Saturday, December 8, 2018

Home For The Holidays - The Spitfire Band

Hello, out there... Hi-Fi Holidays is back! After taking the 2017 Christmas season off (my wife and I welcomed out first child, a daughter just before Christmas), I'm excited to reopen this blog with a new album. And why not do it with a Canadian release, Home For The Holidays by The Spitfire Band. This is a short, but sweet, big band-style album performed to the hilt.

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 Amazon.com, 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).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas with Waldo de los Rios

Waldo de los Rios, according to Wikipedia, was an Argentine composer, conductor and arranger. He passed away in 1977, just a few years after he recorded and released this album, Christmas with Waldo de los Rios (aka "Navidad Con Waldo de Los Rios") for Hispa-Vox (Capitol in North America). Rios was known for adapting classical music into a contemporary (for the time) easy-listening style and his interpretations here of yuletide classics are no different — soft drums, bass guitar, and whispering flutes (mostly carrying the melody) accompany a soft orchestral sound, all drenched in copious reverb.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New music comin' soon!

Hi folks — just an update... I had a couple of albums ready to go to post, however one was recently shared elsewhere (Christmas Surprises with the Ralph Hunter Choir — though I might still share it!) and another was recently released on CD (We All Need a Little Christmas by The Golddiggers.) So instead I'll post another album this week. New post here!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Is For Children — Various

Getting the (snow) ball rolling on 2010, here's a various artists album, Christmas Is For Children, from Lion Records (L70079) dated 1958, featuring a trio of kiddie tunes from Barry Gordon ("I Like Christmas"), Little Rita Faye ("I Fell Out of the Christmas Tree" — for you rural Christmas nuts) and Leslie Uggams ("The Fat, Fat Man"). You'll find the sound quality varies between each track (this was a severely loved LP, as evidenced by the condition of the jacket), as the recordings likely are from a range of dates — the Korn Kobblers tracks have that distinctive '30s-40s style that reminds me of the horrific big band music from the end of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and the Jimmy Durante selections sound like recordings he would eventually re-perform and release in later years (in fact "Frosty, The Snow Man" here features the original lyric "I'll be back again someday"). Well, that's enough blathering from me. Let's get on with the download...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do you hear what I hear?

Howdy, folks! I've been working on my annual Christmas compilation, aptly titled Hi-Fi Holidays,  and it struck me — I've got to get to sharing some Christmas music on this here blog again. Please stay tuned, more musical yuletide memories are in store. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meilleurs Voeux (Season's Greetings) - Lucien Hetu

It's December the 22nd... And you are longing to be up... North...? The date may be wrong, but the sentiment is the same -- everyone wants a Christmas Made in Canada! To round out my album shares this season, I present to you Meilleurs Voeux (Season's Greetings) (1963) featuring the rollicking organ sounds of Mr. Lucien Hetu, of Montreal, Quebec. Recorded on a Gulbransen Rialto K, Hetu guides us through an upbeat selection of familiar favourites (White Christmas, Skaters Waltz, Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride) with more regional fare like "Nel des pauvres" (translated as "Poor Christmas") and the jolly "Dans l'temps du jour de l'an (That Time of the Year)" - where electric guide and percussion join Hetu's organ.

I've never been big on Christmas organ albums, but this one has a lo-fi charm to it, and is loaded with Quebecois flavour -- just check out that front cover for a visual to go along with the tunes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas in Canada - Wilf Carter

Christmas Made in Canada! rolls on... Before there was Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Anne Murray... There was Wilf Carter! An East-Coaster (he hailed from Nova Scotia), Carter -- according to Wikipedia -- is the father of country music in Canada, and judging by the photo on the cover, was one happy dude. And it shows in this RCA Camden recording of 10 Christmas tunes, Christmas in Canada, a few of which you're unlikely to have heard outside the country of Canada -- "Punkinhead" (the sad-red-headed bear, an Eaton's department store marketing creation), the titular "Christmas Time in Canada", complete with spoken intro by Carter, and "Ting-a-Ling a Jingle" (I believe the Ames Bros. are one of a few artists that have also recorded this song).  Also included is Carter's "Jolly Old St. Nicholas", which he has often been credited as actually writing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Juliette's Christmas World - Juliette

Continuing with the Christmas Made in Canada! theme, here's the second and probably coolest album I'll share with you this Christmas season (in my humble opinion), Juliette's Christmas World by ("Our Pet") Juliette, the 1960s Canadian TV icon.

