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.