24 December: Frankie Lymon: It's Christmas Once Again

Published December 24, 2021

I almost didn't want to end the Advent Calendar with this because the story of Frankie Lymon is so sad: a heroin addict since age 15, and after having been clean for several years, he died from an overdose at age 25. Today, he is remembered for the breakthrough hit 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love' and little else. But today, let's focus on the positive bits, such as his incredible singing on this 1957 recording, inexplicably tucked away on the B-side of a single that didn't do much business on any of the charts.

And so concludes the 2021 Advent Calendar. Thanks for following - I hope you've enjoyed some of it. Time allowing, I will be back with another calendar for the 10th anniversary (!) next year. Happy Christmas!

Listen to 'It's Christmas Once Again' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 December: The Irish Rovers: Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake

Published December 23, 2021

We enjoy the occasional cautionary tale in the Advent Calendar, and today it comes courtesy of The Irish Rovers and their 1999 recording of 'Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake'. According to my admittedly superficial research, the song itself seems to date back to at least the 1880s, and was written by one C. Frank Horn. Anyway, sounds like this particular Christmas cake is best avoided. The lyrics are here if you want to ascertain exactly why.

Listen to 'Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 December: The Four Imperials: Santa's Got A Coupe De Ville

Published December 22, 2021

The other day I took delivery of no less than seven Christmas compilation CDs, so it seems the Advent Calendar may live on for a further few years. I found today's selection on one of the discs, and it immediately became a favourite. The Four Imperials were a vocal group from Highland Park, Michigan, who only released a handful of singles, none of which seems to have charted nationally. 'Santa's Got A Coupe De Ville', released in 1962, gets off to a shaky start, but then it shifts into full gear with delightful results.

Listen to 'Santa's Got A Coupe De Ville' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



21 December: The Glad Singers: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Published December 21, 2021

Long-time followers of the Advent Calendar will be familiar with The Glad Singers, who have been featured several times before, but that's no reason not to bring out a selection from them again. Only they could have made 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' sound so fab in this particular way. The subtitle of their Swing Bells! album is Christmas With A Beat. It's not a case of false advertising.

Listen to 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 December: Jerry Lee Lewis: I Can't Have a Merry Christmas Mary (Without You)

Published December 20, 2021

Jerry Lee Lewis, perhaps one of the baddest of the many bad boys in rock'n'roll, nevertheless made many great records. This B-side from a not very successful 1970 single is a case in point. Maybe it should have been the A-side?

Listen to 'I Can't Have a Merry Christmas Mary (Without You)' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 December: The Royal Guardsmen: It Kinda Looks Like Christmas

Published December 19, 2021

This is almost too wimpy to include in the Advent Calendar, but it's Sunday so maybe we need something that doesn't announce its presence too loudly. The Royal Guardsmen hailed from Florida and enjoyed a number two hit on the Billboard Pop chart with the novelty recording 'Snoopy vs. the Red Baron' in 1966. They held on to their connection to Snoopy and issued a Christmas single the following year, 'Snoopy's Christmas', which hit number one on Billboard's Christmas chart and also in Australia and New Zealand; it also reached number three on Sweden's Tio i topp radio chart. Today's selection is its B-side, and has no discernible relation to Snoopy.

Listen to 'It Kinda Looks Like Christmas' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 December: The Ivy League: Good King Wenceslas

Published December 18, 2021

The Ivy League was a British 1960s band, two of its members being the songwriting duo of John Carter and Ken Lewis, who are perhaps best remembered for writing a number of hits for other acts, or one-hit-wonder studio creations. They also sang backing vocals on The Who's 'I Can't Explain' - I didn't know that.

This typically mid-1960s pop arrangement of 'Good King Wenceslas' was issued on The Ivy League's 1965 Christmas EP, and I think it's rather fab. If nothing else, the sheer fact that the EP had the wonderful name of The Holly And The Ivy League makes it worth including in the Advent Calendar.

Listen to 'Good King Wenceslas' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

17 December: The Rotary Connection: Christmas Child

Published December 17, 2021

The Rotary Connection, formed in 1967, was the brainchild of Marshall Chess of Chess Records, his idea being to forge soul and psychedelia. Arranger Charles Stepney was the band's musical director, and future solo star Minnie Riperton was among its members.

On their eponymous debut album, The Rotary Connection certainly fulfilled their original, experimental brief. But the following year's Christmas album, Peace, is maybe a little more straightforward, at least on today's soulful calendar selection, 'Christmas Child'.

Listen to 'Christmas Child' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 December: Bobby Helms: Captain Santa Claus (And His Reindeer Space Patrol)

Published December 16, 2021

'Jingle Bell Rock' by Bobby Helms, is, of course, one of the most-played Christmas songs, and therefore "banned" from this Advent Calendar. But what about 'Captain Santa Claus (And His Reindeer Space Patrol)', the B-side of the original 1957 single? Have you heard that? It's one for the sci-fi fans out there and, in my opinion, too much fun to be tucked away on a single flipside.

Listen to 'Captain Santa Claus (And His Reindeer Space Patrol)' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 December: Jimmy McGriff: White Christmas

Published December 15, 2021

I am astounded, nay shocked, to realise that, as far as I can tell, I have never once featured a track from the magnificent Christmas With McGriff album in the Advent Calendar. Time to rectify that!

The album was first released in 1963 and was quite successful, reaching number 15 on Billboard's Christmas chart. As you can probably tell from 'White Christmas', McGriff was really committed to the Hammond organ and its possibilities, taking private lessons from other Hammond pioneers such as Milt Buckner and Jimmy Smith. To me, the track combines the slightly over the top with the very cool, which is often how we like it in the Advent Calendar.

Listen to 'White Christmas' here.

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

The Spotify playlist for all the previous Advent Calendars is here. Note: The playlist is incomplete, as some of my calendar selections are just too obscure for Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Calendar 2021