Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings and Thanks

It's Christmas Eve morning, and the official countdown to the holiday festivities is about to start.  We'll be attending Mass later today, followed by a Christmas Eve dinner at Mom's place, then we'll settle in for the evening and get the children off to bed.  Watching an old Bing Crosby Christmas Special is highly likely :-)

I'd like to say thanks to all my readers this Christmas season, and I hope you've enjoyed the music that I've shared.  Please stop by during the 'off season', as I intend to post some non-holiday music from some favorite artists.  Check in now and again for some good stuff.

Thanks to the other Christmas music sites who have linked to me - we have a great little virtual community here.

Thanks to Santas Working Overtime - man, I don't know how you keep up....

Special thanks to Ernie, Stubby, and the King of Jingaling for their inspiration and support, and their tireless work to bring Christmas music to the world via the Internet. 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Morning in Kansas City

I don't know if this snow will make it to tomorrow for a White Christmas, but it's very pretty outside this Christmas Eve morning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Sharing Finale pt 2

The last share of this season is the 1963 record "The Life Treasury of Christmas Music".  It is subtitled "A Supplement to the Life Book of Christmas".  I don't have the book, just the record, but it's a very worthwhile addition to anyone's Christmas music collection.

The contents of the record are divided into three "Volumes".  Volume One is "The Glory of Christmas", including tracks 1-8.  Volume Two is "The Pageantry of Christmas" on tracks 9-15,  and Volume Three is "The Merriment of Christmas" with tracks 16-19.  I've included both front and back here on the post this time, and they are also in the zip file.

No modern pop Christmas songs here.  Instead, these are some beautiful renditions of both traditional carols and selections that are not so commonly heard.  The woodcut artwork on the cover sets the mood and theme for this collection of songs. 

Please enjoy The Life Treasury of Christmas Music as you count down the remaining days in this Christmas season.

2010 Sharing Finale pt 1

I'm going to close out the 2010 Christmas sharing season today with a couple very fine records.  First up is "Merry Christmas in Carols", Organ and Chimes music by Robert Rheims.  My album is in mono, and was released in 1958.  It has a great album cover, enhanced by shiny gold leaf. And, best of all, the record itself is on groovy red vinyl!  My album cover has some wear and damage, but you'll be able to see how perfectly 50's Christmas it is.

 There are 12 tracks on the record, and several of them are mini-medleys of two songs each.

1.   Adeste Fideles
2.   Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
3.   God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen/From Every Spire on Christmas Eve
4.   The First Noel/Joy to the World
5.   Deck the Halls/The Christmas Chimes are Pealing
6.   Away in a Manger/I Saw Three Ships
7.   Silent Night
8.   I Little Town of Bethlehem
9.   Good King Wenceslas/Angels We Have Heard on High
10. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/O Christmas Tree
11. We Three Kings of Orient Are/I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
12. O Holy Night

Pretty good selection of tunes.  Please enjoy Robert Rheims' "Merry Christmas in Carols"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Holidays at Radio City Music Hall

Best album cover ever.

For Sunday, December the 19th, I am pleased to share the 1958 record "Christmas Holidays at Radio City Music Hall". 

I am a big fan of the Radio City Christmas program.  I've been fortunate enough to see their touring group twice here in Kansas City, and I have a couple CDs, one the music from the show, the other featuring the Rockettes singing Christmas songs.  One item on my bucket list is to see the show in NYC (hopefully just a year away...). 

I was able to obtain this record a few weeks ago, as an addition to my (very small) RCMH collection.  It's a  beauty of a record, and the music is outstanding.  This album was recorded in March, 1958 at Radio City Music Hall, under the direction of Raymond Paige.  It features Dick Leibert on the Grand Organ, and, of course, the Rockettes!

There are only 7 tracks on the album (a track list image is included in the zip file).

Included in the album is a 10-page booklet with stories and information about the program, and many wonderful pictures.  Unfortunately, at this time I can't share them out.  My home scanner won't quite manage it without risking damage, because the booklet is attached to the fold-out album sleeve.  I'll work on it, and will repost here if I can successfully get the booklet scanned too.  But I wanted to get the music shared out before the 2010 season ends.

