Title: Gene Autry
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(Date Posted:02/16/2011 12:29)




     Hi again Chip,
            Since I recently had an indirect question about Roy Rogers, I can't leave
     out Gene Autry. I know he's had many Christmas singles over the 40's, 50's
     and 60's and I believe more than one official Christmas album, but I find it difficult
     to find just how many official albums there were. I think I have a couple but from
     all the different packages out there, I really don't know! I've even written to his
     website and received a "not really sure type answer" if you can believe that and
     the info on the ones I have contradicts info on the other. Can you put a finger on
     this? Thanks, Tim

 

      

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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/17/2011 03:56)


Yes Tim, I can help you.

Gene Autry had five official Christmas LP releases: two were 10" LPs and three were 12" LPs. And of these five total LPs, two were original releases and three were reissues.

The first was a 10" LP in 1950 called, Merry Christmas With Gene Autry. It was released by Columbia Records (catalog #CL-6137).

The second was another 10" LP in 1955. It was also called, Merry Christmas With Gene Autry, and it was an abridged reissue of the 1950 10" LP. It was released on Columbia's "House Party" series label with two less songs than the original LP: He's A Chubby Little Fellow and Santa, Santa, Santa. (Columbia Records "House Party" catalog #CL-2547.)

The third was a 12" LP in 1957 called, Gene Autry Sings Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (& other Christmas Favorites). It was released by Grand Prix Records (catalog #KX-11 for mono and #KS-X11 for stereo). This album resides in the 2nd Tier of my Top 300 (album #236). In 2006 Varese Sarabande Records released the LP on CD with all of the tracks digitally remastered and with the original album cover artwork:
Click here.

The fourth was a 12" LP in 1964 called, The Original Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer And Other Children's Christmas Favorites. This album was a reissue of the material contained on the previously released 1950 and 1955 Columbia 10" LPs. It also included Christmas songs he did with Rosemary Clooney in the 1950s that had been originally released as singles. It was released by Columbia
Records on their subsidiary Harmony Records label (catalog #HL-9550 for mono and HS-14550 for simulated/re-channeled stereo). This album resides in the 2nd Tier of my Top 300 (album #235). In 2004 Varese Sarabande Records released a complete anthology of Mr. Autry's Columbia Christmas recordings with all of the tracks digitally remastered:
Click here.

The fifth was a 12" LP in 1981 called, Everyone's A Child At Christmas. It was another reissue of the material contained on the 1950 and 1955 Columbia 10" LPs. It was released on the Columbia Special Products label in simulated/re-channeled stereo (catalog #15767). All of the selections on this reissue LP are also included on the Varese Sarabande anthology CD that I mentioned above.

There were many other Christmas songs that Gene Autry recorded over the years which were only released as singles. Among them was Santa's Comin' In A Whirlybird. Republic Records released it in 1959, with the flipside being Jingle Bells. Also released in 1959 as a single by Republic Records was Nine Little Reindeer, with the flipside being Buon Natale. All of these songs are available on another great Varese Sarabande CD; a compilation released in 1999 called Here Comes Santa Claus:
Click here.

That's the entire story of Gene Autry's official Christmas releases. Please be aware that there have been numerous smaller record labels that have reissued his Christmas material on LP over the years (especially the Grand Prix recordings), but the ones I mentioned are the original and official releases by Columbia and Gran Prix Records.





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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/24/2011 12:43)




Hi Chip,
       Thanks for the extensive, informative info on Mr. Autry. It raises a question
or two for me. I believe the first eight songs on that Columbia Records Christmas
Collection you posted (which caused me to acquire a copy) were the eight songs on
that 1950 10" LP "Merry Christmas With Gene Autry". Am I correct? If so, why do you
list this as an "official" and "original" album since those eight songs were recorded in
the few years prior to 1950 and seems like just a collection of singles. Was this a style
then as with Crosby's 1945 and Sinatra's 1948 albums. Also I am interested in why you
consider a reissue to be an "official" album. This 1950 album seems never to have
existed as far as cover art but if anyone has it, it's you. If so, can you post it, please.
As always, many thanks! Tim.

 

 

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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/25/2011 04:54)


Tim,

First of all, your exact question to me was how many official Christmas albums (LPs) did Gene Autry have over the years. And in the very first sentence of my previous post on this thread you will notice that I stated that I was going give you just that: all of the official LPs -- both 10" and 12", originals and reissues -- that he indeed had in his career. I couldn't have made that any clearer.

Second, you are misinterpreting my use of the word 'original'. The word 'original' in describing two of these five official LP releases meant only that they were the original first issue LPs; it did not pertain to the material contained within them. And to set the record straight, you are wrong in your assertion that the 1950 10" LP consisted of all previously released material. Two of the songs -- Frosty The Snowman and When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter -- were recorded in 1950 for this LP. These two songs were also released together as a single that year as well to promote the album. As for the 1957 LP, all of the songs were released for the first time on that album.

And to answer your question: yes, many recording artists' first official Christmas LP releases (10" and/or 12") consisted of material that had been previously released on 78-rpm discs and/or 45-rpm discs. This included artists such as Fred Waring, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Kaye, among others.

As for the official reissue releases, I gave them to you as well because you said that you were confused by all the different Gene Autry Christmas albums out there, and I just wanted you to know what was a first issue LP and what was a later reissue of the original release. By the way, the word 'official' means a direct release from Mr. Autry's original record labels of RCA and Grand Prix, as opposed to the many budget labels that released his Christmas material in subsequent years.


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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/25/2011 18:37)




Sorry Chip,
            I guess our definitions of "official" and "original" are different.
My definition of an official or original album is a number of "all new" recordings
for a "specific" album, not one or two new songs with a collection of previous
singles like the '45 Crosby and the '48 Sinatra. When you spoke of the 1950 Autry 
album I wrongly assumed it contained all new material specifically for that album.
So the 1957 album is the only one that fits my description of "official" or "original"
and thats what I was getting at. By the way, was there cover art for that 1950
album as there was for the above mentioned Crosby and Sinatra sets. Thanks. Tim.
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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/25/2011 20:56)


Tim,

In the second to last sentence of your post of 02/24/11, I wasn't sure what you meant when you said:
"This 1950 album seems never to have existed as far as cover art."

If I take it literally to mean that you doubt album artwork ever existed, then don't, because of course it did. As I said in my post of 02/17/11, this 10" LP was Mr. Autry's first official Christmas album, and the Columbia Records catalog number for the disc was #CL-6137. It would be totally absurd for a record company to release an album without a cover. And even though I don't have a jpeg of it to display, I can unequivocally assure you that it did indeed exist.

As for Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra; yes, Sinatra had a 10" Christmas LP in 1948 called Christmas Songs By Sinatra (Columbia catalog #CL-6019); however Crosby's first 10" Christmas LP was not released until 1949, not 1945. In fact, there were two Bing 10" Christmas LPs released that year in 1949: Merry Christmas (Decca catalog #DL-5019) and Christmas Greetings (Decca catalog #DL-5020). The original 1945 release of Bing's classic Merry Christmas album was as a 5-record 78 rpm set.

Here is the release history of this legendary album:

*1945: First release of Merry Christmas was as a 5-record 78 rpm set that had a total of 10 songs (Decca catalog #A-403).

*1947: Re-released as a 4-record 78 rpm set with the same cover, but only 8 songs. The 2 songs that Decca deleted from this reissue were Danny Boy and Let's Start The New Year Right (Decca catalog #A-550).

*1949: Re-released as a 45 rpm box set and also as a 10" LP (Decca catalog #DL-5019).

*1955: Re-released as a 12" LP on the all-black Decca label. This was the first release to sport the now-famous cover of Bing with the Santa hat (Decca catalog #DL-8128).

*1960: Reissue of the above 12" LP on the black label with color bars (same catalog number as above), and also release of an electronically re-channeled (simulated) stereo version of the recording (Decca catalog #DL-78128).

*1973: Reissue of above 12" LP by MCA Records on the black label with rainbow (MCA catalog #15024). It was later released on the blue (sky) label with rainbow (same catalog number, #15024).


