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 rsteven's Recent Posts
rsteven
http://forum1.aimoo.com/theyulelog
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Posted on 07/04/2018 23:22


Oh man, Chip, I jusI love that Kate Smith Christmas album that Peter Matz arranged. Her huge range and powerful voice is just spectacular and was truly built to sing those amazing carols and songs. Because of consulting you, I was able to secure a hard to find copy of the original BMG version of that album with the original full cover art without that God awful blue border that they added when they re-released it as a CD-R.

I also love that fantastic Jo Stafford Christmas album that blends her first iconic Christmas album with her second winter inspired collection. Wow, her husband was a great orchestrator as well and her perfect pitch singing is phenomenal. I am so thankful for your historical knowledge on the history of these great albums as its next to impossible to sort all this out without your expertise.

I was absolutely amazed by that huge orchestra that is featured on Joni James very underrated and spectacular Christmas album. The sonics and quality of the recording on her album is amazing. I actually thought I was listening to a stereo CD for awhile and I kept researching and re-reading your great threads to make sure it was not. The velvet vocals and beautiful, but not overdone, reverb on her Christmas album reminds me very much of those great sonics that were captured at the Capitol Tower recordings of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra's best albums.

Yes indeed, I think you nailed it once again about Joni rewriting "From kids from one to ninety-two" to "Kids from one to ninety-one" as probably just her thinking it made more sense to rhyme it in the same sentence than the following one. I agree with you too that it probably sounds better as written, but nevertheless, I find it endearing that she personalizes it in her own her way. It makes it her song so to speak. She just seems like such a beautiful lady and the way that she quit the business to take care of her husband just impresses the heck out of me. My gosh, she is still alive too, if I recall right. What a lady!

Thanks again for all the great info, Chip, you are the man!

Steve






Posted on 07/03/2018 21:59


Hello Chip,

Once again your fantastic Top 500 playlist has brought to my attention another great gem from the Golden Age of Christmas, in this particular case a Christmas artist that you highlighted in your In The Spotlight thread noted above, the tremendously gifted and underrated Joni James.

Residing at number 146 on the Second Tier of your Top 500 is Joni James heartfelt and truly splendid "Merry Christmas From Joni" album. Interestingly enough, Joni's remarkable holiday album rests two notches below my other recent discovery on your Top 500, "Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas" album, which has recently become one of my very favorite female Christmas albums of all time with its stellar orchestral and choral arrangements by the legendary Ralph Carmichael.

I recently picked up the Taragon Records twofer CD issue of Joni's elegant Christmas album from 1956, paired with her absolutely lovely holiday album for Easter, "Give Us This Day." Both albums feature fantastic remastering with Joni herself overseeing the process, along with her personal sound engineer, Tom Perry, as well as a remastering engineer from the the famed Capital Records Tower Studios, Charles Paakkari. Wow, when an artist takes an active role in the reissue process, you can often get a quality product and this twofer CD has great liner notes and beautiful full page cover shots of the original albums. The back page has the beautiful full color artwork of her iconic "Merry Christmas From Joni" album on the back of the booklet so you can just flip it over and it will display on the front of the CD cover. 

I just love these fantastic full orchestral Christmas albums form the Golden Age of Christmas with some of the greatest vocalists of all time doing their greatest interpretation of some of the greatest secular and sacred Christmas material ever written, like Joni's splendid versions of "White Christmas," "O Holy Night," and "Ave Maria," which is actually a highlight on her gorgeous religious album that is part of this twofer collection. I also love the two original songs that you posted above that were actually her first attempts at holiday music.

I have a couple of questions for you, Chip. Firstly, I am wondering if you would consider her "Merry Christmas From Joni" album to be one of the very first full fledged efforts of an iconic full orchestral vocal album from a female artist that represents the truly iconic period of the Golden Age of Christmas music that really begin right around this time period? I cannot really think of another female artist of any magnitude, other than perhaps Kate Smith, that put together such a fully realized orchestral album that is sonically a masterpiece so to speak. I think even Kate Smith's greatest effort at this full orchestral sound would come later in the 1960's with her second Christmas album, which is obviously and deservedly one of the most beloved and revered Christmas albums in history.

Secondly, Chip, and this question is really an obscure one to ask you, but if anybody would know the answer to this question about Joni's fantastic Christmas album, I know it would be you. In Joni's great version of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)," Jodi changes the lyric in the refrain "So I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two" to "So I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-one." As another reviewer on amazon noted, this change from saying "ninety-one" instead of "ninety two" actually stops it from rhyming with the next line in the song that ends with "Merry Christmas to you," so she obviously did this lyric change for a reason and with purpose. I was wondering if she might have had a child around that age or something when she was recording the album as she even repeats the line that way twice.

