(December 12, 2008)

Owner/Webmaster of The Yule


Happy Holidays everybody!

Now that the holiday season is in full throttle, I thought I would dedicate this edition of “Chip’s Tips” to the new Christmas CD releases for 2008, and unlike last year, there are a few good ones.

But first, let me begin with one that, unbeknownst to me, was actually released in 2006. It’s Mantovani's second Christmas album from 1963, "Christmas Greetings from Mantovani," and it’s available on CD as an import! It was released in the U.K. on CD in 2006 by Dutton-Vocalian Records. Unfortunately, they did not see fit to use the original London Records artwork (as pictured below) and the album has been re-titled "A Song for Christmas." However, it has been digitally remastered and has all the songs from the original LP and in their original order, and this in itself is a first. Before this, all that was offered for Mantovani were various compilation CDs of the Maestro's Christmas material – something I have never been able to understand.

What's surprising, if not startling, about this release is why they didn't release Mantovani's first Christmas album, "Christmas Carols," which by far was his greatest triumph. I very much hope this will come later. Mantovani was the 2nd greatest instrumental Christmas music artist ever, second only to the master and King of Christmas music, the great Percy Faith.  

By the way, this album by Monty (as he was affectionately known by his friends and fans) was originally released in 1963 – not 1964 as stated on the Dutton-Vocalian website. This is another quintessential example of the lesson, "you can't believe everything you read."

There are a total of 3 songs from this LP that were used on the Yule Log soundtrack over the years2 songs aired on the "classic" program that was broadcast in various forms from 1973-1989 (and was the model for our audio restoration for WPIX in 2006), and 1 song aired prior to this, in the early years of the Yule Log from 1966-1972. And just in case you're wondering, there were a total of 5 songs on the Yule Log soundtrack that were taken from Monty's first Christmas album: 2 songs aired on the "classic" program (1973-1989), and 3 songs aired in the early years.

Below is an excerpt from a post that I filed on the message board in September of 2006, and I think it bears repeating:

Mantovani's music brilliantly reflected something his father taught him as a child: he said, "Put feeling into your music, my boy -- music without feeling is little more than a noise." As a result of his unequivocal success, we are now left with a legacy of a lot of great music with a hell of a lot of feeling.

The first big new reissue for 2008 is an exclusive from Collector’s Choice Music. It’s The Hollyridge Strings classic 1965 LP, “Christmas Favorites.” This is one of the 12 Hollyridge Strings albums that was arranged and conducted be the great Stu Phillips. This is the first ever CD release for this great LP, and it was long overdue. The Hollyridge Strings were an iconic group to the Yule Log soundtrack in the 1960s. In fact, in 1968, they had an impressive 4 songs on the program, topped only by the incomparable Mantovani who had 5 songs and the undisputed King of the Yule Log, Percy Faith, who had an astonishing 10 songs – the only artist in double digits, and deservedly so. And not to digress, but Percy Faith is also the only artist to have songs represented from 3 different albums and the only artist that has music in all 6 of the 30-minute tracks that make up the 3-hour broadcast.

The next is another Collector’s Choice Music exclusive: “Doris Day: The Complete Christmas Collection.” This CD is basically a reissue of Ms. Day’s delightful 1964 LP, “The Doris Day Christmas Album,” plus 10 bonus tracks – several of which have never before been released – that is until now! Two of the bonus tracks come directly from Ms. Days own private collection. This is yet another great exclusive CD from Collector’s Choice Music.  

The last one is a release by the up and coming DRG Records. It’s Tennessee Ernie Ford's 1963 LP, "The Story of Christmas," which he did with the Roger Wagner Chorale. This is the first time this LP has been issued on CD, and was the second of five Christmas albums Mr. Ford recorded for Capitol Records between 1958 and 1971. The other LPs were "The Star Carol" (1958), "Sing We Now of Christmas" (1965), "O Come All Ye Faithful" (1968), and "Christmas" (1971). To date, only the 1958 and 1971 LPs have been released on CD, but sadly, they are both now long out of print.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Musical Christmas and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2009, as our country embarks on its new beginning.

Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri