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Christmas Music Guru
Rank: Honorary Member  
Status: Lawrence F. Arcuri Owner/Webmaster of TheYuleLog.com
Score: 3458
Posts: 3458
From: USA
Joined: 09/07/2005

Posted on 01/10/2018 01:58

That's a great story, Steve. And yes, music -- especially Percy's Christmas music, is indeed quite therapeutic; it's very uplifting, inspirational and, as you said, healing and soothing as well. I'm so glad that it brought your bank manager some much needed joy in an otherwise sad time in her life. Percy, who was such a gentle creature, would be so happy to hear that. And I'm so glad that on his behalf I have helped keep the mission of his music alive. It's a privilege. And yes, all this is definitely a labor of love for Gordon as well.

Posted on 01/09/2018 20:47

Thanks for promoting the Percy Faith CD with your friends, Steve, and for your ringing endorsement of my liner notes.

And that is correct what you said about the old Hollywood studio system. It is very easy for some folks today to decry the controlling nature of the old studio system and the
powerful movie moguls that ran the studios like Louis B. Mayer, Sam
Goldwyn, Jack Warner, William Fox, David O. Selznick, Darryl F. Zanuck,
Harry Cohn, Adolph Zukor, Carl Laemmle, Herbert J. Yates, Mack
Sennett and Hal Roach, but the fact of the matter is that these men were
responsible for making the greatest motion pictures the world has ever
known. And it is because of the genius of these men that this period became known as the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Sadly, the end of the studio system -- and hence the Golden Age of Hollywood, came primarily at the hands of the federal government when they ordered the movie studios to divest themselves of their company owned movie theaters. The major studios could
probably have continued the fight in the courts for years if RKO chief
Howard Hughes hadn't sold out and made an agreement with the feds; but
once he did, the writing was on the wall and the era sadly came to an end.

Posted on 01/09/2018 00:30

That's correct, Steve; the reason why the albums from Christmas music's Golden Age tower over anything that came before or after, and their enduring legacy as iconic, classic and legendary, goes far beyond the myopic theory and/or simple-minded concept of mere nostalgia. The best way to explain it -- or better yet, the best analogy that I can give is something that the great Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said in 1964 about defining the word obscenity: he didn't even try to define the word, but instead just laconically and intuitively said "I know it when I see it." Well, that's exactly how it is with albums from the Golden Age of Christmas music. A person might not be able to fully explain why they sound so different and so much better -- aside, of course, from the unassailable and prodigious talent of the recording artists who made them, but they just know they do. It's the same thing that has been said for many years about the superiority of MGM musicals over the musicals of any other movie studio during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The MGM musical just had a certain look, feel and sound to them that the other studios -- try as they might -- could never quite duplicate. There were so many reasons for this, not the least of which were the great MGM musical producers Arthur Freed and Joe Pasternak. As well as the roster of incredibly talented directors, actors and actresses that were contracted to MGM.

Anyway, going back to the superiority of Christmas music from its Golden Age, you wisely cited one of the many reasons yourself in the third paragraph of your previous post.

The difference with me and everyone else is that I have an incredibly huge collection. My
Top 500 is not my entire collection, but rather the best of thousands of Christmas albums that I have accumulated over the years. And while it's nice to have all this wonderful music, the dilemma for me is that I cannot play all the classic Christmas albums in my collection. So I wouldn't even begin to dedicate any precious listening time to contemporary Christmas music.

But yes, there is some very pleasant new/contemporary Christmas music out there today -- some of which you alluded to in your post; but as I've
said on the board in the past, there are periods of time in history when certain things just seem hit their artistic peak and are never equaled thereafter. For example:
classical music (Beethoven, Mozart, etc.), painters/sculptors (Leonardo
Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc.), Hollywood's Golden Age of the 1930s and
'40s, Television's Golden Age of the 1950s and '60s, and, of course,
easy-listening and Christmas music's Golden Age which also was of the
1950s and '60s. Nothing that has come since, or will come in the
future, will ever hold a candle to the artistic peaks in these respective arts. They are eras that will never be repeated or duplicated.