Best regards,

Steve







Posted on 07/01/2018 08:58


Chip,

You are so right about Elvis's potential to be a very fine actor. My father, who spent the early part of his career in the television industry as a director, was always very critical of Hall Wallis and the limited budget films that Tom Parker negotiated for Elvis. He too, thought Elvis had natural born skill as an actor.

Walter Matthau was another great actor that worked with Elvis in one of the KIng's better movies, King Creole, and always had very great things to say about Elvis personally and as an actor, including the following statement about Elvis in a 1987 interview, "“He was an instinctive actor...He was quite bright...he was very intelligent...He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated.” 






Posted on 07/01/2018 01:03



Hello Chip,

Oh boy, it looks like I am batting a 1000 today on my facts! Glad you are there to catch my errors. And I am totally with Ms. Gabriel on her opinion of Colonel Tom Parker. He really failed Elvis, both personally and professionally, especially in the later half of his career. He always based his decisions on the near term financial gains and never from the merits of the artistic long term prospects for his client.

Steve


Posted on 06/30/2018 23:05



Hello Chip,

Yes indeed, I totally agree with you regarding the superiority of Patti Page's second Columbia Christmas album over her first one for Mercury. Once again your list guided me to securing both those splendid albums, but there is a charm and wistfulness on that second holiday album for Columbia that just cannot be beat. My mom was a huge fan of her iconic song "Tennessee Waltz" and of course with my Aunt's connection with her earlier career, we all remained very big fans of hers for a lifetime.

Oh gosh, I had a real senior moment with your favorite album cover picks of all time. Gee whiz, I am only 58 for goodness sakes. Well, of course the fantastic Fred Waring album with the iconic Norman Rockwell cover is your greatest Christmas album cover of all time. How could it not be as I bought two copies of your spectacular twofer release from Real Gone Music just to make sure I have a back-up with that wonderful cover as well as the glorious music that lies within. I also agree with your pick for number 2 with Percy Faith's original album cover for Music Of Christmas. Just precious to say the least.

I have just been mesmerized by listening to the great Mahalia Jackson and thanks again for posting those amazing clips of her glorious singing. Elvis Presley was a big fan of Mahalia's and got the chance to meet her when she came on the set of his movie, The Trouble With Girls. He also gave a shout out to her during the filming of one of his Las Vegas concerts, when he teased his wonderful back-up singers, the Sweet Inspirations, after they could not stop laughing at one of his antics on stage by saying, "I'm bringing in the Supremes next week with Mahalia Jackson singing lead." Elvis loved gospel music above all else and there must have been a lot of mutual respect there between the two legends.

And thanks again for expanding your fantastic Top Playlist throughout the years as without consulting it, I would have been like a man lost in the desert trying to find water without a compass.

Best regards,

Steve  





Posted on 06/30/2018 13:43


Chip,

Thanks so much for reminding me of the other glorious pairings by those iconic artists on your magnificent Top 500 list. I had forgotten about Jo Stafford's fantastic albums since they are available on one CD as a twofer as well. Wow, and her pitch and intonation is right on par with Ella's and of course I have that great CD in my collection, which again is an artist that I would not have ever even known about without your iconic Top 500 list.

Burl Ives is another artist I should have mentioned, and again I guess I put him in almost the Bing and Perry category, but I guess as much as I love his voice as a great story teller, I probably do not put him in the same great vocal category as Bing, Andy, Johnny or Nat, but thats a matter of my personal bias. He is a truly iconic Christmas artist nevertheless. Oh Patti Page, how did I overlook her as an artist that made two great albums. My aunt Helen, who I have talked to you about before, helped her early on in her career while she owned and managed KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I love that first Christmas album of hers on Columbia, but will have to revisit the Mercury album again for comparison.

Now, the great Mahalia Jackson, that is the artist that I meant to get to after I talked about Ella in my previous post. Once again, your fantastic list of the greatest Christmas albums ever brought me to one of her great holiday albums that I did not have in my collection and along with "Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas," is my favorite "new" holiday CD added to my collection this year. I love all three of her great Christmas albums, but wouldn't you know, the one that turns out to be my favorite is the one I just bought a few days ago based on your list, "Christmas With Mahalia". What I love most about this album, besides her majestic and powerful vocals, is the stellar orchestral arrangements of Marty Paich, who surrounded her with swelling strings the way one might have imagined Percy Faith would have done if he had scored the charts on this splendid Christmas album.

