Saturday, December 29, 2012

Loose Ends 2012 (pt 2)

Christmas Day 2012 has come and gone, but it's still the Christmas season here at the Bingle household.  The trees are still up, the lights are still on, and the music is still playing.  The season will continue for at least another week, until the oldest Bingle daughter and her husband come to visit.  A longer Christmas season - love it!

I have a few more loose ends to tie up here on Merry and Bright.  I wish I could give all of these artists the time and recognition they deserve, but the best I can do is mention them here and encourage everyone to visit their websites and Facebook pages.  So, here goes...

Abi Ann:  Abi is a fresh, young country pop singer with a terrific voice.  She released a new Christmas single this year, "Santa Can You Hear Me" that is a fine, catchy little tune.

Abi Ann website:  Abi Ann
Abi Ann Facebook:  link


Loop Line:  Loop Line is a Minneapolis-based band that is working on an "always in-progress Christmas movie".   A couple songs from the movie of the future are available on Bandcamp here, and the band's Facebook page is here.


Radio Station KDXH has a streaming playlist of holiday tunes featuring artists from the St. Louis, MO area.  Here it is!  link


Acoustic indie/folk act inColor, and a few special guests, gave us a 4-song EP this Christmas, available on Bandcamp. 

inColor link


And, one more:  Animal Spirit treated us with a couple yuletide songs this season, also on Bandcamp, here.


I'm sure that there are others that I've overlooked - I'll check the e-mail archives.  In the meantime, please check out these artists and if you like what you hear, please support them by purchasing their music.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Der Bingle wishes each of you a happy and safe holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Celebration

It's Christmas Eve.  Time for celebration, time with family and friends, preparation for Christmas Day festivities, last-minute shopping, or the many other things that we do on this great day.

My last couple of shares have been about the side of Christmas for children - traditional stories and carols about Santa, toys, gifts, and joy.  Today I want to return to the spiritual side of Christmas for my final share of the season.

"A Festival of Lessons and Carols" is a 1965 release on the Argo label from England.  It is a recording of the Christmas Eve celebration at King's College Chapel in 1964 (fitting, as that was my first Christmas Eve).  Hymns, carols, readings, and lessons for the celebration of Christmas culminate in a Prayer and Blessing, with a final hymn, "O Come All Ye Faithful" closing the joyous gathering of Christians.

I have recorded this as only two mp3 files, one for each side of the album.  While recording it, I thought it best to retain the continuity on each side of the record, instead of breaking it up into several separate tracks.  However, I have also included a link to a zip file with the two wav files, in case you would like to re-edit and separate the tracks.

And, I have included scans of the booklet that was included with the record.  It has all of the carols and readings for you to enjoy.

Peace and joy to each of you, and thank you for visiting Merry and Bright this season.  As always, it has been my pleasure to introduce you to new yuletide music, or to reunite you with the sounds of years long ago.

Merry Christmas!

A Festival of Lessons and Carols - mp3

A Festival of Lessons and Carols - wav

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jillaine: Jazzy Christmas To You II

This is a late, late, late in the season review of a new Christmas album this year, but it is never too late to review such beautiful Christmas music.

Jillaine, our favorite jazz singer here at Merry and Bright, released "Jazzy Christmas To You II" in 2012, only one year after "Jazzy Christmas To You", her debut collection of Christmas songs. "Jazzy II" picks up right where its predecessor left off, giving us another amazing album of both secular and spiritual songs for the season.

The album kicks off with a rousing, bluesy rendition of "Please Come Home for Christmas". It’s a unique interpretation of the song, with a sassy soulfulness made memorable by Jillaine and her superb band. "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" follows, with Jillaine in a duet with James Archibald. It is another entertaining, original take on an old classic, with a little honky-tonk piano break by Zach Wiggins that gives the song a little extra kick.

With "Last Christmas", Jillaine achieves the nearly-impossible: performing a version of the song that I really like :-)   Key to the success is the stripped-down accompaniment of Craig Adler's acoustic guitar and Linda Chaston on synth, along with Jillaine’s restrained vocals. Taking this song that is usually over orchestrated and turning it into a more subtle performance gives it an introspective, melancholy quality that I’ve never heard before.

The spiritual selections – "I Wonder As I Wander", "O Come O Come Emmanuel", and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night" are beautiful. Jillaine dials back the jazzy and performs these with tremendous strength and reverence. "Emmanuel", especially, is a moving performance, full of true, heartfelt Christmas spirit.

Sass and swagger abound in "I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm", "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" and especially "Santa Blues", co-written by Jillaine and Justin Jensen. Jillaine struts though these songs, bending the notes to suit, having a blast with her band..

