Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Neither Fish Nor Flesh

On one hot Sunday in the middle of August last year the first car boot sale I arrived at was heaving from beginning to end with vinyl and shellac to dig through.  I bought so many 45s, 78s, 12"s and LPs that I ran out of time, pennies and inclination to go on to the next port of call, and so returned home with a record bag bursting with 26 discs in all, plus a multi CD set in a faux LP sleeve.

Phew. 78s weigh a lot.

Amongst this heavy haul was Terence Trent D'Arby's 1989 album Neither Fish Nor Flesh, bought in excellent condition with the original booklet intact for £2.

Terence Trent D'Arby - Neither Fish Nor Flesh (1989)
Inside booklet, with rice paper pages.
Definitely looks like fish to me, Terence.

From rear of booklet.

Subtitled "A Soundtrack of Love, Faith, Hope and Destruction", this 2nd album from the Manhattan-born singer, songwriter and musician (now releasing music under the name Sananda Maitreya) followed 1987's multi-platinum "Introducing The Hardline According To...".  Unlike Hardline, NFNF tanked, peaking at no.12 on the UK album chart before dropping out entirely after just five weeks.  Lead single This Side of Love fared even worse, scraping into the Top 100 at just no.83.

It seems that a combination of ego and ambition scuppered the project, with D'Arby making wild proclamations both about himself and his latest work, with the latter sounding very different from the chart-friendly pop smashes that characterised his debut. Even today on his website Sananda makes outlandish claims, such as that NFNF was a "formative influence on both what subsequently became marketed as 'Hip Hop', as well as what was sold as 'Grunge'".

Maybe he truly believes this, but it's a huge shame that such posturing probably put a lot of fans off from buying what turns out to be a phenomenally good record; one that's perhaps borne of overindulgence and ego-led ambition, but succeeds in melding funk and R&B to catchy, psychedelic pop.  There's a huge cast of musicians, with D'Arby himself on a variety of instruments including Fender Rhodes, sitar, timpani, "scratching" and er, kazoo.  He's also credited with things like "Aural Manipulations" and "Sound Manifestations", not to mention the highly intriguing and un-Googlable "Other Phaqueries".  Hmm.


It starts quietly, the spoken-word Declaration: Neither Fish Nor Flesh giving way to the sparse but melodic I Have Faith In These Desolate Times, whose harp accompaniment by "The Lovely Helen Davies" (sleeve notes) in the first half is joined by Terence on bongos in the second, before an abrupt end.  After the eerie and equally sparse It Feels So Good To Love Someone Like You it's not until the middle of Side 1 that things really get going, with the sexy pop-soul of To Know Someone Deeply Is To Know Someone Softly when That Voice is finally unleashed; those sweet, silken tones hitting all the right buttons and delivering the most romantic and least pretentious lyrics on an album that has its fair share of cringeworthy couplets.



From here the tempo increases and the song titles become snappier, highlights being AIDS story Billy Don't Fall, its punchy percussion and whistling keyboard riff reminiscent of hit Wishing Well; the staccato funk of You Will Pay Tomorrow; and minor soul belter I'll Be Alright, with lyrical nods to Prince and the Beach Boys.

Towards the end of the album song titles stretch out again with a corresponding lowering of pace, firstly with powerful deep soul ballad I Don't Want To Bring Your Gods Down. Stax-y horns and D'Arby's full-throated wail contrast with an intermittent minor-key violin part; an unsettling but typical and effective TTD touch.  Closer ...And I Need To Be With Someone Tonight is a solo a cappella with layers of TTD harmony, engaging for the way in which he's clearly enjoying playing around with his voice, but spoiled somewhat by lyrics like the clunky, "Though apartheid's a greater issue, I long to hear "I miss you" ". Erk!

It's a damn shame that this album didn't sell well, and although D'Arby's posturing may have deterred potential buyers, the bigger factor may have been a lack of marketing push behind it due to the eccentric and ambitious nature of both the artist and his creation.  I only say this because after loving the debut, Neither Fish Nor Flesh seemed to entirely pass me by at the time, even though I eagerly bought the follow-up Symphony Or Damn. Perhaps if NFNF had contained a sure-fire 'hit' to promote as a single it would have done better.  Whatever the reasons, if you've not heard it I urge you to give it a whirl, in case like me it means you've been missing out on a massively enjoyable record all these years.