I did think about Leroy Anderson too, briefly, with the stereo and mono versions of his iconic Christmas album. I love those two iconic album covers as well, and I believe the first album cover with the great picture of the cat and presents is rightly rated by you as the number one Christmas album cover of all time. Ferrante & Teicher definitely made two of the greatest instrumental Christmas albums in history as well as being one of my very favorite piano Christmas album artists of all time.

I cannot imagine how I would have ever tracked down some of these fantastic, but rare Christmas albums without your definitive and irreplaceable Top 500 list. I have found great albums on all three tiers of your amazing Top 500 list and even an album or two on your "honorable mentions" category. I cannot imagine the work and resources it took to put together such an iconic listing and ratings of the greatest Christmas music albums in history. Thanks again for the road map that you have provided to all of us Christmas lovers of the Golden Age as we await your coming announcement about what gems from that list that we will be able to add to our fantastic collections this year. From your previous statement on the board regarding the future announcement of your RGM Christmas albums not being made until after July in all likelihood, we now know you are diligently trying to score some more of those iconic, but hard fought releases from Universal Music. We so appreciate your tenacity to get these glorious albums remastered and restored to their original splendor and back out in circulation. Good luck, my friend!





Posted on 06/30/2018 10:55


Hello Chip,

As I and so many of your loyal board members anxiously await your next installment of Chip's Tips, whereby you announce the upcoming iconic Christmas classics from the Golden Age of Christmas music that you and Real Gone Music have managed to secure for CD release this year, I always find myself returning to scan your Top 500 Christmas List of the greatest Christmas albums in history in order to add to my growing CD collection. I never fail to find less than four or five CD's to add to my growing Christmas collection each year that now numbers well over 300.

This year, among your not so "hidden gems," I recently discovered two surprisingly glorious albums. Firstly, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album from 1967 has been an absolutely breathtaking listen. To begin with, I was virtually unaware that the great Ella had even made a second Christmas album of any consequence as everybody else is so obsessed with her first beloved holiday album, "Ella wishes you a Swinging Christmas," and rightly so as it truly deserves its place in you top tier of your top 40 of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. I mean this is Michael Bublé's favorite Christmas album of all time, so its status is well deserved with those fantastic brass charts by Frank DeVol being a perfect match for Ella's great jazz chops.

What makes Ella's follow-up album six years later for the Capitol Jazz label even more amazing is how different the sound and arrangements were from her first masterpiece. Ella's second iconic holiday album goes in the opposite direction in more ways than one. Firstly, she began by selecting all sacred songs for her stupendous second Christmas album as opposed to the first holiday album that was all secular in its song choices. Secondly, she chose the magnificent conductor and arranger, Ralph Carmichael, as her primary collaborator, best known for his stellar orchestral arrangements on Nat King Cole's glorious and iconic "The Christmas Song" album, one of the top five best selling Christmas albums of all time.

Ralph Carmichael could not have been a better choice as he is more or less known as the father of contemporary Christian music that has become so popular in the last several decades. Wow, and Ella totally adapts to his gentle and caressing style, much like the velvety cushion he provided on Nat's iconic Christmas album. Lots of glistening harp, violins and choral arrangements that are to die for and never get in the way of Ella's perfect pitch singing and amazing intonation. 13 glorious sacred songs and if anyone on your great board appreciates and admires Nat King Cole's splendid holiday album, than they will definitely be thrilled with this amazing masterpiece as well and sonically they sound very similar.

Chip, I can only think of a couple vocalists from your amazing Top 500 List that have made two almost perfect and equally great Christmas albums in their lifetime. Andy Williams comes to mind immediately with his two magnificent holiday albums. Of course, I should mention Bing and Perry Como have at least three albums in your First Tier as I recall so they are sort of in a category all by themselves. We also know that the two great instrumental maestro's, Percy Faith and Mantovani, are at the top of the list for creating more or less two equally glorious albums, especially Percy, who of course deservedly holds the top two places on the First Tier of your glorious Top 500 List.

Chip, am I missing any other artist or vocalist from your magnificent list that you feel made at least two almost equally great Christmas albums in their lifetime?













