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.

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.

04 December: Louis Armstrong: 'Zat You Santa Claus?

Published December 04, 2013

The lyrics to this are actually a little scary. I can just envision some modern-day filmmaker using this recording on the soundtrack of a Halloween-type movie (maybe someone has already done that): "Sure is dark out / Not the slighest spark out / Pardon my clackin' jaws / Uh, who there?"

But the warmth of Louis Armstrong's voice should be reassuring enough, and, indeed, the song ends thusly: "Say that's you Santa Claus / That's him alright!"

Listen here.

03 December: Brian Hyland: It's Christmas Time Once Again

Published December 03, 2013

Yesterday, The Staple Singers asked who took the merry out of Christmas, and perhaps Brian Hyland might be a candidate. At least, his cynical take on "the season to be jolly" doesn't offer much merriment.

Brian Hyland was one of those American artists that filled the early Sixties gap between Elvis going into the army and The Beatles arriving on the scene, according to The Official History Of Rock And Roll™. Mr Hyland's biggest hit was his 1960 number one 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini'. By the late Sixties, Hyland and his cohorts weren't doing so well anymore, but most of them were still recording and it's kind of interesting to hear them trying to find a place within genres such as psychedelia or, as in this case, folk-pop-with-a-message.

It's Christmas Time Once Again was released in 1967, and, well, I guess Brian Hyland didn't seal his Christmas presents with a kiss that year.

Listen here.

02 December: The Staple Singers: Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas

Published December 02, 2013

How great is this track? Released in 1970, it peaked at number 2 on Billboard's Christmas chart (according to Wikipedia), yet I don't get the impression that it's become a bona fide Christmas Classic. I may be wrong, and nothing would make me happier, because it's a fantastic recording.

So, who did take the merry out of Christmas? We'll hear from one candidate tomorrow.

Meanwhile, listen to The Staple Singers here.

01 December: Billy May: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo

Published December 01, 2013

Yes, it's that time of the year again: Today we kick off the 2013 edition of the Carl Magnus Palm.com Advent Calendar.

Last year I opened proceedings with a selection from the fabulous Christmas Cocktails series of Yuletide tunes from the Capitol Records vaults (Cha-Cha All The Way). I see no reason to mess with that particular tradition, so here's Billy May's inimitable mambo take on Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.