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 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 9

Welcome to Day 9 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown!  Today's seasonal LP is an absolute classic that's much loved by many; the wonderful It's Christmas In Motown:

It's Christmas In Motown (1973)

This Music For Pleasure compilation was a UK-only release and brings together previously released Motown material from five of their biggest artists "..all dedicated to the furtherance of festive harmony".  It opens with what is quite possibly the best ever version of Up On The Housetop, here given an excitable pop-soul re-imagining by the Jackson 5, with Tito wishing for a guitar that never goes out of key, and Marlon in need of some new shoes "with lots of sole".  Originally written in the 19th century, the best known version of this song is country star Gene Autrey's.  Michael and co's barnstorming version couldn't be more different, and along with the other two songs representing them here it's taken from their 1970 "Jackson 5 Christmas Album".

Motown were no slouches when it came to exploiting the Christmas market, and in 1967 Stevie Wonder released the album "Someday At Christmas".  Three songs from this appear on "It's Christmas In Motown", including the sentimental One Little Christmas Tree written by Motown staffers Ron Miller and Bryan Wells, and a  great cover of the classic Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You).

Rear cover

The pair of tunes offered up by the Temptations (Silent Night and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town from 1970's "The Temptations Christmas Card") are a little disappointing.  If you're looking for a seasonal Tempt's album to buy I'd highly recommend their 1980 album "Give Love At Christmas" for some top-quality Yuletide R&B - they even re-recorded a much better version of Silent Night for it.

Two of the best songs here come from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.  Christmas Lullaby, co-written by Miracle Warren "Pete" Moore and two Motown writers tries to send us off to sleep with dreams of presents, including "something that Mommy will like".  Oo-er!  The rather Stax-y Christmas Every Day comes from the pen of Smokey himself and is essentially a love song with a vaguely Christmassy connection which first appeared on 1963's "Christmas With The Miracles".

Both tracks by Diana Ross & The Supremes on "It's Christmas In Motown" are taken from their 1965 album imaginatively titled "Merry Christmas".  They supply us with a perky Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and lovely slowie My Christmas Tree written by Jimmy Webb (which in typical Motown recycling was also later recorded by the Tempts).  The latter song is my favourite, as Diana never sounded better.

I was really pleased to find this album earlier in the year at a boot sale, as not only did it cost just £1, it also replaced the rather scratched copy I already had.  Although its crackles conjured up a soothing log fire, it did have a couple of annoying skips!

There are loads of other Christmas offerings from Motown, many of the CD compilations duplicating tracks, so be wary and compare them before shelling out, but if you spot a vinyl copy of It's Christmas In Motown at a boot sale or chazza, be sure to grab it.

We're getting really close to Christmas day now, and the last installment of the countdown tomorrow (Weds 24th Dec) will feature two more festive boot sale LPs. Stream the Car Boot Christmas 2014 cloudcast below to get really Christmassy!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 8

On a sunny September morning this year I bought a stack of 50p albums from a car boot seller, including Selections From Irving Berlin's White Christmas:

Selections From Irving Berlin's White Christmas (1954,
this re-issue 1985)

White Christmas the movie was based on the 1942 film Holiday Inn, both starring Bing Crosby.  This album is not a true soundtrack however; because Crosby and co-star Rosemary Clooney were signed to different record labels at the time (Decca and Columbia respectively), Decca enlisted Peggy Lee to record Clooney's parts.  Columbia released its own not-quite-a-soundtrack-either the same year featuring just Clooney, called Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

Still with me?  In the film, Clooney's character has a sister; actress and dancer Vera-Ellen, whose singing parts were over-dubbed by Trudy Stevens, except for in the duet Sisters, where Clooney sang both parts.  On this album, however, as Clooney was unable to record, both parts are performed by Peggy Lee.  So in fact neither of the female stars of this well-loved Christmas movie appear on the album!

It doesn't matter a bit though.  From the opening salvo of The Old Man and Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army to the closing White Christmas, it's a lovely reminder of a great film (which I saw on TV this year as early as November 24th!) and a must for any festive record collection, even if the only properly Christmassy songs are the title track and the pretty awful Snow ("snow, snow, snow, snow..." - yes, we get it!).