Saturday, 24 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 10

It's Day 10 of the 2016 Car Boot Christmas Countdown, which means it's also Christmas Eve, and today is the turn of the Christmas crooners.  Let's begin with the King Of Cool, and a record I nabbed for a pound at a car boot sale on this year's May Bank Holiday weekend.

The Dean Martin Christmas Album (1966)

The Dean Martin Christmas Album was Dino's second festive offering, the first being 1959's Winter Wonderland, which shares a few tracks including the tenuous inclusion of The Things We Did Last Summer.  Aside from this, many of the old chestnuts are here, such as a delightful Marshmallow World, a Blue Christmas to rival that of Elvis, and of course everyone's favourite, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, as so memorably used in Die Hard.

On the making of the album the sleeve notes state,
"'Twas the ninth of September, a very warm night, and we were in California.  And on this hot desert night, not a sleigh or a jingle bell in sight.... Dean Martin sauntered into his friendly neighbourhood recording studio and made himself an album of song. Christmas song."
His vocals must have been dubbed separately, as there are plenty of bells here, as well as tinkling xylophone, jaunty strings and sweet backing vocals.  The combination of these with Dino's laid back, nonchalant style results in a seemingly effortless, gently swinging, warm and breezy record that's completely uplifting and a joy from start to finish.


Less uplifting, despite the title, is A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra, which I bought for 50p in August 2015.

A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957)

Alternative cover and title

First released in 1957, my copy is a slightly later US issue with Capitol's "rainbow" label.  Assisted by the "orchestra and chorus of Gordon Jenkins" (the chorus being the Ralph Brewster Singers), like many before and after him Frank brings us one side of popular Christmas songs and one of carols.

I found the album to be rather leaden and samey, and in particular Frank's delivery isn't suited to the carols, which for me fall flattest.  But as a nice bit of background music it's pleasant enough, and no doubt could act effectively as a soothing accompaniment to that post-Christmas dinner booze-snooze in the armchair.

In the '60s the album was briefly issued as "The Sinatra Christmas Album" with a different cover image.  When it was reissued on vinyl in 2010, the original title and artwork were restored.


Last but by no means least is A Jack Jones Christmas, which cost me a pound in March 2015.

A Jack Jones Christmas (1969)

Like Dean Martin, this RCA release was Jack's second Christmas album, coming after 1964's equally imaginatively titled "The Jack Jones Christmas Album" on Kapp Records. After Frank 'n' Dino's Burgundy baritones, Jack's easygoing tenor makes for a nice change, and as well as the usual parade of suspects he throws in some curveballs like gospel number Little Altar Boy, Bacharach and David's Christmas Day from the Broadway musical Promises Promises, and a look at the different ways Jesus is perceived around the world in Some Children See Him.  There's also the inexplicable inclusion of Oh Happy Day; an odd choice, but it fits in quite well.

The highlights for me are his a cappella version of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, the aforementioned Little Altar Boy, and best of all his absolutely winning rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the latter making the perfect signing-off track for Car Boot Christmas 2016, which you can listen to using the player below.


https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/

Thanks for joining me; I hope you've enjoyed this year's countdown and the accompanying cloudcast, and I also hope you can pop back in the new year to see and hear what other records I've been liberating from car boot sales and charity shops here on the Suffolk coast.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas, whatever it is you're up to.


Minibreakfast xxx




Friday, 23 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 9

Welcome to Day 9 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016.  On this penultimate festive blog post we're looking at two LPs that are both over 50 years old.  Both are in remarkable condition despite their age and the fact that they were found languishing at car boot sales.

First up is Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers - We Wish You A Merry Christmas, which cost 50p last October.

Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers - We Wish You A Merry
Christmas (1962)


1970s reissue with cropped
image, also found last year.
Born Joseph Raymond Conniff in Massachusetts in 1916, Ray was a prolific bandleader and arranger, having 28 albums in the US Top 40 between 1957 and 1968.  His most successful output was that with his "Ray Conniff Singers", numbering 13 men and 12 women at any one time.

