Friday, October 17, 2008

Wishing You A Merry Christmas - Johnny Cole and His Chorus

Johnny Cole (aka Johnny Kaye, aka The Voices of Christmas, aka...!) must have been a workhorse for Crown Records. Under a number of guises he churned out a handful of Christmas albums for the label , including Wishing You A Merry Christmas. All while while channeling his very best Perry Como.

On Wishing You..., Johnny's sleepy tone is backed by his enthusiastic chorus. It's not the pinnacle of the Christmas music art form (kind of like the cover art - quaint, chintz), but there are some goodies, like "Jingle Bells", with slip-sliding choral harmonies and jaunty organist accompaniment. Though thinking about it, it's hard to do "Jingle" wrong.

I'm not sure what particular vintage this pressing of Wishing You A Merry Christmas is, as it appears another Johnny Cole album with the same name (but different contents and cover) was released by Crown Records in 1959. You can grab it at Christmas Forever.

If you like what you hear, download the remastered tracks with a subscription or free trial from emusic.com.

21 comments:

  1. I'm a bit confused.
    I downloaded an album that sounds identical to this called "Christmas Songs For Young Hearts" by Gene Martin & The Arthur Carre Orchestra.
    I'm not sure which blog I downloaded it from but I think it's the same recording with two less songs.

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  2. Looks like there's another alias to add to the Johnny Kaye, Johnny Cole, The Voices of Christmas! Yes, this music seems to have been repackaged over and over with different artists credited.

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  3. Is Johnny Cole, or Johnny Kaye still alive and does anyone have any contact info for him.
    Thanks,
    Anchor

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  4. I don't know if anyone would have contact info for Johnny Cole/Kaye, as I believe both are aliases. A bit of info on the Crown Records label can be found here:

    http://www.bsnpubs.com/modern/crown.html

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  5. There is another alias on iTunes for Johnny Cole/Kaye called The Peter Pan Caroleers! What's the deal? In Joel Whittburn's book "Christmas in the Charts", There is an entry for a hit he had as Johnny Kaye in 1963 called 'A Christmas Love' with the Monty Jay Orchestra backed with a song called "Christmas in Paree". The serial number of the 45RPM is Legend 45-127. There's a brief discription of who he is that says this: "Born John Kaminsky in Chicago, Illinois. Adult Contemporary Singer; similar in style to Perry Como."

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  6. Does anyone have a picture of him??
    or anymore information??

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  7. It's a mix of vocal tracks with band, and instrumental only tracks, warbled out with gusto by the brass-heavy Salvation Army band. It's the only Christmas music I've heard that alternately sounds like Christmas Eve in a Catholic Church and a bustling downtown Santa Claus parade.

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  8. This album has a lot of great memories for me. It was one of the first Christmas gifts I ever bought. As a boy, I bought the mono version of this album for my mom back in the mid 60s. As an eMusic subscriber, I've downloaded both the stereo and mono versions.

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  9. Finally a face with a name (assuming it is him on the cover) Check out the cover of an album called Como Esta. It indicates the singer as Johnny Kay. Upon listening to this record, it is definitely Johnny Cole (Johnny Kaye) who sings all those Christmas albums with the Robert Evans orchestra and all the other orchestras, singers etc. There is another album call Roamin Holiday where Johnny sings in italian. It echos the other italian records he sang with the crown label (Dreams of Italy and Souvenirs of Italy. Check these out on itunes. Johnny if your still out there please check into this forum. You have many fans.
    Peace,
    Anchor

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  10. I love this mans voice and I wish that he would acknowledge all his fans! I found all his songs on Amazons MP3 downloads. I felt like a kid on Christmas day! I have been searching for these songs for a very long time :)

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  11. My parents have a Johnny Cole Christmas LP that dates back to the early '60s, at least. When I was a kid back then, my dad would load up a few Christmas LPs on the "changer", a console stereo cabinet in the living room. A friend had hooked up a remote speaker in their bedroom so they could fall asleep listening to music. One December night, I awoke with a need to visit the restroom in the middle of the night. Coming downstairs, I noticed the small red light on the front of the cabinet, indicating the stereo had not shut off. Before I went back to bed, I checked the changer and saw it was stuck at the end of an album with one or two others waiting to drop (how we mistreated our LPs!). Being very young and dumb, I turned the reject switch and the next record dropped and started playing the first cut: "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Johnny Cole! Of course, it immediately woke up my parents who weren't too happy at the time. It has become a favorite family Xmas-time memory, tho.

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  12. The Johnny Kay/Cole/etc recordings circulated on at least a dozen different labels, and usually Mr Kay got a different name each time. However, from what my research tells me, the original recordings were made with Al Goodman for the Synthetic Plastics labels (Promenade, Spinorama, etc). There he was credited as Johnny Kay, and was described by one poster as a local singing talent in the Vic Damone/Perry Como mold. So I assume that Johnny Kay was his official stage name, and all the other variations were just pseudonymns. On iTunes and other download sources you can get all sorts of recordings by Johnny Kay, and many of the same ones under the name Johnny Cole!

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  13. I happen to have the following albums of Johnny Cole:

    Christmas Carols (Crown CST-1)
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas (Crown CST-165)12 Days of Christmas (Custom CS-6)
    Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer (Yuletide Series YS-213) &
    Vic Damone and Johnny Cole (Crown CS-343) with Vic's picture on the cover, but not Johnny's

    Vic Damone is currently 84 years old and retired, but is Johnny Cole still alive?
    And could he be a possilble cousin of the late entertainer Danny Kaye (whose real last name is also Kaminsky)?

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  14. ..had a JK recording called "Ring Out, Wild Bells" on the Peter Pan (childrens') label-very "Como-ish!, but still very enjoyable..might look for a vintage copy to re-visit my childhood.

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  15. I actually have the Christmas album above... All the same songs but the cover is different. The LP inside is red vinyl! I've had the album since I was a small child and am 59 now... I treasure it and was just able to transfer it to CD using my computer and interface... (Gee, I hope that isn't considered "pirating"...)

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  16. Susan at Christmas Forever no longer offers this. Are you going to be putting it up?

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  17. Thank you for posting this article! I've had "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Christmas Favorites" on Crown CMX-300 for several years. I was about to toss it in the donate stack this morning (I have over 10,000 songs on my computer and I'm trying to weed out LP's I'll never listen to as physical and computer space is getting sparse!) figuring it just a "kiddie" LP. I put it on and was quite impressed. I tried googling the label and came up with some useful info but nothing on who the artist might be. Thanks to this I now have some clues!

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  18. Hello,
    Has anyone figured out who he really is and what happened to him. I have spent countless hours trying to find out (I don't know why). From ancestry.com to ebay, I have covered it all. I haven't gotten anywhere really. The closest I have gotten was the 1940 census that lists John Kaminsky age 10. His parents were John and Mary Kaminsky and he had a younger brother Fred born in 1938. They were all in Chicago at that time. However it is like they all fell off the face of the earth. I even started a Johnny Kay facebook page. No luck so far. If anyone has any more information please let us know on this forum. Thanks!

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  19. Hello,
    HIs last name is NOT KAMINSKY. Please like the Johnny Kay Facebook Page to find out more info on this awesome singer!

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  20. His last name is NOT KAMINSKY! Like the Johnny Kay Facebook Page to find out more!

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  21. He also recorded under the name "Johnny Wells"
    Check out the song "Lonely Moon" on youtube.

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