The MARK’S VINTAGE VINYL page features something from Mark’s collection of recordings from over the years. Most of it is on vinyl – hence the name – though there will be a few entries from his CDs (remember those?).
Before I get into these recordings, it would be a great Christmas present from you to me if you go to the website and comment on this post – telling me your favorite Christmas albums. I would love to hear from many of you – please click on ‘Leave a comment’ on the ‘Mark’s Vintage Vinyl’ page, under this post. And…Merry Christmas to all of you!
Merry Christmas, by Andy Williams
Narada The Christmas Collection, by Various Artists
- The Andy Williams album is his second Christmas album, released in 1965. It was certified Gold in 1968, and finally certified Platinum in 1989. He has recorded 5 studio Christmas albums among his 43 total studio albums, plus 2 Christmas compilations and a live Christmas album.
- All the songs on this album are contemporary – they were written in the 20th century, and most were written in the 40s and 50s. The oldest song is a wonderful version of The Bells of St. Mary’s, written in 1917. This song has no lyrics associated with Christmas, but it became a Christmas standard when it was included in a Christmas pageant scene in the 1945 film of the same name.
- No doubt my fondness for this album comes from growing up with it. Mom and Dad brought out the Christmas music after Thanksgiving, playing their vinyl albums on the old-school console stereo record player that was a piece of furniture. I love Williams’ vocals – he is one of my favorite crooners (see my March 31, 2017 post for more on Andy). All of the songs have renditions that go way beyond just another pop singer belting out tired Christmas music. Here’s my favorite – a relatively unknown Christmas song, titled Some Children See Him, written by Alfred Burt in 1951. This is lip-synced, as the song is identical to the version on the album, complete with strings and backing chorale singers. It really is beautiful!
- The Narada compilation album is a CD that I picked up sometime in the late 90s or early 00s, when I was discovering this record label. Narada is a label that specializes in New Age music – artists that have recorded for them include David Arkenstone, Tony Levin, Billy McLaughlin (see my January 21, 2018 post on Billy), Robert Miles, Kathy Mattea and many others. I went to the library, looking for some peaceful, reflective, elegant music, and by chance stumbled on Narada. I’ve picked up a dozen or so discs from the Narada label – several compilations as well as albums from their artists.
- The Christmas Collection was released in 1988. It’s obscure for sure – but it’s rated highly by those who have heard it. The online music database AllMusic gave it 4 stars (out of 5), highlighting “many subtle moments…and there isn’t a weak track in the bunch.” The reviews on Amazon are nothing but glowing. Of course, since I’m blogging about it, I also give it 5 stars!
- All songs are instrumentals. They combine both acoustic and electronic instrumentation, everything from cellos, pianos, acoustic guitars, lutes and ocarinas to synthesizers and computer-generated sounds. There are 11 tracks, with 12 different artists contributing.
- You can find this album on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and probably other streaming services. I suggest you listen, especially if the holiday season seems a bit too frantic for you. These songs will chill!
- Ever wonder what an ocarina sounds like? One of my favorite pieces on the album is by Nancy Rumbel – the song is Patapan/Noël Nouvelet. Give a listen to this, hear the ocarina – and welcome to New Age music!
- A final comment – there are many more great Christmas albums. I have to give an honorable mention to 3 more – Merry Christmas by Bing Crosby (the second highest selling Christmas album of all time, with 15 million copies sold), Sing We Now of Christmas/The Little Drummer Boy by The Harry Simeone Chorale (it contains the most famous version of The Little Drummer Boy, which Simeon was given a writing credit for, even though he did not actually compose the song), and the soundtrack album to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with all the songs from the TV show – I especially love Burl Ives as the singing snowman (Silver and Gold, A Holly Jolly Christmas, and of course, the title track).