Title: The Sounds Of Christmas: Rare Holiday Gems
Title: Snowbound For Christmas
Title: Home For The Holidays: Merry Christmas
Title: Winter Wonderland: A Christmas Celebration
“What…already? But Summer’s only just… Christmas is months away… I’ve still got a bit of tan left for goodness sake!”
Well, you know how these things go and, actually, there’s only two months till Christmas Day so now is a good time to plan your Christmas vibes.
And what a classic collection we have here, spread over four, 2CD volumes.
The Sounds Of Christmas takes you back to the 40s and 50s but its twin discs focus, primarily, on two groups. Out of the 67 tracks, 37 are sung by The Four Aces and The Three Suns. The former were one of the most successful pre-rock vocal groups who then faded away by the end of the 50s while the latter hit the heights during the latter stages of WW2 and then suffered damaging personnel changes during the mid-50s. As such, you get traditional songs such as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, more modern carols such as Jingle Bells and also more obscure titles such as Carol of the Bells.
Both of the groups are joined by other multimedia stars of the time including film stars, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans plus Merv Griffin.
Snowbound For Christmas again focuses on a small amount of artists but the net is cast rather wider featuring 10 or so acts with multiple songs to their credit with individual fillers to compete the 58 tracks. Rip roaring acts such as the classic Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters combo pitch in with Twelve Days of Christmas and more while Les Paul & Mary Ford add several selections including Rudolph , The Red Nosed Reindeer. The cultured tones of Dinah Shore adds a classic Hollywood delivery with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas while slightly more obscure acts include The DeCastro Sisters, Anita Kerr Singers and Red Foley.
Home For The Holidays includes distinctive names such as Ethel Smith who was generally known as the ‘First Lady Of The Hammond Organ’, she pitches in with more traditional fare. Her nine tracks include O Holy Night, for example. The folk stylings of The Weavers are represented by 10 tracks. Fronted by Pete Seeger, you might have to dig a little to find the group’s famed streak of leftists politics in tracks such as Poor Little Jesus and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The aptly named Hugo Winterhalter was an easy listening arranger and composer in the Ray Conniff mould. His Blue Christmas and White Christmas drift by your ears without much effort.
Winter Wonderland is arguably the best balanced collection here offering classic vocal stars such as Dick Haymes and The Andrews Sisters spread over disc two. The latter also introduces you to band leader, the ever popular Guy Lombardo while, on disc one, the majority of the songs are handled by band man, Fred Waring and his vocal outfit, His Pennsylvanians who present a festive musical programme covering everything from The Star Carol and O Hearken Ye to Echo Carol and March Of The Toys.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for Tescos, there’s something for everyone with this suite of Christmas collections. While positioned in the nostalgic past (always perfect for Christmas), there is enough variety here to enable you to cherry pick song styles to fit any mood.