Wednesday, December 10, 2014
By the end of the decade the Christmas album was almost obligatory for most successful artists. The main exception continued to be in the UK. Although the Beatles did have a limited release of a Christmas themed recordings this was for members of the Beatles Fan Club only, and not for general release. The Beatles Christmas release ran form 1963 -1969.
Christmas Blues Canned Heat
Canned Heat at the height of their fame recorded a special Christmas album.
Christmas Is For Children Glen Campbell
That Christmas Feeling was the 11th album from Glen Campbell and was released in 1968 by Capitol Records.
Christmas Shopping Buck Owens
Christmas Shopping was another Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, Christmas special released in 1968.
Merry Christmas, Baby Otis Redding
"Merry Christmas Baby" was written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore and first recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1947. It reached #3 on Billboard's R & B Juke Box chart. Otis Reading’s version of “Merry Christmas Baby” features on Atlantic’s The Original Soul Christmas which was released in 1968. Otis Redding does a slow, heart-weary "White Christmas" and is joined by other artists including Booker T and the MGs (Jingle Bells), Clarence Carter (Back Door Santa), and King Curtis with a fabulous version of “The Christmas Song.”
Blue Christmas Elvis Presley
The Comeback Special aired on December 3, 1968 on the NBC television network. Presley's career had declined steadily in the years leading up to 1968. Keen to recapture his status as the King of Rock’n Roll, he was filmed in what appeared as an informal jamming session in front of a small audience. Col Parker wanted the show to be little more than Presley singing Christmas carols and two versions of the special were initially aired by NBC. The first included Presley singing "Blue Christmas“and when the special was rebroadcast the following summer, this was replaced with a performance of "Tiger Man".
Po' Folks' Christmas Bill Anderson and The Po' Boys
A Chrsitmas sequel to his 1961 Top 10 hit, "Po' Folks."
"Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" James Brown
Taken from the Funky Christmas album James Brown tried to appeal to several constituencies on his many albums.
"Christmas Ain't Christmas (Without the One You Love)" O’Jays
The song was written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. In 1969 it scarcely got much airplay but became a hit in 1973 when the group enjoyed huge success.
Frosty the Snowman Jimmy Durante
This version of the old standard came from an animated Christmas family television special broadcast by CBS in 1969 and featuring the voice of Jimmy Durante as the film's narrator
"The Mistletoe and Me" Isaac Hayes
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
More and more artists were beginning to release Christmas albums to catch the bludgeoning market. From the Chipmunks to James Brown, the list is almost endless. Few singles made headlines in the charts, although some did fare better than others. Many went on to become firm favourites after they were re-released.
May You Always Harry Harrison
In the 60s Harry Harrison’s on air style made him was an institution in New York motoring radio and he released "May You Always" in 1965. "May You Always" was his Holiday greeting.
Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy Buck Owens
Buck Owens and the Buckaroos pioneered the Bakersfield sound (Honky Tonk) and at the height of their fame released “Santa Looked a lot like Daddy” in 1965. It sold moderately well.
The Children's Christmas Song Supremes
The Supremes brought out the album Merry Christmas in 1965 . Tracks included: "White Christmas", "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", "My Favorite Things", and "Joy to the World". "Children's Christmas Song" / "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me" was release as the single and enjoyed a short chart success.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Me Supremes
The Real Meaning Of Christmas Ray Conniff
The Ray Conniff Singers released four very successful Christmas albums , starting with Christmas with Conniff in 1959. “The real meaning of Christmas, “ was recorded in 1965 and came from the album, Here We Come A-Caroling.
Silver Bells The Ventures
The instrumental rock band The Ventures recorded The Ventures Christmas Album in 1965. It included many of the standard Christmas classics but performed in the style of a guitar group. "Silver Bells" was one of the first recorded uses of a vocoder as a musical effect, voiced by Red Rhodes. Rhodes was an innovator and later developed the fuzzbox.
Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer Earl Grant
Organist Earl Grant released his Winter Wonderland album in 1965 .
The Christmas Song James Brown
The Godfather of Soul released his Christmas album , James Brown sings Christmas Songs in 1966. Then, two years later he released A Soulful Christmas.
Snoopy's Christmas Royal Guardsmen
"Snoopy's Christmas" was the second hit after "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" for The Royal Guardsmen. It reached the number one position in the New Zealand singles charts in 1967.
The Little Drummer Boy Lou Rawls
The single came from Lou Rawls’ 1967 Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho! Album. "Little Drummer Boy" hit #2 on Billboard's Christmas chart .
"Someday at Christmas" was released by Stevie Wonder in 1967.
