MERRY CHRISTMAS !

peace

 

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Jim Baker – A Steel Guitar Christmas (1975)

frontcover1Baker was born July 26, 1933 in Eldridge, Ala. and grew up in Flint, Mich. He moved to Nashville in 1963 after serving in the U.S. Army. Baker was a steel guitar player as a youth and later played Dobro and pedal steel guitar in Nashville. He played the Grand Ole Opry throughout the early part of his career and was a member of the Mel Tillis Statesiders Band in the early 1970s. He played on numerous country albums and was in steady demand as a steel session player. Ernie Ashworth, Mel Tillis, Jim and Jessie, Bill Carlisle, Roy Drusky, Justin Tubb and Leroy Van Dyke were among the artists Baker played with.

Pedal steel player Jim Baker, 75, who played on the Grand Ole Opry and with Mel Tillis’ band died Oct. 5.2008 (by countrystandardtime.com)

This is his christmas album and this will be the last entry of christmas music this year !

Enjoy the beautiful sound of the steel-guitar !

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Personnel:
Kim Baker (steel-guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. White Christmas 2.15
02. Winter Wonderland 2.15
03. Blue Christmas 2.21
04. Christmas Song 2.03
05. Little Drummer Boy 2.00
06. O’ Little Town Of Bethlehem 2.49
07. Silver Bells 2.48
08. Silent Night 2.01
09. Christmas In My Hometown 2.00
10. Jingle Bell Rock 1.54
11. Here Comes Santa Clause 2.15
12. Rock Around The Christmas Tree 2.42

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Jackie Gleason – All I Want For Christmas (1969)

frontcover1John Herbert “Jackie” Gleason (February 26, 1916 – June 24, 1987) was an American comedian, actor, and musician who developed a style and characters in his career from growing up in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1956, Gleason released his first Christmas record. Capitol Records describes Gleason’s “Merry Christmas” as “a rich, rewarding album in the gentlest spirit of the season for all who treasure the memories and the sentiments and the romance of Christmas time.”  Capitol goes on to say:

“The arrangements in this album are unique ones, for Jackie Gleason has augmented his large orchestra with an electric celeste, whose fragile sound adds a new dimension to songs well-loved.  Playing it is Hercules, an outstanding master of the instrument.  Complementing these orchestral arrangements are the Keith Textor Singers, with vocalise performances that indeed express the mood of a merry, merry, Christmas.”

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In 1967 he released his second christmas album ” ‘Tis the Season” ;

Capitol Records describes ” ‘Tis the Season” as “music for the Christmas quiet hours with the celebrated touch of Gleason.”  They go on to say:

“Among the many delights of Christmas, one of the most satisfying moments of all comes when, shopping done, the last guest waved goodbye, you relax in front of a glowing fire, a glass of something warming in your hand, a favorite record revolving on the turntable, somebody special held close, and wait for old Santa to appear in some appropriate manifestation.

For that kind of moment, Jackie Gleason provides some of the most melodic of the popular Christmas songs, in his most familiar mood: twin string orchestras, sparked here with the gently intriguing accents of oboe, accordion, English horn, French horn, and bells. Each of the songs, even the usually upbeat “Let It Snow” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” are perfromed by Jackie at a dreamily reflective tempo conducive to Yuletide reverie.

And, of course, there’s that magical extra Gleason touch, typical for Jackie. Each holiday song features the sparkling solo contribution of one of these star instrumentalists: Charlie Ventura on tenor sax, Buddy Morrow on trombone, or Pee Wee Erwin on trumpet.

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With that kind of inducement, better have an extra hassock on hand. Old Santa’s apt to settle down and listen a while.”

The two-record set, “All I Want for Christmas,” is an abridged version of Jackie Gleason’s first two Christmas releases. (“Merry Christmas” and “Tis The Season”)  For this reissue, Capitol Records deleted four of the original fourteen songs from “Merry Christmas” and one of the ten songs from ” “Tis The Season.”