Side 1.
1. Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye - The Old Man.
2. Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye - Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army.
3. Peggy Lee - Sisters.
4. Danny Kaye with The Skylarks - The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing.
5. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee, Trudy Stevens - Snow.
6. Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye - Blue Skies.
7. Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye - Mandy.

Side 2.
1. Danny Kaye with The Skylarks - Choreography.
2. Bing Crosby - Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.
3. Peggy Lee - Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me.
4. Peggy Lee - What Can You Do With A General.
5. Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee, Trudy Stevens - White Christmas.

Another seasonal find from the seemingly long-ago days of September, this time for £1, was Festival Of Carols:

Festival Of Carols: 20 Christmas Favourites from Guildford Cathedral,
St. Paul's Cathedral& Westminster Abbey (1980)

Here Music For Pleasure pack in a total of 20 carols, all previously released by MFP and recorded during the 1960s by The Guildford Cathedral Choir, The Sunbury Junior Singers of the Salvation Army, The Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral and The Choir of Westminster Abbey.

Christmas wouldn't be complete without some proper traditional carols, and the choirs and organists here all do a fantastic job of turning me into a dewy-eyed old fool.  Moving stuff indeed.


Side 1.
1. Once In Royal David's City.
2. While Shepherds Watched.
3. The Holly And The Ivy.
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
5. Unto Us Is Born A Son.
6. As With Gladness Men Of Old.
7. O'Little Town Of Bethlehem.
8. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
9. I Saw Three Ships.
10.Silent Night, Holy Night.

Side 2.
1. In Dulci Jubilo.
2. The First Noel.
3. In The Bleak Mid-Winter.
4. Good King Wenceslas.
5. The Rocking Carol.
6. The Coventry Carol.
7. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
8. Away In A Manger.
9. Ding Dong Merrily On High.
10.O'Come All Ye Faithful.

Come back again tomorrow (Tues 23rd Dec - getting close now!) for a real Christmas cracker of an album.  You can hear me playing my favourite selections from this year's Christmas vinyl haul on the Car Boot Christmas 2014 cloudcast using the player below, or by following the link to mixcloud.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it - it's sure to get you in a festive mood if you're not quite there yet!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 7

I'd been hoping to find a copy of Elvis' Christmas Album on vinyl this year and it didn't take long at all, for in August I found three copies on the same boot stall.  They were priced at 50p but the seller was kind enough to give me one of them for nothing:

Elvis' Christmas Album (1957, this revised re-issue 1970)

Since its initial release in 1957 the album has been subject to several changes to both tracklist and artwork.  The biggest of these came with this 1970 Camden version and the complete dropping of the four gospel songs on Side 2 (originally from his 1957 EP Peace In The Valley) and the addition of the single If Every Day Was Like Christmas and the not-at-all-Christmassy b-side Mama Liked The Roses from his '69 Memphis sessions.

So, apart from Silent Night and a beautifully solemn O Little Town Of Bethlehem, it's secular songs all the way, beginning of course with the definitive version of Blue Christmas.  (At this point I must confess a preference for the Shakin' Stevens version because it was the first one I heard, plus my treasured copy of his Greatest Hits was much played during my childhood.)

The rest is split between more R'n'B/rock'n'roll songs like the lip-curling Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane) and the Teddy Bear-ish Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me), and ballads such as If Every Day Was Like Christmas.  Top of the Christmas tree for me is the innuendo-ridden rocker Santa Claus Is Back In Town, which the king Elvis-es his way through wonderfully, with mentions of a black Cadillac, instructions to his baby to "hang up your pretty stockings" and a cheeky "Santa Claus is coming down your chimney tonight".  Excellent!

What really makes the album for me though, are the incredible backing vocals.  The Jordanaires and soprano Millie Kirkham are entirely responsible for injecting the Christmas spirit throughout, but particularly on slowies like I'll Be Home For Christmas, the two carols and of course Blue Christmas.

During next year's car boot season I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for an earlier version so I can get my mitts on those great gospel tunes, but for now I'll have to rely on Spotify: 

Pop back tomorrow (Monday 22nd Dec) for Day 8 of the Countdown, where you'll find two great Yuletide albums waiting for you under the tree.  Stream the Car Boot Christmas cloudcast below for 1½ hours of festive tunes gathered from the car boot sales and charity shops of Suffolk.  I really hope you enjoy listening!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 6

As promised after yesterday's turkeys, today I bring you a couple of Christmas treats to get your bells a-jingling once more.  For just 75p I found the delightful Walt Disney's Christmas Favourites:

Walt Disney's Christmas Favourites (1979)

This was originally released in 1958 but budget label Pickwick reissued it in 1979.  The album starts off with Jiminy Cricket and friends singing From All Of Us To All Of You, from the 1958 TV special of the same name, which is still extremely popular in Scandinavia where it's broadcast every year.  Ludwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir bring us a medley of carols, an ear-piercing rendition of Jingle Bells and an instrumental of Winter Wonderland, while the Camarata Chorus & Orchestra provide a mildly baffling trio of songs about trees.

The Halloween/Yuletide mashup of Jingle Bones by the Witches 3 & Friends is a lot of fun, but the jewel in the crown here is Jiminy Cricket once again with his heart-melting reading of T'was The Night Before Christmas, which is guaranteed to give you a festive glow without the aid of a large cherry brandy (but I'll have one anyway, thanks).


Side 1.
1. Jiminy Cricket & Mickey Mouse - From All Of Us To All Of You.
2. Ludwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir - Hark The Herald Angels Sing; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; O Come All Ye Faithful.
3. Jiminy Cricket - T'was The Night Before Christmas.
4. Camarata Chorus & Orchestra - Fantasyland - Storybook Tree.
5. Ludwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir - Winter Wonderland (Instrumental).

Side 2.
1. Ludwig Mousensky & The All Mouse Choir - Jingle Bells.
2. Camarata Chorus & Orchestra - Adventureland - Jungle Tree.
3. Witches 3 & Friends - Jingle Bones.
4. Jiminy Cricket - Kris Kringle.
5. Camarata Chorus & Orchestra - Tomorrowland - Futuristic Christmas Tree.

It's not unheard of for me to check the condition of a record at a boot sale whilst forgetting to actually check the label (not always a bad thing: ).  During the summer I paid 20p for this record sleeve:

expecting to enjoy some nice seasonal crooning from Nat and Dean, only to discover that the record nestled inside was actually this one:

Jim Reeves - 12 Songs Of Christmas (1970)

Originally released on RCA in 1963, here Gentleman Jim ably works his way through a dozen festive tunes in his mellow country mode.  With traditional carols, lighthearted dance tunes (Merry Christmas Polka, Senor Santa Claus) and sentimental tearjerkers (Silver Bells, An Old Christmas Card) this album is bound to bring on a flood of nostalgia for listeners, particularly for children of the 1970s, as the hundreds of copies I've seen in chazzas over the years suggest that this particular reissue of the record was present in many homes.


Side 1.
1. Jingle Bells.
2. Blue Christmas.
3. Senor Santa Claus.
4. An Old Christmas Card.
5. The Merry Christmas Polka.
6. White Christmas.

Side 2.
1. Silver Bells.
2. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S.
3. O Little Town Of Bethlehem.
4. Mary's Boy Child.
5. O Come All Ye Faithful.
6. Silent Night.

I'll be back tomorrow (Sun 21st Dec) with a real cracker of a Christmas album for you.  In the meantime, stream the Christmas cloudcast below or follow the link:

Friday, 19 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 5

Welcome to Part 5 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown.  Yesterday's post featured one of my festive favourites, so today as contrast I bring you a brace of indigestible Christmas turkeys. Let's start with the There's No-one Quite Like Grandma Hitmakers; I give you St. Winifred's School Choir and Christmas For Everyone:

St. Winifred's School Choir - Christmas For Everyone (1982)

Kindly (?) given to me by my big sister Clare who works in a Sue Ryder charity shop (where she paid £1 for it), this album is a collection of 14 carols and school assembly Christmas songs.  The choir of 8-11 year-olds had a Christmas number one in 1980, and they present this seasonal number two (or Yule log, if you will) under the supervision of trainer and director Miss Terri Foley who was a teacher at St. Winifred's Roman Catholic Primary School in Stockport.

