Spotify playlist for Advent Calendars 2012-2019

Published December 26, 2020

Following the conclusion of my 2020 Advent Calendar, I've gone through all my previous Advent Calendars (2012 to 2019) and put the songs into a playlist on Spotify. However, around 25 of my selections from those years are not available on Spotify, so couldn't be added to the list.

The 2012-2019 playlist is here.

The 2020 playlist is here.

24 December: The New Christy Minstrels: Silent Night

Published December 24, 2020

And so we reach the end of this year's Advent Calendar. We go out with a selection from The New Christy Minstrels' album Christmas With The Christies, which has been featured in earlier Advent Calendars. I love how this starts as a pretty straightforward interpretation of 'Silent Night' and then builds to an "everything but the kitchen sink" vocal crescendo.

The Christmas song I've been returning to repeatedly this season is Nick Lowe's 'Christmas At The Airport', which featured in the Advent Calendar in 2016. I'm sure my attraction to it has something to do with much of this year being cancelled in one way or another, but mainly it's because it's so catchy. I just love singing along to it.

I hope you've enjoyed this year's Advent Calendar. For every year that I do this, I worry more that I won't be able to find enough tracks that are fun/interesting/unusual/great/weird/kitschy/compelling enough to warrant inclusion. But I believe I managed it in 2020 so perhaps the Advent Calendar will return in 2021.

Merry Christmas!

Listen to 'Silent Night' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 December: George Michael: December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)

Published December 23, 2020

What a strange recording career George Michael had. In the 29 years that elapsed between the 1987 release of his massive Faith album and his death in 2016, he released only four albums, one of which was a collection of covers. In between, there were scattered singles, charity releases, CD EPs, compilation albums, scandals and lawsuits.

Hardly surprising, then, that this lovely track passed me by completely when it was first released as a free download in 2008. It was issued commercially the following year, but the first batch of physical copies were sold out in one day in the UK. It barely seems to have registered outside Great Britain. As I said: strange. I didn't become aware of the song until after George Michael passed away, but I now think it's one of the best things he ever did.

Listen to 'December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 December: The Fontane Sisters: Nuttin' For Christmas

Published December 22, 2020

Today I want to start by reminding you of the Advent Calendar entry for 2 December. The message there was, "Don't wait 'till the night before Christmas to be good." I sincerely hope you took that piece of advice to heart, because otherwise you might suffer the same grim fate as The Fontane Sisters in today's entry: you will get nuttin' for Christmas!

This song charted in no less than five different versions on Billboard's Christmas chart in 1955, out of which the most successful was Art Mooney's terrible version (with vocals by child actor Barry Gordon), which reached #6. The Fontane Sisters' recording climbed no higher than #36, but it's a lot easier on the ear. The song's afterlife seems to have been limited: there are later versions, but it hasn't become a true Christmas perennial.

'Nuttin' For Christmas' was written by the songwriting team of Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett, who, unfortunately, today are mainly remembered for the 43 mostly mediocre songs they wrote for Elvis Presley movies, among them 'Fort Lauderdale Chamber Of Commerce' and 'Ito Eats'.

Listen to 'Nuttin' For Christmas' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

21 December: The Gems: Love For Christmas

Published December 21, 2020

The primary backing vocal group for Chess Records in the 1960s, and counting the magnificent Minnie Riperton among its members, The Gems also released a number of singles in their own name. One of them is this Motown-ish Christmas...well, gem, issued in 1964.

The song was written by Billy Davis, co-writer of songs such as Jackie Wilson's 'Reet Petite', and 'Rescue Me' by Fontella Bass. Later he helped develop a song called 'True Love And Apple Pie' into a Coca-Cola jingle, eventually ending up with a global smash in the shape of 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing'. The things you learn when you research these songs.

Listen to 'Love For Christmas' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 December: Tommy Roe: It's Now Winters Day

Published December 20, 2020

"Personally my favourite," wrote Tommy Roe in the liner notes about the title track of his 1967 album It's Now Winters Day. No arguments there, even though this Curt Boettcher-produced album [production is credited to Steve Clark, but has all the hallmark's of a classic Boettcher project] features many great songs. "Outside it's chilling, but inside it's thrilling," indeed.

The song was released as a single in 1966, peaking just outside the Top 20 in the U.S. And, of course, The Hep Stars (Benny's pre-ABBA band) covered it on their 1968 album It's Been A Long Long Time. But Tommy Roe's original is the one to go for.

Listen to 'It's Now Winters Day' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 December: Hoosier Hot Shots: The Man With The Whiskers

Published December 19, 2020

It somehow warms my heart to know that 82 years ago, there were enough people who thought, "Hey, I want to own this record so that I can play it as many times as I want" to bring it to number 11 on the U.S. chart.

And, by the way, whatever happened to the slide whistle? You don't hear that on many recordings these days. Bring it back, I say.

Listen to 'The Man With The Whiskers' here.

This song is not available on Spotify, but the 2020 Advent Calendar entries that are, are collected in this playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 December: The Soulful Strings: The Little Drummer Boy

Published December 18, 2020

This might very well be my favourite track in this year's Advent Calendar. I've featured The Soulful Strings previously, souling-up that old Christmas perennial 'Sleigh Ride'. Today's jazz-soul-y selection comes from the same 1968 album, The Magic Of Christmas, wherein arranger Richard Evans reimagines Christmas music with, for the most part, fab results.

So, who is Richard Evans? According to Gene Sculatti's liner notes for the 2015 reissue of the album, "black-pop scholars often cite [Evans] as 'the creator of the Cadet Records sound'," and he worked with acts such as Ramsey Lewis and Marlena Shaw. As is so often the case with albums where talented arrangers get free rein, as opposed to having to conform to what's expected of a pop record, you can almost sense the liberation and the playfulness here. Cadet was an imprint of the famous Chicago-based label Chess Records, and if the existence of this imprint is what it took for this Christmas album to be created, then perhaps there is a god after all.

Listen to 'The Little Drummer Boy' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 December: The Three Wise Men: Thanks For Christmas

Published December 17, 2020

From yesterday's 1948 American boogie exercise, we travel 35 years ahead to the United Kingdom in 1983. And what do we find there? This commercially unsuccessful single by The Three Wise Men. They were really XTC, of course, which becomes quite apparent when you listen to it, if you're familiar with Andy Partridge's singing voice.

The song didn't chart in the UK, nor anywhere else it seems. I have a feeling it hasn't acquired a significant retrospective following either. It's a shame, for it's quite good, and deserves to be included on pop Christmas compilations.

Listen to 'Thanks For Christmas' here.

This song is not available on Spotify, but the 2020 Advent Calendar entries that are, are collected in this playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 December: Mabel Scott: Boogie Woogie Santa Claus

Published December 16, 2020

This joyful recording was a 1948 hit for Mabel Scott, reaching number 12 on Billboard's Christmas chart. Scott had a fairly short-lived recording career: according to Wikipedia, she was disillusioned with the music industry and after a final album for Australia's Festival Records in 1955, she "returned to her gospel roots, singing only in church for the rest of her life".

Listen to 'Boogie Woogie Santa Claus' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar.