(Date Posted:07/05/2009 01:18)
The legendary Ray Conniff, one of Christmas music’s all-time great mega superstars, is tied with Mantovani (another great Christmas music mega superstar) at 4 with the second most songs on the Yule Log soundtrack; they are both second only to the greatest mega superstar of them all, the King of the Yule Log (and all of Christmas music for that matter), Percy Faith, who has a whopping and well-deserved 10 songs.
Of all the great Ray Conniff Christmas songs to choose from for the program, this is one that really should have been included: it is Mr. Conniff’s great, great medley, Jolly Old St. Nicholas/The Little Drummer Boy, and it comes from his second Christmas album, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, which was released by Columbia Records in 1962.
The pairing of these two songs was a stroke of arranging genius by Mr. Conniff as the songs really complement each other so well. This is especially true because Mr. Conniff changed the lyrics of the last line of Jolly Old St. Nicholas from “Choose for me dear Santa Claus what you think is best” to “Give little Billy a drum this year because that’s what he likes best.” When the song concludes, and after a brief “pregnant” pause, the group transitions into the second song of the medley, The Little Drummer Boy. It is of my personal opinion that Mr. Conniff had the very best version of The Little Drummer Boy ever recorded.
By the way, not only are all three of Ray Conniff’s Christmas albums in the 1st Tier of my Top Play (albums 1-125 in my collection), but the first two (1959’s Christmas With Conniff and 1962’s We Wish You A Merry Christmas) are in my all-time Top 10, and the third (1965’s Here We Come A-Caroling) is in my all-time Top 25. All three LPs are rated at a solid 10.
Here now, without further ado, are the great Ray Conniff Singers with their wistful and poignant medley, Jolly Old St. Nicholas/The Little Drummer Boy:
As a bonus, this one I just had to post: it’s a rare and fantastic clip of Ray and his talented group performing their joyous and rousing rendition of Joy To The World on his 1965 TV Christmas special. The song is from his third Christmas album, Here We Come A-Caroling, which was released by Columbia Records in 1965. So get ready, turn up the volume, and be prepared to have one hell of a good time with this one because it really rocks (by the way, check out Ray with the tambourine!!):
Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com