Stevie Wonder released Someday at Christmas in 1967 under Motown Records.
Monday, December 8, 2014
A Holly Jolly Christmas Burl Ives
American folk singer Burl Ives recorded “A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in 1964. "A Holly Jolly Christmas" was written by Johnny Marks who specialized in Christmas songs and wrote many standards including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, and "Run Rudolph Run."
"Amen" was written by Jester Hairston, for the Sidney Poitier film Lilies of the Field (1963). Curtis Mayfield decided to do a version of it and it became the first Impressions' hit that Mayfield did not write. The song went to number one on Cashbox Magazine's R&B chart for three weeks and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1964.
Blue Christmas Elvis Presley
"Blue Christmas" is a Christmas song written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and most famously performed by Elvis Presley. It was first recorded in 1948 by Doye O'Dell , later Ernest Tubb’s version topped Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart. Presley included the song on his 1957 LP Elvis' Christmas Album, then in 1964 released as a commercially-available single for the first time.
Christmas Celebration B.B. King
BB King released “Christmas Celebration” on Kent Records in 1963.
Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee sang rockabilly, pop and country music, and had 47 US chart hits during the 1960s. Nicknamed Little Miss Dynamite she recorded several Christmas songs in her career. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was by far her most popular but others followed including: “Christmas will just be another day”, “Jingle Bell Rock” and “This time of the year”.
Jingle Bell Rock Brenda Lee
This Time Of The Year Brenda Lee
The Man With All the Toys Beach Boys
"The Man with All the Toys" was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love and released on their 1964 album The Beach Boys' Christmas Album. As a single that year it had limited success, No. 3 on the U.S. Christmas charts , but built sales over successive Christmases and is listed by Billboard in the Top 100 selling Christmas songs in history.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Record companies were always keen to use Christmas time to promote their artists and by the early sixties supremacy on the singles chart over the Christmas period reinforced singers overall popularity. Whilst the early to mid 60s were predominantly dominated by the English Invasion not one Christmas themed song sold well enough to feature in the UK Top Ten Charts. In the 60s the bulk of Christmas related hits originated in the US.
Please Come Home For Christmas Charles Brown
The song was co-written by Brown and Gene Redd. It includes a number of characteristics of Christmas music, such as multiple references in the lyrics to the Christmas season and Christmas traditions, and the use of a Church bell type sound, created using a piano, at the start of the song.
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree Brenda Lee
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee (aged 13) in 1958. Decca released the single in both 1958 and again in 1959 but it did not sell well until Brenda Lee became a pop star in 1960.
"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow" Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald released the album Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas in 1960. It was on the Verve label and had been recorded the previous summer with a studio orchestra arranged and conducted by Frank DeVol.
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Melodeers
Johnny Marks, adapted the story of Rudolph into a song and Gene Autry took it to No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart the week of Christmas 1949. The song has been covered by many other artists including the Melodeers.
The Christmas Song Nat "King" Cole
"The Christmas Song" ("Merry Christmas to You") was written in 1944 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé. The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. Cole insisted on a second recording to include a small string section, which is the version that became the original massive hit. In 1961another stereophonic version was made with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael and this become the definitive version of the song.
Twistin' Bells Santo & Johnny
The rock and roll dup, Santo & Johnny had a minor hit in 1961 with Twistin' Bells
Baby's First Christmas Connie Francis
Connie Francis was a chart- topping female vocalist of the late 1950s and early 1960s. She enjoyed Top 30 chart success with Baby’s First Christmas in 1961.
Monster's Holiday Bobby "Boris" Pickett
Bobby "Boris" Pickett was better known for Monster Mash but had a minor Christmas hit with Monster’s Holiday in 1962.
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4 Seasons
"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and became an instant hit after it was heard on the Eddie Cantor's radio show in1934. It was recorded by many artists over the decades including Alvan and the Chipmonks. The Four Season’s version appeared on their Christmas album in 1962 and charted with the unique rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
Santa Claus Is Watching You Ray Stevens
Ray Stevens released "Santa Claus Is Watching You," on Mercury Records with backing vocals by the Merry Melody Singers. The song became a Top 50 hit in 1962.
Christmas Song Andy Williams
The Andy Williams Christmas Album was an instant hit when released in 1963 and became a number-one smash on the Billboard charts. "White Christmas" was taken as the promotional single at the time and was released with “Christmas Song” on the B side. It went to the top of the singles charts but it was "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year “ that would be forever associated with Andy Williams.
Do You Hear What I Hear? Bing Crosby
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. It was a plea for Peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The song was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale, and sold more than a quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season. Then a year later Bing Crosby’s version became a massive hit.