To quote a famous movie line from that legendary 1939 movie: "Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A civilization gone with the wind."

Posted on 01/03/2018 03:22

Yes indeed Steve, Percy Faith was a brilliant contrapuntist; and it's his magnificent counter-melodies in his arrangements that gave his Christmas music such an ethereal, celestial and angelic quality to it. So much so, in fact, that it sounds like it was phoned in from God -- or as I said in my CD liner notes, like it was literally piped down from heaven. There was an otherworldly quality to his Christmas music that no other recording artist has ever come close to in duplicating. And this from a man who was Jewish, which in my opinion, made it all the more special, as let's not forget that Christ was Jewish.

As for the great recording engineer Harold "Chappie" Chapman, he and Percy were close friends. He did all of Percy's albums up to 1970, when sadly, he retired. Regarding Johnny Mathis, in 1957, after Columbia A&R chief Mitch Miller asked Percy to help Johnny with his fledgling recording career, Percy acted as a guide and mentor, as well as arranger and conductor on some of Johnny's most important early albums -- including the biggest and greatest album that Johnny ever recorded (Christmas or otherwise): 1958's Merry Christmas. And yes, to answer your question, Chappie was the recording engineer for this legendary album as well. Johnny became very fond of Chappie through Percy, and whenever was possible, was the recording engineer for Johnny's albums as well. And you are correct that all this incredible music magic that Percy, Johnny and other Columbia recording artists created with Chappie was done right here in New York at Columbia's legendary 30th Street Studios, also known as "The Church" because it originally was a Presbyterian church from 1875 until 1948.

By the way, later on, after Percy relocated his home to Encino, Ca, and his recording operations to downtown Los Angeles, Chappie did the same and went with him. And unfortunately for us, they left "The Church" behind. As a result, nothing was ever like the acoustics they had achieved with that spectacular 30th Street Studio.

Oh well, we just have to be very thankful that Percy's first two Christmas albums (his greatest), and Johnny's first Christmas album (his greatest) were recorded here in New York at what in my opinion -- and many others as well -- was the greatest recording studio the world has ever known -- the Columbia 30th Street Studios.

                     Chappie Chapman

Posted on 01/01/2018 13:55

I'd certainly like to get it released, Rodney, but it will be a tough one since it belongs to UMG.

Posted on 12/31/2017 02:15


You're correct: that special double LP package was released in 1961 (catalog #TCF-110-2 for mono; and #TCF-110-2S for stereo).

To all members:

Update: Though I have never been able to locate the original masters, I went ahead and formally proposed to Gordon (Anderson) in Hollywood the release of Harry Simeone's fourth (and best) Christmas album from 1973,
It's Christmas Once Again. Not only has this album never been released on CD, it also had a very limited release on LP back in the 1970s. Therefore, I suggested to Gordon to promote the CD's release as "The lost Harry Simeone Christmas album classic."

Anyway, as long as I can come up with the original masters by spring, we'll be golden.

Posted on 12/29/2017 01:21


They probably offered that mixed mono/stereo track selection for the mp3 download to differentiate it from our 2012 CD release.

As for my big 2017 release this year of the classic and legendary 1959 stereo version of Percy Faith's Music Of Christmas masterpiece -- the #1 album in my
Top 500, I'm not sure how you could have missed the announcement. You're on the group email list, and I both posted it on the message board and sent out a group email announcement way back last year in 2016; on August 8, 2016, to be exact. Perhaps it went to your spam folder. Anyway, for my official announcement from last year, click here.

And yes, Sony has always been very protective of Percy Faith's Christmas recordings -- especially the 1959 stereo masterpiece (as it has never been out of print since its release in 1959), and would not grant licensing to release it. That is, until this year when they finally acquiesced and the deal was made. I added 7 bonus tracks and wrote the CD liner notes. If you're planning on purchasing it, you better hurry as the only vendor that has stock left is Amazon; and I just checked, and they're down to just 5 copies. Once they're gone, you'll have to wait for the second pressing.

Posted on 12/29/2017 01:15


The other thing that was different about the CD reissue of Harry Simeone's O Bambino/The Little Driummer Boy LP was that the 9th and 10th songs were reversed.