Although the arrangements aren't terrible and the budget instrumentation can be forgiven, the album is largely a helium-fuelled saccharine nightmare thanks to lead soloist Dawn Ralph (not the kid on the cover), whose sickly vocals must only appeal to the most sentimental of grannies.  On solo-free songs things are more tolerable, and even quite amusing in the case of Calypso Carol (thankfully no Mike Reid-style dodgy accents) and the clippy-clop of primary school fave Little Donkey, so I was able to pick out a rather sweet example to include in the Christmas cloudcast.

No such luck with this next record, whose contents utterly fail to match its cheery cover. Luckily I didn't pay for this LP either - it was found lurking under the stairs among some of my bloke's old records during a recent clear-out (that's a whole other horror show).  He claims it belonged to his parents and I'm inclined to believe him:

Chas & Dave's Christmas Carol Album (1986)

Chas & Dave's Christmas Carol Album is a grave disappointment.  Whether it's your cup or tea or not, the boys' piano and banjo-led rockney is always good-humoured and made with a knees-up in mind.  Of course carols are another matter, but since the backing here is provided by the Cambridge Heath Band of the Salvation Army (and very good they are too), the lack of pace and jollity reveals the downright dreariness of their vocal style.

Either they were phoning it in, or their nasal voices just aren't right for straight-ahead carols, but when they couldn't even inject some joy into Wassail Song or Hark! The Herald Angels Sing I'm afraid that I skipped through Side 2 pretty quickly, only giving each dirge a cursory listen in a futile search for a song to include in the Car Boot Christmas Special.  It's back in the stair cupboard now.

Listen to the cloudcast here:

It's a Chas & Dave-free zone.

Come back tomorrow (Sat 20th Dec) for part 6 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown and a pair of seasonal delights.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 4

It's Day 4 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown and time for one of my very favourite seasonal records.  Bought at a summer boot sale for just 50p, I give you the magnificent Tijuana Christmas:

Torero Band - Tijuana Christmas (1968)

This beast of an album was first released on Music For Pleasure in 1968 and subsequently came out under different names and covers:

Christmas Carols Tijuana Style
(Arc Records)
The Toreador Brass - Tijuana Christmas
Torero Band - Tijuana Christmas

Twelve carols are given the full-on Mariachi treatment by a crack team of MFP's best session musicians in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Herb & co's brassy Christmas Album, eclipsing it in the process by swinging harder and grooving, well... more groovily.  It's a joyful, bouncy, often hilarious album whose cover exhorts you to "Dance to your favourite carols with the wonderful Sound of Brass", and by crikey, if this doesn't get you shimmying round your Christmas tree, or at least cracking a great big grin at the sheer silliness of Good King Wenceslas then you may want to check yourself for a pulse.

Here's a taste:

Torero Band - Good King Wencelas

If you'd like to own this prime slice of Christmas cheese, it's not currently available on CD or to download, but secondhand vinyl copies can always be found on ebay and discogs.

When picking out a couple of tracks for the cloudcast I dithered for ages as I love this album so much.  You'll have to listen below to hear which ones I plumped for in the end.


Side 1.
1. The Holly And The Ivy.
2. Silent Night.
3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
4. While Shepherds Watched.
5. O Little Town Of Bethlehem.
6. Good King Wenceslas.

Side 2.
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
2. Away In A Manger.
3. The First Nowell.
4. Christians Awake.
5. Once In Royal David's City.
6. O, Come All Ye Faithful.

Tomorrow (Friday 19th Dec) will be Day 5 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown and I've a couple of real turkeys for your consumption.  In the meantime hear me play my festive picks from this year's car boot and charity shop finds either using the player below or by following the link to mixcloud:

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 3

Christmas music lends itself very well to instrumentals, and a few of my seasonal car boot finds fall into this category.

Let's start with this thing of wonder from Wout Steenhuis and the Kontikis; Hawaiian Christmas:

Wout Steenhuis & The Kontikis - Hawaiian Christmas (1981)

Dutch multi-instrumentalist (but primarily guitarist) Wout released this album of Hawaiian-flavoured Christmas tunes (as well as versions of Greensleeves and Amazing Grace for good measure) in 1981, and as you can see from the sticker it was given away as a free promo with his Hawaiian Paradise LP.  I paid £2 for it at a boot sale this summer.

