Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 10

It's Christmas Eve and the final day of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown, and today I bring you two very different seasonal albums.  The first is quite possibly the greatest ever recorded - Phil Spector's Christmas Album:

Phil Spector's Christmas Album (1963, this version 1983)

I've cheated a little here in that it wasn't a find from this year, but I see it all the time at boot sales and chazzas and couldn't bear to leave it out of the first ever Countdown. Originally released in 1963 as A Christmas Gift For You from Philles Records, the album has had several other different covers and titles:

Original cover and title is top right.

Featuring four acts from the Spector stable (Darlene Love, The Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans and The Crystals), Phil applies his Wall Of Sound to a baker's dozen of Christmas tunes, resulting in two sides of glorious R&B-infused festive girl group pop of the highest order.  Overlooked at the time due to being released on the same day JFK was assassinated, it's now an undeniable classic that sits at no.142 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time, and several tracks are Christmas radio staples.

It's an almost impossible task to pick out a favourite, but if pressed I'd have to choose the only original composition on the album; Darlene Love's magnificent (Christmas) Baby Please Come Home, which was in fact intended for Ronnie Spector, who apparently couldn't inject the amount of emotion required by her future hubby so it was passed to Darlene (I bet that went down well).  Even Bono couldn't ruin this song; U2's very good cover version is one of my favourites from the charity album A Very Special Christmas (1987), on which if you've listened to the cloudcast you'll know that Darlene herself sang backing vocals.

The final track Silent Night is Phil himself speaking over the music (and a little ooh-ing and ahh-ing from his artists), wishing us all a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, and never sounding more like Kaa from The Jungle Book.


1. Darlene Love - White Christmas.
2. The Ronettes - Frosty The Snowman.
3. Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.
4. The Crystals - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.
5. The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride.
6. Darlene Love - (It's A) Marshmallow World.

Side 2.
1. The Ronettes - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
2. The Crystals - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.
3. Darlene Love - Winter Wonderland.
4. The Crystals -Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers.
5. Darlene Love - (Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.
6. Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans - Here Comes Santa Claus.
7. Phil Spector and Artists - Silent Night.

A quite different record cost me 50p; a budget label 70s release called Christmas Party Sing-Along:

The Music Makers - Christmas Party Sing-Along:
20 All Time Favourites (1973)

This collection of carols and Christmas songs in an easy listening style was released on the Hallmark subsidiary of Pickwick Records and is by a group called The Musicmakers, most likely a bunch of session singers and musicians, since their name only appears in very small lettering on the rear sleeve.  It's pretty straightforward, fairly unexciting stuff, although they roped in quite a nifty drummer for Jingle Bells.

The sleevenotes urge us to "get together Mum and Dad, Grandma, Grandad, the kids and neighbours and sing your hearts out to such all-time Christmas favourites as "White Christmas", "Rudolf" (you know who!), "Silent Night" and "Good King Wenceslas".

On listening, I imagine the singers as a clean-cut set of guy 'n' gals crowded round a couple of mics, wearing bright jumpers and scarves, Santa hats and cheesy grins, cheerily belting out these rather bland, generic covers before rushing off to Studio B to add their parts to the next Top Of The Pops album.

The songs are edited very close together, but there are no lovely segues between them, so each one begins and ends very abruptly, which is rather jarring.  Alright for a bit of background music then, or perhaps a singalong as intended, but not something you'd want to listen to that much.

Since its initial vinyl release in 1973, the album has come out on CD and download in various guises, this time crediting the group as The Mistletoe Singers:

From some of the online reviews it seems that these reissues are in fact poor quality vinyl rips, complete with crackle, pops and skip - not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion!

Anyway, you can judge for yourselves here:

Sadly, none of the tracks from this album made it on to the Car Boot Christmas 2014 Cloudcast, but it does feature one from the Phil Spector record.  Stream it here, or click the link to go to Mixcloud:

Well, that's the last of the Christmas posts.  If I get time over the holidays there'll be something special appearing on the blog for that weird period between Christmas and New Year, as long as I can manage a couple of hours of relative sobriety.  Thanks for joining me - whatever you're up to, have a very peaceful and happy Christmas!

Mini xxx 

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