As for Mr. Simeone's fourth and, yes indeed, best overall Christmas album, It's Christmas Once Again, it's a mystery. If I could ever find out what became of the masters, I'd try to get it released. I personally know Mr. Simeone's daughter, Molly, and she never knew either. I haven't talked with her in a while; so before I wrote this post, I gave her a call to catch up and revisit this subject. She's going to try and reach out to an old agent of her father's that she thinks is still alive and see what she can find out. It'd be nice to give this album the recognition that it deserves.

Ironically, the two best Christmas albums that Mr. Simeone released were the two that did not include the hit song "The Little Drummer Boy." That's the reason why they are the most rare and least known about. The record companies have treated them like second-class sisters because they don't have the song ("The Little Drummer Boy") that they feel is needed to sell the release. By the way, that other Christmas album that is the second-best after the 1973 Omnisound Records album
It's Christmas Once Again, is the 1963 Mercury Records Christmas album, The Wonderful Songs Of Christmas.

Posted on 12/27/2017 03:17


Harry Simeone's Christmas album entitled O Bambino/The Little Drummer
was released by Kapp Records in 1965, not 1963 as you had mentioned in
the first paragraph of your post. This album resides in the 2nd Tier of
Top 500, coming in at #190.

original version of Harry Simeone's rendition of "The Little Drummer
Boy" song was released as a 45-rpm single in 1958, and then on the
full-length LP Sing We Now Of Christmas in 1959. By the way, the record label for this album was actually 20th Fox, without the word "Century" in the middle. That's how 20th Century-Fox did their record label back then.

But going back to the 1965
O Bambino/The Little Drummer LP, as Mike said in his previous post, it was indeed released on CD. However, only in an abridged form: the last song on the album, "Sing Of A Merry Christmas," was cut. Something Universal Music is notorious for.

And no, currently there are no plans to release any of Harry Simeone's Christmas albums on CD, but perhaps in the future.

Posted on 12/27/2017 03:07


Yes, unfortunately the new Percy Faith 1959 stereo Music Of Christmas CD is pretty much sold out everywhere, except Amazon. They got the last shipment of the new CD a couple of weeks ago. However, I just checked and there are only 12 copies left. So please order quickly!

Posted on 12/27/2017 03:05


What they are offering for mp3 download is basically what we released in 2012, except that it has a combination of 1954 mono tracks and 1959 stereo tracks. Why they did this, who the hell knows but it's pretty darn stupid. And those three bonus tracks are the exact same ones on our 2012 release (disc one).

By the way, that group of singers is known as The Shillelagh Singers, not "Sisters" as you had said in your post.

And yes, Sony remastered all of these Percy Faith albums, and it was because of our 2012 and 2017 CD releases. The remastering was done here in New York at Sony's renowned Battery Mastering Studios: Maria Triana did the remastering for the 1954 mono version of Music Of Christmas and the 1958 album Hallelujah for our 2-CD Percy Faith release in 2012 (click here -- but view in Firefox to see the jpeg images that I posted); and Vic Anesini did the remastering for the 1959 stereo version of Music of Christmas for our 2017 release this year (click here).

Posted on 12/22/2017 23:52


Yes, it can be very confusingThis phenomenon of a Christmas album being released and then so quickly being pulled off production, repackaged and re-released happened very rarely. The other two most notable examples are with The Jack Halloran Singers and Nat King Cole.

With Jack Halloran, in 1957, Dot Records released his Christmas album called Christmas Is A-Comin'. It was recorded in stereo, but only released in mono because the Westrex cutting head, which allowed for the mass-production of stereophonic vinyl discs, was not yet available to the record companies, and wouldn't be until 1958. In addition, the album included a song that at that time was still known as "Carol Of The Drum." But then, the next year, in 1958, Harry Simeone took the song and pretty much the same arrangement, re-recorded it and released it as "The Little Drummer Boy." Well, as everyone knows, it became a gigantic hit. So, as a result, in 1959, Dot records pulled Halloran's Christmas album off production, changed the name of the song on the album from "Carol Of The Drum" to "The Little Drummer Boy," made it the first song on the album, and then re-released it with new artwork and new album title of The Little Drummer Boy (to capitalize on the popularity of the song). Oh, and the album was also finally released for the first time in stereo, now that Dot Records had finally acquired the aforementioned newly invented Westrex cutting head. 