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Jackie Gleason on trumpet

Personnel:
Jackie Gleason Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Christmas Moon (Roberts/Katz) 3.18
02. Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!, Let It Snow! (Styne/Cahn) 3.16
03. Blue Christmas (Hayes/Johnson) 4.04
04. Snowbound For Christmas (Chorney/H.Shrager/S.Shrager) 3.19
05. It’s Christmas Time All Over The World (Martin) 3.46
06. That’s What I Want For Christmas (Lawrence) 3.11
07. December (Rinker/Huddleston) 3.22
08. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Connor) 3.06
09. Christmas Island (Moraine) 3.24
10. You’re All I Want For Christmas (Moore/Ellis) 3.06
11. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams) (Ram/Gannon/Kent) 2.24
12. Jingle Bells (Pierpont) 3.43
14. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.30
15. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 2.31
16. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martin/Blane) 2.43
17. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) (Tormé/Wells) 3.05
18. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Berlin) 3.25
19. Happy Holiday (Berlin) 2.31
20. Winter Wonderland (Smith/Bernard) 2.49
21. The Story Of A Starry Night (Hoffman/Livingston/Curtis) 2.58

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Jethro Tull – The Christmas Album (2003)

frontcover1For a band that remained relatively consistent (with a few minor exceptions) in their approach to rock & roll since 1968, Jethro Tull also possessed a sound that was uniquely ’70s-oriented during their most successful period between 1971-1978. Avid fans have been yearning for the group’s return to the style which made them one of the most successful of the guitar-based, mainstream prog outfits — albums like Broadsword and the Beast and J-Tull.Com touched on their former glory, but they didn’t fully satisfy. Christmas Album could be the recording that those fans have been waiting for, and they shouldn’t let its title or overt seasonal orientation dissuade them — with their liberal use of classic English folk music and overall orientation toward England’s past (even in their name), Jethro Tull is also the one prog rock/hard rock band of their generation that could issue a Christmas album that folds so easily into the rest of their output; it transcends its purpose and focus, mostly through the quiet boldness of its music and playing and the surprising excitement that laces most of the 16 songs. With a mixture of re-recorded old songs, Christmas standards and new originals, songwriter/singer Ian Anderson, in a roundabout manner, captures the tradition, warmth, and bittersweet feelings that are inextricably linked to the holiday season; at the same time, Anderson, longtime collaborator/lead guitarist Martin Barre, and the rest of the group’s 2003 lineup recapture the musical intensity of three decades’ past, and build on the classic Tull mood of sardonic humor, wry irony, and fierce passions that permeated all of their work from Stand Up to Songs From the Wood.

illustration01All of this material, in its content and execution, recalls the group’s prime early-’70s years and levels of musical complexity not presented so successfully by this band in at least 25 years. With a generous use of unamplified instruments like mandolin, acoustic guitar, flute, and accordion, this album resembles the production found on Songs From the Wood and Heavy Horses. In fact, three tracks from those two albums were reworked for this release; “Fire at Midnight,” “Ring Out Solstice Bells” and “Weathercock.” Only “Ring Out Solstice Bells” appeared to be the obvious choice for a Christmas album, but given Anderson’s offbeat perspective of things, the other two tracks assimilate nicely. In addition, “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow” sounds like it could have emanated from those 1977 and 1978 recordings, as could “Last Man at the Party” from 1974’s War Child sessions. Among the re-recordings, pieces such as “A Christmas Song,” that originally had orchestral accompaniment, are redone without it, in new arrangements, while others that were done without orchestra get dressed up with strings. From the traditional side of Christmas, Tull gives “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” a jazzy adaptation reminiscent of “Bouree” from Stand Up (which is also revisited on this recording) and “We Five Kings” sounds rhythmically similar to “Living in the Past,” particularly the bass guitar line. In addition to Bach’s Bouree, the majestic Gabriel Fauré piece Pavane is included, which features guitarist Martin Barre’s exceptional acoustic playing. And Barre himself gets a rare solo composition as the album closer (a Christmas gift from Anderson?), the deeply evocative tone-painting “A Winter Snowscape,” which takes some gratifying turns away from the most obvious melodic direction. The album’s overall mix of folk, jazz, pop, rock, and classical elements carries it beyond the holiday listening for which it was intended, and is all woven together so skillfully as to make this an essential Tull album, their first in almost three decades and their most musically rewarding. And although this Christmas album doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of Santa and the Savior, it does create a mood and feeling reflective of the holiday season. More importantly, it is perhaps the most satisfying Tull releases in 25 years. (Dave Sleger)

