|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.