Posted on 05/29/2018 17:42



Hello Chip,

I have a call in to KEZ program director Paul Kelly. I mentioned the YuleLog.com is talking about his station and what happened last Thursday with Christmas music being played continuously for several hours. I left a message on his line after someone answered the business line and I asked for Paul Kelly after briefly telling her the story.

I googled his name and the radio station and found a funny article with a provocative headline about a radio station playing non-stop Christmas music in early November last year in a tie in with a credit union. They have been going all Christmas around Thanksgiving for almost 20 years and they say the ad revenue has been tremendous and other stations have followed.

I will let you know if he returns my call, but I am sure the program director would be more likely to return your call than mine, Chip, so have at it if your so inclined. The article about KEZ is from the Digital Music News dated November 16, 2017.

I will let everyone know if I find out anything further. What a great stunt and a sheer thrill. Wow, it was nearly 100 degrees and the Christmas music was flowing like a faucet. 





Posted on 05/26/2018 21:22


Hello Chip,

Oh, I did make sure I wrote down the station call letters as I could not believe my ears when that Christmas music came on and did not stop for so long. I did try to call myself to find out on their request line last night and this morning, but it was busy the whole time. Maybe you could try their business line. Sorry I forget to mention the station call letters. Its 99.9 KEZ in Phoenix, Arizona and their phrase is "The Valley's 80's to Now Variety."

Please let us know what you find out. I do think it was some sort of special marketing promotion and I do agree with you a rather brilliant one at that. I bet they got a ton of calls. The sort of thing radio stations use to do back in the "good old days" of radio broadcasting.


Steve



Posted on 05/25/2018 23:46


Hello Chip,

I have recently traveled to Mesa, Arizona to attend my youngest daughter's wedding this weekend and while driving around in my rent a car I thought I was listening to a top 40 radio station on the FM dial that had been playing a variety of current top 40 hits, when suddenly it seemed to flip to an all Christmas format for several uninterrupted hours. I mean everything from Bing Crosby's White Christmas to Perry Como's There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays and Burl Ives among so many others.

My middle age daughter was in the car with my gal and I and her mouth just about dropped to the floor. I have been referred to as Mr. Christmas around my loved ones on more than one occasion due to my love of Christmas music and the season in general, but this switch to all Christmas music in the middle of the Mesa, Arizona dessert with temperatures hovering near 100 was a fantastic and splendid surprise to say the least. My daughter remarked, "Dad I have never heard Christmas music played this time of year on the radio, leave it to you to bring Christmas music with your arrival in town. I don't know how you did it, but you managed to do it somehow!"

I mean this was not a satellite radio station, but a regular top 40 pop station. We drove around for nearly two hours as we went to eat at a restaurant and visited the local Barnes & Noble book store and each time the very vintage Christmas music remained on the radio station air waves until we came back to the car for the last time. We heard no explanation other than some talk of a "Christmas promotion" or something that seemed taped ahead of time.

Now there was one time a year or two ago I heard a country radio station play one Christmas song in July as a sort of joke because of the hot weather or something, but it was one song only and they quickly returned to playing the hit singles of the time, and I believe the song was Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. It was definitely a one off so to speak.

Chip, I know you know my family has been involved in the ownership and management of several television and radio stations over the years, but I have never heard of or witnessed such a splendid and dedicated effort towards the continuous playing of Christmas music by a major market radio station this early in the year.

My question for you Chip as the greatest authority in the world on the popular Christmas music from the Golden Age and beyond is the following; Have you ever heard of such a planned and continuous display of Christmas music this early in the year or do you think someone "fell Asleep at the controls" so to speak and this was some sort of pre-taped mistake where an engineer hit the wrong switch or playlist by mistake? Either way, it just wetted my appetite for your impending announcement of the Real Gone Music Christmas releases for this year that I am sure is not too many months or even weeks away from being released on this great forum.

Best regards.

Steve



Posted on 02/06/2018 23:59


Hello Chip,

Yes indeed, cheers to Real Gone Music and their belief and success in the CD format. The death of the CD has been greatly exaggerated for many years as consumers simply get their music in a number of different ways, but according to Billboard Magazine, the Bible of the recording industry, the CD format is still the number one way consumers purchase albums across the spectrum. Almost half a billion dollars in revenue on almost 100 million physical sales in 2017 are not small numbers.

Yes, the young whippersnappers  tend to stream, but I remember when the industry thought digital downloads were going to be the future salvation of the industry. The good news is that the large labels, including most recently Sony Music, are reporting large profits again because of their diversified income and their death was greatly predicted several years ago. 