There were three staples of a Canadian Christmas in the early-to-mid '60s: snow, Hockey Night in Canada on CBC and Juliette. No wonder then that Juliette would record a Christmas album, in this case for RCA Camden, showcasing her enchanting vocal talents with arrangements by Jimmy Dale and backed up by a quartet of voices known as The Swingers.

The album is at turns delightful, swinging cheese ("That Holiday Feeling" - destined for your next Christmas party music compilation), earnest good fun ("Sing Hosanna, Hallelujah") and heartfelt meditation ("Scarlet Ribbons" - surely one of this LP's most-played tracks if the groove distortion is any indication!) The dominating mood, however, is smooth - thanks to Juliette's caramel phrasing and Jimmy Dale's mellow arrangements ("Christmas is a Day of Miracles".)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ring Christmas Bells - Boris Brott, Hamilton Philharmonic

Earlier I mentioned a theme for 2010's posts, and now it's time to reveal that theme: Christmas Made in Canada! Yes, that's right, Hi-Fi Holiday is HQ'd in the Great White North. What better place in the world to celebrate the Yuletide season, where it's very cold outside, baby, for almost five months a year!

Kicking off Christmas Made in Canada! is Boris Brott conducting members of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra on Ring Christmas Bells. Where's Hamilton, you say? Well, it's in Southern Ontario, about 45 minutes ride from stunning Buffalo, NY. You could say Hamilton, ON is the Pittsburgh of Canada -- a hard-working, blue-collar, steel town that has of late fallen on some hard times. Considering these tough times and the current state the city is in, it's surprising Hamilton once supported a Philharmonic orchestra - however, Hamilton was once as cosmopolitan a city as any in the 1920s-1950s.

The group dubbed as the Hamilton Philharmonic playing Ring Christmas Bells is a smaller ensemble than the kind which traditionally churns out powerhouse arrangements of orchestral Christmas music, so the feeling here is distinctively intimate and very late 1970s, what with the addition of reverb in the album mix.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Wayne King

Before I begin posting the promised "themed" albums this season I thought I'd first post an album (or two) I've wanted to share but for one reason or another never had the opportunity.

The first is the fantastic Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1963, Decca) performed by Wayne King and His Orchestra & Chorus featuring the Wayne Robinson Singers.  I've nabbed two tracks from the album for my annual comps - the free-wheeling ode to Christmas shopping, "Jing-a-ling-a-ling", and a just-dramatic-enough rendition of "Carol of the Bells", with steady rhythm kept by low harp plucks. Much of the album, however is mellow ("The Christmas Song", "Winter Wonderland") -- King, like many bandleaders at the time -- knew how to arrange a tune for maximum listening pleasure.  Speaking of which, this is one rare Christmas album that plays well all the way through, making it perfect for merry-making without riding the stereo controls.

I realize this album has been posted on other great Christmas music blogs & websites, but I thought my rip of the stereo LP was too good not to share! You'll have to excuse the cover scan -- scanners don't like shrink wrap.

Link after the jump!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Christmas 2010 Preview

Hi, folks! Sharing time -- and Christmas -- are right around the corner, and I'm hurriedly recording some great music for Hi-Fi Holidays.  This year my posts will probably be themed (more on that later), so I hope you come back in a few weeks to check out what's new.  See you then!

11/9/10 - Update! All new links will be hosted on Mediafire.  Older Rapidshare links will be updated ASAP.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Caroling Caroling by The Gene Lowell Chorus

I've been slacking a bit, so it's time to show Hi-Fi some love.  Here's a new album:  The Gene Lowell Chorus' Caroling Caroling (that's right, no punctuation!)

Released on album in 1958 (Warner Bros. Records / WS 1233), this warm-sounding, yuletide fest for male choir is a great Christmas Eve mood-setting choice.

