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▪ Christm replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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.







▪ rsteven replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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


▪ Christm replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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.








▪ rsteven replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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


▪ Christm replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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."









▪ rsteven replied to Newest Album in Top 300 ( 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




▪ Motown replied to Christmas albums available as Digital Do... ( 01/05/2018 13:02)
Some more not-on-CD titles I’ve found available for download:


Mike Douglas - My Kind of Christmas
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PAUOZFQ/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-kind-of-christmas/937649107


Eddie Fisher - Mary Christmas
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PG7XYCI/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mary-christmas/939106743


The Glad Singers - Swing Bells
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01190INN0/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/christmas-with-a-beat/1017539233


Sonny James - My Christmas Dream
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NBIHEKO/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-christmas-dream/714720359





▪ rsteven replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 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


▪ Christm replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 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





▪ Motown replied to Christmas albums available as Digital Do... ( 01/02/2018 20:55)
After further research, I've discovered all those Muzak titles are available from iTunes as well.

▪ rsteven replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 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


▪ Christm replied to What's The Most Collectable Christmas Re... ( 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.




▪ Damfino replied to Christmas albums available as Digital Do... ( 01/01/2018 12:11)
Thanks for the Muzak links, Mike! Looks like Amazon has a lot of Muzak albums available. I'll need to check this out.

▪ Damfino replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 01/01/2018 12:09)
That is wonderful news! I hope you are successful in finding the original masters. It is only January 1st yet I am already excited about Real Gone Christmas re-issues for this year!

▪ Damfino replied to What's The Most Collectable Christmas Re... ( 01/01/2018 12:03)
Chip:
With the success of Percy Faith: Music Of Christmas (The definitive 1959 stereo re-recording, Expanded Edition) can we look forward in 2018 to a release of #27 on your All-time Top 50 Christmas Albums list, “Christmas Is A-Comin’ by the Jack Halloran Singers?

 I would love to have it in Stereo, but with the original mono artwork.



▪ Motown replied to Christmas albums available as Digital Do... ( 01/01/2018 01:30)
Muzak has made three of its vintage Christmas albums available via download at Amazon:

Stimulus Progression Number Three: Christmas (1973)
Joy and Peace to You (1977)
Muzak Christmas (1980)



▪ Christm replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 12/31/2017 02:15)

Frank:

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.





▪ log_fan replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 12/30/2017 11:36)
Sorry about that errant release date.  I got it off Wiki.  So that means my mother purchased "O Bambino" the year it was released, 1965.  That's what I thought in the first place!  And yes, I vividly remember the album cover.  I hope the full-length album eventually gets released on CD.

I also had "Sing We Now Of Christmas" not the 1959 single album but as a double album b/w "Merry Christmas Carols" by The Radio City Organ and Chimes which IINM was released in 1961.  Sides 1 and 2 was "Sing We Now Of Christmas".  Sides 3 and 4 was "Merry Christmas Carols".  I do recall the label read "20th Fox". 


▪ Christm replied to Percy Faith: Music of Christmas (Expande... ( 12/29/2017 01:21)

David,

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.




▪ Christm replied to O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale ( 12/29/2017 01:15)

Mike,

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.





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