A Common Metaphor

Posted in Music on May 15th, 2015 by Noggle

Boy, musicians really like the learning to fly metaphor for self-actualization, don’t they?
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Good Book Album Hunting: Friends of The Springfield-Greene County Library Book Sale, April 22, 2015

Posted in Books, Music on April 22nd, 2015 by Noggle

Today, I visited the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library Spring Book Sale for the first time. Over the last couple of years, I’ve adopted a staged approach to the book sale. First, I go for the albums, and then I go back and look over the books, preferably on half price or bag day.

So today I bought 31 record albums (at $1 each). I also got a couple books as I passed by the History and Poetry tables in the Value Books section.

Here they are:

I got:

  • Four albums by the Four Freshmen. I already had The Swingers and have hoped for the opportunity to expand the collection. This time out, I got Four Freshmen and Five Guitars, Freshman Favorites, In A Class By Themselves, and Fresh! which is from 1986 and is probably a new set of singers.
  • Linda Ronstadt’s What’s New which looks to be a collection of standards.
  • Pete Fountain’s Mood Indigo. I got a couple of Pete Fountain’s albums in the autumn, and I liked them well enough to look for more.
  • Mary McPartland Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn
  • Ray Parker, Jr., The Other Woman
  • Yello, One Second featuring “Oh Yeah” (which also appears in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. When my children were littler, I played this song for them a lot on YouTube. It will seem strangely familiar to them now when I play it on record.
  • Doc Severinson and the Sound of the 70s, Feel Good
  • An album of Gregorian Chant
  • The soundtrack to the film Xanadu to replace a copy I bought last autumn which skips.
  • Two other Olivia Newton-John albums, Don’t Stop Believin’ and something else because my beautiful wife has a lots of her albums. When I showed her the new ones and asked if she had them, she said no. Also, she doesn’t really like Olivia Newton-John.
  • Diana Schuur, Schuur Thing
  • Tito Rodriguez, Este Es Mi Mundo (This Is My World).
  • Jackie Gleason, How Sweet It Is For Lovers
  • A collection of television theme songs not by the original artists.
  • A bunch of classical stuff because it looks as though the college radio station was dumping a lot of classical records. It’s hard for me to pick amongst classical things, as I’m not sure what of the great composers we have or lack (aside from knowing we have a lot of Beethoven but no Fidelio).

This year, the Rat Pack and Herb Alpert were poorly represented; only The Dean Martin Show and a copy of What Now My Love were present. A lot of Olivia Newton-John, though, and a lot of Barbra Streisand.

I also got a couple of packs of poetry chapbooks (bundled together for a buck each), A History of Rome to 565 AD, and a collection of musings called Ginger Snaps.

So my bookshelves are not bulging much more from the purchase, but my record storage is now sadly lacking. I’ll have to invest in a nice record cabinet sometime to store them properly.

And I’ve discovered that I get a more acute sense of anticipation buying record albums than books. When I bring the records home and put them by the record player, I find myself inventing reasons to be in the parlor just so I can listen to another of the new platters. When I bring the books home, I’m often interested in reading them, but I no longer really get a I can’t wait! feeling. Because, as the years have proven, I often do wait.

The Platter Stack

Posted in Music on March 4th, 2015 by Noggle

Every week, I listen to a pile of records. Well, not a pile. A stack.

You see, as I get them out from the shelves to give them a spin, I start stacking them next to the record player not unlike a college student stacking his beer cups at a Milwaukee church fair. As trophies of music listened to. Also, it ensures I get decent rotation on the LPs so I listen to different things daily.