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Personnel:
Ian Anderson (flute, vocals, guitar, mandolin, percussion)
Martin Barre (guitar)
Andrew Giddings (keyboards, accordion)
Jonathan Noyce (bass)Doane Perry (drums, percussion)
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James Duncan (drums, percussion)
Dave Pegg (bass, mandolin)
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The Sturcz String Quartet:conducted by András Sturcz:
Gyula Benkő (viola)
Gábor Csonka (1st violin)
András Sturcz (cello)
Péter Szilágyi (2nd violin)

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Tracklist:
01. Birthday Card At Christmas (Anderson) 3.37
02. Holly Herald (Traditional) 4.16
03. A Christmas Song (Anderson) 2.47
04. Another Christmas Song (Anderson) 3.31
05. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 4.35
06. Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow (Anderson) 3.37
07. Last Man At The Party (Anderson) 4.48
08. Weathercock (Anderson) 4.17
09. Pavane (Fauré) 4.19
10. First Snow On Brooklyn (Anderson) 4.57
11. Greensleeved” (Traditional) 2.39
12. Fire At Midnight (Anderson) 2.26
13. We Five Kings/We Three Kings (Hopkins) 3.16
14. Ring Out Solstice Bells (Anderson) 4.04
15. Bourée (Bach) 4.25
16. A Winter Snowscape (Barre) 4.57

Tracks 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 15 are all re-recordings of previously released pieces. ‘Bourée’, however, has significant alterations to the musical arrangement.

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Charlie Byrd – The Christmas Album (1982)

frontcover1Charlie Byrd performs 14 Christmas songs on this set as quiet and generally introspective solo guitar recitals. The music is well played, as one would expect, but there is not much variety in mood; all of the renditions are under three minutes, and humor is absent in favor of reverence. Pleasant and sincere background music. (by Scott Yanow)

Charlie Byrd is best known for two things: his incorporation of classical acoustic guitar techniques and sensibility in his jazz playing – and – playing a major role along with Stan Getz and others in popularizing the bossa nova beyond the shores of Brazil in the 1960’s. This CD of all-time Christmas favourites focuses on the classical acoustic guitar techniques and sensibilities. If you are looking for jazz or bossa nova Christmas music, you need to look elsewhere.

Charlie plays 13 songs in a no-frills, straight forward style. Some are traditional carols, some are more modern secular Christmas songs, and a few are relatively obscure Christmas songs (such as ‘Lully, Lullaby’ and ‘Coventry Carol’). It is this mix of songs that makes this so enjoyable. The songs you played more or less how you have heard them a thousand times, which makes them perfect if you want to sing along. Indeed, the liner notes contain the lyrics to the songs so you can sing along. The thing that separates these recordings from being mere background music is the fact that Charlie has impeccable taste and outstanding technique. So if you are a guitarist, pay close attention because this man studied for a year under Andres Segovia. And let us not forget that ‘Silent Night’ was written by Franz Gruber to be played on guitar in 1818.
These recordings were made in 1982 and have great sound quality. Charlie made an earlier Christmas album, 1967’s Christmas Carols for Solo Guitar that is also worth exploring.(by D.R.L.)

