Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this music junkie 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. Compact Discs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no files.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra - Dreamin' & Swingin' Christmas Wonderland (2001)

German import

Originally released in 1963 under the title Christmas Wonderland:

Kaempfert had a #1 hit in early 1961 with a tune titled Wonderland By Night, so from a marketing perspective, it made sense to release another album with the word "wonderland" in the title. This remastered CD edition was released in 2001 with 8 bonus tracks. From Kaempfert's website:
In the same year as the Christmas production, Bert Kaempfert arranged and composed some other songs so as to add to the festive mood of a musical journey during Christmas time and end with strong emotions and Bert’s version of Sentimental Journey. This is how the original album CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND has become the present album DREAMIN’ & SWINGIN’ CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND.
It's studio orchestra music in the same easy listening vein as Lawrence Welk and quickly takes one back a few decades. There's a couple of Kaempfert originals, including Jingo Jango (see personal memory below), but mostly old favorites such as Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride, White Christmas, etc. I've often written that I spend much of my time each December chasing Christmas nostalgia and memories of childhood holidays. This album is perfect for such mind wanderings and could only be improved upon by a roaring fire and a beverage of choice. That could be because the music reminds me a great deal of the soundtracks from the classic Rankin-Bass animated Christmas specials like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (1970). Pairs well with some Ray Conniff Christmas music from the same time period.

Press of the time:
  • Billboard: "Happy sounds abound"
  • CashBox: "Kaempfert has included a warm selection of happy yuletide items and dishes them up in his distinctive melodic style."

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

Tracks: Most tracks are in the 2 - 2½ minute range and very upbeat - originals like Jingo Jango and Toy Parade are pure joy. And while Children's Christmas Dream drags on a bit, there's nothing I want to skip when I'm in the mood for such music.

Bonus tracks: The eight bonus tracks are pleasant enough, but there's certainly nothing Christmasy about them, from the titles to the instumentation and arrangements. Not bad, but unecessary for your holiday enjoyment.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: In 1979, when I was in eighth grade, I played trumpet in the middle school band. For the Christmas concert that year, the band director, Mr. Curtis, had us perform Jingo Jango and that was my first exposure to the tune. I liked the thing but never heard it much after that performance. When Napster hit big around the turn of the century, I may or may not have downloaded a copy of the Kaempfert original - I admit to nothing. I purchased this disc solely to have a copy of that tune but it turns out I like all the holiday cuts here.

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