Gee Whiz, It's Christmas Carla Thomas
In 1963, Carla Thomas (daughter of Rufus ) recorded “Gee Whiz , It’s Christmas.”
Frosty the Snowman The Ronettes
“Frosty the Snowman” was produced by Phil Spector and recorded by The Ronettes. It appeared on the A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and was released in 1963. Spector ‘s Wall of Sound” was given to a number of Christmas standards featuring his stable of recording artists. Initially the album sld less well than anticipated but despite this has become one of the most iconic Christmas compilations of all time.
Little Saint Nick Beach Boys
"Little Saint Nick" was released as a single in 1963, and peaked at number 3 on Billboard magazine's special seasonal weekly Christmas Singles chart. The single also reached number 69 on the regular weekly sales chart surveyed by Cashbox magazine. It reappeared on The Beach Boys' Christmas Album in 1964.
Pretty Paper Roy Orbison
Pretty paper” was written by Willie Nelson and recorded by Roy Orbison in 1963. It became his only Christmas themed hit record.
The Twelve Gifts of Christmas Allan Sherman (Spoof on "The Twelve Days Of Christmas.")
Allan Sherman was an American comedy writer and television producer who became famous as a song parodist.
You're All I Want for Christmas Brook Benton
Brook Benton recorded “You're All I Want for Christmas” in 1963.
All I want for Christmas is a Beatle Dora Bryan
One of the only Christmas records to emanate from the UK in the 60s was Dora Bryan’s “All I want for Christmas is a Beatle.” It was written and recorded in a day and sold to capture the rising popularity of the Beatles. Apparently although the song had moderate success the Beatles did like it.
Arguably the 70s produced the best original Christmas pop songs of the 20th century. By now the marketing playing was down to a fine art and most popular artist had a Christmas record ready to release just before the Festive Season. Competition was fierce for the top sellers and every manner of gimmick to improve sales was employed.
Merry Christmas Darling was recorded by The Carpenters and became the first 7" single from A&M Records. It became the number one on Billboard's Christmas singles chart in 1970. This was also repeated in 1971 and 1973 with subsequent releases. Karen Carpenter’s vocals on the single are considered by many to be her best.
José Feliciano wrote and sang "Feliz Navidad" in 1970. The song topped the American charts for 10 weeks and was a hit across the world. The traditional Christmas/New Year Spanish greeting, "Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad" (Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness) has become a classic Christmas pop song and has been covered by many other artists over the years.
Happy Xmas war is over
Happy Xmas war is over by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was released as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir. "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" produced by Phil Spector was a vocal protest against America's involvement in the Vietnam War and became a Christmas standard. It was issued in 7" single format on transparent green vinyl with a card-stock picture sleeve and variant label. The song was released in the US in 1971, and in 1972 in the UK , initial sales were lower than anticipated in part because the single was released later for the Christmas market and received little promotion in 1971. By 1972 it became a massive hit, spending eight weeks on the UK Singles Chart. Between December 1972 and February 1973, the song entered the top ten in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Singapore.
Little Drummer Boy
"The Little Drummer Boy" (Carol of the Drum") was written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, recorded an instrumental version featuring a bagpipe s and drums and it became a Christmas hit in the UK in 1972.
Merry Christmas Everybody
Slade’s "Merry Xmas Everybody" was an enormous hit in 1973, it became the band's sixth number-one single in the UK and stayed in the UK Singles Chart well into February 1974. "Merry Xmas Everybody" was Slade's best-selling single, released at the peak of their popularity, and sold over a million copies upon its first release. In a 2007 poll, "Merry Xmas Everybody" was voted the UK's most popular Christmas song. The song was recorded in the late summer of 1973 at the Record Plant in New York and was produced by Chas Chandler (The Animals).
I wish it could be Christmas everyday
Wizzard released "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" in December 1973 and it reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.
Gaudete is a sacred Christmas carol thought to have been composed in the 16th century. Steeleye Span released their cappella version in 1973. This single is one of only three top 50 British hits to be sung in Latin (the others were both recordings of "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem)
Step into Christmas
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, "Step into Christmas" was released November 1973 with the song "Ho, Ho, Ho (Who'd Be a Turkey at Christmas)" as the B-side. Despite it lowly chart success in both the UK and US at the time, the song went on to become an evergreen. "Step into Christmas" was mixed to sound like one of producer Phil Spector's 1960s recordings and was intended to sound like the Christmas songs by Spector-produced groups such as The Ronettes.
Lonely this Christmas
Mud topped the UK Singles Chart in 1974 with "Lonely This Christmas." The song was performed in the style of Elvis Presley's slower songs, was written and produced by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.