At the end of a week, it looks like this:

The platter stack

Last week, I listened to:

  • The George Shearing Trio Jazz Moments
  • Living Brass Songs Made Famous By Tom Jones
  • Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass Volume 2
  • Frank Sinatra September of My Years
  • Frank Sinatra That Old Feeling
  • Maynard Ferguson Conquistador
  • Herb Alpert Rise
  • The Swedish Gospel Singers Take A Little Time to Sing
  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66
  • Guy Lombardo Alley Cat
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music to Make You Misty
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass What Now My Love
  • Bobby Dukoff Sax in Silk
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass SRO
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Going Places
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Warm
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Debussy La Mer and Ravel La Valse and Valses Nobles et Sentimales
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass The Brass Are Comin’
  • Los Norte Americanos The Band I Heard In Tijuana
  • The Melachrino Strings and Orchestra Music for Relaxation
  • Dean Martin You Can’t Love ‘Em All
  • Mercury Records Music to Live By
  • Rocio Jurado Senora
  • Daniel Barenboim Mozart in Minor
  • Maynard Ferguson High Voltage
  • Emil Gilels Beethoven ‘Emperor Concerto
  • Frank Sinatra Only the Lonely
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Sounds Like
  • Jackie Gleason Presents The Torch with the Blue Flame
  • Chicago Chicago
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Greatest Hits
  • Soundtrack Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Paris Conservetoire Orchestra/New Symphony of London Favorite Overtures
  • Lawrence Welk Polka Party
  • Dean Martin The Dean Martin TV Show
  • Jackie Gleason Presents Music, Martinis, and Memories
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Coney Island
  • Gary Graffman and the New York Philharmonic Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto/Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
  • Herb Alpert Beyond
  • The Trumpets Unlimited Sounds Tijuana!
  • Percussion Espanol
  • The Jay Gordon String Orchestra Music for Day Dreaming
  • The Houston Symphony Orchestra Johannes Brahms Symphony 3 in F Major
  • Bamberg Symphony Orchestra Rossini William Tell and other famous overtures
  • Henry Mancini The Music from Peter Gunn

I also probably also listened to a Beethoven symphony or two, but I put the boxed sets away immediately and don’t stack them.

As you can see, I favor the 1960s Tijuana trumpet sound. Also note that the record collection tends to run towards big band, crooners, classical, and trumpet selections with only a few post-1960s titles and movie soundtracks. Because that’s what I like to play in the background for meals or main level house living. The rock is all on the computer for work-time listening.

Biography of an LP: Fletch Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Posted in Life, Music on February 13th, 2015 by Noggle

LP coverI bought this LP for a buck, probably, at Recordhead Music in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the early 1990s. I’d just gotten a sweet deal on a stereo with a turntable (Originally priced $20, but Gome’s mom insisted he charge me more because it had big speakers, so I paid $25 for it. After that, I bought a lot of inexpensive LPs from the era. A couple of years later, I sold it at a garage sale for about $20, but it had my copy of The Dark Side of the Moon on it, and I let Pixie, the friend who bought the stereo, keep the LP since I meant to get the album on CD. I did, more than a decade later).

Sorry, I was talking about the Fletch soundtrack here, wasn’t I?

When I bought the LP, it seemed old. Probably because it was used and it was an LP in the world where audiocassettes had taken over. But it was only five or seven years old at the time, and I’ve owned it for twenty-five years (off and on).

I bought the LP because I liked Fletch from the books, and I think I’d caught the film once or twice on cable. It didn’t get heavy rotation on my $25 stereo turntable–Billy Joel and Pink Floyd did at the time, and most of my music library was cassettes anyway.

When I graduated college and moved home with my mother, she had a large console stereo with a turntable, and since I had an English degree, I guess I expected to live there for a while, so my turntable became superfluous, and I sold it. When I moved out a couple years later, I left my albums in my mother’s custody since I didn’t have a turntable. After a while, she migrated my LPs to the garage sale bin. Apparently, nobody wanted it for a dollar, which is good, since it was not my mothers to sell. On the plus side, she did not set it on a table in her driveway the (rainy) night before the sale (unlike several boxes of my books), so it remained intact until my mother passed away and I took possession of my remaining records, her LPs and 45s, and her mother’s LPs and 78s.

After we moved to Nogglestead, we put a radio with a turntable on it in our parlor. Eventually, I brought up the LPs from the basement. We didn’t have many then–this was before I listened to LPs daily and started buying them in vast quantities at book sales, antique malls, and thrift stores. In the mornings, while preparing breakfast for our children, I’d play this album first thing in the morning.