Consisting mainly of the aforementioned male choir, there is also occasional brass accompaniment ("Hark! The Herald Angels Sing").  Gene's singers carry classic tunes with a friendly, professional and inviting tone ("Silent Night").

Despite the age of the album, I managed to make a clean rip of this rich sounding stereo recording (listen to those deep bass tones in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Christmas Voices of Walter Schumann - Walter Schumann

Woohoo, Christmas 2009 is fast approaching! Well, it's about three months away. But I can't wait, because I've recorded a handful of albums this summer that I need to share. NOW.

First up is The Christmas Voices of Walter Schumann, the Pickwick Records re-issue and electronic stereo-ification of 1951's Christmas In The Air.

The contents of this album have been shared out a few times on some great Christmas music-themed blogs, but the date of the recording, coupled with some cheap pressings has meant the sound was less-than-stellar.

This LP recording was a multi-step process that took several tries to get right. The first attempt was fraught with hazard. The stereo was phasing in and out. I tried recording it again, only to encounter the same problem. I then came back a few weeks later, tried once more, and miraculously, I scored a clean recording. There was some small stereo phasing, but it was manageable.

I then passed it through declick and denoise software (ClickRepair, still the best). However the left channel randomly cutting out began to knaw at me. So I mixed the stereo track ("electronically processed stereo" mind you) into a mono file. I then mixed it back to stereo and applied some light VST stereo effects using Bias Peak Pro. The results, I hope, are the best you'll hear this album (until someone remasters it and reissues it on CD).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas - The Living Strings

One more in the series of 'Living' albums, and perhaps the last post this year, here's The Spirit of Christmas by The Living Strings. This one might be the most shared Christmas album on the planet, I'm not exactly sure. But since I recorded the album for myself, I thought I should share it here too.

It's up to the usual standards of the series with nice arrangements by composer Johnny Douglas, who is most notable to this child of the '80s as a regular contributing composer on animated series like Transformers and G.I. Joe. Before all that Saturday morning magic, Douglas arranged a few of the Living albums, including the more recent vintage (if you consider 1974 recent) The Christmas Songbook for The Living Voices.

Notable interpretations include Harry Belafonte's hit "Mary's Boy Child", which stands out from this traditional orchestral pack due to it's strong Calypso-flavour. The medley "We Wish You A Merry Christmas / We Three Kings / It Came Upon A Midnight Clear / O Holy Night / Silent Night" could very well set the record for most Christmas tunes performed in under five minutes. Check out the sweetly warm sax in "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" mashing up with a reprise of the Calypso percussion from "Mary's Boy Child" for a study in Johnny Douglas' deft skills as an arranger.

Hey! Did you know this album is now available to purchase? Yes, that's right, Dulcima Records, dedicated to releasing the music of arranger Johnny Douglas, has released 'The Spirit of Christmas', 'White Christmas' and 'A Christmas Songbook' on a 2-CD set.

Click here to order now!

I'd like to thank everyone that has visited Hi-Fi Holiday, downloaded an album and posted a comment. The comments this year have been especially gratifying.

I sincerely wish you a safe and Merry Christmas and hope the New Year brings better times for all. I'll see you next year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Best-Loved Carols of Christmas - Nelson Eddy

Christmas music blogs are a wonderful thing. There's a handful of really great ones that dig deep each year by taking the time to restore and share some great LPs that were once lost to time. If there's a downside, it's that these great blogs have posted some great stuff I'd planned to share! I'm not going to ask them to stop -- just the opposite. But that's enough whining, it's almost Christmas, so let's get some cheer going. Here's something I hope you'll enjoy, Nelson Eddy Sings The Best-Loved Carols of Christmas.

Unfortunately the Harmony/Columbia LP does not include info on recording date, or the orchestra and singers that accompany Eddy's baritone (though I believe this might be a straight re-issue of Eddy's 1951 Christmas album Songs of Christmas).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Joy of Christmas - The Living Guitars

The "Living" series continues with... The Living Guitars! Yes, this is an entire album featuring your favorite Christmas classics all accentuated for guitars. But this should really be called The Living Guitars and Organ and Bells, because that's what you'll find in the 1969 selection.

