Today marks the beginning of the Christmas season in my book and so therefore it marks the beginning of the season for this blog. Get ready for a daily dose of Christmas music. Hopefully from records that you don't see everyday.
The thing I like about Christmas records are that there are so many versions of the same finite group of songs so you can really compare and contrast singers and arrangements. It also makes the original songs or the oddball songs that aren't sung by a thousand other folks stand out. Many of the times they are mediocre at best, but every once in a while you find a gem.
So today I'm starting with an A&M compilation called "Something Festive". I really like the Herb Albert and the Sergio Mendes songs. They set the mood for the album as a 70's easy listening time capsule. The arrangements are fun and kind of so weird that they almost seem other worldly. You listen and think, someone really wrote this. It is an interesting style because I don't think it has ever been revived as far as I know. I guess that either means it's not worth going back to or that it was done so well the first time that there is no reason to revisit and reinvent. I don't dare answer that question.
The back up singers on "The Christmas Song" is a great example of that early 70's sound that hasn't been heard since. It is more a factor of production than anything else I think. It reminds me of some of the work The Carpenters were doing.
"Partridge In A Pear Tree" is also good. It has that Herb Albert Mexicali thing going on that I find appealing. It is also an instrumental so you don't have to go mad listening to those repeating lyrics over and over again.
"My Favorite Things" has the same 70's easy listening choral sound. Sounds a little Disneyesque.
I really like "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle" as a song. It think it is really catchy. This version is okay, but there is a version on Herb Alpert's Christmas record that I think is even better. I may be posting that before the end of the year so keep an eye out.
Pete Jolly's song is jazzy and light.
A really interesting song is the melancholy "Snow" by Claudine Longet. She sings with an almost Karen Carpenter melancholy, but with a French accent and more breathy. The arrangement is very Carpenters as well in my opinion. It stands out on the record as a kind of odd ball because it is haunting and a little depressing. Not exactly easy listening.
The album ends on a fun note with Jingle Bell Rock. Herb's trademark trumpet driving the melody of this Christmas staple.
So start getting yourself in the mood with this record from Christmas past.
01 Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass - Winter Wonderland.m4a
02 Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 - The Christmas Song.m4a
03 Liza Minnelli - Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy.m4a
04 Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band - Partridge In A Pear Tree.m4a
05 We Five - My Favorite Things.m4a
06 Burt Bacharach - The Bell That Couldn't Jingle.m4a
07 Pete Jolly - It's The Most Wonderful Time.m4a
08 Claudine Longet - Snow.m4a
09 Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.m4a
10 Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Band - Jingle Bell Rock.m4a