The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Round-Up: Reissues Arrive from James Taylor, Jackie Gleason, Ferrante and Teicher

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‘Tis the season to be jolly – and so, ‘tis the season for more reissues of classic holiday music!  We’ve already filled you in on recent and upcoming releases from the likes of Percy Faith, Perry Como, Doris Day and Edie Adams, plus a classic Peanuts soundtrack and an entire series of holiday favorites from Legacy Recordings.  Today, we’re turning the spotlight on three more perennials that you just might wish to revisit this holiday season, from Jackie Gleason, Ferrante and Teicher, and James Taylor!

Friday Music’s Relayer label has just dipped into the EMI vaults for two reissues sure to excite fans of vintage instrumental Christmas music.  First up is a two-fer from The Great One himself, Jackie Gleason.  The entertainer’s first foray into a holiday variation on his popular “mood music” came in 1956 with Merry Christmas for the Capitol label.  He returned to holiday tunes more than a decade later with the 1967 release of ‘Tis the Season. The single disc, housed in a jewel case, includes reproductions of the original front and back cover art for both LPs, and brief notes from reissue producer Joe Reagoso on the tray card.  Reagoso has remastered from the original Capitol master tapes.

The same format has been followed for a two-fer from pianists Arthur Ferrante and Lou Teicher.  Ferrante and Teicher’s Snowbound (1962) and We Wish You a Merry Christmas (1966) were originally produced by Perry Como associate Nick Perito for United Artists Records.  Like the Gleason set, the Ferrante and Teicher albums are presented in reverse chronological order.  Relayer’s Reagoso has teamed with Scott Smith to remix and remaster Snowbound and We Wish You a Merry Christmas from the original UA master tapes.  Both the Gleason and Ferrante and Teicher albums represent the golden era of orchestral pop, and both are available in stores now.

After the jump: order links and track listings, plus the full story on the expanded edition of James Taylor’s lone holiday album!

James Taylor has long had a soft spot for the holidays; last year, he even took to the non-singing stage last year to appear as Bob Cratchit for the Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of A Christmas Carol! This year, Universal is gearing up to release a new edition of Taylor’s James Taylor at Christmas, with a release slated for October 30.  The troubadour released his first Christmas album in 2004 via Hallmark stores.  2004’s A Christmas Album offered eleven seasonal favorites, all rendered in Taylor’s graceful style.  Taylor welcomed guests such as Chris Botti, John Pizzarelli, Natalie Cole, Toots Thielemans, and Dave Grusin, and surveyed such standards as “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  A rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River” was available to purchasers of the album as a bonus download.  That original Hallmark album was reissued on Columbia Records in 2006, gaining a new title (James Taylor at Christmas) and new cover artwork, plus “River” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Alas, “Deck the Halls” was dropped from the line-up, though Barnes and Noble made it available as an exclusive bonus track.  (“Have Yourself” was first issued in 2001 as a promotional single for radio, and overdubbed with a saxophone solo for Taylor’s last album of original material to date, 2002’s October Road.  The original mix appeared on James Taylor at Christmas.)

For the 2012 version of the album, “Deck the Halls” is still inexplicably absent, but two more songs have been added to the 2006 sequence: George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” performed with Yo-Yo Ma from the violinist’s 2008 Songs of Joy and Peace, and a previously unreleased recording of “Mon Beau Sapin,” a French adaptation of “O Christmas Tree,” arranged by Taylor, Dave Grusin and Larry Goldings.  The new James Taylor at Christmas is in stores now from Universal.

Ferrante and Teicher, We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Snowbound (Relayer RLY-6536, 2012)

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing Medley
  2. Silent Night Medley
  3. Deck the Halls Medley
  4. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. O Tannenbaum Medley
  6. The Christmas Song
  7. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
  8. White Christmas
  9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  10. Silver Bells
  11. The Little Drummer Boy
  12. Snowbound
  13. Let It Snow
  14. Sleigh Ride
  15. Moonlight in Vermont
  16. Skaters Waltz
  17. Jingle Bells
  18. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  19. Winter Wonderland
  20. Brazilian Sleigh Bells
  21. Moonlight Serenade
  22. June in January
  23. Happy Sleigh Ride

Tracks 1-11 from We Wish You a Merry Christmas, United Artists UAS-6536, 1966
Tracks 12-23 from Snowbound, United Artists UAS-6233, 1962

Jackie Gleason, ‘Tis the Season/Merry Christmas (Relayer RLY-2791, 2012)

  1. Christmas Moon
  2. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
  3. Blue Christmas
  4. Snowbound for Christmas
  5. Late in December
  6. It’s Christmas Time All Over the World
  7. That’s What I Want for Christmas
  8. December
  9. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  10. Christmas Island
  11. You’re All I Want for Christmas
  12. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  13. Christmas in Paris
  14. Jingle Bells
  15. White Christmas
  16. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
  17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  18. The Christmas Song
  19. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  20. Snowfall
  21. By the Fireside
  22. Home
  23. Happy Holiday
  24. Winter Wonderland
  25. The Story of a Starry Night

Tracks 1-11 from ‘Tis the Season, Capitol ST/T2791, 1967
Tracks 12-25 from Merry Christmas, Capitol W758, 1956

James Taylor, James Taylor at Christmas (Universal Music, 2012)

  1. Winter Wonderland (feat. Chris Botti)
  2. Go Tell It on the Mountain
  3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  4. Jingle Bells
  5. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (feat. Natalie Cole)
  6. River
  7. Here Comes the Sun (feat. Yo-Yo Ma)
  8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  9. Some Children See Him
  10. Mon Beau Sapin
  11. The Christmas Song (feat. Toots Thielemans)
  12. Who Comes the Night
  13. In the Bleak Midwinter
  14. Auld Lang Syne

Tracks 1-5, 9 & 11-14 from A Christmas Album, Hallmark, 2004
Track 6 first available as a digital download from A Christmas Album, Hallmark, 2004
Track 7 from Yo-Yo Ma, Songs of Joy and Peace, Sony Classical, 2008
Track 8 first commercial release on James Taylor at Christmas, Columbia, 2006
Track 10 previously unreleased

Written by Joe Marchese

November 6, 2012 at 16:06

2 Responses

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  1. That ’56 Gleason Christmas LP is one to be heard to be believed. I’ve never heard “Jingle Bells” done as if it all the musicians were on Nembutal!!!! Unique to say the least.

    Paul M. Mock

    November 6, 2012 at 17:10

  2. I wonder how the F&T issue sounds compared to the issue from United Artists/EMI in 1992 (E2-80243) which says only that it was “mastered from the original 3- & 4- track master session tapes.” It’s got the “Snowbound” tracks first.


    November 7, 2012 at 23:03

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