"Jazzy Christmas To You II" is another beautiful record. Jillaine gives us a variety of styles, selections, and fresh, original arrangements, nailing them all. The musicians accompanying her are tops, cats, and the bee's knees.

If Rudolph's nose isn't glowing yet, it will when he hears "Jazzy Christmas To You II"!

Man, I can't wait for Jazzy III....

Jillaine Records

Amazon Link

Also on iTunes, etc

Buy this record!  :-)

Santa Claus!

As Santa is making his final preparations for his annual journey - packing the toys, checking that list one last time, moving some names from "Naughty" to "Nice" (Santa is pretty good-hearted and forgiving, you know), I thought it would be a great time to share out some stories and songs from the man himself.

"Santa's Own Christmas" is a 1967 release from Capitol with 9 tracks featuring tales from Santa's workshop and some of Santa's personal favorite Christmas Carols.  I always kind of thought that "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" might be a favorite :-)

I don't have much more to say about this one, except I really like it.  I like the concept that Capitol created for the children of the late '60's.  I can imagine this record being played many, many times on a child's little, blue, all-in-one record player (yeah, I spun Bing Crosby and Lorne Greene on mine over and over and over....).  This is a great album as we get closer to Christmas Day.

download link (updated)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas is for Children

With Christmas only a few days away, all the children are getting more excited, anticipating Santa's visit, barely able to wait for Christmas morning.  How many have heard "Can I open just one present early?"  How many of us said that very thing to our own parents when we were young?  The children around us are no different than the child still inside each of us, anxiously awaiting Christmas morning.

Tonight's share is "Christmas is for Children", and it is really great.  All you readers that grew up in the 60s and early 70s, prepare for some major nostalgia.


How about Red Skelton reading "The Littlest Christmas Tree"?  Or Burl Ives performing "Happy Birthday Jesus (A Child's Prayer)"?

How about Captain Kangaroo himself narrating "The Littlest Snowman"?

My childhood returned on a 12" vinyl record.

Side 1 of "Christmas is for Children", a Columbia Special Products release, is simply terrific.  In addition to Red, Burl, and the Captain, Side 1 has Ray Heatherton reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and Jose Ferrer magnificently performing "March of the Christmas Toys". 

Side 2 of the record is more of a straighforward compilation side, with some frequently compiled songs.  They are very good, and I know you'll enjoy them, but they don't approach the magic of side 1.

This might just be my favorite share of the season (although I have a few more to go in the next couple of days...).  Captain Kangaroo!  Man!  It doesn't get any better than that.

Christmas is for children, and for all of us grown-ups too.

download link

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Around the Christmas Tree

I'm snowed in today in Kansas City.  A genuine blizzard rolled through this morning, dropping about 3 inches of snow, but with 50mph winds.  On my attempted drive in to work, I couldn't see more than about 100 feet at times. So, I went back home, and have used part of the time today to do some catch-up work.  What that brings you is another share, a little earlier in the day than usual.

"Around the Christmas Tree" is a great compilation from perhaps the 1950s, just judging from the artists and the album art.  This is a great collection, with songs from The Four Aces, Dick Haymes, the Columbus Boys Choir, and others, for a total of 14 songs.  The album has a subtitle, "A Special Christmas Day Program".  Maybe the folks at Decca were marketing this as a record to play on Christmas morning while presents were being opened. 

There is some noise on some of the songs that I couldn't remove.  This was one of those records that looked to be in better shape than it sounded.  The first couple songs from side 1 have some significant start-up noise, and then it gets better as we move through the album side.  Side 2, starting with "Deck the Hall", is similar, with early noise, then better quality later.  The music behind the noise, though, is very rich.  So, I hope you can push through the static and enjoy the great performances.

A quick internet search shows that CaptainOT shared this out a few years back, here.  I don't know if it's still available.  If it is, it may be in better shape than this rip.  If not, well, please enjoy a true 1950s sonic experience :-)  The music here is worth a try, believe me.

download link

Loose Ends (2012 Edition)

Every year it seems that time speeds up during the Christmas season, and all the things I have to do/want to do/need to do don’t always get done.  Besides running “Merry and Bright” (which should be my top priority, right?  J   ), my family and I have many Christmas traditions and activities going on, like cookie and candy making, Christmas cards, etc.  Plus there’s all the non-holiday life events that happen with four active children at home.  And then there’s work and the two trips to Denver in the past few weeks, and the Completely Lost Last Sunday due to either flu or food poisoning.