My youngest child, three years old at the time, would come and dance to the album. Dance, to a three year old, means run around in circles while the music plays. Come to think of it, this is what dance means to me, although with more air guitar, head nodding, and rhythmic finger pointing (which explains why I am not allowed to dance). On many occasions, I’d play the LP before the child was out of bed, and he would tear out of bed, run down the hall, and begin his circling dance to Stephanie Mills before he was fully awake.

For some reason, the older brother, five at the time, started calling “The Name of the Game” the Charlie Brown song. I’m not sure why; perhaps the intro reminded him of Charlie Brown’s teacher. But his brother latched onto that and called it the Charlie Brown song for months after his brother stopped in the way the younger brother does. Where the utterance of the admired older brother becomes a badge of their alliance, where repeating it proves the younger’s loyalty to the older. Or something. Because the laddie still does it at six years old.

The other night, the younger brother repeated one of his brother’s passe quips (“Ketchup saves the day!” as the reasoning behind getting the said bottle from the refrigerator with flourish before dousing a lovingly crafted entree to make it palatable to children).

Inspired, I put the album on and recounted its history, including the Charlie Brown song.

And the younger son danced with his mother in the parlor with more sophisticated dance moves gleaned in the first grade, apparently.

So this album, just a silly soundtrack from a decent movie from a good set of novels provided a set of memories years past its social relevance and continues to provide new memories.

Not bad for a buck. Plus, it’s got a couple of fun songs from Dan Hartman and Harold Faltermeyer.

All Your IT Men Take Their Fashion Cues From Pete Fountain

Posted in Music on January 29th, 2015 by Noggle

Pete Fountain, the clarinetist, looked like your IT staff before your IT staff did:

Pete Fountain, System Administrator

That’s the cover of his 1961 album French Quarter.

Tell me it doesn’t look like three quarters of the developers you know.

Brian J., Parental Saboteur

Posted in Music on January 27th, 2015 by Noggle

My son goes to a Lutheran school, and twice a week he has to recite a bible verse from memory. Today, he is to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

I shall plead innocence if I’m asked why he thinks this is the Lord’s Prayer:

Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble
when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror;
I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me.
Well, I must be a hell of a man.
Oh, Lord, it’s hard to be humble,
but I’m doing the best that I can.

Courtesy Rev. Mac Davis:

The Herb Alpert Album That Gets Short Shrift

Posted in Music on January 22nd, 2015 by Noggle

As some of you know, I have a lot of Herb Alpert LPs that I like to listen to from time to time. I listen to The Lonely Bull a lot, Rise fairly often, South of the Border and What Now My Love? [sic] frequently, and Sounds Like…. and Warm from time to time (but less often than I would if the covers did not look so similar).

You see, I pick the next album to play based on the bit of the cover that I can see in the gap of a couple inches as I flip through them on the shelf of record albums.

So The Best of the Brass:

The Best of the Brass

gets passed over more often than it should. Why? Because it looks just enough in that gap like Fly on Strangewings by Marianne Segal and Jade Silver:

Fly on Strangewings

I guess it’s the color of the trees in the background and the yellow ground that does it. Also, I’m generally not getting that close of a look at the cover as I flip through.

The former I bought because I like Herb Alpert. The latter I got for free twenty some years ago in the free box at Recordhead, a used record store in Milwaukee. I’ve listened to it only a couple of times.

Strangely, according to Discogs, the latter goes for $30 and was rereleased on CD this century. Maybe I should give it another listen after these twenty years.

An Uncomfortable Venue, An Uncomfortable Admission

Posted in Life, Music on January 15th, 2015 by Noggle

So somebody posted an announcement for a concert in St. Louis on Facebook:

Halestorm/The Pretty Reckless Concert Announcement

Hey, I thought, I like both Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless.

My original response was to go with the I could trade my 3 Dar Williams, 1 Ani DiFranco, 1 Sarah Brightman, and 1 Mary Chapin Carpenter/Shawn Colvin concerts I attended with my wife for this joke. Normally, the joke goes that I’m saving up for a Larry the Cable Guy or Blue Collar Comedy Tour concert with my wife who would not be inclined to see these things of her own accord.

Of course, as I mused on it, I would actually still prefer the comedy concert over the hard rock concert.

You see, my friends, I am a middle-aged, balding man prone to dressing like Cary Grant. Were I to go to these concerts, I would look severely out of place. And I would focus on that every second of the concert.

I’ve been to a couple of hard rock concerts in my time. Poison, Warrant, Ripd, Biohazard, Lillian Axe, and so on. However, in those cases, I was younger and had long hair. And I still felt a bit out of place. Like a poser.

The concerts I tend to attend these days (and by “these days” I mean “these decades”) are jazz concerts in clubs rather than glam rock bands in arenas or hard rock bands in small clubs. Places where the crowd is a little more reflective of my calendar age.

So I’ll pass on this one, and Shaman’s Harvest, and Three Days Grace, and Five Finger Death Punch, and so on. But I’ll still rock out to them at home and in the car.

Christmas Album Review: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole (1962)

Posted in Music on December 12th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverGentler reader, I know I’m not saving the best for last in presenting this album on December 12, but this is the best Christmas album of all time. This album makes me wish Nat King Cole were my dad, okay? His warm, smooth voice infuses all of these tracks with a hominess that makes all of them mood music. Or better yet, primary music: you want to put the record on, stop what you’re doing, and just listen to it.

The track list includes:

  • The Christmas Song
  • Deck The Halls
  • Adeste Fideles
  • O Tannenbaum
  • O, Little Town Of Bethlehem
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • O Holy Night
  • Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  • A Cradle In Bethlehem
  • Away In A Manger
  • Joy To The World
  • The First Noel
  • Caroling, Caroling
  • Silent Night

If I had to gripe, I’d say the version of “Deck the Halls” is a bit manic, but, hey, who hasn’t been a touch manic getting ready for a big party.

The modern CD rendition of the album features five extra songs and opens with a spoken Christmas greeting. Yes, I have both. Let that be your guide as to whether I recommend it or not.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: The Little Drummer Boy by the Abbey Choir (?)

Posted in Music on December 11th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album includes the definitive version of “The Little Drummer Boy” in my mind. When I was a little boy, I had a book with the lyrics to the song along with some pictures of what’s depicted in the lyrics, and when my mother played this album, the song came to life. Or so I thought at the time.

The truth of the matter is that this disk is a collection of choir renditions of some common Christmas carols and some uncommon ones.

The track list includes:

  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • Silent Night
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • The Twelve Days Of Christmas
  • As With Gladness Men Of Old
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Christians Awake
  • The Wassail Song
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  • Once In Royal David’s City
  • The Holly And The Ivy
  • Angels From The Realms Of Glory
  • Ave Maria

For the most part, I’ve reviewed individual artists’ albums and collections of individual artists’ songs, but the choral album is integral to the whole Christmas experience, and you can’t hardly go wrong with them as background music. This album gets plenty of play in the household. And, apparently, it’s available on MP3s for you 21st century types.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: Christmas with Bing by Bing Crosby (1980)

Posted in Music on December 10th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album is a Reader’s Digest compilation that collects a number of popular tracks from Bing Crosby. Jeez, I feel a little weird here, wondering if I have to explain who Bing Crosby is to you damn kids. You know him for his rendition of “White Christmas”, which he originated in the film Holiday Inn and then again in the film White Christmas. But, for Pete’s sake, you know he was a big time recording artist, the father of all pop music and music recording, and a hip enough fellow that he poked fun at his hipness and its own aging in the film High Time when the man was older than my father ever was. He’s Bing Crosby, &%^$&*!

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The album was released after his death, and collects a number of his songs, including:

  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • O Holy Night
  • What Child Is This?/The Holly And The Ivy
  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • I Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • Frosty The Snow Man
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  • Christmas Dinner, Country Style
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

What’s missing? The aforementioned “White Christmas”. Instead, we get a treat that doesn’t appear often elsewhere, “Christmas Dinner, Country Style” about a large family gathering for a meal. The song is a treat; the others, standards. You’ll find them elsewhere, on compilation collections, but it’s fine to have them on a single platter to have as either background or mood music.