I think the demand for CD's will remain with a dedicated, but significant fan base and there will always be people that want a physical product with artwork and liner notes for their very favorite artists and albums. The resurgence of vinyl, though I think is close to reaching its apex, has demonstrated that in spades. I think CD's will eventually be perceived like vinyl is today as a superior audio format that is sought out by dedicated collectors in surprisingly significant numbers even though the market will be greatly fragmented with streaming and possibly a new a new digital format that we cannot even predict what form it will take.

Best regards,

Steve




Posted on 01/10/2018 00:12


Chip, 

It is my absolute privilege and honor to promote the great maestro, Percy Faith, and his iconic Christmas album, Music Of Christmas, as well as your fantastic liner notes for this historic release by Real Gone Music. We have all waited so long for this masterpiece to get released on CD properly and the fact that it got done in such grand fashion with such beautiful artwork, absolutely stellar remastering by Mr. Vic Anesini and with your splendid liner notes was beyond our wildest expectations.

It has been such a thrill and pleasure to share this special release by Percy with family and friends. The manager at my bank is going through some serious health issues with her eldest adult son and she is a very sweet person and a true professional when it comes to her job. I brought her a copy of Music Of Christmas after finding out that she loves Christmas music. I told her about your key role in getting this the greatest of all Christmas albums released and how Vic Anesini, who has been in charge of remastering Elvis Presley's catalogue of albums the last several decades, did such an amazing job restoring this album to its true sonic glory.

She told me that she had a long drive to a nearby city during the holidays and she played Percy's Music Of Christmas the whole way there and back and it gave her great pleasure and comfort during such a difficult time for the family. Her son is hanging in there, but it has been tough. I know another board member has mentioned a similar experience for himself and how soothing and comforting Mr. Faith's Christmas album is to him as well.

I know you are acutely aware of the healing and soothing powers of music and particularly Percy's Music Of Christmas. I hope that Gordon Anderson at Real Gone Music realizes how important and significant his Christmas releases are to the fans who buy these great albums. I hope like you and Mr. Anesini feel that it is a "true labor of love" for him as well.

Best regards,

Steve





Posted on 01/09/2018 01:29


Hello Chip,

That is such a great comparison you make between the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of Christmas music in the 1950's and 1960's. My father was a television director for a period of time before the family got in the radio business and he and my mother would always talk about the old Hollywood system whereby the studios would nurture the stars and train and educate them in multiple skills like singing and dancing as well as acting. The writing was so incredible and the directors were not the slaves to CGI and computers like they are now.

Yes indeed, I remember back many years ago when I use to get really excited about the latest country music or pop Christmas album coming out, and now even though I do buy some of those albums, my real excitement and joy is finding out what absolute gems from the Golden Age of Christmas you are going to get released through Real Gone Music. Everything from this truly iconic time is better; bigger orchestra's, almost always far better voices and more natural sound. The new millennium just cannot hold a candle to the albums released during the Golden Age of Christmas.

In particular, I think the quote I borrow most from you when trying to describe the great Percy's Faith's magnum opus, Music Of Christmas, is where you say it sounds like his music is "piped down from heaven" and that it has a "heavenly, celestial" feel to it. As you so well say, its hard to put the beauty and passion of Percy's music into mere words but you articulate it better than anybody and I really treasure those liner notes you wrote for the Expanded Music Of Christmas release for RGM. I tell all my friends to read your liner notes first before they actually listen to the album.

I feel the same way about this Golden Age of Christmas. It just seems magical and unmatchable no matter how hard anybody tries. I thank God that you and Gordon have rescued this iconic music from being lost forever!

Best regards,

Steve




Posted on 01/08/2018 15:09


Hello Chip,

This was such a great question proposed by Tom and one that I have been curious about myself. Do any albums released after the Golden Age of Christmas qualify to make your top 300 or 500 list? You have pretty much answered that question, but let me say that I for one find the fact that your list almost exclusively concentrates on the Golden Age Of Christmas during the 1950's till the early seventies to be one of its best qualities, but like yourself Chip, I would hate to rule a great album out just because it was not recorded in that very iconic time period.

There is just something totally special and sonically unique about these albums. I do not think our love for them is merely for nostalgic reasons as I know many of these albums that I came to love, in fact most, were not albums that I grew up listening to as a youngster. Oh sure, there is a component of that as I grew up listening to Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas album and that of course brings back great memories and feelings of long ago, but I did not grow up on Mantovani, John Gary and of course the Maestro himself's masterpiece, Music Of Christmas and its spectacular follow-up, Hallelujah, yet these are some of the albums that I treasure the most. Yes indeed, surely Percy's great arranging on the Mathis album was burned into my brain early, but clearly I have sought out other albums by Frank DeVol, Jack Jones, and the Hollyridge Strings that I had no real prior experience listening to as a child.