This year I did a good job preparing all the shares for this season, in that they were all ripped, scanned, zipped, and loaded before the sharing season started, so I don’t have to spend time doing all that during the month of December (except for a pretty painless transition to Google Docs).   
And still, there are things left undone for the blog.  One item in particular is to recognize all the artists who provide me with music during the season, if not with a full review of their work, then at least a shout-out for their contributions.   So, here are a few words about some fine artists and their seasonal music.
First is “Christmas with the SAC Pack”, by the Striving Artists Theatre Company.   This is a 2 CD set with a whopping 50! songs of the season.   The music from this group is truly enjoyable.  Now, one reason that I didn’t get this shout-out posted sooner is that good friend Stubby did a thorough review of this release over at SHoC, so I think the word was out to the Christmas music community.  I wish I had the time to do a more thorough review, but time is crunched.  So, in lieu of a full review, here is a 5-star shout out to Striving Artists "Christmas with the SAC Pack" *****

Next is “A Kindie Christmas” by The Hipwaders.  “A Kindie Christmas” is a 10-song release that is simply a whole lot of fun.  The Hipwaders bio on Amazon says “The Hipwaders perform quirky jangle-pop for kids & families”, and that pretty much sums it up.  I really enjoyed this EP/LP from Tito, DJ, and Nick.  It’s very fresh and unique, and gives us some new and different sounds for the season.

So, thanks to these outstanding musicians for their contributions to the world of Christmas music! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Music Box Christmas

One of my favorite sub-genres of Christmas music is the beautiful music created by music boxes.  I've shared out an album of music box songs before (also from Rita Ford's collection), and this year I have another for you to enjoy. 

"Christmas With Rita Ford's Music Boxes" features 15 songs from vintage, pristine music boxes.  Some familiar songs are included, such as "Adeste Fideles" and "O Tannenbaum", as well as less familiar music.  Seasonal songs from Europe also grace the record - "Nun Danket Alle Gott", "Ora Pro Nobis" and others.

Every style of Christmas music seems to have a best-suited place and time.  Some for driving in the car, some for background music at the office, some for peaceful nights at home..  I think a perfect time for Rita Ford's Music Boxes would be early on Christmas morning, still dark outside, Christmas tree lights providing the only illumination.  You are awakened by the soft sounds of "The Holy City", from a century-old music box, and you walk downstairs to begin your Christmas celebration as "Silent Night" begins.  Heavenly.

Please enjoy "Christmas With Rita Ford's Music Boxes".

download link

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Golden Voices

For your listening pleasure tonight I have "The Golden Voices Sing at Christmas".  The record is a product of Premier Albums from good ol' New York City, and I'd date it as a mid 1960's record.  There isn't much information on the record sleeve, except that the Golden Voices were a group of non-professional singers from a small New England village who eventually found success and were able to record this album of Christmas songs for all to enjoy.

And enjoyable it is.  It's a nice collection of 12 Christmas carols, very pleasing to the ears, very nicely done.  One thing I particularly like is the song selection.  While there are a few of the usual suspects, like "Silent Night", there are also songs that are less frequently recorded, such as "Once In Royal David's City", "As With Gladness Men Of Gold" and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night".  It's always pleasant to hear these songs performed by talented groups, instead of yet another rendition of "Jingle Bells".

This is a very enjoyable record of soothing seasonal songs.  Also, I like the spot on the back cover with "A Merry Xmas From ____________", making it gift ready!

So, A Merry Xmas From Der Bingle!

download link

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas with the Choraliers

Today's share is one of the best that I have to offer this season, so I want to give everyone plenty of time to enjoy it before Christmas Day.  It is a five record box set from the Longines Symphonette Recording Society called "Christmas with the Choraliers".

The records in this box are in very good condition, which made for some very nice transfers to digital.  The music here is terrific - it really captures the sound of the late 60's/early 70's that is so nostalgic to so many of us.  I remember many a TV commercial in the early 70's for the Longines Symphonette, and this record set really takes me back.

In the zip file, I have separated the audio tracks by record.   The box images are from a digital photo, not a scan, because the box would not fit on my scanner.  And, as a bonus, I've included a scan of the booklet that was enclosed with the records. 

So, as we head into the final week before Christmas, please enjoy "Christmas with the Choraliers".

download link

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Joy in Full Color Hi Fidelity

Yes indeed, Full Color Hi Fidelity.  That's what the album cover says.  Makes me wonder if I've ever listened to a record in black & white.  I probably did when I was growing up, as we had only a black & white TV until I was about 16.


