Monday, December 22, 2008

Music Monday - Nostalgia Edition

Where we lived when I was a kid, we had a Grant's Department Store. Does anyone remember Grant's? Anyway, they had a deal with Columbia Records. They released exclusive Christmas compilation records every year, starting sometime in the late 1960's, and running up until the company went belly-up. Those great old records had songs from the usual suspects - Tony Bennet, Bing Crosby - but also some not so usual folks. Who remembers Leslie Uggams? Dianne Carroll (she does a great version of "Some Children See Him")? You haven't heard anything until you've heard Johnny Cash sing "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day".

Volumes 3 and 4 were always my favorites. The first track on Volume 4 was the following by Las Vegas and Tonight Show perennial guests (at least when Carson hosted) Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormet. It's called "That Holiday Feeling". God knows why I love it so - it's so cheesy you want to rush out and by stock in Nabisco - but it is a lot of fun.

I think it's the second or third cut on Volume 4 was by Gary Puckett, he of Union Gap fame, "Young Girl", "Don't Give In To Him" (my sister has a couple 45s of his; I had no idea what the latter song was about until I was in HS, I'm embarrassed to admit). He comports himself quite well, considering his limited abilities, on "O Holy Night".

Volume 3 Introduced me to "The Messiah" beyond the Hallelujah Chorus. After I learned the oratorio was actually written for Easter, I wondered why people insisted on listening to it only at Christmas. Hardly one to struggle against the considered opinion of everyone else, I only listen to it at Christmas, too. However, there is one section that could be considered "Christmasy", "For Unto Us A Child Is Born". On the old Grant's records, it's on side two of Volume 3, and comes from a recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Eugene Ormandy. Couldn't find that, but had absolutely no trouble finding all sorts of "For Unto Us".

My favorite recording from these is a rendition of "Angels We Have Heard On High" by the Percy Faith Orchestra. It's so beautiful, but, alas, no video of it exists on YouTube. Also, I fear, there is no way I can get a copy of it from my parents' old 33 rpm vinyl disc on to CD to listen to at my house.

Virtual Tin Cup

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