15 December: The Glad Singers: Joy

Published December 15, 2017

Fact: There are no bad songs on The Glad Singers' Swing Bells album. You're spoilt for choice as you try to decide which track to unleash on the world this year (we've had them in earlier Advent Calendars as well, in 2014 and 2016). I finally decided on Joy, in which The Glad Singers go all in as only they can.

Listen here.

14 December: Sufjan Stevens: Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!

Published December 14, 2017

Time for something a little more modern again. I don't listen to a lot of music made in the present century, but what little I've heard of Sufjan Stevens I've liked. This track, from his 2006 album Songs For Christmas, is shambolic in a way I find quite appealing.

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13 December: Esquivel: Here Comes Santa Claus

Published December 13, 2017

From yesterday's silliness to today's just-slightly-over-the-top. Mexican band leader Esquivel's take on Here Comes Santa Claus, is basically a straightforward interpretation of the tune, but, this being Esquivel, he can't refrain from all sorts of interjections from harpsichords, marimbas and who knows what. The effect, of course, is one of pure delight.

The track was first released on the 1959 album The Merriest Of Christmas Pops, which featured a mix of tracks by Esquivel and by Ray Martin and his orchestra.

Listen here.

You might also want to check out his even more over-the-top version of White Christmas.


12 December: Leslie Crowther: The Great Christmas Pudding Song

Published December 12, 2017

This recording by Leslie Crowther - an "English comedian, actor, TV presenter, and game show host," according to Wikipedia - features one or two bits that perhaps won't be regarded as entirely PC today. But as a whole this recording, from Crowther's 1968 album Songs For Swinging Children, is quite charming in all its silliness.

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11 December: Low: Just Like Christmas

Published December 11, 2017

Time for some more modern sounds in the Advent Calendar. I don't know so much about the American band Low, but, always on the hunt for good Christmas tracks, I read that this was supposed to be good. And it was: jolly and melancholy at the same time, which is a hard thing to pull off. Plus, it mentions my home town of Stockholm in the first line.

Just Like Christmas is a track from Low's 1999 mini-album Christmas.

Listen here.

10 December: Richard Hayman And His Harmonica Orchestra: Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers

Published December 10, 2017

I don't think there are too many harmonica-based Christmas albums produced these days, but they did them back in 1961, when Richard Hayman and his Harmonica Orchestra released their Harmonica Holiday album. It's unclear exactly what those models on the front and back of the album cover have to do with the music contained on it, but they do look good. 

Listen here.

 

09 December: Michael Jackson: Little Christmas Tree

Published December 09, 2017

Say what you will about Michael Jackson, but he sang everything like he meant it, especially in his younger days. Just listen to the energy and the lust for life that informs this recording.

Little Christmas Tree was originally featured on the 1973 various artists album A Motown Christmas, but was also released as a single in Europe the following year.

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08 December: Hollyridge Strings: Winter Wonderland

Published December 08, 2017

We always like a bit of Hollyridge Strings on this blog, as they put a lie to the easy in the easy listening tag. Imagine being a housewife in 1965, listening to this while you're doing your Christmas chores. Wouldn't you feel... well, a little uneasy? I, of course, love it for that very reason.

This version of Winter Wonderland, like our previous Hollyridge Strings tune, can be found on the 1965 album Christmas Favorites.

Listen here.

07 December: The Roches: Deck The Hall

Published December 07, 2017

I don't think this 1990 Christmas album by the Roches, We Three Kings, is terribly well-known, but there are plenty of great tracks on it, mixing traditional interpretations with more rocked-up versions. One of them is this compelling acoustic guitar-driven take on Deck The Hall.

Listen here.

06 December: Jim Reeves: Merry Christmas Polka

Published December 06, 2017

As someone who's listened to a lot of Christmas music over the past decade or so, I've lost count on how many times I've heard various versions of the most familiar chestnuts: White Christmas, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Christmas Song, and so on. These songs have lived on over the decades.

Certain tunes, however, enjoyed a considerably shorter life-span. Take, for instance, Merry Christmas Polka. First recorded, it seems, by The Andrews Sisters in 1949, at first it inspired a number of additional versions, among them Jim Reeves' 1963 recording, featured on his Twelve Songs Of Christmas album. But it soon disappeared from the shortlist of Christmas song candidates. The tune is cheerful and hummable enough, but I guess that the polka just was regarded as too old-hat and quaint once the 1960s got going for real, and so this song seemed irrevocably trapped in a world that didn't exist anymore.

Listen here.

ADVENT CALENDAR 2017