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Personnel:
Charlie Byrd (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. O Come All Ye Faithful (Traditional) 2.15
02. Deck The Halls (Traditional) 1.52
03. Mistletoe And Holly (Stanford/Sinatra/Sanicola) 2.56
04. Lully, Lullay (Traditional) 1.09
05. What Child Is This? (Dix) 2.05
06. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Wesley/Mendelssohn) 2.27
07. The Christmas Song (Tormé/Wells) 2.45
08. In The Bleak Midwinter (Rossetti/Holst) 2.07
09. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.55
10. Oh Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) (Traditional) 1.58
11. White Christmas (Berlin) 2.19
12. Angels We Have Heard On High (Traditional) 2.24
13. The Holly And The Ivy (Traditional) 1.51
14. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martin/Blane) 2.59

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The Spotnicks – In Winterland (1966)

frontcover1If remembered at all today, it is probably thanks to their silly astronaut costumes, but in the ’60s the Spotnicks were one of the most successful instrumental rock groups, alongside the Shadows and the Ventures. Their very specific sound had more in common with the Shadows, being clean and intentionally gentle. It originated from their first primitive demo recordings, but the record company liked it and, being plastic and twangy, it was promoted as a space sound. Already in the late ’60s it was outdated, but that didn’t stop the group from having big successes throughout the decade. In the ’70s the sound was definitely antiquated, but like the Ventures, the Spotnicks found reliable audiences in Japan and Germany, as well as a cult and nostalgia following around the world. The Spotnicks have sold over 20 million albums, making them among the most successful Swedish groups ever, surpassed perhaps only by ABBA and Roxette. By the late ’90s they had released 39 studio albums, recorded roughly 700 songs, and had more than 100 members in the different constellations of the band. (by vinylpussycat.com)

And this is their brilliant Christmas album … let´s talk about “kitsch” … let´s hear The Spotnicks !

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Personnel:
Jimmy Nicol (drums)
Bo Starander (guitar, vocals)
Björn Thelin (bass)
Peter Winsnes (organ, vocals)
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unknown 2nd guitar player

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Tracklist:
01. Sleigh Ride (Anderson/Parish) 1.56
02. Winter Wonderland (Smith/Bernard) 2.48
03. Here Comes Santa Claus (Autry) 1.30
04. Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Marks) 2.38
05. Frosty The Snowman (Rollins/Nelson) 2.16
06. Silent Night (Gruber) 2.44
07. White Christmas (Berlin) 2.29
08. Jingle Bells (Traditional) 1.41
09. Winterland (Retep/Sam) 2.16
10. Parade Of Wooden Soldiers (Traditional) 1.43
11. I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus (Connor) 1.35
12. Auld Lang Syne (Lander/Winsnes) 2.08

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve and Other Stories (1996)

frontcover1Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the debut album by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

It was released on October 15, 1996, and is the first album in their “Christmas trilogy”, with The Christmas Attic (1998) and The Lost Christmas Eve (2004) coming after it. All three albums, as well as their The Ghosts of Christmas Eve DVD, were featured in the The Christmas Trilogy box set.

The story is about a young man who wanders into a bar on Christmas Eve where he encounters a mysterious old man who tells him a tale about the magical effect of Christmas Day on the human race. The album takes familiar classical pieces and adds to them new songs and arrangements from both classic and progressive rock influences for which the group is known. The album also contains a mix of vocal and instrumental songs. The primary musicians on the album are all members of the progressive metal band Savatage (Paul O’Neill, the producer of the album, is Savatage’s longtime producer). Jon Oliva, one of the principal songwriters on the album, is also a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and original vocalist in Savatage. (Oliva is also the voice of Mephistopheles on Beethoven’s Last Night.) Cover art created by Edgar Jerins.[2]

As of November 2014, Christmas Eve and Other Stories was the ninth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the Nielsen SoundScan era of music sales tracking (1991 – present), with sales of 3,430,000 copies according to SoundScan.[3]

On November 28, 2011, Christmas Eve and Other Stories was certified Triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of three million copies in the United States.(by wikipedia)