I mentioned that you don’t find Perry Como albums outside the Christmas work in book fairs, garage sales, or antique malls in southwest Missouri often. You do, and by “you do” I mean “You might if you get there before me,” find the occasional Bing Crosby album in the wild. I suppose that’s because he sold more albums than Perry Como did. Or maybe it’s just because that’s what I’ve found.

Regardless, this album should be pretty widely available since it’s a Reader’s Digest pressing. You could do worse, and probably will with anything you buy with a copyright date after 1980.

(See also Famous Today, Forgotten Tomorrow: If we don’t remember Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, will tomorrow’s generation remember the Beatles and Bob Dylan? from today’s Wall Street Journal.)

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music by Perry Como (1956)

Posted in Music on December 9th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverIt’s strange; Perry Como was pretty popular in the early part of the 20th century, as he released records and starred on television, but you rarely see his albums in the wild. My mother owned a copy of this album, and I guess it must have sold for a buck at one of her garage sales as I had to buy my own copy. At an antique mall. For $3. That’s how fondly I remember the album from my youth. I spent three dollars on it.

Como has a baritone voice and inhabits the songs much in the way his early influence Bing Crosby does. As such, he does a great job with the Christmas music.

The track list includes:

  • ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
  • The Twelve Days Of Christmas
  • God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
  • C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s
  • Joy To The World
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty The Snowman
  • The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
  • That Christmas Feeling
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Silent Night
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
  • Jingle Bells
  • White Christmas
  • Winter Wonderland

This is definitely a definitive Christmas album to own, as Como really was associated with Christmas television specials into the 1980s and beyond (apparently, his last was in 1994). Unfortunately, my copy sticks, so I’m in the market for a replacement for it. And I’m willing to pay $3 for it.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: That Holiday Feeling! by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme (1964)

Posted in Music on December 8th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album is the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Christmas album. No, I’m not emphasizing it enough: this is the Steve Lawrence and EYDIE GORME Christmas album. Too subtle? It’s the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Christmas album. Listen, bub, they’ve taken the <blink> tag away, so I don’t know how much more clearly I can make it: I’m an Eydie Gorme fan, and I was very happy to find this album this year. Oh, her husband is okay, too. But he’s not Eydie Gorme.

The track list includes a number of common songs and a couple variations:

  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve
  • Happy Holiday
  • Sleigh Ride
  • Winter Wonderland
  • White Christmas
  • Let Me Be The First To Wish You Merry Christmas
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  • The Christmas Song
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
  • That Holiday Feeling
  • That Ol’ Christmas Spirit

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” has become a jazz/songbook standard of sorts and makes its appearance mixed into Christmas carols on the radio, but I don’t have many renditions of it on LP. “Let Me Be The First To Wish You Merry Christmas” might be the only representation of that song I have available, and “That Ol’ Christmas Spirit” is infrequent enough to be a treat when it appears.

As you would expect, especially if you’re familiar with the LPs where Steve and Eydie appear together, the songs are duets in most cases and they switch off primary duties on the songs. Their version of “Sleigh Ride” is particularly fun, with Steve singing the lyrics and Eydie chanting “Sleigh Ride” at the end of lines. Sadly, their laughter at the end of the song is forced and a bit desperate and maniacal.

Gorme’s voice is expressive and fun, and Lawrence’s is warm and engaging as well. It’s definitely mood music; something worth listening to with a bit of focus.

As I mentioned, I only bought this album this year, but it’s already in the rotation here at Nogglestead as often as I can get away with without making my wife fear I have an unhealthy obsession with Eydie Gorme.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: The Sinatra Christmas Album by Frank Sinatra (1957)

Posted in Music on December 7th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverI got this album a couple of years ago, and I play it a couple of times a week throughout the season. It’s a serviceable collection of known favorites and a song that appears sparsely on Christmas albums (“Mistletoe and Holly”). It’s good background music, but it’s not ideal mood music because Sinatra’s more of a technical perfectionist of a singer rather than a warm singer who inhabits the songs. That is, when you hear these songs, you imagine being in a room where Sinatra is singing the songs on stage instead of someone who’s singing the songs with you.