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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/26/2011 12:02)



Chip,
     When I said that the 1950 cover art seemed not to exist, it was my way of
asking you to post it, since you did not after my first post, as you do on many occasions.
I am trying to reproduce my own CD of this album as it first appeared. Of course I knew
that an album, especially one with a catalog number had to have cover art, but I asked
you first, and since you don't have it, I have since found that Columbia Records doesn't
have it in their discography (as they do with almost every other album in that catalog
series) and even the Gene Autry Website (some of which is family) has "no" record of the
album, much less the cover art. So this prompted me say that the cover art seemed
non-existent, which I knew really wasn't the case.
     I have put together as best I could the Sinatra 1948 album with the songs as they
were on that album, although I don't know if the alternate takes were the original ones
released. The art is valid but for the "LP" stamped on the art.
     I actually have the 1945 Crosby (Decca A-403) minus one record which de-values it.
I was aware of all that followed but this is the piece I consider to be original, or as it first
appeared. Thanks. Tim.


 

 

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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/26/2011 14:25)


I'm not sure what source told you that Columbia Records doesn't have the 1950 Gene Autry LP in their discography, but it isn't a very reliable one at all. Columbia Records catalog #CL-6137 is indeed an official release, and that's a bona fide fact that can't be disputed. As for the Gene Autry website, even these sites that are sometimes run by family members are many times wrong. In fact, it was I who pointed out to Eleanor and Kurt Anderson (wife and son of the great composer/conductor Leroy Anderson) that the Christmas album Christmas Carols was released first (1955) and that A Christmas Festival was released second (1959). Unfortunately, in the bio-bibliography that Mrs. Anderson helped to compile (click here) it erroneously states that the album Christmas Carols was a reissue of A Christmas Festival, and that the release year is unknown! It's actually listed in the book with a release year of 196-?, when in fact it was released in 1955. It really astounds me that this error could have been made considering the catalog numbers for the LPs clearly show which one came first: DL-8193 for Christmas Carols and DL-8925 for A Christmas Festival. It just proves once again the old adage that you can't believe everything you read.


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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:02/27/2011 11:08)




     I have no doubt that this was an actual, legitimate, catalog numbered album
but I wasn't clear when I said Columbia Records didn't have it in their discography,
they do! If you do a search of "Columbia Records CL-6137", the third offering reads,
"Columbia 10" Album Discography, Part 2 (CL-6100 to CL-6199) 1950-1952. Page
down to CL-6137. It does list the album and the songs on it but it doesn't show the
cover art as it does with all the other albums around it. As far as the Autry Website,
I spoke with Karla Buhlman who helped compile "Autry's Complete Columbia Christmas
Recordings". I don't recall her title at the site but she told me they had no record of the
album even after Gene's house was cleaned out after his death and even asked me to
let her know if I find anything. I emailed "Varese Sarabande Records" and I've called
Columbia Records by phone with no response yet from either. These are the only sources
I've tried. I know of no others.

 

 

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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:12/22/2017 02:30)

What's the story with the 1957 compilation Christmastime with Gene Autry (Challenge CHL-600)? Is it a reissue of all the 1957 Grand Prix recordings found on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Other Christmas Favorites LP? If so, what versions of "Silver Bells" and "Up on the House Top" are those?
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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted: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.


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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:12/22/2017 15:05)

Wow. That really is confusing. So was Grand Prix a subsidiary label of Challenge?
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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:12/22/2017 20:13)

Chip -
Has there been a legitimate CD release of the original Challenge Records "Christmastime with Gene Autry?"  I do have the CD release from Varese Sarabande of the expanded 1957 version of the album, but I miss those two songs that were cut from it!  The original version of the album is what I grew up with, so I guess those ten tracks in the original running order have something of a sentimental value to me.

I own a CD that has all the tracks from the original album, however - in my opinion - the sound quality is horrendous, one of the tracks is out of order (causing the narration between songs to be off), and the song "Sleigh Bells" is misidentified on both the CD and the back cover insert as "Sleigh Ride."  This CD is more than twenty years old and was manufactured by LDMI in Canada (CDY-9932), titled "Christmas with Gene Autry."  I have a hard time believing this could have been any kind of authorized release.

Do you know of a single collection that includes all ten of the original "Christmastime with Gene Autry" tracks in decent audio quality?  I love the sound of the Varese Sarabande release, but would really like to have the two missing tracks in comparable quality.  Then I could reconstruct my own digital version of the original Challenge Records album.

Thanks!
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RE:Gene Autry
(Date Posted:12/22/2017 23:52)


John:

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.



Brian:

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.


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