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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

That’s Amore: “Arrivederci Italy” Features Jerry Vale, Dean Martin, Rita Pavone, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone

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Arrivederci ItalyIN MEMORIAM: JERRY VALE (1930-2014) : While readying the following article for publication, we learned of the passing of Jerry Vale on May 18, 2014 at the age of 83.  Jerry was one of the last great gentlemen of song, and a mainstay of the Columbia Records roster for many years.  He notched 18 singles on the Hot 10o between 1953 and 1967, and 27 on the Adult Contemporary chart through 1971, including the AC chart-topper “Have You Looked Into Your Heart” in 1964.  Though best-known for his Italian-themed songs like “Innamorata” and “Al di là,” Vale weathered the changing trends in popular music and embraced contemporary material on LPs including This Guy’s in Love with You, Where’s the Playground Susie, Let It Be and We’ve Only Just Begun.  He was also a frequent visitor to Yankee Stadium as performer of the national anthem.  Martin Scorsese featured Vale in his films Casino and Goodfellas, and his presence added verisimilitude to those acclaimed pictures.  Jerry Vale will be remembered for his smooth croon, his effortless charm and his elegance of an era gone by.  Ciao, Genaro.  Riposi in pace.

Coffee giant Starbucks is saying Arrivederci, Italy with a new compilation disc that aims to “capture the abundant flavor and expressive bravado of Italia and some of its greatest performers.”   The repertoire, however, goes beyond the music one might hear at the local Italian restaurant with soundtrack cuts and Italian-language pop classics alongside more familiar fare by American bel canto practitioners like Dean Martin and Jerry Vale.

Alongside music, one of Italy’s greatest contributions to international popular culture is film, and Arrivederci Italy includes themes from Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.  Morricone, the versatile 85-year old composer of more than 500 film and television scores in every genre imaginable, is perhaps best known stateside for his “spaghetti western” scores for Sergio Leone.  “Carillon (Watch Chimes – The Musical Pocket Watch)” has been included from the second film in Leone’s Man with No Name trilogy, 1965’s For a Few Dollars More.  The late Nino Rota, a favorite composer of Franco Zeffirelli, Francis Ford Coppola and Federico Fellini, is represented with cues from two of the legendary Fellini’s films.  “Amarcord” is the title theme from Fellini’s 1973 picture of the same name, and “La Bella Malinconica” (“The Beautiful Melancholy”) is derived from Rota’s score to 1960’s groundbreaking La Dolce Vita.  Sophia Loren, Italy’s most celebrated actress and sex symbol,  found time in between her film work to embark on a recording career.  Her 1957 chart-topper “Che m’è ’mparato a fa’,” less familiar to American listeners than her amusing duets with Peter Sellers, has been included here.

On the pop front, the compilation includes a neat bit of cross-cultural exchange with Italian singer Carla Boni’s 1956 rendition of “Mambo Italiano,” an Italian pastiche composed by American Bob Merrill (lyricist of Broadway’s Carnival and Funny Girl).  Teenage starlet Rita Pavone, subject of a recent reissue from Real Gone Music, topped the Italian charts for nine weeks in 1963 with “Cuore,” an Italian adaptation of Brill Building stalwarts Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Heart.”  Francesco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno’s “Volare” remains one of the most famous Italian popular songs.  The Italian entry to the 1958 Eurovision song contest, “Volare” hit big around the world, with Modugno’s own recording becoming a U.S. No. 1 in mid-1958 and winning the first ever Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  Subsequent versions arrived from Bobby Rydell, Dean Martin, Al Martino, Sergio Franchi and others, but Arrivederci selects a more recent, lesser-known version from English tenor and crossover star Russell Watson.

After the jump, we have plenty more on this new release, including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 20, 2014 at 11:37