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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

04 December: Sonny James: I Forgot To Remember Santa Claus

Published December 04, 2021

Every now and then we like a cautionary tale in the Advent Calendar. This time it comes courtesy of Sonny James who almost "forgot to remember Santa Claus" when he put together his Christmas shopping list, as related on this 1954 recording. I thought it would be wise to post this song early in the Advent Calendar so that you all remember dear old Santa when you buy your presents.

By the way, having taken on the role of Santa for many years now, I am pleased to report that I've never been forgotten: there have always been several nice gifts for me.

Listen to 'I Forgot To Remember Santa Claus' 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03 December: William Bell: Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday

Published December 03, 2021

Before I came across this great Christmas song, I only knew William Bell from 'Private Number', his magnificent 1968 duet with Judy Clay. On this evidence, though, there's more to discover.

'Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday' was released in 1967, but didn't become a major hit, only reaching #33 on the R&B chart and not showing up at all on the Pop charts. Knowing what a great year that was for music, I suppose competition must have been fierce.

Listen to 'Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday' 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02 December: Ray Rasch And The Pipers 10: Sugar Plum Cha Cha

Published December 02, 2021

As long-time followers will know, we've never shied away from Latin rhythms in the Advent Calendar. This year they come courtesy of Ray Rasch, about whom not much seems to be known except he worked in Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s and contributed to Charlie Chaplin's score for Limelight. Well, if nothing else, let him also be known for this marvellous 1962 take on a piece from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

Listen to 'Sugar Plum Cha Cha' here.

Or listen on Spotify, where I've created a playlist for this year's Advent Calendar. (Unfortunately, the version of this track provided by YouTube and Spotify is rather distorted, so I recommend the file linked to above.)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01 December: Patty Surbey & The Canadian VIP's: (I Want) A Beatle For Christmas

Published December 01, 2021

Welcome to the 2021 Advent Calendar!

We start with a bang for, after all, who can resist a Christmas song that features the couplet, "You remember last Christmas when I asked for Ringo, but all you sent me was a game of bingo"? Canadian singer Patty Surbey, described on one website as "a perky amalgam of Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, with maybe a bit of Annette Funicello or Cathy Carroll thrown in for good measure", was 15 years old when she recorded this in 1964. She left the music business only a couple of years later; presumably, she realised there was no way she could top this recording.

Listen to '(I Want) A Beatle For 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