Here they present all the Yuletide favourites you'd expect, plus a couple of other less commonly covered numbers; for instance Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep) from the film White Christmas appears as part of a medley.  In fact the album is mainly composed of medleys, with just two standalone songs; Ring Christmas Bells (aka Carol of the Bells) and a surprisingly enjoyable version of the normally tedious The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Conniff was renowned for his vocal arrangements, and the harmonies here are unmatched, the highlight for me being O Holy Night, where the soaring layers of voice give me genuine tingles.  Unsurprisingly the album went gold in 1963, and it continued to chart year after year in the 1960s.  It remains a bona fide Christmas classic, and for those who grew up with it playing in their home, a veritable time machine.

Track list.

Side 1.
1. Medley: Jolly Old St. Nicholas; The Little Drummer Boy.
2. Medley: O Holy Night; We Three Kings of Orient Are; Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly.
3. Ring Christmas Bells.

Side 2.
1. Medley: Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep); We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
2. The Twelve Days of Christmas.
3. Medley: The First Noel; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; O Come, All Ye Faithful; We Wish You A Merry Christmas.



I paid £1.50 for a copy of Harry Belafonte's To Wish You A Merry Christmas in April this year.

Harry Belafonte - To Wish You A Merry Christmas (1958)

Compared to the cheery sound of the Ray Conniff Singers this album comes as a bit of a downer.  Although Belafonte tackled all kinds of folk music, he's best known for hits such as Jump In The Line and Island In The Sun, but if you were expecting this album to deliver a calypso Christmas you'd be in for a disappointment.  That's not to say it has nothing to offer; if you like your carols delivered solemnly with traditional, sparse instrumentation, then you'll enjoy this low-key collection.  As well as the well-worn carols there are others less familiar, such as A Star In The East and Jehovah the Lord Will Provide.  Harry's soft voice is matched by the gentle playing of guitar virtuoso Laurindro Almeida, and the most upbeat the album gets is the marching pipe and drums on Christmas Is Coming.  Verdict: tender and mild.

Track list.

Side 1.
1. A Star In The East.
2. The Gifts They Gave.
3. The Son of Mary*.
4. The Twelve Days of Christmas.
5. Where The Little Jesus Sleeps.
6. Medley: The Joys of Christmas; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Deck The Halls; The First Noel.

Side 2.
1. Mary, Mary.
2. Jehovah the Lord Will Provide.
3. Silent Night.
4. Christmas Is Coming.
5. Medley: We Wish You A Merry Christmas; God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; O Come All Ye Faithful; Joy To The World.
6. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.


Be sure to come back tomorrow - Christmas Eve! - for the final installment of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown, with three great albums by some beloved crooners.  You can hear me playing the best selections from my festive record boxes on the family-friendly Car Boot Christmas 2016 cloudcast.  Use the player below or follow the link to Mixcloud.

https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/





Thursday, 22 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 8

It's Day 8 of this year's Car Boot Christmas Countdown, and today it's the turn of the ladies of country.  Let's begin with the First Lady Of Country, Tammy Wynette, whose Christmas album I picked up for a pound at a car boot sale back in April.

Christmas With Tammy Wynette (this edition 1982, original release was 1970)

Like fellow pioneering country artist Charlie Pride, Tammy was also from Mississippi and a successful sportsperson before moving into music, having been a top basketball player in her high school year.  Like several of the Christmas albums covered in these pages, this one is split in to two distinct sides.  The first consists of reverently delivered carols including Gentle Shepherd and O Little Town Of Bethlehem, and with the Jordanaires swooning behind Tammy as she sings "no criyyb for his beyyd", Away In A Manger never sounded more Nashville.

Side 2 is my favourite, however, where backed by The Nashville Edition Tammy lets loose the heartache on popular songs such as Blue Christmas, before eventually perking up when her man returns home for the festivities on One Happy Christmas.  But he's dun left her agin by next song Lovely Christmas Call where she pleads with him to return for the sake of the children.  He doesn't, but the reverence does for final number Let's Put The Christ Back Into Christmas.


