14 December: The Len Price 3: It's Christmas Time Ebenezer

Published December 14, 2021

We haven't had much in the vein of rock music in the calendar so far, but the British band The Len Price 3 are here to change that. As far as I can tell, this track was first released on the 2008 compilation album Little Steven's Underground Garage Presents Christmas A Go-Go. I think it's pretty good, and maybe you will too.

Listen to 'It's Christmas Time Ebenezer' 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.

13 December: Duvbo Husmoderskör: Sankta Lucia

Published December 13, 2021

I don't post many Swedish holiday-season songs, mainly because the lyrics and concepts will be very hard to understand for most of the calendar followers, but every now and then I make an exception. Today is Lucia day in Sweden, so I had long earmarked this for today's version of 'Sankta Lucia'. And a couple of days ago, this article appeared in The Observer, so perhaps it will mean more to an international audience than I thought.

Recorded in May 1956 - they liked to be really early with their Christmas recordings in those days - and released towards the end of the year, that's about all I can tell you about this recording. Duvbo Husmoderskör ("Duvbo Housewives Choir") only ever recorded the two seasonal tunes at this recording session, it seems. I suggested to a friend of mine who lives in that area of greater Stockholm that he might want to see if the choir was still going and, if so, that he could perhaps join them. He didn't seem to think it was a very good idea.

Listen to 'Sankta Lucia' 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.

 

 

 

 

12 December: Chet Baker: I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

Published December 12, 2021

There are many things I never knew about Chet Baker. One of them is that the "prince of cool" recorded an entire easy listening album, complete with Bert Kaempfert-style bass playing. But here is his version of 'I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm' from the 1966 album Into My Life, recorded together with The Carmel Strings. Suitably mellow for a Sunday, I think.

Listen to 'I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm' 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.

 

11 December: Wally Whyton: Christmas Land

Published December 11, 2021

After three song titles in a row starting with the word "Blue", today the Advent Calendar will be bold and change to something else: 'Christmas Land'. In the 1950s, Wally Whyton was a founder member of The Vipers Skiffle Group (one of the young Björn Ulvaeus' inspirations). He then became a children's TV presenter, and it was during that period, in 1962, that he recorded this gentle little tune.

Listen to 'Christmas Land' 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.

10 December: Akira Ishikawa & Floral Pop '70: Blue Christmas

Published December 10, 2021

So, here's a lengthy tale of the lengths I will go to in the cause of Christmas music. I first came across Drum Christmas Drum, the album on which today's selection can be found, several years ago. Released by Japanese jazz drummer Akira Ishikawa in 1970, it does, as you may imagine, focus on the drums a little more than most Christmas albums, but it does so against a back-drop of jazzy easy-listening instrumentation and ethereal vocals. Quite lovely, in other words.

Someone hosting a Christmas music blog had ripped a vinyl copy of the album, and I fell in love with its weird and wonderful approach immediately. Only one problem: the sound quality was not good. I can handle the odd pop and crackle here and there, but this seemed to be a case of the record player needle not being in very good shape, so most of the tracks sounded way too muddy and distorted. There were only a few selections that sounded good enough to be enjoyable - and then not quite as much as I would have wanted to. Two of the more listenable vinyl-ripped tracks have been featured in earlier editions of the Advent Calendar.

A search made it clear that Drum Christmas Drum had been issued on CD - back in 2006. The Japanese are great at releasing even the most obscure albums on CD, the only problem being that they only seem to be available for about two weeks before they're deleted. Second-hand copies were purchasable but were very expensive. So for several years around November/December I would have a look online to see if I could find a copy at a reasonable price, but no such luck. My debate with myself would go along the lines of, "You really want this album, don't you? Yes, but it's very expensive and I can't really justify spending that much money on a weird Christmas album. I see your point, but..." And then I didn't end up buying it. As far as I can tell it is not available on iTunes, which would have been an acceptable alternative to me.

But last year, after hemming and hawing quite a bit, I finally bit the bullet - inner dialogue: "It will be worth it just to not have to go through this anxiety every Christmas! Ah, ehm... yes, you're probably right, but it is very expensive..." - and bought a copy. It arrived too late at CMP headquarters for inclusion in last year's Advent Calendar, but, dear calendar followers, now I'm very happy to be able to share this wonderful version of 'Blue Christmas' with you all.

Listen to 'Blue Christmas' here.

Not available on Spotify, but the link takes you to the 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.

 

09 December: Miles Davis: Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)

Published December 09, 2021

Here's one for all the bah-humbuggers out there. Originally released on the various artists album Jingle Bell Jazz in 1962, the song was co-written by Miles Davis and Bob Dorough, with the latter handling the lead vocals. If you listen closely to the lyrics, though, it seems Dorough's anti-Christmas sentiments come from him simply feeling blue for unspecified reasons, perhaps for being the kind of person that's unable to find any joy in the Christmas celebrations - and it's not like there isn't a bit of truth in some of the lines of the song.

Listen to 'Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)' 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

08 December: Darren Hayman: Blue Tinsel, Red Tinsel

Published December 08, 2021

I don't know much about Darren Hayman, except he emerged in the mid-1990s in the British indie band Hefner; he was its leader, and today he is a solo artist. What I do know, however, is that 'Blue Tinsel, Red Tinsel', first issued on the various artists Christmas album Stars in 2018, is a catchy and cute little song that I'm very pleased to have discovered through a recent blog post by Pete Paphides (I agree with Pete's assessment of Shakin' Stevens' 'Merry Christmas Everyone', by the way - it's not going to be in my Advent Calendar any time soon). Thanks Pete, and thanks Darren.

Listen to 'Blue Tinsel, Red Tinsel' 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07 December: The Penguins: Jingle Jangle

Published December 07, 2021

American doo-wop group The Penguins are perhaps best known for their 1954 classic 'Earth Angel', but a year later they issued a Christmas single. 'Jingle Jangle', the single B-side, written by group member Curtis Williams, could be said to be the ultimate contrast to yesterday's Swiss yodel excursion. But then, contrasts are pretty much what this Advent Calendar is about.

Listen to 'Jingle Jangle' 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.

 

 

06 December: Trio Shmeed: Winter Time

Published December 06, 2021

So, it's Monday again and for some of us there may be a bit of resistance in approaching a new working week. If that's the case, then I think the sheer enthusiasm of Trio Shmeed might help wake you up.

This Swiss trio were really called Geschwister Schmid, which translates as the Schmid Siblings: their names were Klärli, Werner and Willy. It seems they adopted the name Trio Shmeed in the mid-1950s, when they were attempting a breakthrough in the United States: exactly why the awkward Shmeed spelling of their name would have been more palatable than Schmid is a mystery.

The trio was quite successful in North America, although their only US album - eponymous and released by ABC-Paramount in 1955 - never appeared on Billboard's albums chart. But, if nothing else, 66 years later its existence allows me to extract this yodel-fest from it, to the benefit of us all.

Listen to 'Winter Time' here.

Not available on Spotify, but the link takes you to the 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.

 

 

 

 

 

05 December: The Beach Boys: Winter Symphony

Published December 05, 2021

Having already released a rather magnificent Christmas album back in 1964, in 1977 The Beach Boys set about recording a second one. Sessions were eventually halted, however, and it wasn't until 1998 that the tracks from that project were issued on the Ultimate Christmas compilation album. 'Winter Symphony', written and sung by Brian Wilson, is perhaps not the best thing he ever did, but I find it rather sweet.

Listen to 'Winter Symphony' 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