The track list includes:

  • Jingle Bells
  • The Christmas Song
  • Mistletoe And Holly
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • The Christmas Waltz
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • The First Noel
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  • Adeste Fideles
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • Silent Night

According to Discogs, this is one of the more expensive Christmas albums I’ve reviewed so far. And I only spent a buck on it at a book sale if I remember correctly.

So it’s worth a couple of spins every year in fairly heavy rotation at Nogglestead, but mostly it’s because of the Sinatra cool factor than the music itself.

Speaking of the Rat Pack, I’ve already reviewed the The Dean Martin Christmas Album

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: A Very Merry Christmas Volume Two by Various Artists (?)

Posted in Music on December 6th, 2014 by Noggle

Album coverThis album belonged to my mother from the time she served in the Marine Corps; the address label in the corner was for El Toro MCAS. The price tag in the corner means she tried to sell it at one or more yard sales after she moved on from LPs. Obviously, it didn’t sell, which is fortunate, since it is a relic from my youth I can hold onto.

It’s a compilation album, and the second of a series. It has Christmas carol standards by a number of the popular artists from the middle of the 20th century.

The track list includes:

  • Mitch Miller And The Gang, “Joy To The World”
  • Robert Goulet, “O Holy Night”
  • Anita Bryant, “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear”
  • Andre Kostelanetz, “Sleigh Ride”
  • Steve Lawrence, “The Christmas Song”
  • Mahalia Jackson, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”
  • The New Christy Minstrels, “Here We Come A-Caroling”
  • Jim Nabors, “Jingle Bells”
  • Doris Day, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
  • Johnny Mathis, “Silver Bells”
  • Skitch Henderson And His Orchestra, “We Need A Little Christmas”
  • Johnny Cash, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”
  • Eydie Gorme, “White Christmas”
  • Bing Crosby, “What Child Is This? The Holly And The Ivy”
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “Silent Night, Holy Night”

It’s a fine mix, and I enjoy the compilation albums more than most Christmas albums by a single artist simply for the variety’s sake. Some songs on the compilations appear on some of the individual albums (cough, cough, Robert Goulet).

This album includes “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, a song not found on many of my other compilation discs and a couple of artists I’ve not heard of or seen in record bins (Mahalia Jackson, Skitch Henderson and His Orchestra). Additionally, this album, played in my youth, would have been the first times I heard Eydie Gorme, and how could I tell thirty-five years ago how big of a fan of hers I would become?

At any rate, this album is aces and gets a lot of play during the Christmas season here.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: Come All Ye Faithful by Kate Smith (?)

Posted in Music on December 5th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album features Kate Smith of “God Bless America” fame singing a selection of Christmas carols and other things. I know, a day after saying that Robert Goulet’s Christmas album was too big, I’m giving a favorable review to Kate Smith’s.

However, the different between the two is a big voice and a big delivery. Although Kate Smith has a big voice, she’s singing these songs instead of belting them out. Additionally, she’s balanced well with the other musicians on the album, including other vocalists who help out and the instrument arrangements. Besides, Kate Smith is like your grandmother singing these things if your grandmother could sing.

The track list includes:

  • Deck the Halls
  • White Christmas
  • Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
  • The First Noel
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
  • Greensleeves
  • Joy To The World
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Moonlight In Vermont
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • Silent Night
  • Jingle Bells

The set includes a couple of interesting, non-Christmas specific songs (“He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and “Moonlight in Vermont”) which tangentally touch on the theme. They’re nice enough interludes in the Christmas music to be welcome.

You can get this album in vinyl or MP3 on Amazon, but it looks to be a collection that the studios overlooked when releasing material on CD. I, of course, recommend the vinyl.

Album mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: This Christmas I Spend With You by Robert Goulet (1963)

Posted in Music on December 4th, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album comes from early in Goulet’s career; in 1960, he got his big break in the musical Camelot, and three years later this album was out. You can tell that Goulet’s got a musical theatre background from this album, as he’s not so much singing these songs in a recording studio as he’s booming these songs out so you can hear them in the cheap seats.