In October last year I spent 50p on a copy of Christmas Day With Kitty Wells.

Christmas Day With Kitty Wells (1962)

Also featuring backing vocals by The Jordanaires, this 1962 release by Nashville native Wells (born Ellen Muriel Deason) is a cheerier affair than Tammy's, opening with Dasher With The Light Upon His Tail, C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and a sleigh bell laden Santa's On His Way.  As well as a great cover of Gene Autrey's Here Comes Santa Claus there are a couple of carols, plus the seemingly compulsory Blue Christmas and White Christmas. Wells throws in a little heartbreak with Christmas Ain't Like Christmas Anymore, but jollity is immediately restored with a chirpy cowgirl rendition of Jingle Bells.

As far as I can tell the album wasn't released outside the US, but these days UK folks can buy it as download.


On a freezing Sunday morning in February 2015 I splurged five pounds (now approximately half a Euro) on a copy of something I'd been hoping to spot in the wild for ages: Light Of The Stable by Emmylou Harris.

Emmylou Harris - Light of the Stable (1979)

This 1979 release was named after the title track, which had come out as a single four years earlier with Bluebird Wine on the b-side.  A prolific collaborator, Emmylou is joined on this song by Neil Young and Trio partners Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton on harmony vocals.  Other contributors include Willie Nelson and Ricky Skaggs providing vocals on Angel Eyes (Angel Eyes) and singer-songwriter Nancy Ahern duetting with Emmylou on Away In A Manger.  Among the musicians contributing to the largely acoustic backing are Rodney Crowell, Albert Lee and autoharpist Bryan Bowers (misspelled as 'Brian' on the sleeve notes).


Alternative cover art

Emmylou's incredible voice shines particularly brightly on the a cappella The First Noel, but my favourites are bluegrass opener Christmas Time's A-Coming, an absolutely beautiful Little Drummer Boy, and of course the title track.  The album has been reissued many times over the years on both CD and vinyl, with a few alternative covers.


You can hear tracks from many of the albums featured in the countdown, plus lots more, on the all-vinyl Car Boot Christmas 2016 cloudcast.  Use the player below or click the link to go to Mixcloud.  Do come back tomorrow, Friday the 23rd of December, for the penultimate day of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown and two great festive records from the 1950s and '60s.

https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 7

Today's festive LPs were kindly sent to me as earlier this year by a dear chum; charity shop connoisseur and tat-magnet Beany.  The first has already become one of my favourite ever Christmas albums; The Swingalongs Present: Sing A Song Of Christmas.

The Swingalongs Present: Sing A Song Of Christmas (1973)

According to the notes on the back cover this MfP release was "Arranged and produced by the same team that made Tijuana Christmas", i.e the greatest ever Christmas album (billed as being by the Torero Band), so no surprise that it raced into my Top Ten so quickly.  Indeed, Alan Moorhouse is named as arranger and director, with Bill Wellings as producer.  The "20 non-stop Christmas songs" are in fact arranged into half a dozen medleys of the usual suspects, all carols except opener Jingle Bells.

The up-tempo stuff is totally groovy, with a swinging drummer, funky bassist, plus of course the other trademark instruments used by this set-up such as xylophone, organ and of course trumpet.  The vocals are great; harmonious and sweet with faux-American accents, these guys 'n' gals are square as hell, but hugely entertaining, although by the end of Side 2 their relentlessness can be a little wearing, especially on the slower carol medleys.

There are plenty of parts that put a grin on my face, including the bouncy percussion and farty brass of the opening medley, and a brief but sexy organ flourish between Ding Dong Merrily On High and We Three Kings.  Another album I now need to look out for is the only other one released under The Swingalongs' name; a double with Bert Shorthouse and his Glenlomond Band called "Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year".  It has Bert and co. on the second disc playing 20 non-stop New Year's party tunes, and presumably on the Christmas-themed first disc by The Swingalongs the same non-stop recordings as on my album, having an identical track list.


Also in the surprise package from Beany was The Julie Andrews Christmas Album.