So for now, enjoy the music and album cover from Christmas at Radio City, 1958.

download link

Readers Write

Back on an earlier post, a reader submitted a link to a version of "Sleigh Ride" performed by George Cates with vocals by The Heartbeats.  Per the reader, George Cates was Lawrence Welk's arranger and producer.  The source of the share is a 1950 78rpm record.  Thanks to the reader who submitted it, and in case anyone missed it in the comments back in November, here's a link to the file:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Christmas Album by Bobby Vee

It's the Saturday before Christmas, and I still have a few shares to post.  Hope to get a couple out tomorrow.  Now that the shopping is done and the candy is made, I have a bit more free time.

Tonight's share is "The Christmas Album" by Bobby Vee with the Johnny Mann Singers.  This is a stereo 1967 release.  Track list is as follows:

White Christmas
Silent Night
Silver Bells
My Christmas Love
(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays
Winter Wonderland
Blue Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Jingle-Bell Rock
A Not So Merry Christmas

So, mostly standards with a couple lesser-known tunes for your listening pleasure. 

Working on a last-week-before-Christmas rip of another album concurrently with this post, so I'll keep the text short.  Enjoy!

<link removed>

Friday, December 17, 2010

Check - Good - OK

Ok, tonight's share is really more for the back cover than the music.  This is "Zenith presents Chistmas A Gift of Music Vol. 3".  The song and artist selections are pretty decent.  The record itself was not in too great a shape.  But what I liked was the notes inked in on the back cover.  Checkmark, I presume, means the best songs, according to the original owner.  "Good" is probably the next level, followed by "ok".  It's one more level of critique than Siskel and Ebert gave us.

Oh, and, you'll note that "O Tannenbaum" by The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra is "a little loud".

Love the notes on these records :-)

I probably should have removed a couple of the highly available songs from the zip file, but I decided to leave them.  It's likely that most of the visitors here already have Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald, and the audio quality here just ain't that superb.  I'm sharing this more for the fun of the cover than the tunes.  If there's a song that you're dying for a clean version of, let me know and I'll work on the individual track.

Here it is - Volume 3 from Zenith. 

Download link

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lots of Music, No Artwork

Tonight's share is "The Glory of Christmas", a 3-record box set produced by Columbia Musical Treasuries in the 1960s.    Here's all I know about it.  Its album number is P3S 5363.  Its executive producer was Betsy Cohen.  Ron Lockhart was the producer, and Frank Decker was the engineer.  It was recorded in TotalSound, which sounds very exciting.  There are no musicians listed anywhere.  Another Christmas Mystery.

What I can tell you is that it's a good, diverse selection of Christmas music - 48 songs in all.  Secular, traditional carols, religious hyms - all here.  Ultra-popular ("White Christmas").  Lesser known ("When Christmas Comes", "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine").  A grand collection of music.

About the artwork.  The records came in a box set, and, honestly, I can't fit the box cover in my scanner.  It's not a great loss, as the cover is not in very good shape. 

So, here's a download link to a set of 48 Christmas Songs in A Columbia Musical Treasury.  Enjoy!

download link

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Truth or Consequences Christmas Show

Tonight's post is a rare occasion, in that it did not come from my personal record collection.  This is a public domain radio program recording that I downloaded from a free radio site.  More on that later.

This share is a radio broadcast of "Truth or Consequences" hosted by Ralph Edwards.  I believe it was originally broadcast on December 20, 1947.  And, I'm tellin' ya folks, this is a great, great program.  The main part of the program, featuing a hospitalized soldier playing the Truth or Consequences game, begins 10 or 12 minutes into the broadcast.  You won't regret downloading and listening to this.

Truth or Consequences Christmas

Really.  Download and listen to this.  Remove extraneous noise from your surroundings.  Dim the lights.  Have a tissue ready.

Now, some notes about the source.  I originally downloaded this from, where the webmaster claimed this was "the BEST Christmas radio program ever recorded".  (I agree).  Here is a site link to their list of Christmas radio free downloads:  Oldtimeradiofans Christmas  There are many other terrific programs available here.  If you like what you hear, please send a donation to the webmaster.

While I'm on the subject of Christmas radio, Relic Radio is another radio program site I visit often.  Programs of all genres are available for download there.  They do a great job of cleaning up the old broadcasts.  Mystery, horror, drama, comedy, and, yes, Christmas programs abound at Relic Radio.  Again, if you like what you hear, send them a donation to help with site costs.  Relic Radio Christmas

Many shout-outs to the folks that run these sites.  They are as big a part in preserving our audio history as the Christmas sharity gang...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two from Hallmark

It's been another busy weekend for Der Bingle.  Christmas shopping, candy making (the English Toffee gods were of joyful spirit and allowed two batches of perfect toffee), youth basketball games, and repairing a dog fence in 10 degree weather.  So, here it is Sunday night, and I'm just getting to sharing some music.

