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Archive for December 8th, 2014

The Legacy Vault Opens For Christmas With Ray Price, Jerry Vale, John Davidson, More

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Ray Price Christmas AlbumWithout a doubt, 2014 has shaped up to be another joyous year for fans of Christmas music. Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings has been at the vanguard of delivering holiday music with a recent batch of titles from Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and others as part of its Classic Christmas Album Series. Sony has also licensed festive titles from Robert Goulet, Rosemary Clooney, The Brothers Four and Frank DeVol and the Rainbow Strings to Real Gone Music. Those titles have recently been joined by 20 digital-only releases from the Columbia and RCA libraries which can be found in The Legacy Vault, all of which are new to the digital format.

Since its inception in 2013, The Legacy Vault has allowed fans to suggest undigitized titles from the vast Sony Music Library for digital release. The Legacy Vault Christmas Series is open for business now, and has something for everyone to place under the digital Christmas tree.  Four titles were added to the Christmas series last year, with another 16 having recently arrived in time for this year’s merriment.

John Davidson - ChristmasFans of classic vocalists will appreciate the holiday titles from musical theatre star, actor and television personality John Davidson, talk show host Mike Douglas and the late, great Italian-American singer Jerry Vale. Also on the television front, the Vault has trips down Memory Lane via The Waltons Christmas Album and Bonanza star Lorne Greene’s Have a Happy Holiday. Other warmly nostalgic albums being issued digitally for the first time include easy listening favorites John Gary’s Christmas Album and The Melachrino Strings’ Christmas Joy, and one for fans of the Bronx Bombers: Yankee Stadium organist Eddie Layton’s 1964 The Organ at Christmas! NFL fans aren’t left out, either, thanks to the reissue of John Facenda’s The Nativity. Many football fans knew the broadcaster and NFL Films narrator, simply, as “The Voice of God,” but on this 1964 release, he celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jerry Vale - Christmas GreetingsA number of vintage country-and-western titles are also part of this release slate, from legends like Ray Price, Boots Randolph, Hank Snow, Jimmy Dean and even the satirically-minded Homer and Jethro, known as the “Thinking Man’s Hillbillies.” The Beers Family’s 1967 Appalachian folk-flavored Christmas album for a Columbia is a rare slice of Americana. Other releases available now include RCA’s 1972 A Golden Age Christmas with songs from the earliest part of the twentieth century (from artists like Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, and Richard Crooks), a treat from Polka King Frankie Yankovic, a holiday set from instrumental group The Three Suns (reportedly Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite group!) and a groovy winter wonderland courtesy of The Moog Machine’s Christmas Becomes Electric. More reverent is The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ gospel-R&B holiday fusion, Peace is Blowin’ in the Wind, from 1969.

Hit the jump for more information on these titles including a complete list! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 8, 2014 at 14:01

Cherry Red’s él Label Spends Christmas In Nashville with Anita Kerr and Chet Atkins

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Atkins and Kerr - ChristmasCherry Red Records’ él imprint is celebrating this Christmas in Nashville with the recent release of The Anita Kerr Singers and Chet Atkins at Christmas. This new two-for-one CD includes both Christmas with Chet Atkins (1961) and The Kerr Singers’ On This Holy Night (1959) plus a smattering of related bonus tracks.

It’s nearly impossible to sum up the career of Chet Atkins in a mere few words. The fourteen-time Grammy winner (1924-2001) was a mainstay of the RCA Victor label between 1947 and 1982 as a performer, producer and executive. Ranked the No. 12 Greatest Guitarist of All Time by Rolling Stone, he was also a key participant in the creation of the “Nashville Sound” which made country palatable to crossover audiences by applying pop touches such as string arrangements. Christmas with Chet Atkins arrived in 1961 from the prolific artist, featuring fourteen sublimely understated guitar renditions of holiday favorites and spirituals alike, from “Jingle Bell Rock” to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” His prior album, also released in 1961, was titled The Most Popular Guitar, and Atkins proved why as he applied both sparkling musicianship and a pop sheen to this selection of Christmas carols played on a variety of guitars. Atkins was joined by his frequent guests, The Anita Kerr Singers, who added both wordless harmonies and occasional lyrics to the set.

As a major component of The Nashville Sound, Anita Kerr led her Anita Kerr Singers on records by Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Brenda Lee, Eddy Arnold, Willie Nelson and Floyd Cramer. The group’s distinctive vocal harmonies were also heard behind Roy Orbison, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, and too many others in the pop and rock arenas to mention. Like The Sweet Inspirations or The Jordanaires, The Anita Kerr Singers also struck out on their own even as they continued to support other artists. In 2013, the él label reissued two of the group’s earliest LPs on one CD, The Genius in Harmony and Nashville…The Hit Sound (both from 1962).

On This Holy Night predates both of those releases. The LP was recorded with producer Owen Bradley in 1959 for the transcription library of performance rights organization SESAC, originally The Society for European Stage Authors and Composers. Most of the LP’s twelve tracks were traditional Christmas songs including “Deck the Halls,” “The Coventry Carol” and “The Cherry Tree Carol,” all with Kerr’s warm and intricate vocal arrangements. (An a cappella “Where Will the Baby Lay” is particularly beautiful.) Soprano Kerr was joined on the album by alto Dorothy Dillard, tenor Gil Wright and bass Louis Nunley, as well as musicians Hank Garland (guitar), Harold Bradley (guitar), Bob Moore (bass), Douglas Kirkham (drums), Marvin Hughes (piano), Robert Bays (French horn), and James Hall, James LeCroy and Gene Mullin (trombones).

What bonuses will you find here? Hit the jump for that and more, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 8, 2014 at 11:16