It's a breezy and brief album (just shy of twenty-three minutes), with the arrangements best suited for lighter fare like "Jingle Bell Rock/Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree", "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and "Deck The Halls", all of which are album highlights (though it's not easy to single a few out -- they're all gems!). Indeed all of the tracks are presented as medleys, so if you dig "Silver Bells", get ready to meet "The Real Meaning of Christmas".

The Joy of Christmas is certainly pleasant Christmas eve background music for some yuletide merriment where a delicate balance between cheer and mellow mood is required.

New Link! Nov/26/13 — Please enjoy: The Joy of Christmas - The Living Guitars

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas with The William Booth Singers and Salvation Army Band

The actual title of this one is Christmas With The William Booth Singers and The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army. But that's too long to fit in a blog post title!

CWTWBSATISBOTSA, for short, is a neat little album. 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.

After a couple of years of rummaging through piles of neglected old LPs at local Salvation Army stores, it's nice to rescue a title like this. The Salvation Army has done so much for Christmas music in general, and this album proves it!

I wasn't able to track down any release info for Christmas With..., but my Google educated guess dates sometime within the early 1960s. Allegedly, Alma Records released several titles on it's Christian Faith Records imprint within that period. If you've heard this one before or have any further info, please post a comment.

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.

Merry Christmas - The Mills Brothers

We're rolling now. It's Fall, the temperature is dropping (at least here it is) and it's time to start posting some albums. I've been waiting all summer for this!

First up is Merry Christmas by The Mills Brothers. 12 familiar favorite songs all performed with emphasis on the Mills' vocal stylings, with minimal accompaniment (organ, chimes, harp). Highlights include "O Holy Night" (when isn't it a highlight?), "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas". The Mills Bros. have soft, light voices -- perfect for the material. Great stuff too to put on later in the evening, when all the Christmas hub-bub has you beat, put this on and relax!

Originally issued on LP in 1959 (from which this recording is sourced from), it was later re-issued on DOT in the '60s and Pickwick in the '70s. Universal Special Products re-issued the same contents on CD in 1993. That CD is now way-out-of-print (that's worse than just out-of-print) and used copies go for big bucks ($70) on Amazon.com. Short version: Merry Christmas is otherwise unavailable. So I hope my LP recording will provide some relief while you track down a copy of the CD... Paying $70 for it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Christmas Suite for Orchestra - Richard Benson


It's July... Time for some Christmas tunes?

Here's a quickie, "Christmas Suite For Orchestra" by Richard Benson and Orchestra from the Reader's Digets 4-LP set Joyous Music For Christmas Time.

According to a review on Amazon of the set, Joyous Music For Christmas Time originally retailed for:
"$7.99 ($1 more if you wanted stereo.)

This album was available every year until 1973 and eventually sold over a million copies."
This almost nineteen-minute suite is a smorgasbord of your favorite carols all given fresh orchestral arrangements and recorded in pristine stereo sound. The suite was issued on CD at one point, but has now gone out-of-print. This recording is taken from the LP set.

I couldn't track down any info on Richard Benson or his orchestra, so if you know something please post in the comments!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Just checking in...

Hi folks, seems like there's people visiting here even as the temperature rises outside and Christmas is a distant memory.

I'm checking in to let you know there's more music to come. I've been recording a lot of LPs over the past month, some gems, some less so! Please stop by every once and awhile and hopefully you'll find something you like.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Album - Paul Mauriat

Regretfully I've been so busy with work that I haven't had the opportunity to post as many albums as I'd like before Christmas. So I'm going to add one today - Paul Mauriat's The Christmas Album - and one tomorrow to make up for it.

This is a top-notch offering from Mauriat, for full orchestra and wordless chorus. There's the old favourites here: "Jingle Bells", "White Christmas", "Silent Night", plus lesser-known titles like "Entre Le Boeuf Et L'Ane Gris" (aka "Among The Cattle and The Grey Donkey" - a Mauriat original?) and "Il est ne Le Divin Enfant" ("The Divine Infant Is Born"). All arranged and performed for maximum festive impact!

