What Are Your Top Five Christmas Albums From The Golden Age (1950's to the 1960's) ?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by RSteven, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Here is my top five albums from the Golden Age of Christmas (1950's to the 1960's and perhaps a little beyond if you so like. I will include an additional top five list as I found it too hard to pick just five from the greatest Christmas album period in the history of popular music. So make it a top five or top ten list as you please. No criteria police hear so wade in as you please. My list will not be in any particular order as I also find that too hard to do, but I will begin with one of my top two or three holiday albums of all time, John Klein's A Christmas Sound Spectacular, that I had a hand in getting remastered and released by Real Gone Music this year on CD for the very first time in its original Living Stereo version. It was my honor to write the liner notes for this historic twofer CD, which also includes John Klein's very splendid second holiday album, All Around The Christmas Tree. So here we go with the first top five from the Golden Age:

    1) John Klein's A Christmas Sound Spectacular (Living Stereo version) 1959
    2) Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas 1958
    3) Percy Faith Music Of Christmas (Stereo version) 1959
    4)
    Percy Faith Hallelujah 1958
    5)
    Nat King Cole The Christmas Song 1963

    Here is my additional top five, really making it a top ten countdown:

    6) Andy Williams The Andy Williams Christmas Album 1963
    7)
    John Gary The John Gary Christmas Album 1963
    8)
    Jack Jones The Jack Jones Christmas Album 1964
    9) Frank DeVol The Old Sweet Songs Of Christmas 1960
    10) The Hollyridge Strings Christmas Favorites (Arranged and Conducted by Stu Phillips) 1965

    I have over 300 Christmas albums in my collection, so I know I have left off a lot of great ones for sure from the Golden Age of Christmas music, but I am hoping that you great people will fill in the gaps with your great selections.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  2. If I Can Dream_23

    If I Can Dream_23 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I especially love the Christmas songs from that golden era. A Top 5 for me would look something like:

    1. A Winter Romance - Dean Martin
    2. Christmas In My Heart - Connie Francis
    3. a Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra - Frank Sinatra
    4. Merry Christmas - Bing Crosby
    5. The Beach Boys' Christmas Album - The Beach Boys
     
  3. If I Can Dream_23

    If I Can Dream_23 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I love your choices! Especially Percy Faith, Nat King Cole and Andy Williams. Those two artists are also among my annual favorites this time of year. :)
     
  4. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    A very fine list you have there my friend, as it just about broke my heart to leave off that great Dean Martin A Winter Romance and Bing Crosby's iconic Merry Christmas albums off my list. I adore the Dino album and Bing was a personal friend of my Aunts, so I could be in the dog house with her one day.
     
  5. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Thanks, Percy's masterpiece is heavenly sent with those amazing counter melodies and gorgeous strings and brass. Nat King Cole's iconic album is a must have as well. Nat's German version of O Tannenbaum and his stellar take on O Holy Night always sends chills down my sleeve. The title song of the album is pretty amazing as well.
     
  6. Scott 4

    Scott 4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    This is a tough one, but I'll go with...
    1. Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas
    2. Lou Rawls - Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!
    3. Tony Bennett - Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album
    4. Alexander Gibson (conductor) - A Golden Treasury of Christmas Music (this was a Columbia Record Club release)
    5. Dean Martin - The Dean Martin Christmas Album
    Now, if there had been a John Coltrane album including his takes on Greensleeves and My Favorite Things, that would be my fave.
     
  7. Reader

    Reader Senior Member

    Location:
    e.s.t. tenn.
    The original Elvis Christmas album is in my top 5, always. I do like Christmas music.
     
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  8. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Oh man, Elvis is my favorite artist of all time and I cannot believe I left that great album off my list as well. I think his album and Phil Spector's album are the two greatest rock 'roll' holiday albums of all time. I even really like Elvis's second holiday album a lot too, The Wonderful World Of Christmas.
     
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  9. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Okay, I left off a major favorite Christmas album that should have definitely been in my top five list. This is what happens when you start a new thread before you have had enough coffee in the morning.