I'm not sure why "Full Color" is prominently displayed on the album cover of tonight's share, "Joy To The World", Organ and Chimes by Ivan Dittmars.  It's an interesting album cover from the budget label.  The cover is obviously a separate print that was attached to stock Crown Records generic covers, as the back has no information about the album, instead showing information about other Crown records.

This is the mono version of this 1960's Crown release, featuring 14 songs performed on organ and chimes.  You'll likely recognize them all.  The album closes with an oddly-titled Medley "Deck the Hall with Holly/Carol of the Shepherds".

To satisfy your need for organ and chimes Christmas comfort music, here is "Joy To The World" in Full Color!

download link

While we're waiting....

As I type this post I'm moving a few more files out to Google Docs to share out.  Gotta pick up the pace - only 10 days to go until Christmas!

This is just a quick non-Christmas post about some of the tremendous musicians I've seen here in Kansas City in the past five weeks.  I'm not sure who all is on my musical bucket list, but these three artists were, and I jumped at the chance to see them perform here.

First, back on November 8th, Regina Spektor performed here at the Midland Theatre .  The first time I heard one of Regina's songs I was very "meh" about it.  Then about a year later, I re-listened again and loved it.  I don't know what sort of funk I was in the first time, but I've come to recognize her originality and artisty as a singer/songwriter/pianist.  She's an emerging star with a very strong fan base.  It was a great show.

Then, a mere 9 days later, I saw Bruce Springsteen perform at the Sprint Center.  It was my first Springsteen concert.  3 1/2 hours of energy, grit, and power.  Damn, man, it was good.  Just might take the top spot on my life list (Glenn Tilbrook solo is currently #1, but I may re-eval).

Then last night (12/14) I saw the Anat Cohen Quartet here at the Folly Theatre.  I love jazz, and I *really* love Anat Cohen's work.  I bought tickets to her show the minute they went on sale.  Anat is an astounding clarinetist in a jazz world dominated by sax.  She puts so much feeling into her performance - wow.  The quartet's performance of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" was especially poignant and moving as she related the band's sadness about the incident in Newtowne.  Anat is amazing.

Ok - just a brief aside....  back to Christmas music shortly...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peter Raymond Carolers

I'm back from a quick business trip to Denver.  If any of you are familiar with the term ISO 9001:2008 Audit, you'll understand what a blast I had.  If not, it's just as well.

Although I did manage to get a post out while I was away from home, it wasn't a share.  And, if I know my readers, you're ready for another share.  So, here 'tis.

Tonight's share is "Hail To Christmas" by the Peter Raymond Carolers.  This is the mono version of the record from the Wyncote label, and it's undated.  It has that early 60's sound, though.  If anyone can provide the year, please let us know in the comments.

This is a nice record, good instrumentation, pleasant vocals.  Just some pretty swell seasonal music.

I'm still going with Google Docs for the time being.  If you have any problems, let me know.

I hope you like "Hail To Christmas" by the Peter Raymond Carolers!

download link

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three Artists from Mile High

The good people at Mile High Productions have three artists with Christmas releases this year.  And, with merely a mouse click, you can check out the seasonal songs by these three fine artists.

Bunny Sigler is an R&B singer with a darned impressive resume.  Grammy Awards.  In the biz since the 60s.  Has worked with the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, and Patti LaBelle.  And now, he has released “When You’re In Love At Christmas Time”, a collection of 12 holiday songs full of groove, smoove, and style.  Bunny gives us a very unique and enjoyable R&B collection, expertly arranged and performed. 
Margo Rey is billed as an “adult contemporary” artist.  Now, “adult contemporary” usually isn’t my thing.  But within just the first few seconds of Margo’s “This Holiday Night” I knew that she was something special.  Sweet, smooth, and sultry, Margo’s voice is just wonderful.  The songs from her EP “This Holiday Night” are excellent, and will make a beautiful addition to your Christmas music collection.

RJ Comer brings us one Christmas song, “It Won’t Be Christmastime (‘Round Here)”.  I’m becoming a fan of sad Christmas songs.  RJ’s song is expertly performed, with terrific instrumentation, and outstanding vocals.  The overall musicality is tremendous.  RJ has hit the mark with a song that is both seasonal and melancholy.  I look forward to more from this fine musician.

Here are SoundCloud links where you can enjoy a sampling from these artists.  Please listen, learn, and, if you like what you hear, support the artists and buy their records!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Deja Vu

So, I'm browsing through the record bins at a local thrift store, and a green metallic cover catches my eye.  "Wishing You a Merry Christmas" the title beckons.   The cover is a retro-chic shiny object.  I am compelled to pick it up and look further.