I have two albums from Hallmark Cards, "The Best Loved Christmas Carols", from 1985, and "Songs for the Holidays", from 1987.  According to the album cover, the 1985 release was Hallmark's first Christmas music album.  It features the London Symphony Orchestra performing twelve traditional Christmas Carols.

"Songs for the Holidays", the 1987 release, again features the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as well as soloists Peter Hofmann (tenor) and Deborah Sasson (soprano).

These are exceptional recordings, meeting the high standards one expects from Hallmark.  Hallmark is a major presence here in Kansas City, privately owned by the Hall family.  Christmas is a very special season for Hallmark.  Hall's department store here in the heart of the city features many elaborately decorated Christmas trees throughout their store - well worth a visit.

How about a 1986 album?  I have it as well, but found it very recently and have not had a chance to rip it yet.  I hope to share it out this year.  If not, it'll be here next season.

For your listening enjoyment, Hallmark's "Best Loved Christmas Carols" and "Songs for the Holidays".

Carols download link

Songs download link

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bentley High School Concert Choir

Tonight I bring you the first of two partial shares, for two different reasons.  This share, "Christmas with the Bentley Concert Choir 1976-77" is a record I found here in Kansas City in a thrift shop.  At the time I thought I could share it, and then someone from the concert choir would find it online, and it would make their day! and they would tell all of their friends, and the world would be a happier place.  And then I started to research the record and I found that there is a Bentley Concert Choir website offering CDs of this record for sale.  Bittersweet, of course, that the CD is there for those who want it, but I can't share it for the internet community.

Then I listened to the record, and the music is fantastic.  It's hard to believe that this is a high school choir.  It's so, so good, and I believe that the Christmas music lovers of the world will enjoy it.

I tried to contact the choir alumni via the e-mail on the website, but there was no reply.  So I've decided to share out four songs from the record, sharing since it is not commercially available, and limiting the number of songs out of respect for the work of the choir alumni to make the record available.  If I'm asked to remove the share, I'll do that.  But this music is really worth appreciation by a wider audience.  And if you like what you hear, you can go the the Bentley Concert Choir website and order up a CD.

Looks like Bentley High School (Livonia, Michigan) has been closed since 1985, but their legacy of excellent music lives on.  The choir's love and admiration of their director, Dr. Jerry Smith, is apparent on the choir website.  And the musical achievement Dr. Smith was able to draw out of these students is amazing.  Please enjoy a sample of the Bentley High School Concert Choir.

download link

Bentley Concert Choirs site link

Vintage Christmas

A quick post this morning.  Here are a few pictures from Christmases in the house of Der Bingle in the mid 1960's.  These are probably in the 1965 - 1968 time frame.  Dig that crazy Christmas tree!  Check out that groovy floor lamp!

I definitely remember putting up this Christmas tree for a few years.  We replaced it with a lifelike artifical green tree sometime in the early '70s.  I don't remember if we disposed of this one then, or if it was lost in an outbuilding fire we had in 1977.  Anyway, it is no more, and exists only in these and a few other pictures.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Small Miracle by Peter Collington

Without a doubt, "A Small Miracle" by Peter Collington is my favorite Christmas book.  Without words, Peter Collington tells the story of a Christmastime miracle that comes to an old woman.  The story unfolds though Mr. Collington's wonderful artwork.

Through many "readings" of this book, I found new details each time, adding to the beauty and depth of the story.  There are parts where the reader must imagine what happened off the page, completing the tale.

A Small MiracleBest of all, when my children were younger and not yet reading, they could tell me the story.  It became a favorite part of each Christmas season, having the youngest children read the book and tell me the story that they were seeing.

This is a simply a beautiful and moving book.

I was fortunate to get this book when it was first published, based on a local newspaper review.  Now, on Amazon it is only available in the seller marketplace, and is quite pricey.  Still, if you happen across this in a used book store or other book market, grab it.  You'll enjoy it for many Christmases to come.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kostelanetz Tuesday

The share for tonight is "Joy to the World: Music for Christmas" by Andre Kostelanetz' Orchestra and Chorus, featuring Earl Wrightson, Baritone.  My record is Harmony/Columbia HS 11232, a re-release of the Columbia stereo record CS 1528.  According to Tim Neely's "Goldmine Christmas Record Price Guide", this record was first released in 1959 and re-released in the 1970s.  

The Kostelanetz Orchestra and Chorus perform a number of secular ("White Christmas"), spiritual ("O Come, All Ye Faithful"), and classical ("Sugar Plum Fairy Interlude") songs, and the performances are magnificent (in my humble opinion).  "Sleigh Ride" is one of my favorite Christmas songs, performed in thousands of ways by thousands of artists, and here Andre Kostelanetz gives us a masterful interpretation.  One of the best I've heard.

A brief technical note:  most of my shares were ripped before I learned about ClickRepair, and the time just isn't there for me to re-rip (may be a future re-mastering opportunity).  I did re-record this album, though, and used ClickRepair to clean it up.  I'd like your feedback.  I know some of my shares are a little click/noise heavy, coming from time limitations and not wanting to crank Audacity noise/click removal up too high. 

I hope you enjoy Andre Kostelanetz' "Joy to the World".

download link

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Share: Johnny Kay with Al Goodman and his Orchestra

Been a busy weekend for Der Bingle.  Finishing up the Christmas decorating, children's basketball games and practices, teaching teenage daughter to drive (shudder...).  Tonight is one of my favorite nights of the year, because.... it's fruitcake night!  Yes indeed - it's time to make the fruitcakes.  I like 'em.  Some of my friends like 'em.  The children - not so much.

So, before opening the candied fruit, brandy, walnuts, brandy, spices, brandy, and some brandy, I'll post some music out for you.

 Here's Johnny Kay with Al Goodman and his Orchestra on the Diplomat album "Night Before Christmas".  This is a nice collection of songs done very well by Johnny, Al, and the gang.  Included are some of the usual standards, plus some that are less frequently encountered, such as "When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter" and "Ring Out Wild Bells".

For your Sunday evening listening pleasure, Johnny Kay and the Al Goodman Orchestra.

Now, time to make the fruitcake!

download link

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Card-n-Song

I'm thrilled to bring you tonight's share - this may be my best find of the season. This is a "Card-n-Song" by the Mulcays, on Cardinal Records from 1954. This was produced here in Kansas City and must have never strayed far from home, as I found it at Earwaxx, my favorite local used record store.

Looks like the idea here was a record inside a Christmas card, to send to your family, friends, colleagues, etc. Must have been intended for in-person giving only, and not to send through the mail (although I'll bet some did get sent through the USPS). Hmmmm.... giving Christmas songs to family and friends...sounds like what we do when we give out copies of our annual Christmas comps...  What progressive thinking by Cardinal Records!

The record and sleeve are in excellent condition. One would not think that it is 56 years old. Minimal wear, no mustiness.  A great little record.

As with several other records, there is not much information about the artist or the label, except for this: Billboard Nov. 6, 1954. A full-page ad in Billbard for this very record! (I wish I could save the page from Google Books - haven't accomplished that yet).  There is some brief information on Wikipedia about Cardinal Records, and a few Google hits on The Mulcays, but info is limited.

If anyone knows anything more about the Mulcays or Cardinal Records in Kansas City, please post a comment.

Enjoy The Mulcays Card-n-Song!

download link

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mistletoe Times Two

Tonight's album is a 2-record set from The Mistletoe Orchestra, entitled "Happy Holidays". This is from Mistletoe Records from sometime in the 1970's.

There's not much information about the artists on the record cover. Actually, none. "The Mistletoe Orchestra" gets credit for the performance, but there is no further information about the musicians. There is a past discussion about Mistletoe over at with some information about the label.

This album has a country music style to it, but it's not overly twangy. I'm not really a country music fan, and have very few Christmas recordings by C&W artists, but I found this record to be very enjoyable. One of the principle singers sounds like Roger Miller, and the songs are very competently performed by the musicians. No rowdy hoe-down here, just a nice collection of country-ish Christmas songs.

Give a listen (or two) to "Happy Holidays" by the Mistletoe Orchestra.

download link

Monday, November 29, 2010

Julie on Monday Night

A quick share for Monday night.  Here is Julie Andrews performing "A Christmas Song", from "Firestone presents Your Favorite Christmas Music Vol. 4".  I love Julie's phrasing in her rendition of this Christmas classic.  This is not on any of her CDs, and thanks to ClickRepair I have a recording that I think sounds pretty great.  Painstaking cleaning of the record took a lot of noise out, but it took ClickRepair for the final touch.  This is going on my Christmas comp this year.  I hope you enjoy this beautiful performance as much as I do.

download link

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Mighty Good Album

Tonight's album is Ashley Miller's "Holiday Music", played on the Mighty Organ of The Radio City Music Hall. According to the notes on the back cover, Ashley Miller was the organist at Radio City Music Hall for many years. This record is a very nice recording of tradional Christmas carols, including a few medleys. A very enjoyable record, and the first of at least two (maybe more) shares related to Radio City Music Hall.

Great cover art, too - Christmas decor at Rockefeller Center, circa Nineteen something something.

For your listening pleasure, Ashley Miller at the Mighty Organ of the Radio City Music Hall.

download link

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mystery 78s Redux

After some tips and advice from the readers and listeners, I've made some improvements in the mystery 78s from Hollywood Records. Here is a re-mastered (or, more appropriately, re-apprenticed) set of songs. Download link in original post has also been revised.

download link

A Music Box Christmas

For my first whole-album, all-Christmas share, I've chosen "A Music Box Christmas". These are hymns and carols played on 19th century music boxes, from the collection of Rita Ford, a collector and shopowner in New Jersey. The album was first released in 1961, and remained in print for several years (long enough to require a UPC code, which is on my copy).

The album offers 18 songs from Ms. Ford's music boxes. To me, they bring to mind a quiet Christmas season evening, snow falling from the sky. Very serene, very spiritual.

Ms. Ford's Music Box Shop has a website, Rita Ford Music Boxes. For more information about Ms. Ford, her shop and services, and her music boxes, please visit her website.

Enjoy "A Music Box Christmas"

download link

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Tradition

For the past several years, I have started my Thanksgiving holiday with a cup of coffee and a reading of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory". This year is no different - I have just finished re-reading it. It seems as if I find something new with each reading.

"A Christmas Memory" is the recollection of a 7 year old Truman Capote growing up with his distant cousin/best friend Miss Sook Faulk, in her 60s. They have each other, and, from a boy's point of view, not much else. The story begins in late November on a cold morning when his friend declares "It's fruitcake weather!"

The traditions of the Christmas season, the bonds of friendship, and some inevitable sadness run through this amazing story. If you enjoy reading stories of Christmas, I recommend that you find yourself a copy of "A Christmas Memory". It may be the start of your own personal holiday tradition.

Amazon link

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Two-Fer: Mystery 78s

A Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving Two-fer. The first post for the evening had no shares, so I thought I'd add another tonight with a share. So, here are a few songs from The Cheerleaders and The Hollywood Choraliers.

I don't know anything about the artists or the recordings apart from what you can see from the record scans. These are 78rpm records, in snazzy seasonal red. Some very basic information is on the label.  Google searches yield nothing more on either The Cheerleaders or The Hollywood Choraliers, or the "Hollywood Records" label. So, if anyone knows anything about them, please leave a comment.

The records are old and pretty noisy. Probably not a choice for your annual Christmas comp, but I find recordings like these very interesting. I found a HUGE pile of 78s at a local record store last weekend (including Frank Sinatra's "White Christmas"), but the owner hadn't priced them yet. I'll be back....

I hope you find these interesting and historical as well, and that someone may have some information about the recordings or artists.

Sharity Blues Part 2

Getting into the world of Christmas music sharity has its ups and downs. I wrote earlier about the down with the Pied Pipers record that came with a flexi-disc taped to it. Another hazard to the hobby is a record that is too scratchy to enjoy. I've bought several records that were risky based on looks. Fortunately, for 99 cents or less, the investment is minimal.

Then there's this: You make a great find, record looks to be in great shape, you bring it home, and then find out that it's available on CD or digital release. No sharing allowed. I've had several of these this year, as a new contributor to the hobby. Great music, but can't share it out. Here's a few examples that I've brought home:

The Lettermen

The Kingston Trio

Connie Francis

Patti Page

And then there are the records that aren't in print digitally, but have already been shared out by others. No need to share them again. Oh well - can't remember everything that's out there. And don't feel like checking each one via SmartPhone before buying.
Fortunately, the ups of this hobby greatly exceed the downs, most notably the excitment of finding new (to me) music that is really good.  Even though I have quite a few non-sharable records, I have a decent number ready to share over the course of the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harmonicats to Ease into the Season

My first full album share of this season is one to ease into the sharing season. "Dolls Dolls Dolls" by The Harmonicats has three songs that are traditionally associated with the holidays: "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", "March of the Toys", and "The Toy Trumpet". The rest of the songs are, as you might imagine, about dolls. Beautiful dolls, Spanish dolls, paper dolls, dolls of all sorts.

I love the recording information on the back of the album cover (in the download file). Without this information, I would not have known that the session was taped at 15 ips (inches per second), or that a Telefunken 201 was used. Fascinating.

I like this record a lot - it's upbeat and a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy Jerry Murad's "Electronic" Harmonicats.

download link

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NPR Presents "A Jazz Piano Christmas"

We're still prepping for Christmas music sharity season here at Merry and Bright. Have a few more albums to rip, and more than a few more covers to scan. I think I'll get another pre-season share or two out there soon.

In the meantime, I'm going to post a link to a streaming Christmas music program from NPR. "A Jazz Piano Christmas" was recorded at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C in December, 2007. It features Dr. Billy Taylor, Barry Harris, Joey DeFrancesco, and the late Hank Jones. Appearing with Hank Jones is the incredible Roberta Gambarini, an acclaimed and accomplished vocalist hailing from from Turin, Italy.

I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Roberta's here in Kansas City a couple of years ago. Even though she was fighting a cold that night, her performance was astounding. She is featured on the cover of this month's Jazz Times, and has released three CDs in the US. Sadly, she has released no Christmas tunes (yet).

Roberta's appearance with Hank Jones in this program is outstanding, as is the entire program. Please enjoy "A Jazz Piano Christmas" from National Public Radio.

A Jazz Piano Christmas

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joyce Carol Oates in Kansas City

Time for a brief non-Christmas interlude. The incredible Joyce Carol Oates appeared at a "Writers at Work" engagement at the Kansas City Public Library on Monday, November 8. Ms. Oates read a recently completed short story (completed, she said, about a week ago) titled "A Brutal Murder in a Public Place". After her reading, Kansas City author Whitney Terrell, who was a student of Ms. Oates at Princeton, conducted a Q & A session about the approach to writing.

Joyce was energetic and witty throughout the evening, frequently bantering with Whitney, and always with the upper hand. Still the teacher, still the student. As a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates (with well over 100 [yes, 100] of her books), I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. And my wife, who has not read any of Ms. Oates work, also thought it was an entertaining engagement with a renowned author.

The evening ended with a previously unannounced book signing! I never attend an author event without books, so I came away with three books signed by the author.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sharity Blues

Getting into the Christmas music sharing hobby has some ups and downs. Lots of ups - great music, excellent and exciting vinyl finds, sharing the good stuff with the rest of the Christmas music world. But, as I'm finding out, one also encounters a few downs.

So here's Sharity Blues Entry #1.

Found a great looking Pied Pipers album at a local record store. Cover was in great shape. Love the artwork!

In the record store, I examined one side of the record. Not too bad. Not mint, for sure, but probably good enough to get a good rip from. Definitely worth the 50 cents I paid that day (local record store gives some gooooood deals...)

And then, I got the record home, pulled it out of the cover, and saw this on the other side:

Who knows how many years ago, someone taped, TAPED!!!, a flexi-disc, FREE AUDITION record to the Pied Pipers album. And left it there. Forever.

Any idea what 40 year old tape does to vinyl? Think it will come off? Hint: it will not. Sigh.

But, as with any good Christmas story, there's a happy ending. I found that Captain OT over at A Christmas Yuleblog had previously shared this album, with a different cover. I believe the music is the same, just the artwork is different. I give Captain OT the nod for adorableness :-)

So, avoid the sharity blues and jump over to the Captain's place for The Pied Pipers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Three Songs from The Four Aces

For share #2 of this early holiday season, I am pleased to present three songs from The Four Aces.

I would be even more pleased if I were presenting five songs from The Four Aces, or even four. Here's the story behind this share. I remember having a few Christmas 45s growing up in the late 60's, in addition to the four LPs, one of which was Bing Crosby - big surprise :-) Two of the 45s I played as a young child were "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee and "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms. These were original release 45s of those songs. So a few months ago I decided to look through the old 45s in my basement and see if those records had survived. No trace of them, but I did find an original 7 inch, 5 song EP by the Four Aces, released in 1956, eight years older than me. So, this record has been hauled around with my stuff for many years, and has been in the family for 54 years now. Time for a resurrection...

Cut ahead to now. I cleaned up the record as much as possible with the materials on hand, but succeeded in getting only three songs transferred to digital. The other two were not salvagable from the record.

The bad - there is still a lot of noise in the rips. I didn't want to noise-remove too much and ruin the music that is there, so there is still a lot of surface noise. The good, though, is that the remarkable vocal parts of the Four Aces seem to float above the white noise. You can still appreciate their beautiful interpretations of these three songs. Unfortunately, "Silent Night" and "O Little town of Bethlehem" remain unripped.

Please enjoy The Four Aces, and rest assured that future shares will be cleaner. This one has sentimental value to me, so I hope you all enjoy the music.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas Music Season Begins: Les Paul and Mary Ford

I'm going to go ahead and kick off the Christmas sharing season tonight. To start things off, here is "Silent Night" by Les Paul and Mary Ford, from the Capitol 45 rpm pairing with "Jingle Bells". I have never found this recording available in the US on CD or as an MP3, so with great pleasure I'm sharing it with you.

In my opinion, "Silent Night" is an incredibly difficult song for an artist to truly make their own. Slow and soulful interpretations tend to sound more like dirges than carols. Jazzy, upbeat versions lose the reverence of the song. Straightforward performances seem flat. I do have a performance (unsharable) by a marching band that is wonderful, but generally I'm unimpressed with most version.

Enter Mary Ford. Les Paul once described Mary's voice as weak, which is why he so often enhanced her voice with a pickup delay, creating their signature sound. Here, though, Mary is not multi-tracked, and the result is beautiful. Mary has given us a performance of "Silent Night" that stands with the best.

I had the immense pleasure and privilege of seeing Les Paul perform at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York in June of 2007. We helped Les celebrate his 92nd birthday that evening. Les and his guests gave us a great show.

Enjoy Les Paul and Mary Ford performing "Silent Night".

Update:  Sorry folks - had to remove this link.  "Silent Night" is now available on the Capitol digital reissue of "Christmas Kisses", a fine collection.  Check it out here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! (and Christmas music update)

Happy Halloween everyone! Just a quick update and Halloween greeting today. Tonight will be spent handing out treats to the little ghosts and witches roaming the neighborhood, and watching "Dark Shadows" in between. Thank you streaming Netflix! And then I'll be out accompanying my own rock star and bloodied hockey mask dude around for a while.

Christmas Music update: For me, tomorrow is when Christmas music season starts. Not full time, but I'll be easing in to listening to lots of Christmas tunes over the next two weeks. To that end, I've been working on getting music ready to share. Music sharing has its ups and downs - records that look decent but are actually full of noise, or have a little stubbord spot of goo on them. Records that you bring home and then find are available in CD. I have a few of those stories to share in the next week or so.

Right now, I have 9 albums ripped to MP3. Don't have all the artwork scanned yet, though. I also have a few single songs ready to go. Have a few more albums to rip, then get through the artwork, and then, probably after Thanksgiving, I'll be posting them out. Perhaps a few before Thanksgiving - we'll see.

In the meantime, have a safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Slaylists

Just a quick shout-out to Lee at Music You (Probably) Won't Hear Anywhere Else.  Lee shares out tons, scads, wagonloads of vintage music, mostly from the 78 RPM era.  Plus, he shares some of his own compositions.  Start browsing his site and you may never escape!

Right now Lee is sharing out his annual "Slaylist" collections of Halloween-themed music.  As of today he has 10 slaylists available for download.

Swing over to Lee's place and enjoy the music.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here Come the Judge

For my first music share, here is my favorite song from childhood: "Here Come the Judge" by The Magistrates. I haven't found a lot of information about this song on the web, but there is obviously a heavy "Laugh In" influence. You can hear performers that sound a lot like Gary Owen, Judy Carne, and Arte Johnson. Might be Joann Worley in there as well. And there's the "Sock It To Me" segment, straight from "Laugh In".

The record label credits "Gross-Freda" as the song writer, and says "Featuring the Voice of Jean Hillary". 

Update:  I found some information about the song at the following website about The Dovells, who briefly became the Magistrates in 1968:  The Dovells.  The account of the song being created, recorded, and sold within 48 hours seems apocryphal, but at least now we know that Gross-Freda are Jerry Gross and Mike Freda. 


Here Come the Judge

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween on the Web

As Halloween nears, many blogs join in the Countdown to Halloween, posting Halloween-themed music, vintage comics and magazines, pictures of old costumes, and lots of other content.  Tonight I want to highlight a few of my favorites.

Wonderful Wonderblog
Lots of really great stuff out here, blogged by Erick.  I really admire Erick’s contributions here, because it is all in the good spirit of Halloween – lots of fun, nothing harmful or distasteful.  Lots of childhood memories live here.  Stop by and visit!

Countdown to Halloween
Here’s where the Countdown to Halloween starts.  Lots of spooky content, but the best part is the link list to all the other ‘Cryptkeepers’ participating in the countdown.  Start here and click away!

Magic Carpet Burn
Another favorite of mine.  Remember “Dark Shadows”?  Check out all the Dark Shadows info at Magic Carpet Burn.  Loads of terrifically terrifying stuff…

Work your way through the Halloween sites, enjoy the music, radio programs, magazines, comics, costumes, and vintage pictures.  Leave the hosts a comment to let them know you visited.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Sourland" by Joyce Carol Oates

“Sourland” is Joyce Carol Oates latest story collection, her 23rd according to the list inside the book, although there are a few from smaller presses that aren’t listed (“Wild Saturdays”, “Oates in Exile”).  Oates’ stories describe the horror that can occur in real life.  Monsters in the traditional sense are absent from her stories, replaced by terrors that can occur in our cities and small towns as we live our lives.  So far, I’ve only read the first story in this collection, “Pumpkin-Head”.  It has some classic Oatesian characteristics – a relationship gone bad, antagonist-as-self, and villains lurking inside and out. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Acknowledgements and Inspirations

For my second blog post, I'd like to acknowledge some great folks out there on the interweb, those who have, through their generosity and sacrifice of personal time, have inspired me to create this blog.  A primary intent at Merry and Bright! is to join the Christmas music sharity community.  I hope to find the time to rip Christmas music from vinyl albums to digital format, clean it up as best I can, and share the music here.  The following sites are some of the best, and are inspirations for Merry and Bright!

The King of Jingaling is the proprietor of, the epicenter of Christmas music sharity from vinyl.  If you are interested in vintage Christmas music, or want to relive the sounds of Christmas past, here is the place to start.  I first heard of through a now-defunct e-mail distribution called Trio Online, based on the also defunct Trio cable channel.  One stop at “The Fa” and I was hooked.  The King and his Elves provide the best from vinyl.  You won’t find anything currently available on CD or commercial MP3 here (or at any of the other sites below).  It’s strictly a labor of love to resurrect and share Christmas music from out of print vinyl.

Ernie (Not Bert)

Ernie is an Elf at The Fa in a class of his own.  At his blog, Ernie has shared Santa-knows-how-many albums of Christmas music.  I’ve downloaded more from Ernie than I’ve been able to listen to (so far).  And, for 2010, he’s over 70 (seventy!) albums and 1000 songs for sharity season (beginning November 1 right after Thanksgiving [thanks for the correction Ernie]).  Go visit Ernie, browse through his archive, and enjoy his contributions to this great hobby.

A Christmas Yuleblog

CaptainOT is another major player in the vinyl Christmas music world.  Amazing seasonal samplers, deep knowledge of the subject, and generous sharing make his blog a required Favorite in your Christmas Music folder.

Cheerful Earful

Inkydog keeps Cheerful Earful open year-round, and shares out more than just Christmas music.  Need some Hawaiian tunes?  Cheerful Earful is the place.  Come Christmas season, though, and Inkydog is another great contributor of holiday music.

There are many more sites offering Christmas music, but these are four of the best.  The King, Ernie, CaptainOT, and Inkydog have high standards for copyright respect, and will not share out currently available albums or songs.  That’s the way it should be.

I’ll be highlighting a couple more sites in forthcoming posts, where the content is a little differently notable than the four here.

And finally, I am sincerely grateful to the gentlemen who run these blogs.  They contribute their time, and ultimately the music, just for the love of the music.  We all benefit from their generosity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to Merry and Bright!

Hello, and welcome to Merry and Bright!  Here at M&B you'll find a generous helping of Christmas content, especially during "the season" from November 1 through the New Year.  The rest of the year you'll enjoy(?) my musings about other holidays, music, books, and more.  Politics - not so much.  There's a better place for politics than Merry and Bright!.

Why "Merry and Bright!"?  The blog name comes from the lyrics of "White Christmas", first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1942.  Since this is a Christmas-themed blog, and since I go by Der Bingle, it seemed like a good blog name.  Sets the tone for the blog.

I hope you all enjoy Merry and Bright! and I look forward to your comments.

Blogs away....