The Julie Andrews Christmas Album (1983)

Here Julie is backed by a symphony orchestra as she makes her way through a clutch of familiar favourites plus a few more unusual songs such as French carol Patapan (the English translation rather than the Burgundian original), Christian folk hymn I Wonder As I Wander, and a goosebump-inducing version of Bing Crosby's The Secret Of Christmas.

Julie has several Christmas albums in her discography, but this particular set of songs has been issued more than once (this 1983 edition is a Reader's Digest release), firstly in 1975 (minus two tracks) as "The Secret Of Christmas", then in 1982 as "Christmas With Julie Andrews", and again in 1987 as "The Sound Of Christmas" complete with Sound Of Music rip-off cover art:


The lush, movie soundtrack-style orchestration suits her crystal clear soprano beautifully, and with Julie you can relax safe in the knowledge that she's never going to miss one of the high notes - and there are plenty of those here!

Join me again tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd of December (getting close now!), for Day 8 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown with Yuletide albums from three ladies of country. Hear me playing over an hour of car boot and charity shop Christmas music using the player below or by following the link to Mixcloud.


https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/




Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 6

Welcome to Day 6 of this year's Car Boot Christmas Countdown.  After yesterday's parp-fest it's time to look at a couple of different seasonal albums, starting with Merry Christmas Baby, bought in June 2015 for £2.

Various Artists - Merry Christmas Baby (1985)

Stanley Lewis worked as a record distributor and jukebox operator, until in 1963, encouraged by none other than Leonard Chess, he founded Jewel Records in Shreveport, Lousiana, recording gospel, blues and jazz.  Six artists in all are featured on this 1985 compilation.

Jazz pianist Ronnie Kole was born in Chicago and found success in New Orleans, eventually opening the now famous club Kole's Korner.  Here with his Trio he provides two great instrumentals in Winter Wonderland and Silent Night, Holy Night.  Louisiana-born singer and pianist Bobby Powell moved from playing gospel in the 1950s, through blues in the '60s to soul and R&B in the '70s.  Here he's represented by two versions of the same piece, a Deep Soul vocal ballad called The Bells, and the instrumental version called Bing Bong that graced the b-side of the 1971 single release.

Rear sleeve with tracklist

The star of the show is Charles Brown, a blues singer and pianist from Texas City whose hit Merry Christmas Baby lends its title to the album.  This R&B Christmas standard was first recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore's The Blazes, and featured a young Charles Brown on piano.  Perhaps the best known version today is that by Bruce Springsteen, as heard on the 2014 Car Boot Christmas cloudcast.  
Brown's million-selling Please Come Home For Christmas is here too, as well as his sublime Christmas In Heaven.

Merry Christmas Baby has been reissued on CD in various guises since 1985 with later re-recordings and additional tracks, although I gather that they don't add much to the original US-only LP, which is all killer and no filler.


Costing £1 in October of 2015 was Noël by Joan Baez.

Joan Baez - Noël (1966)

Arranged by Peter Schickele a.k.a. PDQ Bach, here Joan delivers a dozen songs, her crystal clear soprano taking centre stage.  Rather than her usual folky style the orchestration is classical with a medieval feel in parts, thanks to instruments like harpsichord, recorder, lute, baroque organ and a "consort of viols".  With delicate enunciation she sings Ave Maria in German and an absolutely gorgeous Cantique de Noël in French, as well as the English translation of Catalan traditional Carol of the Birds.  Other seldom-heard traditionals include Down In Yon Forest and Mary's Wandering.  A handful of instrumentals are slotted in; three as short intervals, and Angels We Have Heard On High as a standalone piece.

The material suits her bell-like voice well, and though the album feels a little staid in places it's still very enjoyable, especially when compared to some other artists' more syrupy Christmas output.  It's quite a common sight at car boot sales and charity shops, and certainly worth picking up next time you see it.  You may also be able to find the 2001 CD remaster, issued in 2001 with 6 extra tracks.

You can hear picks from both of these albums and lots more on Car Boot Christmas 2016; listen to the cloudcast on the player below or click the link to go to the Mixcloud page.  Shares, comments and likes will be most welcome.  Be sure to come back tomorrow, Wednesday the 21st of December, where I'll be looking a couple of very special charity shop finds!



https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/



Monday, 19 December 2016

Car Boot Christmas Countdown 2016 - Day 5

It's Day 5 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown, which means that we're halfway to Christmas Eve already.  As promised, today we're going Totally Tijuana with a trio of budget label Yuletide parp-fests.