I read a brilliant analysis by someone who speculated that part of the splendor of these albums is the way they were recorded themselves. He said that instead of the microphones being placed individually on each instrument, one microphone was on each section of the orchestra, like one for the saxes and one for the trombones and one for the violins etc. He said the sound you got by recording this way was a beautiful blend where one instrument might slightly stand out or disappear altogether, but it was richer and more like the natural sound you would hear if you were in front of the orchestra live.  A truly brilliant analysis of one of the many reasons that these fantastic albums from the Golden Age cannot be matched by modern recording engineers in my humble opinion.

Now having said the above and strongly believing that music geniuses like Percy and Monty only come along once in a lifetime or so I am going to go out on another limb and admit there are several albums that fall well outside the Golden Age Of Christmas that I think are splendid examples of having some of the great components that these albums had, great sound, great arrangers and truly great vocalists.

The first one is Michael Bublè's Christmas album from 2011, the only album in the history of the Billboard album chart to make the top ten every year for seven years in a row since its release. It is now sold almost 12 million copies worldwide and more importantly than its commercial prowess is the fact that it was cut "live on the floor" at the Capital Records Tower in Hollywood with the singer, rhythm section, orchestra and arranger all there in person at once, something that is almost never done anymore. Secondly, great arrangers like Patrick Williams, William Ross, and Chris Walden, who have worked with people like Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, and Herb Alpert respectively, produced great arrangements harkening back to the Golden Age of Christmas. Just listen to Mr. Walden's fantastic brass charts on Jingle Bells with the Puppini Sisters doing their very best to spur on Mr. Bublè to do his best version of Bing's classic arrangement. Terrific stuff.

The second more "modern" classic, and God I hate to even use that word, would be Kenny Rogers Christmas album from 1981. The truly fantastic arranger Gene Page, who did both the iconic string and horn arrangements on You've Lost That Loving Feeling by the Righteous Brothers as well as Kenny Rogers own number one, Lady, is known for his intricate arranging style with strings and particularly French horns. People often forget that Kenny was once a well regarded jazz singer with a three octave vocal range and his version of O Holy Night shows his voice off to amazing effect with Mr. Page's truly stellar orchestral arrangement. There are a couple fantastic original songs on this classic album as well, Christmas Everyday, which is a beautifully written and melodically gorgeous song that you will have on repeat once you hear it. Kentucky Homemade Christmas is a sad song with a slightly upbeat melody that ends on a slightly hopeful note. Best country Christmas song since Merle Haggard's If We Make It Through December.

The last album is really a hidden gem from one of country music's best vocalists, Collin Raye. The Gift also features a 60 piece orchestra and was also recorded "live on the floor" in Nashville with the great piano player, John Hobbs producing and the brilliant arranger, Ron Huff, doing much of the orchestral work. His version of White Christmas features the seldom recorded opening verse about "being in Beverly Hills L.A." I love that opening verse and wish that more artists would include it in their respective versions of Irving Berlin's masterpiece. He has a couple of beautiful duets with his daughter on Away In A Manger and Silent Night, but the true highlights are a stellar vocal and separate instrumental version of The First Noel and one of the greatest versions of O Holy Night I have ever heard. I believe that only Johnny Mathis's iconic version with the great Percy Faith arrangement equals or surpasses this magnificent and glorious version by Collin Raye!

Please let me know what you think, Chip, as your taste and opinion on all such matters is always impeccable and without question.

Best regards,

Steve











Posted on 01/03/2018 10:58


Hello Chip,

Thanks so much for sharing with the board your incredible knowledge and insight into the legendary Percy Faith and his magnificent Music Of Christmas album. My first exposure to Mr. faith's brilliance was with Johnny Mathis's Merry Christmas album, which I still believe without a doubt is the greatest vocal Christmas album with orchestra ever recorded as that is the one my parents worshipped and the one I grew up listening to along with the John Klein album.

The thing that always struck me about Johnny's Merry Christmas album, besides his fantastic voice and vocal range as well as the stellar arrangements of the strings by Percy, was the fact that sonically the album was so incredibly recorded and the sound so pristine. I could never understand why the sound on that album was so unique and rich until I started learning about the importance of recording engineers and particular recording studios like 30th St. in New York.