Although 'The Kontikis' are credited, I'm fairly sure that such a band never really existed and that Wout himself was responsible for playing every instrument.  Youtube comments suggest he was a "multi-tracking wizard", and he performed on stage alone with just his guitar and instrumental recordings made in his studio.

Top tracks here are It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and The Holly And The Ivy, but the album as a whole is a mellow festive delight; just the thing to go with a couple of large brandies and a mince pie.  Or maybe a Piña Colada.  Mele Kalikimaka, Wout!


Side 1.
1. The Holly And The Ivy.
2. Silent Night.
3. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
4. Away In A Manger.
5. Ding Dong Merrily On High.
6. Amazing Grace.

Side 2.
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
2. Noel Tahitien.
3. Jingle Bells.
4. Shepherds Carol.
5. We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
6. Greensleeves.

Another instrumental album, bought for 50p is Christmas With Love from Geoff Love and his Orchestra:

Geoff Love & His Orchestra - Christmas With Love (1972)

Yorkshireman, composer and arranger Geoff Love is best known for his popular arrangements of easy listening and film music released on budget label Music For Pleasure in the 60s and 70s.  Here he turns his attention to a dozen Christmas classics, and I have to say that this collection has gone straight into my Top Ten favourite Christmas albums of all time.  From the bouncy Sleigh Ride, through the dramatic God Rest... to the sweeping Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas it's a joy from start to finish and definitely worth rescuing from your local chazza should you spot it. 

Side 1.
1. White Christmas.
2. Sleigh Ride.
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
4. Ding Dong Merrily On High.
5. Mary's Boy Child.
6. The Christmas Song.

Side 2.
1. Jingle Bells.
2. Little Donkey.
3. Winter Wonderland.
4. Coventry Carol.
5. The Little Drummer Boy.
6. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Tune in tomorrow (Thurs 18th Dec) for Part 4 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown, featuring possibly the best instrumental Christmas album of all time!

Hear me play my favourite car-boot Christmas picks on the cloudcast using the widget below.  Alternatively follow the link to be taken to the mixcloud page.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown Day 2

Charity shops and boot fairs are awash with budget label releases, many of them from the 1970s, so naturally a great deal of my Christmas vinyl finds belong to this category. Despite the cheap nature of these records, gems can usually be found on most.

I found a copy of Christmas Country for 50p:

Various Artists - Christmas Country (1974)

Released on RCA's budget imprint Camden and distributed in the UK by Pickwick, this 12-track compilation came out in 1974, the year I was born.  The gems here come from Charley Pride (Santa & The Kids), Willie Nelson (Pretty Paper) and Chet Atkins' twangy I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.  Props too for pianist Floyd Cramer's excellent rendition of Jingle Bell Rock.


Side 1.
1. Jim Reeves - An Old Christmas Card.
2. Skeeter Davis - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.
3. Porter Wagoner - Frosty The Snowman.
4. Chet Atkins - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.
5. Willie Nelson - Pretty Paper.
6. Hank Snow - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Side 2.
1. Eddy Arnold - Silent Night.
2. Dottie West - You Are My Christmas Carol.
3. Charley Pride - Santa & The Kids.
4. Floyd Cramer - Jingle Bell Rock.
5. The Browns featuring Ed Brown - Blue Christmas.
6. George Hamilton IV - Natividad.

Another 1970's budget album, this time on Ronco, A Christmas Present cost £1:

Various Artists - A Christmas Present (1973)

In typical Ronco style (As Seen On TV!) a total of 22 tracks are squeezed onto this single LP.  These are a mixture of easy listening, classical and traditional Christmas songs, highlights including Percy Faith's Carol Of The Bells with his Orchestra & Chorus, another great version of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, this time from the inimitable Johnny Cash, and Aretha's cheeky Kissin' By The Mistletoe.

But perhaps the best thing about this record is the sleeve.  Not the rather drab cover photo, but the wonderful pop-up model of Santa's North Pole that hides inside the gatefold, still in fantastic condition 41 years later:

Although possibly not for much longer:

Dottie has escaped and is terrorising the village

Abandon workshop!


