Tres Christmas Vinyl!
By Kristin Battestella
I’m digging deeper into ye olde records of yuletide bliss for even more odd vinyl and holiday magic!
The Abbey Choir Little Drummer Boy – I thought this was some quirky obscure record, but amazingly the entire album is available for MP3 Download. The titular carol may be a little too choir shrill, but it’s always fun to sing along with tunes like the Twelve Days of Christmas and The Wassail Song. There’s also lovely old-fashioned church sounding reverence with Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. Lesser-heard holiday fair like Christians Awake, As with Gladness Men of Old, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, and Angels from the Realms of Glory are nice to have, too. Not all of it is pleasing to the contemporary ear and it is all quite short. However, for many, this is what their childhood Christmas did sound like and should ring as today.
Christmas with George Beverly Shea and George Beverly Shea Silent Night – I already commented on Bev’s Christmas Hymns and Hark the Herald Angels Sing records, but I picked up these two albums second hand and found more great, baritone reverence- sort of. These repeat tracks and varying listings were so confusing; I actually made a chart to figure it all out! In addition to adding six new religious tracks including Fairest Lord Jesus, Holy Holy Holy, Oh Men From the Fields, and Count Your Blessings; the 1972 Silent Night double album contains Go Tell It On the Mountain and all the songs from Christmas with George Beverly Shea. While most of these are the same tunes found on the Christmas Hymns LP, the Hark the Herald Angels Sing set is completely unique with no repeat tracks found here. Whew! It is a shame there’s so little information about these records, and I could see completists driving themselves crazy! Even so, it is nice to have at least one of these albums with Shea’s down and spiritual, and the odd download of some but not all of these tunes are available for folks to pick and choose their favorites. Families looking for an old-fashioned traditional sound can find either of these George Beverly Shea albums fairly easy enough, but I suppose beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to the vinyl.
Silent Night Christmas Carols and Holiday Strings – Now this album does seem to be obscure, but it is still one of my favorite holiday records. Yes, it is getting a little crispy and warped by now, but I love the festive instrumentals, from the rousing and upbeat O Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World to the heart tugging The First Noel, O Holy Night, and the less and less heard We Three Kings of Orient Are. Though perhaps too plain, religious, or generic for contemporary secular folks, there is however something timeless at work here. Sans vocals trying to adhere to an of the moment style, the music and meaning are allowed room to accentuate that family dinner or night of trimming the tree. The dates, the hours just become, well, insignificant against the revelry. Happy Sigh.
The Star Carol Tennessee Ernie Ford Sings His Christmas Favorites– Ernie gets right to the holiday boasts with Joy To the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing and keeps the Spirit of the Season heavy through the somber It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Silent Night finale. In between, rarities such as Some Children See Him, O Harken Ye, Sleep My Little Lord Jesus, and the eponymous track stand out along with a lovely and deep O Holy Night, Adeste Fideles, and We Three Kings. The voice and the spirit are entrenched here most definitely, and will create a lump in your throat if you pause to have a quiet, snowy late night listen. Yes, the old-fashioned 1958 down gospel male singing won’t work for a swanky secular party today. For reminiscing folks seeking a little country gospel in their Christmas, however, downloads and digital Ernie picking and choosing is available. Perhaps that is proof we do still indeed yearn for the “honestly sung, deep religious feeling” as the record sleeve suggests.
Sigh, so many records, so little time!