Hi-Fi Holidays will resume it's annual album posting schedule shortly. I am cleaning up some recordings made (but never finished) last year, and starting up new ones for this season.

There have been a handful of comments about old album links not working, and I hope to fix those as well.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Surprises From The Ralph Hunter Choir

Hoo boy, just days from Christmas 2011! My apologies for the lack of prolific album shares, but I seem to end up recording more than I can share here. Why not finish 2011 with a doozy — albeit a title that has been shared previously elsewhere (via Ernie Not Bert). My philosophy: I ripped it, so I might as well share it! Here then is Christmas Surprises From The Ralph Hunter Choir.

This one has it's moments of zaniness ("Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", "Wassail Song"), and swank Living Stereo bongos and percussion ("Indian Christmas Carol / Latin Lullaby") but always featuring superb arrangements for the choir. An absolute classic Christmas album that should be in every Christmas eve mix! Download it - now!

Factoid: this album was later re-issued and credited to The Living Voices (with different artwork).