24 December: Rita Faye Wilson: Sleigh Bells, Reindeer And Snow

Published December 24, 2013

And so, the final entry in the 2013 Advent Calendar. I think this recording, Sleigh Bells, Reindeer And Snow by Rita Faye Wilson, fell into obscurity not long after it was recorded, circa mid-Fifties. But then John Waters included it on a 2004 compilation album entitled A John Waters Christmas, and since then its profile may have been raised a bit. Marginally, but still. If I can make sure a few more people will hear it, then I will have done at least one good deed this year.

Rita Faye Wilson, aka just Rita Faye, apparently made a more familiar contribution to the Christmas music genre with I Fell Out Of A Christmas Tree. She also recorded a religious album in 1961, entitled Rita Faye's Autoharp, on the cover of which she does indeed pose with an autoharp, presumably also played by herself on the album.

With this piece of more-than-you-needed-to-know information, I'd like to thank everyone who has kept up with this year's Advent Calendar. Thanks for all your comments and Facebook likes. And last but not least, in the words that finishes Rita Faye's recording: Merry Christmas!

Listen here.

23 December: Colin Butler: No Chimney For Santa

Published December 23, 2013

So, in yesterday's Advent Calendar post, Santa got stuck in the chimney. Ella Fitzgerald's solution was to build a bigger chimney for Santa. In today's offering, however, Colin Butler has an alternate suggestion: no chimney at all, and so Santa won't have to bother with it.

Canadian Colin Butler was 12 years old when he recorded his Christmas album A Million Dollar Christmas, on which this track can be found. Young Mr Butler puts a lot of energy into his singing, I'll say that for him. A whole album's worth may be too much of a good thing, though.

Listen here.

22 December: Ella Fitzgerald: Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney

Published December 22, 2013

Yesterday's song in the Advent Calendar professed to want to see Santa do the mambo. Well, he's not going to be able to do that if he's stuck in a chimney, is he? He's up to so many different things, is Santa. In the lyrics for this song, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald in a recording made in 1950, the solution is to simply build a bigger chimney so that Santa won't get stuck. Tomorrow's Advent Calendar tune, however, will offer a different way out of the "Santa and chimney" predicament...

Listen to Ella here.

21 December: Big John Greer: We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo

Published December 21, 2013

This year's Advent Calendar started with a mambo, and I'm sure you will agree there can never be enough mambo at Christmas. So, to put my money where my mouth is, without further ado, here is Big John Greer's contribution to the Christmas mambo genre, originally released in 1954. Mambo on!

Listen here.

20 December: Roger Miller: Old Toy Trains

Published December 20, 2013

The Advent Calendar has been sort of wild and loud for the past couple of days, so I thought it might be appropriate to tone things down a bit. Roger Miller, of 'King Of The Road' fame, released this self-written Christmas single in 1967. I don't think it was much of a hit at the time, which is a shame since it's kind of sweet.

Listen here.

19 December: Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva: I Wish You A Merry Christmas

Published December 19, 2013

If you're looking for lyrics with several layers to them, open for a multitude of different interpretations, speaking to you on manifold levels all at the same time - well, I'm afraid you've come to the wrong song. Let's put it this way: there is a shortage of subtle metaphors and clever conceits here. The message is quite simple: I wish you a merry Christmas, and not much else. But sometimes that's all we need to hear, right? Especially when delivered in the happy and carefree manner of this splendid recording by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva. Oh, and the song was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Need I say more? I think not.

Listen here.

18 December: The Supremes: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Published December 18, 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday are girl group days in the Advent Calendar. Yesterday we had The Puppini Sisters and today we fly back 48 years to 1965, when The Supremes recorded this Motown take on 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'.

The song was first heard in 1934 and has, of course, been recorded innumerable times since then. The Supremes' version comes from their Merry Christmas album, and I think it's kinda' groovy.

Listen here.

17 December: The Puppini Sisters: Last Christmas

Published December 17, 2013

At the merest hint of 'Last Christmas' by Wham!, some people put their fingers in their ears and run in the other direction. I have to confess that I've always loved that track (a fantastic single with 'Everything She Wants' on the other side as well), and have never really grown tired of it.

Often you will find that when someone tries an alternate interpretation of a really familiar tune, it gets a little strained. Not so in this case. The Puppini Sisters' take on 'Last Christmas', included on their 2010 album Christmas With The Puppini Sisters, really works for me, making it a little more sly, for want of a better word, without overtly advertising that thats's what they're up to. And those harmonies are to die for. What do you think?

Listen here.

16 December: Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66: The Christmas Song

Published December 16, 2013

Today the Advent Calendar is taking it easy with Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 and their version of Mel Tormé's 'The Christmas Song'. It seems this recording was originally released on an A&M Records Christmas compilation album entitled ¡Something Festive!, released in 1968.

I really love Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, and although this arrangement perhaps isn't very Christmassy, it's still a great recording of a great song.

Listen here.

15 December: The Soulful Strings: Sleigh Ride

Published December 15, 2013

Here's something grooovy for a Sunday. The Soulful Strings, about whom I don't know much, released an album of Christmas tunes in 1968, entitled The Magic Of Christmas. From this I have selected their super-catchy interpretation of 'Sleigh Ride', written by Leroy Anderson in the late '40s.

Listen here.