    Mantovani's Christmas Carols from 1958 has to be in my top five somewhere. Monty, as his friends and fans called him, was known for his cascading strings and this great holiday album was fantastically engineered when it was recorded back in the day on the London Records label. A rather glaring omission from my top ten list! Real Gone Music did on stupendous release a couple of years ago on CD of this truly iconic Christmas album and I cannot recommend this version enough.
     
  10. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    In no order:

    Jack Jones - The Jack Jones Christmas Album (Kapp)
    Jo Stafford - Happy Holiday (Columbia)
    Jo Stafford - Ski Trails (Columbia)
    June Christy - This Time of Year (Capitol)
    Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas (Verve)
    Esquivel - Merry Christmas from the Space-Age Bachelor Pad (RCA; Reprise)
    Camarata - Winter (Buena Vista)
    Duke Ellington - The Nutcracker (Columbia)
    Shorty Rogers - The Swingin' Nutcracker (RCA)
    Kenny Burrell - Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas (Cadet)
    Jimmy Smith - Christmas Cookin' (Verve)
    Herb Alpert - Christmas Album (A&M)
    Swingle Singers - Christmastime (Philips)
    Singers Unlimited - Christmas (MPS)
    Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy)
    Jackie Gleason - Merry Christmas (Capitol)
    Ramsey Lewis - Sound of Christmas (Cadet)
    Ramsey Lewis - More Sounds of Christmas (Cadet)
    Steve & Eydie - That Holiday Feeling! (Columbia)
    Sy Mann - Switched-On Santa (Pickwick)
    The Moog Machine - Christmas Becomes Electric (Columbia)
    Dean Martin - A Winter Romance (Capitol)
    Anita Kerr Singers - Spend This Holiday with Me (Dot)

    Honorable mention:

    Capitol's Ultra-Lounge Christmas series
    A&M's Something Festive compilation

     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  11. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    A very great and eclectic list of holiday albums from the Golden Age of Christmas. I think that the June Christy This Time Of The Year album, with the very talented Pete Rugolo doing the great brass and string arrangements, might very well be the greatest Christmas album ever to feature all original material, especially written for this historic album. She had a stupendous voice as well. I wish someone like Real Gone Music would remaster and release on CD that Esquivel album as well as that is definitely a kick in the pants and deserves a new release. So many great choices here on your splendid list. The Ella album is a must have as well.
     
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  12. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    Thank you. I cheated and listed way more than five, but I could have gone on.
     
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  13. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Oh I am so glad you did that. I really wanted to do a top 20, but I was afraid not everybody could go as deep as you and I on this Golden Age of Christmas music, but I hope posters go as long as they would like as it really was such a fantastic period of one of a kind holiday music.
     
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  14. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    When we host Christmas parties at our place, we start out with the more traditional Jo Stafford/Jack Jones/Johnny Mathis kind of stuff.

    After everyone has a good buzz, I put on the Herb Alpert album - LOUD - to signal that the party is in full swing.

    The Moog albums come after that.
     
  15. frightwigwam

    frightwigwam Talented Amateur

    Location:
    Oregon
    VA - Jingle Bell Jam (1994 Rhino)
    VA - Jingle Bell Jazz (1962 CBS)
    Duke Ellington - The Nutcracker Suite
    Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song
    Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Bing Crosby - White Christmas
    Andy Williams - The Andy Williams Christmas Album
    Dean Martin - A Holiday Romance
    Dean Martin - Making Spirits Bright (1998 comp)
    Johnny Mathis - Merry Christmas
    Perry Como - Greatest Christmas Songs (1999 comp)
    The Kingston Trio - The Last Month of the Year
    Peggy Lee - Christmas Carousel
    Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra
    Burl Ives - Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
    Kenny Burrell - Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas
    Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
    Jimmy Smith - Christmas Cookin'
    Keely Smith - A Keely Christmas
    Joan Baez - Noel
    Willie Nelson - Pretty Paper (1979, but I'm counting it)

    I'm looking forward to hearing that John Klein CD, after Thanksgiving.
     
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  16. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    If you don't already have it, treat yourself to the Jo Stafford CD that contains all the tracks from both Ski Trails and Happy Holiday. I posted a clip above.
     