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What would happen if members of Savatage decided to write some Christmas songs? Easy: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This “supergroup” is the brainchild of Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill (respectively the leader-keyboardist and the producer of Savatage). They hired Al Pitrelli (Asia, Savatage) to play guitars, Robert Kinkel to help with keyboards, John Middleton (also a member of Savatage) on bass, and Jeff Plate on drums. Lead vocals are shared by six vocalists, while some of the backing vocals are handled by Savatage lead singer Zachary Stevens. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is a concept album: all the songs are built as chapters of a book, each telling part of a larger story. The plot here is of a young angel sent down to Earth to find and bring back to the Lord “the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day.” The angel’s quest takes him all over the world, through Russia and Sarajevo, until he finally hears the prayer of a father. This last piece is the strongest moment on the album and makes for a miniature story within the larger story.

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It is basically told in a trilogy of songs: in the first, “Ornament,” we hear the father’s prayer, explaining how he hasn’t seen his daughter in many years. In “Old City Bar,” the angel finds the daughter, standing alone outside a bar, and talks to the bartender who, out of a random act of kindness, takes all the cash from his register drawer and gives it to the girl so she can go home. The third song, “This Christmas Day,” has the father praising God, thanking him for bringing his daughter back to him on this night of all nights. It is a very touching story, pondering the thought that “If you want to arrange it/This world you can change it/If we could somehow make this/Christmas thing last/By helping a neighbor/Or even a stranger.” Musically, the band has taken some traditional Christmas songs (“O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night,” “The First Noel”) and mixed in some modern rock music. The result is stunning and very impressive. It is filled with energy that simply blows you away. The already classic “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” is a gripping instrumental based on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (although you might have to listen carefully to hear it). Fans of progressive music should like this one. And if you’re into the more recent works of Savatage (like Handful of Rain or Dead Winter Dead) you’ll really love this. (by Alex S. Garcia)

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Personnel:
Robert Kinkel (keyboards)
Johnny Lee Middleton (bass)
Jon Oliva (keyboards, bass)
Paul O’Neill (guitar)
Al Pitrelli (leadguitar, bass)
Jeff Plate (drums)
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Solo vocals:
Zak Stevens – John Margolis – Marlene Danielle- Michael Fawcette – Thomas Faresse – Ken Williams – Babi Floyd

gackground vocals:
Zak Stevens – Nancy Jackson – Peggy Harley – Latasha Spencer – Danielle Lander – Jeffrey Stackhouse – Timothy Carosi – Peter Valentine

Child choir conducted by Anthony Piccolo:
Joseph Murray – Adrian Ross – Nigel Tangred – Warren Wilson – Beth Butler – Cabiria Jacobson – Rachel Rosenfield – Caroline Ross

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Chris Caffery (guitar on 08.)
John Clark (french horn)
Mary Wooten (cello)

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Tracklist:
01. An Angel Came Down (Gruber) 3.57
02. O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night (instrumental) (Wade/Oakeley/Reading/Adam/Dwight/O’Neill/Kinkel) 4.19
03. A Star To Follow (O’Neill) 3.49
04. First Snow (instrumental) (O’Neill) 3.53
05. The Silent Nutcracker (O’Neill) 2.22
06. A Mad Russian’s Christmas (Tchaikovsky/Kinkel/Oliva) 4.42
07. The Prince Of Peace (Mendelssohn/Wesley/O’Neill) 3.33
08. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 (O’Neill/Kinkel/Oliva) 3.25 (*)
09. Good King Joy (Mason/Kinkel/O’Neill) 6.36
10. Ornament (O’Neill/Oliva) 3.37
11. The First Noel (Traditional) 0.55
12. Old City Bar (O’Neill) 6.18
13, Promises To Keep (O’Neill/Kinkel/Oliva) 2.41
14. This Christmas Day (O’Neill/Oliva) 4.20
15. An Angel Returned (O’Neill/Oliva) 3.52
16. O Holy Night (Adam/Dwight) 2.39
17. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.16

(*) = (same recording released in 1995 by Savatage)

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