Gilbert O'Sullivan had a Top Twenty hit with Christmas Song in 1974. The Irish singer-songwriter enjoyed a series of hits.
Wombling Merry Christmas
The Wombles were a group of musicians dressed as the characters from children's TV show The Wombles and based on the children's book series by Elisabeth Beresford. Songwriter and record producer, Mike Batt, wrote the series' theme tune, and went on to perform and produce a number of successful albums and singles as 'The Wombles'.
Father Christmas do not touch me
The Goodies (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie) was a successful television series and had a string of successful chart singles penned by Bill Oddie . Father Christmas do not touch me was the first of two Christmas hits for the Goodies. In 1975, they enjoyed chart success with Make a Daft Noise for Christmas.
Hey Mr Christmas
Showaddywaddy specialized in revivals of hit songs from the 1950s and early 1960s and dress as Teddy Boys. They had a minor Christmas hit with Hey Mr Christmas.
Ding Dong Ding Dong
Georg Harrison’s "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" was written as a New Year's Eve singalong and released in December 1974. It was only a minor hit in Britain and the United States but became a top-twenty hit elsewhere in the world.
Christmas Dream was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice with German lyrics by Andre Heller for the 1974 Columbia film The Odessa File. Perry Como sang the song with the London Boy Singers .
I believe in Father Christmas
Greg Lake’s "I Believe In Father Christmas" was written in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas and was released in1974.
A Spaceman came travelling
"A Spaceman Came Travelling" was written and sung by Chris de Burgh. The song was not an initial success and failed to chart but later became a classic Christmas record. The song is a narrative of a UFO religion tale. It is a retelling of how the angel Gabriel came to give a message to the shepherds, but with a spaceship and a spaceman instead.
Its gonna be a cold cold Christmas
Dana had a Christmas hit with "It's Gonna be a Cold Cold Christmas" released four weeks prior to Christmas in 1975.
Christmas for Cowboys
John Denver was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. "Christmas for Cowboys" as single from his first Christmas Album.
Chris Hill was a British disc jockey and released novelty records. "Renta Santa" became a hit single in the UK during the Christmas season of 1975. The record peaked at #10 on the UK Singles Chart in December of that year. The following year, he released "Bionic Santa" cut in a similar style.
When a child is born (Soleado)
The lyrics of "When a Child is Born" were written by Fred Jay and set to the original melody "Soleado" by Ciro Dammicco (alias Zacar). The most successful version of the song is by Johnny Mathis.
Christmas must be tonight
Written by Robbie Robertson the song first appeared on the Band’s Northern Lights – Southern Cross album.
Father Christmas The Kinks
"Father Christmas" by The Kinks tells the tale of a department store Father Christmas who is beaten up by a gang of poor kids who tell him to give them money instead of toys. It is in the mode of Punk music which was popular at the time.
Little Drummer Boy
K.K. Davis' "The Little Drummer Boy" was first recorded in 1955 as "Carol of the Drum". The lyrics relate how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the nativity where, without a gift for the infant Jesus, he played his drum with the Virgin Mary's approval, remembering "I played my best for Him" and "He smiled at me." "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. The "Peace on Earth" tune and lyrics, written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan Kohan, were added to the song specially for Bowie and Crosby's recording. The track was recorded on September 11, 1977 for Crosby's television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. In the United States, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" became a staple on radio stations during the Christmas season.
Christmas in Smurfland
"Christmas In Smurfland" is a single featuring Father Abraham and the Smurfs. It is one of the few Smurf-related musical works released that was centered around Christmas.
Mary’s boy child
The calypso inspired "Mary's Boy Child" was written by Jester Hairston in 1956. The song was a hit for Harry Belafonte in 1957 and sold over one million copies in the UK alone. In 1978 the German disco-group Boney M took their version to the top of the charts.
Please come home for Christmas
"Please Come Home for Christmas" was originally a hit for Charles Brown in 1961. In 1978, the Eagles covered and released the song as a holiday single. Their version peaked at #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, the first Christmas song to reach the Top 20 on that chart since Roy Orbison's "Pretty Paper" in 1963.
Wonderful Christmas time
"Wonderful Christmastime" was a Christmas hit for Sir Paul McCartney in 1979. McCartney recorded the song entirely on his own during the sessions for his solo project McCartney II.
Rapper and record producer Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to be signed by a major label, Mercury and released "Christmas Rappin'".
It won’t seem like Christmas (without you)
The album The Wonderful World Of Christmas was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1971. The single was release posthumously after his death in 1977.