Let's start with this, bought at a car boot sale during the summer of 2015 for a pound.

The Border Brass & Singers - Tijuana Christmas (1968)

Released on Hallmark the same year as Herb Alpert's festive offering, Tijuana Christmas by The Border Brass & Singers is a fun collection of twelve familiar tunes in a pseudo-Mariachi style.  The title track that opens Side 1 is not especially Christmassy, but it's very jaunty, with clip-clop percussion, a neighing horse (obviously) and some breathy "pah-pah-pah" female vocals.  In fact the clean cut chorus of guys and girls provide a slew of pah-pah-pahs, da-da-das and even some bum-bum-bums to go with the fa-la-la-la-las; and with all the bells, chimes, maracas, and of course that twin trumpet sound, this record is a kitsch delight.  Deck The Halls features strident harpsichord, as does the rattling arrangement of We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Angels We Have Heard On High incorporates ringing barrelhouse piano, and the clip-clopping reappears for the one-horse open sleigh in Jingle Bells.

The album was released without the overlaid vocals as by just 'The Border Brass' in the US and 'La Nouvelle Génération' in Canada:


In addition, there are a couple of other versions the same as the UK release i.e. with vocals, but with variations of title, band name and cover art.  These are a US release called 'Tijuana Voices With Brass Sing Merry Christmas' and an Australian one named 'Jingle Bells Tijuana Style':




Bought last summer for 50p is another album called Tijuana Brass, this time by Louis Gomez Mexican Brass.

Louis Gomez Mexican Brass - Tijuana Christmas (1979)

It was released on Chevron Records, a UK budget label exclusively licensed to the Woolworth's chain.  There was no Loius Gomez of course; the arranger was one Pete Winslow, who also played trumpet, and he's accompanied here by session musicians on Hammond organ, marimba, twangy guitar and jazzy percussion.

Although the sleeve notes claim "Louis Gomez and his Mexican Brass play some of those songs that will always be associated with Christmas", there are quite a lot you wouldn't, including ones called Snowbird, Post Horn Rock, Londonderry Air a.k.a. 'Danny Boy', and There Is A Tavern In The Town which you'd most likely recognise as 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'.

Some are perky and some mellow, but they're all groovesome and the jazziest of the Tijuana cohort, especially their arrangement of the perennial Winter Wonderland.  If you see it hanging around in a charity shop try not to let the cover put you off buying it, as it's a really fun, swingin' record.


Not quite as swingin' is the album by the genre's originator, Christmas With Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, sent to me last December by dear pal and fellow car boot botherer Beany.

Christmas With Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1968)

This 1971 reissue of what was originally titled "Christmas Album" is on the Mayfair imprint, a budget series belonging to Herb's own label A&M.  It was distributed by Pye, and when held up to strong light the otherwise black-looking vinyl disc becomes red and translucent, like much of Pye's output in the 1970s.

Original US cover
The voice and string arrangements on this mixture of mostly secular standards are by Shorty Rogers, with brass arrangements by Alpert, and include Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride and Jingle Bells, along with Herb giving voice to The Bell That Couldn't Jingle and Christmas Song.  More unusual are Las Mañanitas (a traditional Mexican birthday song that translates as "The Little Mornings"), Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire, and the rather odd choice of My Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music.
It's a pleasant enough record but a little too... well... tasteful for my tastes; far more restrained and even muted in comparison to his usual Tijuana Brass albums, and often not even very Christmassy.  But it still reached no.1 on the US album chart every year between 1968 and 1970, so it clearly hit the spot for many.

I'll be back tomorrow (Tuesday the 20th of December) with more festive car bootery, but until then you can listen to me introducing and playing over an hour of all-vinyl Christmas tunes on Car Boot Christmas 2016.   It's totally family-friendly, and you can use the player below or click the link to go directly to Mixcloud.


https://www.mixcloud.com/CarBootVinylDiaries/car-boot-christmas-2016/