14 December: Ray Anthony & His Bookends: Christmas Kisses

Published December 14, 2013

"Santa can keep the hi-fi set / There's something that is better yet." Okay, so February 14 is two months away, but who said that there can't be a little kissing on December 14 as well?

This was recorded in 1961 and released as a single....and that's about all I know about 'Christmas Kisses', except that it's fab, of course. And that Ray Anthony was married to Mamie van Doren at one point. And that I first heard it on the Christmas Cocktails CD pictured here.

Listen here.

13 December: Helga Görlin: Sankta Lucia

Published December 13, 2013

Today, December 13, is the Lucia day in Sweden. If you want to know what that's all about, Wikipedia has an article about it here. Anyone who's ever been a child in Sweden for the past 100 years or so, will have participated in these processions in school, at home or elsewhere.

This recording features opera singer Helga Görlin performing 'Sankta Lucia', which is only one of three different lyrics used to the same tune. The song itself is of Italian origin.

Anyway, what this all boils down to is: I'm Swedish so I thought we should have at least one seasonal offering connected to my home-country in the Advent Calendar.

This over-the-top recording was made in 1936, and you can listen to it, at your own peril, here.

12 December: The London Sound 70 Orchestra And Chorus: The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Published December 12, 2013

I don't believe in numerology, but I still couldn't resist making The Twelve Days Of Christmas the Advent Calendar tune for December 12. So there!

We had a song from the very weird and wonderful London Sound Orchestra And Chorus in the 2012 Advent Calendar: their trippy and groovy version of Deck The Hall. For this year's contribution, it seems the Orchestra left the Chorus at home, but apart from that it's just as groovy - just check out the drum break at 01:11 (it begs to be sampled, or at least it begged to be sampled 20-25 years ago, when this kind of groove was very much in vogue).

Listen here.

11 December: The Partridge Family: My Christmas Card To You

Published December 11, 2013

Last year the Advent Calendar offered a track from the Christmas album released by TV family The Brady Bunch. Well, I guess this year's Advent Calendar wouldn't be quite complete without a Christmas track from another American TV family, so here's The Partridge Family and 'My Christmas Card To You'. Written by Tony Romeo, who also wrote the family's biggest hit, 'I Think I Love You', this song was the opening track on the 1971 album A Partridge Family Christmas Card.

Apparently, 'My Christmas Card To You' was never released as a single, which I find a bit strange, seeing as it's one of the better Partridge Family tracks and could have been something of a hit.

Listen here.

10 December: The Living Guitars: Over The River And Through The Woods - Jingle Bells

Published December 10, 2013

I haven't really got very much to say about this medley, except that I find its light touch strangely soothing. The Living Guitars were not a real group as such, as far as I can tell, but rather professional session musicians, brought together by a record company (RCA Camden in this case) for recording purposes only.

What more can I tell you? This track comes from an album entitled The Joy Of Christmas. It was released in 1969. It was recorded in Webster Hall, New York City.

And it was produced by one Ethel Gabriel, who Wikipedia just informed me is a bit of a legend in the music business, being the first female record producer (at least in the United States). Fancy that. Well done, Ethel!

Listen here.

09 December: Ringo Starr: Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On

Published December 09, 2013

The post-Beatles recording career of Ringo Starr has had its ups and downs. Mostly downs, perhaps, at least commercially speaking. But for a few years in the early Seventies, it could be argued that he was the most popular ex-Beatle, with seven U.S. Top Ten singles between 1971 and 1975, and a couple of successful albums. Tip: If you buy those two albums on CD (1973's Ringo and 1974's Goodnight Vienna), the bonus tracks include his non-album hit singles from that era, which means that you have what amounts to a double-CD best-of.

But I'm digressing. In 1999, Ringo recorded a Christmas album entitled I Wanna Be Santa Claus, which I bought with some trepidation. I don't exactly recall how the rest of the album is, but the opening track, 'Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On', is a really catchy glam-rock stomper that puts a little oomph back in the Advent Calendar after yesterday's mellowness (if that's a word).

Listen here.

08 December: Duke Ellington: Sugar Rum Cherry

Published December 08, 2013

After the Tijuana hysterics of yesterday, today the Advent Calendar cools it a bit, grooving to a laid-back excerpt from Duke Ellington's take on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, recorded in 1960. Sooo mellow.

Listen here.

07 December: The Border Brass: Tijuana Christmas

Published December 07, 2013

This track is insane. In the best possible way. Always puts me in a good mood, although I remember a few eyebrows were raised when I played it at a Christmas party a few years ago. Fortunately, most of my friends are quite resilient, so they survived it.

Listen here.

06 December: Little Joey Farr: Rock'n'Roll Santa

Published December 06, 2013

I know absolutely nothing about Little Joey Farr, nor about this recording, except that he and it are great. According to a discography on the internet, this was originally released in 1961, but it sounds more like the late '50s.

Listen here.

05 December: Glasvegas: A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like Kiss)

Published December 05, 2013

At one point today, I was looking out the window. It was kind of dusky and I noticed that the lights were on in the windows of the apartment buildings across the street. So, this must have been late afternoon-ish, right? Wrong. This was 10.30 a.m. Welcome to Sweden in December, when we sometimes get days that somehow never get properly, well, day-like, but are heavily overcast and just go from dark to dusky to dark again.

Forty-five minutes later it started snowing, which was the first snow in Stockholm this winter. All of which made me think of the Advent Calendar song of today. Admittedly, I can't say that the actual snowfall today felt like a kiss, but there's something very romantic about this song and recording, which just gets to me.

The song was originally released on an EP (actually more like a mini-album) released by this Scottish band in 2008. I'm guessing the title was somehow inspired by the peculiar Goffin & King song 'He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)'. But that's another story.

Listen here.