Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's A Spike Jones Christmas (1988)

Note: this release was originally purchased as an LP, later replaced by a CD.

Before we get to the music, let's look at this recording's lineage.  In 1956, this album was released on vinyl as Spike Jones Xmas Spectacular (click photos to enlarge).

There's a rumor that it was re-released in 1963 as 35 Reasons Why Christmas Can Be Fun (Verve MG V-8564) but I can neither confirm nor deny that record's existence.

In 1970, the album was reissued, this time the original monaural recordings had been "electronically recorded to simulate stereo" and the album had a new title: Let's Sing A Song Of Christmas.

In 1988, Rhino reissued the album in hand today.  Music exactly the same, but a new title, graphics, and liner notes.

And not one mention anywhere about the earlier releases. I expect more from Rhino.

Finally, in 1998, Verve reissued the album on CD with different cover art while reverting to the Let's Sing A Song Of Christmas title.  Liner notes by Richard Carpenter.  This is the version that's readily available as of this writing, but other than the stereo/mono mixes, there's no difference in any of the releases.

One of my all-time favorite Christmas albums is Christmas Portrait by The Carpenters.  In writing about that album, Richard Carpenter admits that "to a degree, our project was patterned after a favorite of ours: Spike Jones’s 1956 'Xmas Spectacular', in that it features more than the average album's number of songs, both sacred and secular, along with some top-notch choral singing." Good enough for me - that's why I bought the LP and now the CD.  And once you've heard both the Spike Jones and Carpenters albums, you'll immediately hear the similarities in song selection and arrangements, particularly in the numerous medleys.  If you're as big a fan of the Carpenters' disc as I am, you owe it to yourself to listen to this album at least once.

This isn't a typical Spike Jones album with all the musical comedy trappings.  Sure, there's the occasional kazoo, gulps, Pig Latin, random sound effects, and novelty song, but it's mainly an easy-listening choral album (think Ray Conniff with a sense of humor) and a good one at that. In other words, Spike plays it (mostly) straight for a change.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks:  21 tracks, 51 minutes.  My favorites are Silent Night, Sleigh Ride, Snow Medley, Deck The Halls Medley, White Christmas Medley (I see a pattern developing here), Frosty The Snowman, Hark Medley, Victor Young Medley, Here Comes Santa Claus, and What Are You doing New Year's Eve?. The novelty songs aren't great, but provide a little variety.  Most tracks are around 2 minutes in length, so everything moves pretty fast.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, but it sounds exactly like the kind of music my father would put on the reel-to-reel player when the family decorated the tree in the early '70s.

Me and my mother, 1970

1 comment:

  1. Big fan of that first Carpenters Christmas record and glad you turned me onto the Spike Jones joint a couple of years back. It is everything you said it would be.

    Great pic of you and your Mom, too.