I learned of course as a huge Elvis fan the importance of certain recording studios, like Studio B in Nashville, and the fact that they had a certain signature sound and great engineers like Bill Porter that made their records really stand out for their sonic beauty. The Tower Recording Studio at Capital Records in Hollywood is another great one with its signature reverb chambers built below the building and designed by Les Paul I believe. Of course as we all know, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra made some of their greatest recordings at that facility.

Percy was such a musical genius as well as a very smart man to know that "Chappie" was a very important element of his great sound. As a huge Roy Orbison fan I have learned that many music historians trace his rather sharp decline in record sells after the middle sixties to his new record contract that left both his producer, the great Fred Foster, and Fred's fantastic engineer, the previously mentioned Bill Porter, out of the recording process. Many experts say that Roy recorded some great songs after this period with even some of the same musicians, but his signature sound with Bill Porter's great engineering and Foster's stellar production was lost.

Best regards,

Steve



Posted on 01/02/2018 12:49


Hello Chip,

I am very excited at the prospect of "The Harry Simeone Lost Christmas Album" by Real Gone Music for 2018. Hopefully you can tract down those master recordings, but I am sure it will not be an easy task.

Meanwhile, I am still basking in the glory of your iconic releases for this year, particularly that glorious release of Percy Faith's Music Of Christmas Expanded Edition with the maestro himself's brilliant use of counter melody and Mr. Vic Anesini's phenomenal remastering of this masterpiece. I have well over 100 albums that Mr. Anesini has remastered including some deluxe box sets by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Ronnie Milsap and I have got to tell you that his remaster of Music Of Christmas is my favorite one he has ever done.

I know Chip that you and Vic would be the first to acknowledge Percy's favorite recording engineer, Harold "Chappie" Chapman, who did such a fantastic job as the original recording engineer on that magnum opus by Mr. Faith if I am correct. I know this was part of the frustration with that original lousy remaster by Sony in the early eighties was the fact that the original vinyl recording was a sonic splendor to behold as Columbia was known for their great recording facility in New York and their fine recording engineers like Chappie.

A question for you Chip that I have never been able to verify but assumed was true. Did Chappie also engineer that great Merry Christmas album by Johnny Mathis with the magnificent Percy Faith arrangements too? The sound on that album is fantastic, particularly on that great remaster by Vic's associate at Sony Battery, Mike Piacentini for the fantastic Complete Christmas Album Collection that RGM did a few years ago and for Johnny's current The Voice Of Romance box set this year. I read a quote from Mr. Mathis where he said that the 30th Street Studio where he cut that album and many others had a fantastic recording quality and reverb that he could never find anywhere else when he recorded at other studios later in his career.

Again, the fantastic RGM releases that you got out this year including Percy, Fred Waring, Connie Smith, Robert Shaw, Ames Brothers and the Supremes have just made me so excited for the 2018 Christmas releases. Wow, we might get Jim Reeves, Harry Simeone and that great John Klein A Christmas Sound Spectacular album in Living Stereo for the very first time on CD. I am sure you will have a few more gems up your sleeve as well as you always seem to surprise us with something we did not even see coming.

Happy New Year, Chip, and thanks again for all you do to get the greatest music ever recorded back out to us in such splendid and glorious fashion!

Best regards,

Steve




Posted on 11/30/2017 18:52


Hello Chip,

Wow, I noticed today that Percy Faith's glorious Expanded Edition of Music Of Christmas is listed on Amazon as "temporarily out of stock" and Real Gone Music has it listed as "sold out" on their site. I hope that more copies are on the way, but I've got to say the interest on Christmas in general this year and this amazing remaster by Vic Anesini has been extraordinary. It seems like most people on our block have their Christmas trees up already.

I have also dealt with a tremendous amount of questions and excitement on sound engineer Steve Hoffman's website, particularly when I reignited on old thread called "Favorite Christmas albums" and I put Percy Faith's Music Of Christmas at the top of the list along with The Complete Music of Christmas with the great Hallelujah album that RGM put out a few years ago.