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  17. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    I would surely love to be at one of those parties as you obviously have superior taste in your Christmas music. I absolutely love Jo Stafford as her pitch perfect voice was made for this type of music. My oldest daughter will not let us open up Christmas presents until Johnny Mathis's Merry Christmas album is playing on the CD player.

    I am having a listening party for the John Klein CD release, since I did the liner notes and was somewhat instrumental in getting Real Gone Music to remaster and release it on CD in its original Living Stereo incarnation for the first time. Johnny Mathis, Jack Jones and Percy Faith will all be on standby, after we wear them out with the John Klein CD twofer.
     
  18. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    Am I the only person here who does not know who John Klein is?
     
  19. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Already in my collection thanks to Chip Arcuri's splendid Top 500 list over at the YuleLog.com. Reviewing his great list can really be damaging to your wallet, but you sure can find some fantastic music to discover. I guess thats the main reason I now have over 300 holiday albums in my collection. He is the man I blame and thank at the same time.
     
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  20. Pierino

    Pierino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canonsburg
    1. Andy Williams - The Andy Williams Christmas Album (1963)
    2. Johnny Mathis - Merry Christmas (1958)
    3. Perry Como - Sings Merry Christmas Music (1956)
    4. Mario Lanza - Lanza Sings Christmas Carols (1956)
    5. Don Janse & His Children's Chorus - The Little Drummer Boy (1962)
     
  21. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    Andy Williams, The Andy Williams Christmas Album
    Burl Ives, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas
    Mitch Miller & the Gang, Christmas Sing-a-Long with Mitch
    Bing Crosby, White Christmas
    Frank Sinatra, The Sinatra Christmas Album

    I have a lotta more Christmas music from that era, but the it's all on latter-day comps.

    Honorable mention: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Joy to the World. Though released in 1970, it's "traditional" enough for me.

    Also contemporaneous issues from Ray Conniff, Robert Shaw Chorale, Henry Mancini, etc, but the limit is five.

    See what I did there?
     
  22. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    Not to take the thread off-topic, and not exactly Christmas music, but during that time of the year, I love that mid-century production music featuring brisk tempos and pizzicato strings. "Holiday for Strings" by David Rose is the most famous example of this kind of thing. It is hard to find full albums like this, but over the years, I have made compilation CDs using individual tracks from various albums.

    Scamp's first volume of Music for TV Dinners had about 8 or 9 tracks in this mode. The score from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses this stuff too. There are also a lot of KPM library albums available from Amazon on mp3 featuring this kind of stuff.

    I do an elaborate HO train layout under the tree at the holidays. I go to a big train show every December, and it is a ritual for me to play this kind of stuff in the car on the trip there and back.

    This music has an upbeat, moderne sound, suggesting happy shoppers in the bustling metropolis. Here is an example:

     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
  23. The Lone Cadaver

    The Lone Cadaver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bronx
    Christmas Chimes and Organ by Felix Vance - far and away my favorite from those years.
    [​IMG]
     
  24. RSteven

    RSteven Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brookings, Oregon
    Oh I am sure that the overwhelming majority of people on this great forum have no idea who he is, but I have got to tell you that RCA Victor was pumped enough about this release in 1959 that they wrapped a banner around the stereo version with a written "money-back" guarantee that said that if you did not believe this was the most splendid sound on record, you could get all your money back. I wrote about this whole "money-back" guarantee in the liner notes.

    John Klein was an absolute musical genius of sorts and could build music instruments and wrote a book on how to play the Carillon. The one he played on this truly stupendous album was the largest one in the world and featured almost 1500 bells ringing in perfect tonal fashion. He also had a fantastic group of New York studio musicians and a full brass and string orchestra, with some Billy May inspired arrangements that featured changing tempos and jazzy big band like brass movements. There was nothing like the sound of this album then or since it came out in 1959.
     
  25. ShockControl

    ShockControl Bon Vivant and Raconteur!

    Location:
    Lotus Land
    This sounds like it's right up my alley!
     
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