Friday, December 26, 2014

A Song-Poem Christmas

Love, Christmas, political views...whatever it is, nothing sums it up like a song poem. But in this case, it's Christmas, and I have two songs written by just-plain average folk who saw an ad in the back of a magazine and decided it'd be cool to hear their sentiments in song.

There's a lot of mystique behind song poems. There's a website with loads of information and history, and like just about everything else these days, there was even a documentary about them. This otherwise unassuming "1977 Christmas Album" is chock full of holiday song poems, all sung by The Sisterhood, a female trio who, if you believe the note on the back cover, seemed to appear on just about every TV and variety show in existence.

The first song is not so much about the holidays as winter itself.

The second starts off "holiday" enough, but after the first couple of lines...wait, is this actually a song about Elvis Presley?

Boy, someone had a Blue Christmas that year.

The American Song-Poem Music Archive
Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story

'Twas the day after Christmas...

And all through the - nah, I can't. But I can share a couple more unusual, if not downright rare, Christmas 45s.

First, Dodie Stevens, who trades her tan shoes and pink shoelaces for a holiday gown as she croons Merry Merry Christmas Baby:

And a surprise from Brook Benton. I never knew he recorded any holiday songs, and I've never heard this one: This Time Of The Year, on Mercury.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas In The Country

A couple country 45s for you now.

First up, Jimmy Dean and the story of Little Sandy Sleighfoot. God has a place and purpose for everyone:

And here's Buck Owens. Li'l buckaroo's confused about Santa:

I think we're good

Some of you know I have a real thing for educational albums. And the holiday tracks you're about to hear are a couple of reasons why.

Here's Steve Clayton and Gail Contini, pair extraordinaire, with some good tidings not just for Christmas, but for Hanukkah too. These come from an album of holiday songs featuring holidays you never knew there were songs for.

Everybody's Good For Christmas


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmastime Down Under

They do things a little different in Australia. Christmas is no exception. This may look like a regular Christmas album, but there are a couple of differences. For one, look at the way they spelled Faithful. For another, listen to the changes in The Holly Singers' 12 Days Of Christmas. There are a couple of things on the list that I've never heard in the song before. Maybe 1976 was a bad financial year and Aussies had to cut back a little. Or everyone was out buying colour TVs, which were relatively new there. Ah, priorities.

This year, I've managed to assemble a collection of holiday songs you might not have heard before, and this album has one. It's called Christmas Year. You might like this one, mate.

The 12 (or so) Songs Of Christmas

I'm not one for holidays anymore. But surprise, surprise, here I am posting Christmas music. And guess what: after a 3-month drought, I get to pick right back up from where I left off: with a radio album!

Radio station albums were generally compilations of current-day hits popular with the station's audience. But there were exceptions. This is a particularly nice one, and as it happens, it was put together under the auspices of some of the people who worked at PAMS, who I mentioned in September. In other words, there's a little extra "jingle" in these Jingle Bells.

The folks you'll hear on these tracks are called the Associate Singers, and if you're a jingle fan, you'll know the names: Dan Alexander, best-bass-in-the-business Jim Clancy, Brian Beck, Frank Bloebaum, Chris Kershaw, Bob Biegler, Clark Womack, Trella Hart, Judy Parma, Libba Weeks, Abby Hamilton and Linda Harmon.

All these great voices sing against vibrant musical backdrops provided by Bob Piper, who was responsible for the sound of many PAMS jingle packages in the late '60s and early '70s. The sound is bright and beautiful and deserves to be shared.

Here's Trella Hart out in front, calling for Jolly Old St. Nicholas.

A cheery rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas. I wish this song always sounded this good.

Let's go Up On The Housetop and hear what the singers are up to:

An a cappella original by Bob Piper: The Warm Sound Of Christmas

Although the singers are primarily known from PAMS, they did business with most of the other jingle producers in Dallas. Toby Arnold worked in sales for PAMS and eventually started his own company, which produced this album. His company still exists as TAA Music.

A note on the radio station: WGPA is alive and well in Bethlehem, PA and plays a pretty eclectic assortment of music and talk shows. It's currently owned by polka magnate Jolly Joe Timmer.

This post is dedicated to Judy Parma, one of the wonderful voices you hear on these tracks. She passed away recently, so sharing these songs has taken on extra meaning. Rest well, and thank you for making the world sound so nice.