Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:49am
THE LAST GREAT CHRISTMAS ALBUM
I picked 1964 rather arbitrarily. For one it's 45 years ago, but it's also after what I think was the last great Christmas album - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (originally released as A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records and later as Phil Spector's Christmas Album in 1971). I'm excepting A Charlie Brown Christmas which didn't get a wide album release when the special aired and is a soundtrack anyway.
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector works for me while the Motown Christmas albums most certainly don't - it's got more soul for one thing and the arrangements are joyful while the Motown tunes seem too forced. I never got the feeling that Diana Ross and the Supremes or The Jackson Five had ever even heard those songs much less had an overwhelming desire to sing them.
But Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love tear into those holiday hits on A Christmas Gift like their lives depended on it. Come to think of it, maybe they did if Phil Spector was locked and loaded that night in the studio.
The LP didn't do so well on its original release date - the day Kennedy was assassinated - but A Christmas Gift was massively popular when it was re-released in 1971. Spector's Wall of Sound was perfect for the genre. 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' by Darlene Love has become a bona fide holiday classic but Love's 'White Christmas' and The Ronettes 'Frosty The Snowman' and 'Sleigh Ride' are equally as pleasing. There is no better soundtrack for a Christmas party.
Just listen to the orgasmic orchestration on 'Sleigh Ride' and try to sit still.
And the sublime sounds of Darlene Love singing 'Winter Wonderland' followed by the more from the album including 'Baby Please Come Home'.
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:30am
Highway Patrol, Whirlybirds, Ripcord, Robin Hood, and Sea Hunt come to mind as examples. Not that these shows were anything extra special, standard 1950's TV fare, but they were often the only thing on other than fishing shows and bowling.
In that spirit here's the Christmas episode of Highway Patrol starring Broderick Crawford. If you're wondering why Broderick Crawford was chosen to be a host for Saturday Night Live so early in the series' run it's because of the indelible mark he made on our generation because of endless reruns of Highway Patrol.
Now Sea Hunt, the third episode in the first season of the Lloyd Bridges classic.
Next up an episode of Ripcord starring Larry Pernell & Ken Curtis.
Finally, the theme song from Robin Hood as it was released as a single for kids.
Saturday, December 19, 2009 11:45am
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