Side 1.
1. New York Philharmonic - The Twelve Days Of Christmas.
2. Anita Bryant - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
3. The Ray Coniff Singers - Greensleeves (What Child Is This).
4. Julie Andrews - Silent Night, Holy Night.
5. Peter Nero - Ave Maria.
6. Jim Nabors - O Little Town Of Bethlehem.
7. Mahalia Jackson - Joy To The World.
8. The Brothers Four - The Little Drummer Boy.
9. Robert Goulet - God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.
10.John Davidson - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
11.The Mormon Tabernacle Choir - The Hallelujah Chorus from Handell's Messiah.

Side 2.
1. Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme - Winter Wonderland.
2. Tony Bennett - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire).
3. Patti Page - Jingle Bells.
4. Percy Faith, His Orchestra & Chorus - Carol Of The Bells.
5. Mitch Miller & The Gang - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
6. Johnny Mathis - White Christmas.
7. Andre Kostelanetz with The St. Kilian Boychoir - We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
8. Doris Day - Toyland.
9. Johnny Cash - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.
10.Aretha Franklin - Kissin' By The Mistletoe.
11.The New Christie Minstrels - Sleigh Ride.

Ronco produced a similar album the following year called A Christmas Gift, a 20-track collection this time featuring a pop-up nativity scene:

In both cases Ronco made a special Christmas donation to the Save The Children Fund.

Be sure to pop back tomorrow (Weds 17th Dec) for a couple of Yuletide instrumental belters.

You can hear me playing my favourite picks from all my Christmas vinyl finds on the Car Boot Christmas Special 2014.  Listen to the show with the widget below or click the link to go to the cloudcast page.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Car Boot Christmas Countdown - Day 1

Welcome to the first installment of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown!  Over the next ten days (taking us up to Christmas Eve) I'll be posting about all the festive records I've been gathering together from car boot sales and chazzas during the year in readiness for the season, not to mention the Car Boot Christmas Special cloudcast.

First up then, costing £2, A Very Special Christmas:

Various Artists - A Very Special Christmas (1987)

This star studded album was released in October 1987 in aid of the Special Olympics and attracted a host of big-hitters from both sides of the pond including Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, U2 and Stevie Nicks.  Songs include both the traditional and more modern, from Alison Moyet's Coventry Carol, through Whitney Houston's Do You Hear What I Hear? to the magnificent Christmas In Hollis from Run DMC.

Producer Jimmy Iovine's desire to put out an album of Christmas music in memory of his father, and his wife Vicki's idea that proceeds support Special Olympics athletes worldwide resulted in not just this quadruple platinum record, but an entire series over the past 27 years.

The rest of the series to date

Like the performances, production and other costs, artist Keith Haring's striking cover image was provided free of charge, meaning that 100% of proceeds from the whole series have enabled athletes in hundreds of countries to take part in coaching programmes and competitions.  You can find out more about the albums and the charity here:

With such a great line-up on this record, when trying to pick out a couple of tracks for the Car Boot Christmas Special I was spoilt for choice and ended up using four!  I'll certainly be keeping a lookout for the other albums on my travels - I'd no idea that there was such a large series. As the second installment didn't come out until 1992, it's only Volume 1 that can be found on vinyl.  The rest are readily available on CD from the charity's website and online retailers.


Side 1.
1. The Pointer Sisters - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.
2. Eurythmics - Winter Wonderland.
3. Whitney Houston - Do You Hear What I Hear?
4. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Merry Christmas Baby.
5. The Pretenders - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
6. John Cougar Mellencamp - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
7. Sting - Gabriel's Message.

Side 2.
1. Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis.
2. U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).
3. Madonna - Santa Baby.
4. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band - The Little Drummer Boy.
5. Bryan Adams - Run Rudolph Run.
6. Bon Jovi - Back Door Santa.
7. Alison Moyet - Coventry Carol.
8. Stevie Nicks - Silent Night.

Make sure you come back tomorrow (Tues 16th Dec) for Part 2 of the Car Boot Christmas Countdown, featuring two more festive LPs for the cheapskate record collector.

Hear me playing selections from this album and loads more Christmas music on vinyl gleaned from the boot sales and charity shops of Suffolk in the Car Boot Christmas 2014 cloudcast:

See you tomorrow!