The track list includes:

  • This Christmas I Spend With You
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • December Time
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  • The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
  • Silver Bells
  • Winter Wonderland
  • White Christmas
  • O Holy Night (Cantique De Noel)
  • Panis Angelicus
  • Ave Maria
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful

Given the booming presentation of each, this record does not get a lot of play. I think I hit it once last year (the first year we owned it), and I played side one this year. And that might be enough. It’s not mood music, and it’s not background music. It’s like a recording of a concert, and I’m not into live albums.

But if you’re into musical theatre or to an over the top style, perhaps it would be to your liking.

Album mentioned in this review:

As I Said

Posted in Music on December 4th, 2014 by Noggle

In the The Federalist, Leslie Loftis doesn’t like the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” very much:

The worst Christmas song ever isn’t actually a Christmas song. It’s just a song that uses Christmas in the hook and was popular when it was released. So Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” gets played every year starting at the end of November. Every year, I think that the awfulness comes in part from the refreshed shock of dreadful lyrics I’ve not heard in 11 months. Instead, my loathing of the song grows through the season and year by year.

She goes on to take apart the song and make many of the same points I made in 2011:

I hate this song. If I hear this song on the radio, I turn it at once, and sometimes I even turn the radio off for a half hour to punish the radio station that played it.

I mean, not only is it a bunch of wealthy secularists trying to shame the less fortunate into pouring money into the coffers of large organizations with large overhead to send pink jeeps and swag with cool logos to Africa, but it has fundamental flaws.

I am one of the infinite monkeys on the Internet, and eventually we will type everything and subtle variations of everything.

(Link via Hot Air.)

Christmas Album Review: Silent Night and 13 Other Best Loved Christmas Songs by Lawrence Welk (1961)

Posted in Music on December 3rd, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverThis album is less of a big band sound than a modified bell and chimes choir sound. There are no singers vocalizing the words from the carols, but there are some choral voices singing notes to accompany the orchestra. And, as I said, bells and chimes (and harpsichord) are featured, but they’re backed with a depth of other instruments. So it falls somewhere in between a bells and chimes album and an instrumental bell album.

The track list includes:

  • Silent Night
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  • White Christmas
  • Deck the Halls
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • The First Noel
  • Adeste Fidelis
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Joy to the World
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Thanks for Christmas

I bought this album this year, so I don’t have a large sample size of its presence in the rotation, but it’s pleasant enough to have as background music while cooking or otherwise doing things in rooms adjacent to our parlor, where we have the record player and its records. But it’s not mood music, where you want to be in the same room while the record plays.

Books mentioned in this review:

Christmas Album Review: The Dean Martin Christmas Album by Dean Martin (1966)

Posted in Music on December 2nd, 2014 by Noggle

Book coverIf you’re expecting “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on this album, baby, it’s the wrong record; that omnipresent song, the one most associated with Dean Martin and Christmas, is from his 1959 platter A Winter Romance.

This album, from 1966 (and on a different label), features Dean Martin’s laid back takes on these classic Christmas songs:

  • “White Christmas”
  • “Jingle Bells”
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
  • “Blue Christmas”
  • “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
  • “Marshmallow World”
  • “Silver Bells”
  • “Winter Wonderland”
  • “The Things We Did Last Summer”
  • “Silent Night”

It’s a mood-setting collection, which is a step above background music; it’s worth listening to Dean sing the songs as he invests feeling in them, and his relaxed delivery is reflective.

My beautiful wife quibbles with the inclusion of “Marshmellow World” on the album, as it is her least favorite secular Christmas carol of all time and might be mathematically the absolute worst song for her ever as she cannot stand marshmallows, whipped cream, or most of the things the winter landscape reminds the singer of. On the other hand, it transitions right into “Silver Bells”, which is her favorite secular Christmas carol, so the crisis is averted.

Meanwhile, I think it’s odd to include “The Things We Did Last Summer” on the LP as it’s more of a reflective, nostalgia song than a winter song or a Christmas song. But I guess it gets included to break the theme up a little bit with a tangental tune, like “A Few of My Favorite Things” gets included on Christmas albums because it mentions packages and gifts.

At any rate, I recommend it; it’s definitely on heavy rotation here at Nogglestead.

Albums mentioned in this review: