Title: Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
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Christmas Music Guru
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(Date Posted:07/26/2009 15:28)




 


The versatile Mitch Miller wore many hats at Columbia Records: A&R chief, producer and, of course, very successful recording artist.

 

His most famous recordings were with his chorale group known as Mitch Miller And The Gang. Under this billing, two wonderful Christmas albums were released: Christmas Sing-Along With Mitch (1958) and Holiday Sing-Along With Mitch (1961). The better of the two albums by far was the latter, and the most original song on the LP was also its very best, Must Be Santa. I always loved this song -- so happy, jolly and fun -- it never fails to make you smile. It was another great song that would have been a perfect fit for the Yule Log soundtrack:





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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:08/07/2009 22:29)

Hello Chip,

Another great addition to the "In The Spotlight" series! Just finished posting a reply regarding Johnny Mathis' 1958 Merry Christmas LP and the revelation you provided that it was Mitch Miller, who was the A&R chief of Columbia Records at the time, that bought Johnny Mathis and Percy Faith together for that album. I mentioned that Mr. Miller himself had two great Christmas albums which you have again made us aware of in selecting him for inculusion to this select group.

I agree with you that Holiday Sing-Along with Mitch is the better of the two albums (I too own a copy of this great album), and I also agree with you that Must Be Santa would be a great addition to a fourth hour of the Yule Log. You're making a great case for a fourth hour Chip, not that I or I believe any of us would need convincing of that.

Thanks for adding the clip. I wonder who did the presentation for this song. It's great! It's a perfect compliment to a great Christmas song.
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:08/08/2009 03:03)


Glad you like the song, Armando.

 

I don’t know how it was chosen for the LP, but my guess is that Mitch Miller knew the composers Hal Moore and Bill Fredericks. They wrote the song in 1960, one year before the Holiday Sing-Along LP was released.



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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:12/27/2009 09:48)

Chip,

I have both of Mitch Miller and the Gang Christmas albums on vinyl including the lyric sheets.

Christmas Sing-Along with Mitch Miller and the Gang   CS 8027

Holiday Sing Along with Mitch Miller and the Gang   CL-1701 (still hoping to find CS 8501)

My question is about the second album.  Though the Columbia catalog # is correct, the label on the actual album has the "2-Eye" label and I was wondering, being this was released in 1961 and Columbia didn't change to the "2-Eye" until 1962, if my album might be a re issue or was this released around the same time that they switched form the "6-Eye" to the "2-Eye"?

The only etchings on the album are XLP54002-1G and XLP54003-1G

Thanks.
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:12/28/2009 00:12)


Susan,

The LP was originally released in 1961 on the "6-eye" Columbia label.

Here's some information to help you determine if your copy is a first-generation "2-eye" pressing: 

The first version of the "2-eye" Columbia label (1962-1963) featured the words "GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY" at the bottom for the mono LPs, and the word "STEREO" at the bottom for the stereo LPs with "360 SOUND" on the left and right of the word stereo. In the fall of 1963, arrows were added to the left and right of the "360 SOUND" logo.

Hope this helps.


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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:12/28/2009 08:41)

Hi Chip,

Yes, your information was very helpful.  I do have a first generation "2-Eye" so I will have to look for the "6-Eye"

I thank you once again.

_______________________________
Follow-up Question for Chip.

I have seen "Holiday Sing Along With Mitch Miller and the Gang" Columbia Records CS 8501 listed with a vendor I deal with as a 2-record set.
My album is just 1 record but has two slots in the jacket.  1 is for the lyric sheets and the other for the album.  All the songs listed on the jacket are what is on the album.

Also, a vendor on eBay lists "Christmas Sing-Along With Mitch Miller and the Gang"  Columbia CS 8027
My album is only 1 record with the 2 slots in the jacket for the album and lyric sheets too.


Could people be misinterpreting the 2nd slot as being for a record?

Thanks




(Message edited by Christmas Always On 12/28/2009 09:19)
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:12/29/2009 00:52)


Yes Susan, that's exactly what they're doing. It's easy for someone to get the impression that Mitch Miller's 1958 and 1961 Christmas releases were double albums because they both had gatefold covers.



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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:12/29/2009 09:02)

Thanks Chip,

I appreciate the help.  I thought they might be confusing the gatefold covers as having a second album.
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:01/08/2010 12:08)

I keep waiting for Sony (or Collectors' Choice, or whoever) to do a decent reissue of the *complete* Christmas Sing-Along album. The current CD version dates to the '80s, has less-than stellar sound quality, and is missing several tracks from the original LP.  It'd be nice if they could restore the original cover art, too.

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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:01/08/2010 23:15)


Yes, this is another one that is long overdue for remastering and re-release.

It would be nice if Sony Music can do it in time for Mitch's 100th birthday next year in 2011.





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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:07/11/2010 13:14)

I was searching for the composers of this song (William Fredericks, Hal Moore) and noticed that Mitch Miller wasn't the first to record it.  Two versions pre-date it.

Alma Cogan's single 'Must Be Santa'/'Just Couldn't Resist Her With Her Pocket Transistor' from December, 1960.
I couldn't find any reference of her version being a hit and the B-side didn't even make the UK Top-50, but reportedly 'Her Pocket Transistor' topped the charts for 10 months in Japan.

Her version of 'Must be Santa' was done in a rockabilly style, but this style wasn't what she was known for.

You can hear a sample of Alma Cogan's version in the Christmas collection '100 Best Christmas' - it is track #80
http://www.amazon.com/100-Best-Christmas-Various-Artists/dp/B000C4CDKO

Another version was by Tommy Steele in 1960 -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kegSOr2FRlo.
Tommy Steele - Rock with the Caveman - http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Caveman-Tommy-Steele/dp/B0007SME3G/

Of course, Mitch Miller's joyful version is the one most people hear every year.

Thanks for this thread.
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:07/11/2010 19:03)


Olaf,

The Alma Cogan and Tommy Steele versions of Must Be Santa did not pre-date Mitch Miller's version. While it's true that Mitch Miller's version was first released in 1961 on LP, that was not the first time his version of the song was released by Columbia Records. It was originally released as a 45-rpm single in 1960 -- the same year Alma Cogan and Tommy Steele released their versions.

As far as who recorded it first in 1960, I cannot say for sure as the actual recording dates (month and day) for all three versions are unknown.

Here are the release dates for Mitch Miller's 45-rpm single, Must Be Santa:

1960:
Must Be Santa/Christmas Spirit (Columbia Records catalog #41814)
1961: Must Be Santa/Be A Santa (Columbia Records catalog #42240)


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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:07/11/2010 22:05)

Here are some more details (and other versions) I was able to find:

William Fredericks & Hal Moore's song was registered on Feb 26, 1960 - EU0000614778
http://www.faqs.org/copyright/the-leaves-be-green-a-ground-for-five-recorders-descant-two/

Joan Regan - Pye 7N 15303 - November, 1960 - http://www.45cat.com/record/7n15303
http://eil.com/shop/moreinfo.asp?catalogid=474644

Alma Cogan - His Master's Voice POP815 - December, 1960 - http://www.45cat.com/record/pop815

Paul Rich - Embassy WB 426 - December, 1960 - http://www.45cat.com/record/wb426
http://www.spanglefish.com/TheWonderofEmbassyRecords/index.asp?pageid=159695

Tommy Steel - Decca F11299 - December, 1960 - http://www.tommysteeleinternationalfanclub.com/TOMMYSTEELEDISCOGRAPHY.htm
http://www.chartwatch.co.uk/TopTen/labels/lab220.htm

I've found notices for both Mitch Miller singles - Columbia 41814 and Columbia 42240 in 1960 and 1961.  Were they both the same performance?  I'm surprised I couldn't find a decent Mitch Miller discography online.

For Columbia 41814 - November 7, 1960 - http://books.google.com/books?id=eR0EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=%22columbia+41814%22&source=bl&ots=5WYC1xI3Zj&sig=af0xlvpcYxgvRae6ew70KUamx2s&hl=en&ei=uIY6TLPOMMWAlAfumbzVBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22columbia%2041814%22&f=false

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JOUKAAAAIBAJ&sjid=P08DAAAAIBAJ&pg=7101,4235174&dq=mitch-miller+must-be-santa&hl=en

For Columbia 42240 - November 27, 1961 - http://books.google.com/books?id=eiAEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=%22must+be+santa%22+%22columbia+42240%22&source=bl&ots=XJI48VA6Q-&sig=92AqLjnJVSQB0DBPshiKaql5Dhk&hl=en&ei=MYs6TL3WA4KBlAfF3ajVBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22must%20be%20santa%22%20%22columbia%2042240%22&f=false

Seeing that most versions were by British artists, I was sort of surprised that Mitch Miller released a version in 1960, then I noticed that the music publisher (Hollis Music, Inc) is located in New York City.   Still, I wouldn't think an unknown song would have so many versions in the first year (especially so many in Britain), but it was a much different time then.

And here's a version by Lorne Greene (RCA Victor 47-9037) from 1966 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of9zpQrb3dg


07-12-10 @ 00:20 AM
Follow-up to above message:

And what 'German Drinking Song' is Billboard referring to when they describe 'Must Be Santa'?



 *Message edited by the Yule Log.com Message Board Administrator on 07/12/10 to combine two consecutive reply posts by the same member. Also, double-post was deleted.

**Click here to review my post regarding same-day double-posting.



(Message edited by Christmas Music Guru On 07/12/2010 00:00)
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:07/12/2010 00:55)


Yes, the 1960 and 1961 Columbia 45s were the exact same recording; the 1961 release was just a reissue of the previous year's single. And no, I do not know what German song Billboard is alluding to.

 
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:08/07/2010 20:33)

I believe the German drinking song to which Billboard alludes is the "Schnitzelbank Song", which has many variations in lyrics and melody but has a similar "building a list through repetition" dynamic to that found in "Must Be Santa".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnitzelbank


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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:08/07/2010 21:29)


Yes Mike, I think that's probably it...




 
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:08/07/2010 23:28)

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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/20/2010 23:33)

I'm not sure if this would be a waste of money or not, but I found this Mitch Miller Christmas Sing Along at Amazon this evening:

Click here.

Nothing about being remastered, not the original art work and an import CD by Hallmark?

The reason it caught my attention was that it contained all thirteen songs off of the original LP rather than the chopped down ten song version that I currently own which is still available here.

I was hoping that maybe someone could shed some light for me here.  The price is cheap enough, but I don't know if Hallmark's sound quality is worthy of my money.

-=Perry
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/21/2010 04:21)


Even though this U.K. reissuing label (Hallmark) isn't stellar by any means, I would recommend the CD for anyone who hasn't already transferred the LP to CD-R, as it has all 13 songs from the original 1958 album.


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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/21/2010 20:23)

The Hallmark label (which, I assume, has nothing to do with the card and gift company) apparently reissued this on CD a couple years back, with yet another (generic and ugly) cover.

The UK Amazon site has sound samples from that release, which sound to my ears like needledrops from the vinyl. You be the judge.

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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/21/2010 20:58)


That's correct Mike: there is no relation between Hallmark Records and Hallmark Cards; they are totally different companies.

And yes, Hallmark Records reputation for quality is quite shaky.


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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/25/2010 01:25)

I couldn't help myself and sprang for the $4.99 Christmas Sing-Along with Mitch U.K. Hallmark release on Amazon.  It arrived today.

What a hideous release.  All kinds of noise going on making it a brutal experience listening to it.  I'm not sure if it is a needle drop as Motown Mike suggested, but it certainly could be.  I'm pretty particular about the quality of my recordings, whether they are vinyl, CD or reel to reel tape.  This one won't make it into my play rotation ever.

The extra three songs missing from the Columbia release are:

The Coventry Carol
Away in a Manger
O Little Town of Bethlehem

The crapola thirteen song version from Hallmark can be found here

The much better ten song version from Columbia can be found here

For those of you who care about the quality of your recordings that you buy, this is NOT the CD for you. If you are going to burn it to an iPod and listen to it on the runway of your local airport while the jets are taking off and landing, it probably won't sound too bad. My advice is to stay away from this one unless you absolutely must have the extra three songs.  If you do, then at least treat yourself to the Columbia version as well.

Maybe one day someone will be kind enough to release a remastered version of this album on CD with all thirteen songs on it.

-=Perry
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RE:Mitch Miller: Must Be Santa
(Date Posted:09/25/2010 14:44)


That's a shame, Perry. I knew Hallmark Records' reputation for quality was questionable, but I didn't think they were that bad.

It's a shame that for anyone who doesn't have the ability to burn the original LP to CD-R, they have to rely on such a lousy reissue. With the recent passing of Mitch, hopefully Sony Music will be motivated to do a proper reissue of this great album; remastered and with all 13 original songs.


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