|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.