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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Various Artists

Here Comes Santa Claus - 14 Swingin' Chestnuts (red vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

I know I rave about Bear Family Records and how great their products are a lot. The thing is, they deserve it. They just keep releasing great retro records and CDs. This is one of two Christmas vinyl albums I've reviewed in this issue from there. The other is on green vinyl, and this is on red. As the other one, this has an oversized holiday post card included with it. It also earns one of our bonus videos. The type of music varies between the two, though. That other one was about old school rock and roll, while this is more along the lines of contemporary pop of the time mixed with crooner songs, jazz and musical theater elements. It's another effective set. In fact, I might like the mix of songs on this one more than the music on the other one.

There is a Music Street Journal bonus video for this release located on Youtube at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH-LrRanjNc.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Side A

                      

Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters - Here Comes Santa Claus

There is such a classic vibe to this cut. It's a great theatrical jazz treatment. This is so timeless.

Johnny Desmond - It's A Marshmallow World
Set in the same basic musical zone, this is another fun number.
Molly Bee - Willy Claus (Little Son Of Santa Claus)
A bit more of a stripped back arrangement than that on the last couple songs, this is playful, but not as effective as those two.
Frederic Curzon - Ski Jump
This instrumental feels a bit like movie soundtrack music. It's a classy, energetic piece of magic.
Ella Fitzgerald - Sleigh Ride
You can't really go wrong with Ella Fitzgerald. This jazzy holiday romp is a shining example of that.
Frank Sinatra - Jingle Bells
A playful crooner concept is in the driver's seat on this tune. Sinatra's velvety vocals are strong here. It's a fun number that really has a rather timeless feeling to it.
Judy Garland - Have Yourself A Merry Christmas
A little too musical theater for my tastes, this does has its charms. That said, it's not one of my favorites here. Then again, I was never a fan of Judy Garland's voice.
Side B
                   
Peggy Lee - I Like A Sleighride (Jingle Bells)

Sort of a contemporary pop tune of its era, this is entertaining, but a bit too vanilla for me. It's needs a little more oomph.     

Erhard Bauschke - Die Schlittenpferde (The Sleigh Horses)
This instrumental has a real German music sound. It is high-energy and playful.
The Dispoto Sisters - Willy Claus
I'm not a big fan of this song, but it works better than some of the music here does. It's playful and child-like. It reminds me a little of something The Chipmunks might do.
Peggy Lee - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
I like this better than the earlier track from Peggy Lee. It is still set in the same basic zone, but there is a bit of an edgy, meaty delivery to this one.      
The Lennon Sisters - Winter Wonderland
Vintage pop music is the order of business here. This track works pretty well. It makes a nice addition to holiday festivities.
Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker - Jingle Bell Rock
I dig this rock and roller a lot. It has some old school pop and jazz edges, but really grooves very well. It's one of the highlights of this album.
Bobby Darin - Christmas Auld Lang Syne
This theatrical piece brings a real Christmas edge to the classic New Years tune. I like it quite a bit.
 
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