This album was re-issued on CD in a less complete form. That CD is now out-of-print. (and note: argh! "Trois Anges Sont Venus" ("Three Angels Appeared") plays twice in this file - once right after "White Christmas", so they're the same MP3 file. Quality control has been fired for this!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shell's Wonderful World of Music - Longines Symphonette Society

A double-LP set deserves a long title, and this one has one! This is Shell's Wonderful World of Music: Special Christmas Edition by the Longines Symphonette Society. According to Wikipedia, The Longines Symphonette Society was a record label created by the watch company Longines. Makes perfect sense.

Here are 20 carols performed in the wholly inoffensive choral/orchestral tradition ("Little Drummer Boy", "White Christmas" are highlights), with arrangements that are clean and straightforward. This is great background listening for Christmas gatherings where you don't want bombastic, jazzy or swinging variations to overload your celebratory subconcious.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - As Told by Paul Wing

As I write this, Christmas is just 29 days away. Wow, it seems like I was just putting up an album in July!

Seasonal sharity is in full swing so I figured I'd get my butt in gear and join in. My first album of Christmas '07 is the kiddie-centric record Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph's Second Christmas, featuring two stories narrated by Paul Wing, written by Robert May, with music by Norman Leyden. There are also four delightful renditions of "Suzy Snowflake" performed by Dale Evans, "The Night Before Christmas Song" performed by Gisele McKenzie with Ray Charles' orchestra and choir, "Frosty The Snowman" performed by Vaughn Monroe and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" from The Voices of Walter Schumann. What a line-up -- it's the Yuletide version of Circus of The Stars!

This recording comes from the Pickwick re-issue, which is presented as stereo, albeit processed from mono. I actually have two versions of this album, the aforementioned Pickwick issue and one from RCA/Victor (which features a better cover, see above). According to a recent eBay auction, the Paul Wing stories were also released on two 45rpm records in the 1950s.

This is a little gem of an album. You have two wonky stories to entertain the kids and four brilliant arrangements of familiar favorites.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The John Gary Christmas Album


John Gary wishes you a Merry Christmas! How do I know that? It says so, right on the back of this LP!

Who is John Gary? He was a versatile vocalist (3 whoppin' octaves), born in 1932 who passed away in 1998. While he never achieved the mainstream status of many of his contemporaries, he recorded 23 albums for RCA Victor (see more at Wikipedia), including this gem, The John Gary Christmas Album.

Featuring the soothing vocals of one John Gary, orchestra arranged by Peter Matz and background vocalists, this is a wholly enjoyable little Christmas album. Straight laced, and timeless in that early 1960s mode. All of the standards are here, with a few lesser-known titles like "Little Snow Girl" and "Sweet Little Jesus Boy", beautifully rendered by our new tree-gazing music friend, John Gary.

But wait! Wasn't this released on CD, you ask? It was. In 2000 on Restart Records and now languishing out-of-print. Plus, the version I've uploaded is in Mono (RCA also issued a stereo LP). Consider this the best way to hear this album without taking away sales of an album no longer on sale... (Got that?)

Update! — This album is now available - in stereo - on John Gary's official website. Buy it today!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Christmas Serenade - Sammy Kaye

Okay, let's get this party started. To celebrate Christmas In July, here's Sammy Kaye's Christmas Serenade a 10" LP from Columbia Records (CL 2541). I haven't been able to track down a recording date for this LP, but Ernie Not Bert's blog shared an album with the same name last year (though with different contents). That LP was dated 1951 (see link).

This is a mix of fun tunes with more serious choral renditions. I hope Kaye's variations of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town", "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland" make it into your Christmas music rotation come November!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Christmas in July

Hi folks. It's July, and apparently the Christmas music blogs begin to wake up and add a few new albums to celebrate the halfway point between last Christmas and next Christmas. I too have a few classics I'll be adding to Hi-Fi Holiday over the next few weeks. Time to fire up the record player!

All of my previously shared albums are still available for download, so if you've been waiting (and why?) grab 'em!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

Well, it's 2007, and officially the end of the Christmas season. Thanks to everyone who visited, and checked out the music. Special thanks to those who posted their comments. You made it worthwhile!

I now have 12 months to get more Lps recorded, and cleaned and ready for next Christmas. I might add one to the blog here and there throughout the year, so check in every once and a while to see if something is new. It's never too early for Christmas music, is it?

Thanks again, everyone!

Best,

Ryan

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Firestone Presents... Vol. 6 - Various


Okay, another album before Christmas... It's that time of the year... Wait, didn't Jack Jones sing that on Firestone's Your Favorite Christmas Carols? He did, and that's the latest album on the blog.

It's like Circus of The Stars: Jack Jones, the Vienna Choir Boys, and Roberta Peters all perform a mix of new, old and non-secular tunes arranged and conducted by Irwin Kostal.

The highlight is Jones' perf of "This Is That Time of The Year", so good it's lauded on the cover. This one could stand shoulder to shoulder quite nicely with Andy Williams' "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" and Perry Como's "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". Also new to this compilation is the sprightly "Dance of The Christmas Doll" by Edward Thomas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Little Drummer Boy - The Living Voices


We're hurtling towards Christmas here, so I guess I should step on the gas a bit and offer another album.

This one is The Little Drummer Boy by The Living Voices and just happens to be my personal favorite album this year. Why? Well, to me it's just perfect Christmas music: the mixed vocals are in that mid-'60s stylization, and the orchestral accompaniment is light -- there's nothing on this album that will add stress to the hectic time that leads up to the big day. Add to that faithful (but unique) arrangements (by Anita Kerr) and you've got a heart-warming and upbeat album. Perfect!

Highlights include "Be A Santa", a song I was unfamiliar with before this LP, and now love, "What Are You Doing New Years Eve" and the real show-stopper, the ultra-tranquil, incredibly beautiful "Do You Hear What I Hear", perhaps the greatest performance of this very non-secular Christmas classic. I get chills from this track and to me it's never sounded better. Eat your heart out, Engelbert!

Please enjoy: The Little Drummer Boy

This LP is now on CD and now available at Amazon.com.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Christmas - John Clayton

Here's a nice little album from 1958, Merry Christmas (imaginative title, yes?) performed by John Clayton his Orchestra and Chorus. Who is John Clayton? Can't tell you. A search of Google only finds jazz arranger and band leader John Clayton, who is still very much alive and would have been just a few years old when this record was released. It's unlikely than that he was involved with recording it!

There are a couple of highlights on this album that I'd like to draw your attention to. "I'm Getting Nottin For Xmas", in what must be one of it's earliest recordings(?), the rollicking "Home For The Holidays", "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Sleigh Ride". Why is it that "Sleigh Ride" is always the most interesting variation on every Christmas album?

Monday, December 4, 2006

The Sounds of Christmas

The first album I'd like to share isn't really comprised of the standard set of Christmas favorites. Instead it's a 1973 songs, sound and story album from Disneyland Records called The Sounds of Christmas, featuring Peter Renoudet (aka Renaday) singing and narrating his heart out. Renoudet sounds like a mock-sincere Will Ferrell character, and the album's twice-sung title track, "The Sounds of Christmas" is perhaps a little cheesy.

The story and sound effects are the real bonus here -- perfect for mixing into your annual Christmas compilation. If you have a sick and twisted sense of humor, you might find the part where Dad hauls in the Christmas Yule Log laced with innuendo.


Kicking off the Season

Hi all - and welcome to this new blog, devoted to the Christmas music of yesteryear. Please join me as I share some of the musty old LPs I've been lucky enough to discover these past few months.

What's with the URL? Well, I had some difficulties remembering my login/password for hifiholidays.blogspot.com, so when I went to re-register, half-paying attention, I typed in hif-fi-holidays. Let that be a lesson to all ye potential registrants with Blogger: pay attention!

I am humbled by the contributions found at the sites to the top right of this page. Their generous contributions to my own Christmas music collection has inspired me to do the same for others.

Hopefully I'll post some long out-of-print albums that will be good enough to make it into your Holiday playlist, warm your heart, and help spread some Christmas cheer.

If you like what you hear please leave a comment. Recording, declicking, editing and assembling these records takes a bit of work. Hearing from you makes it worthwhile!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!