In fact, my list of favorite Christmas albums was dominated by RGM versions of my favorite albums including Mantovani, Johnny Mathis, Jack Jones, John Gary and Frank DeVol among others. What surprised me was the interest in hearing about the new Percy remaster by Vic of Music Of Christmas and why the old one was so terrible. I did my best to explain the issues involved and of course Vic himself is very well known on that site for his great work on Elvis's music library over the years so I think that generated a whole new interest with some people that might not have been predisposed to normally purchasing Christmas instrumental music from this era. I tried my best to further explain the extraordinary work that Mr. Anesini had done on this album as compared to the old 80's remaster, yet at the same time I referred to you, Chip, as "knowing more about this Golden Age Of Christmas music than I will ever learn in a lifetime."  So you have probably gained some new members or it least some new viewers on my account.

Speaking of "new" fans of Percy's masterpiece, Music Of Christmas, my 31 year old daughter called the other day from her car while her husband was driving and said, "Hey Dad, guess what I'm listening to right now?" I said, "That sounds like Percy Faith" and she replied, "You know, Dad, I have never really cared for instrumental music without vocals, but this is the most beautiful music I have ever heard."  I was very proud of her taste in music at that point and realized that Percy's music is now touching a completely new generation of fans with this amazing release by RGM, thanks in large part to your efforts, Chip.

Best regards,

Steve









Posted on 11/16/2017 19:39



Hello Chip and Peter,

It is such a thrill and honor that Chip has made it possible for me to be involved with the possible release of this iconic album and its splendid follow-up by John Klein through Real Gone Music. I have loved A Christmas Sound Spectacular dearly as it was my father's go to record at Christmas time along with the great Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas album with the great Percy Faith arrangements. Peter, you are so correct about the mono version of this amazingly beautiful album being so inferior to the Living Stereo version. Chip and I have had more than one conversation about why Schulmerich Bells would go to the trouble of securing a release of this iconic album on CD only to get the mono version instead of that great Living Stereo LP.

I really noticed the difference when I played the Living Stereo version of A Christmas Sound Spectacular as posted on YouTube on my laptop Apple computer and it sounded far superior than the mono version that I played on my high end stereo system with B & W speakers. That great orchestra with the Carillon Americana and its almost 1500 bells is a sonic masterpiece when heard in stereo, but really loses some magnificence when transferred in its mono version.

I want to personally thank Chip and Gordon Anderson of Real Gone Music again for trying to get this project done this year and hopefully, God willing, it will happen next year. These two gentlemen have brightened our lives so greatly with the great Golden Age of Christmas music that they have managed to get released on CD over the last few years. Without their dedication and tremendous effort we would not have that absolutely glorious Vic Anesini remastered classic from Percy Faith, Music Of Christmas, Mantovani's fantastic Christmas Carols album and of course that amazing twofer by Fred Waring featuring his iconic classic with the Norman Rockwell cover, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and so many other albums too numerous to mention. 

Best regards,

Steve


Posted on 11/11/2017 11:08



Hello Rich, 

Though I'm not familiar with that radio station, I admire the great choice of songs on their playlist of course many ones in common with the classic YuleLog repertoire. What struck me is a couple more "modern" hidden gems from the early 1980's from Kenny Rogers great multi-platinum selling Christmas album from 1981 produced by Kenny himself with the great arranger Gene Page conducting the awesome orchestra. He was known for his great work with the Righteous Brothers and Barbra Streisand among many others. He was famous for his beautiful string and intricate horn arrangements.

Kenny has several great albums, but this one featuring Christmas Everyday, which is one of the most gorgeous original Christmas songs in the last 30 or forty years, is a real treat. Yes, he has that gravel voice, but he was also originally a jazz singer with a nearly three octave range that aided him greatly in his stellar version of O Holy Night from that same great Christmas album.

Best regards,

Steve



Posted on 11/11/2017 10:49



Hello Rich,

I have both versions of this masterpiece by Mantovani, and I believe that Chip in a previous post a while back verified that the same exact remaster was used by Collectors Choice and Real Gone Music for both releases. Remember that Collector's Choice was Gordon Anderson's old company before he started Real Gone Music. By the way, the remastering is beautiful on this classic.  If you were lucky enough to purchase RGM's new expanded version of Music Of Christmas and appreciate the fantastic and magnificent remaster that Vic Anesini did with that one by the one and only Percy Faith, you will love this indispensable classic.

Now the artwork is slightly different as the RGM 2016 version is superior and more accurately reflects the original London Stereophonic labeling across the top of the front of the cover and it has the FFSS labeling on the CD itself and it also fixed the color of the Christmas bulb with the angel from red to the original gold as seen on the front cover as well. Small details, but to serious collectors like Chip and I, important ones.

I hope this helps, either way you can't go wrong, but I prefer the newer version from RGM.

Best regards,

Steve


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