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".)