Friday, December 2, 2011

Thrift Shopping for Christmas Jams...

A budget re-release of a budget re-release - Custom Records CS 5

Click the red audio players to hear selections from my shopping spree...

Flashback 1970's - In my neighborhood if a cracklin' fire on Christmas Eve was desired, most of us either had a cardboard fireplace, with some sort of rotating foil mechanism for 'flames'; or you turned on WPIX and watched the "Yule Log", a now legendary Christmas memory for Tri-State area peeps. Twas a loop of a few minutes of fireplace footage, with a few hours of Christmas music also looping - the cheerful, elevator-muzak kind, not the Beibers and Bubl├ęs of current radio fodder. In other words, the good stuff! Andy Williams was about as hip as it got - plenty hip enough for that homey, warm feeling. Along with wackiness and obscure, good-quality stuff, the muzak is now my favorite holiday tuneage. Never slip-shod on the arranging or performing - it really is, all good.

I had errands in Ormond Beach the other day, so I drove a few extra miles for a 2nd trip to the Holly Hill Salvation Army Thrift Store. They've only got 4 small rows of vinyl, most of it John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Anne Murray.

Not always the savviest thrift-shopper - I grabbed the above album misreading it as by Gordon Jenkins - the famous bandleader/composer. Oops number one, although this turned out to be easy-listening gold. It's also been released as by George Jenkins and the 1000 strings (is that counting all 4 strings on each instrument?) on Crown Records. Anyway - it is very congenial listening with several nods to Mantovani. More like a mugging, the 'cascading' effect is everywhere - but done well, and very pleasant; with thoughtful, eloquent arranging.

Grand Prix Records

I was half-excited to find this album - since it was still in cellophane. However, the Happy Crickets were the dime-store version of The Chipmunks, with very dime-store ethics in production, showing none of the finesse of David Seville and sporting a very parred-down instrumentation. Unfortunately (?) I didn't check the condition of the vinyl itself.

oops no 2

Luckily (??) I already picked up the single that inspired the album - and am more than happy to inflict it upon any willing victim. The 'rare' flipside was so bad they didn't even include it on the above album. At 1:18, it's still too long. I advise you not to listen if you are in even the slightest bad mood. It's awfulness even inspired me to make an accompanying animated video - very dark at times. I'll post that later, perhaps with the nooses and grim reapers edited out.

ABC Records Music Guild - Now Generation Series - IDS-9904

Oh yeah!!! Gotta love the 70's - where does one begin? This is by far the oddest marketing I've ever seen for a classical album. Politically correct completely out the window (woo-hoo!!), and Mozart, known for often delving into the crass for a laugh, would have absolutely loved this album cover. (Although I'm not a pc kinda guy - I'm still pretty horrified by it.) With the simulated stereo by "electronic rechanneling"? - maybe not so much. I already have primo versions of both symphonies by von Karajan so I'll save it for some tedious moment in the future. Final laugh - this is released on ABC Records' "Now Generation" series.

Koto Vivaldi - The New Koto Ensemble of Tokyo
Angel EMI S-37450 Quadraphonic!

And finally - another pearl in the Montgomery Wards Gem Kit. Again - yay for the 1970's! The joining of Vivaldi and a Koto ensemble is a marriage made in Ama. Arranged and performed exquisitely, there are moments where one misses the range and ability to trill of the violin; but certain passages thrive, like the rain/snow depictions in the slow movements of Spring and Winter, and blustery wind and slipping on ice are all vivid and evocative during the outer movements. The cover alone was worth the 25 cents; this was another big win.

If you are into Christmas Vinyl - may I recommend FalalalalaMistletunes  (Christmas Rock)  and The Christmas Yule Blog - where you'll find much more of both visuals and audio. Also - if the WPIX "Yule Log" intrigues you: someone has uploaded the whole loop in 15 parts up on youtube. Enjoy! - SO

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