Whoa!  Look at this!  It's a red vinyl album inside the shiny green sleeve!  I love colored vinyl.  I even have a blue vinyl version of Elvis' "Moody Blue" framed and hanging on the wall in my Elvis room (yes indeed - an Elvis room).  So, what could be better than a bright red vinyl record of Christmas music.  The artist is Johnny Cole and his Chorus.  Ok - I'll pay the 99 cents and give it a new home.

Now we come to rip-to-vinyl time.  Hey - I think I've heard this before.  Like last year (or was it the year before?) when I shared out Johnny Kay.  I think there's a thread out on a Christmas blog somewhere about Johnny Cole/Johnny Kay and his releases through the years. 

There are at least five songs on Johnny Cole's album that weren't on Johnny Kay's.  And, on the songs in common, even though Johnny's vocal tracks are very similar, the arrangements and instrumentation is different.  So, as it turns out, it is a different record than the Johnny Kay share.  And, best of all, the music is really pretty good.

So, here you go - Johnny Cole and his Chorus - "Wishing You a Merry Christmas"

New link location as a Google Doc.  Please comment and let me know if you are able to access and download:

download link

Thursday, December 6, 2012

American Christmas Songs

Good morning.  I wanted to let you all know about a great new Christmas Music site I found today:

Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Joyous and Merry

Tonight I have something a little different to share out.  As you may have noticed here on Merry and Bright, as well as on other Christmas Music sites, there seems to be increased scrutiny of the files we are posting to share.  Mediafire has tagged a few of my files as containing copyrighted material and blocked them from being downloaded.  While it's a little disappointing, I really don't have a problem with that method of copyright protection by the host.  My files are still there, they just aren't publicly downloadable.  As Doris Day sang, Que Sera Sera.  We move on.

So, what I have for you tonight is a share combined up from two compilation albums, and I've removed the songs that are readily available in digital format.  So, Perry Como, Chet Atkins, Robert Goulet, Mitch Miller & the Gang, Johnny Mathis, Steve and Eydie, and the great (and already quoted) Doris Day do not grace this share.

However, what is left is a great collection of music from the Norman Luboff Choir, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and (a personal favorite), the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra and Chorus, plus many more.

Two albums contributed to this share.  First, "Joyous Christmas",  a "Limited Edition Collectors Item" from Columbia Special Products produced for the Beneficial Finance System.  The second is "Merry Christmas", an excellent 1964 collection from RCA.

These albums are both excellent collections in the tradition of the best 1960s records - a terrific set of performances with great music that hearkens back to those simpler times before the internet, cell phones, and technology saturation.  Just a good ol' stereo record player and a couple of great Christmas records.

Please enjoy a special compilation "Joyous and Merry"

Quick update:  Reader Zepp pointed out a skip and repeat on one of the songs.  I hope to get that fixed tonight (12/6).  I'll re-post the entire share for those who have not downloaded it yet, and also a separate link to the single fixed song, for those who just need the one.

Update II:  Well, the replacement ZIP file was tagged as non-downloadable, but the old one isn't, and neither is the single "Rudolph".  So, please download both files in the following links, and replace the "Rudolph" in the ZIP file with the single MP3 in the second link.  Go figure...

New ZIP files:
Joyous ZIP (updated)
Merry ZIP

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas in Europe

As aspect of Christmas that has interested me since I was a child is how the holiday is celebrated throughout the world.  I remember learning about Christmas in other countries in church as a youngster, and it seems that we even covered this in public school, which would, sadly, never be allowed now.  What was Santa Claus called in other lands?  How and when did he arrive?  Reminiscing as I write, this is one of the earliest Christmas memories I have.

My interest in Christmas traditions around the world has not waned.  I have a few books that compile stories from many cultures and traditions, such as "Christmas Stories From Many Lands".

Used record stores and the other Christmas Music sharity sites have provided a bounty of recordings highlighting the musical celebrations from other countries.  Christmas in France, Germany, Sweden, England, Poland, and many others have graced the blogs of the sharity community.

So, I was very pleased to find the record I am sharing today, "Christmas in Europe".  This is an excellent collection of Christmas songs from across Europe.  Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and England are all represented in this 17 song album.  The music is terrific, and the album back cover gives us a snippet of the Christmas traditions from each country.  For me, it hearkens back to my childhood, learning about the traditions of Christmas around the world.

There is more noise on these rips than I would have liked, but it's the best I could do without losing too much of the range.  Even with a bit of noise, this is still a very enjoyable record.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

download link