And with Nat King Cole, in 1960, Capitol Records released his Christmas album Christmas Magic. But then, in 1961, Nat recorded in Hollywood (after three previous recorded versions) his now classic stereo version of "The Christmas Song." So, in 1962, Capitol pulled his Christmas album off production, repackaged it by deleting the song "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," adding the 1961 stereo version of "The Christmas Song," and then re-released the album with new artwork and new album title of The Christmas Song (to capitalize on the popularity of the song).

By the way, as to your question about Grand Prix Records; no, it was not a subsidiary label of Challenge, but rather Pickwick.


Varese Sarabande has a compilation CD that they released in 1999 called Here Comes Santa Claus, but it doesn't have "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" on it; click here.

Posted on 12/22/2017 06:37


That Challenge Records' Christmas Time With Gene Autry 10-song LP (catalog #CHL-600) was not a compilation, but rather the original incarnation of the Grand Prix Records' repackaged and expanded 12-song LP
Gene Autry Sings Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (& other Christmas Favorites) (catalog #KX-11 for mono and #KSX-11 for stereo).

For the Grand Prix expanded edition, the four songs added were "Nine Little Reindeer," "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," "Away In A Manger," and "What Child Is This." Unfortunately, however, two songs were not kept for the repackaged LP; those songs were "Silver Bells" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

The version of the album that is represented in my
Top 500
list (album #236) is the expanded 1957 edition. By the way, the exact
release year of the original is in dispute, but my belief is that it
preceded the repackaged and expanded edition by no more than one or two years. When Varese Sarabande released the album on CD in 2006, they released the 1957 expanded edition.

The Gene Autry website offers for purchase a Red vinyl LP edition of this classic 1957 album, click here.

Posted on 12/05/2017 22:16

Oh sure, John. The parent record companies, in this case Sony, keep track of all the sales numbers of their recordings. It reflects on the stature of their recordings and is also used for promotional purposes.

Posted on 12/04/2017 22:01


Amazon should be getting the last supply of the new Percy Faith CDs soon. And barring any unanticipated problems with Sony, there will be a second pressing; however, I just can't say when they will be available for purchase.

Posted on 12/03/2017 04:02

Thanks, Rich; Gordon and I appreciate the positive feedback/reviews on the CDs.

Posted on 12/01/2017 22:36


The last supply of Percy CDs is being shipped to Amazon; after that it will be sold out until a second pressing is completed. So anyone looking to buy it should get their order in now.

Also, thanks for the kind words for me and Vic; Vic echoed my sentiments by telling me that this was a labor of love.

very glad to hear how much your daughter is enjoying the new CD. Percy
would be so happy that his music is reaching a new generation of folks.

Posted on 11/27/2017 17:25

I saw that listing on Amazon, but it's in dispute as to whether it's the same album: the picture that's shown on Amazon is for a 1973 Disneyland Records children's album of the same name, The Sounds Of Christmas, but it's a totally
different album than the London Sound 70 LP. However, the description
for the album shows the artist as The London Sound 70 and the record
label as Decca. So it's anybody's guess what album's really for sale.

Posted on 11/26/2017 21:25


Very important: For all those not on the Real Gone Music group email list who might not be aware, the annual 2-week "
Green & Red" Holiday Sale is on for the entire catalog of Christmas releases (47 total titles), where you'll get the best prices of the year. Click here

Posted on 11/25/2017 22:17

The London Sound 70 Christmas album, The Sounds Of Christmas, did not make my
Top 500, but I listed it in Part 1 of my "Notable Mentions" section that follows the listing of the 500. It's a 3-record set that was released by Decca Records in 1970 (catalog #DEB-7-7). It pops up on eBay from time to time, so your best bet is to save it as a search; and then as soon as it's available, you will be notified.

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