Monday, June 25, 2012

Christmas And A Half 2012-Part 1

Good day, and welcome to the midpoint between last Christmas and the next, or as we like to call it, Christmas And A Half!  It also happens to be my birthday, but you don't have to get me anything, I've got presents for you!  It's a little project I started last year but never got very far along with, and I'm still not really where I want to be with it, but the time is right to start rolling it out.  I've been ripping music from Christmas 78s for over a year now, and I want to share them with you.  Today is part one of what I think will be four parts, for a total of 78 tracks from 78!  The part I haven't finished yet is the label scans, but someday I'll get the right sized scanner and be able to put faces to these great songs.  Now, a little background.  I ripped all of these myself from my humble collection, some of them sound good, some of them sound like a roaring fire.  Sometime back I finally got a record player that would spin at 78 RPM, as well as the correct sized needle.  I never did get the proper amplifier though, so I had to fix that in Audacity.  I also decided that I didn't like the sound I was getting at 78 RPM, so I recorded everything at 33 and fixed that in Audacity, too.  I recorded both L and R channels, then used ClickRepair to combine the channels and remove lots of clicks and pops.  In some cases, I have a hard time telling the difference between the 78 copy and a 45, but in other cases, well, don't say I didn't warn you...  So, what's in this first part?  Let's take a look...

1. Christmas Medley by American Radio Warblers With Preston Sellers At The Organ.  Yes, that's right, it's a flock of birds singing along to Christmas carols!  Oh, how I wish I had more of this.  (Arthur C. Barnett-Exclusive Distributor 10" 78 RPM DB-C8-3236 & 3237)  No year on this one, I'm afraid.  But perhaps someone can do better research than I and fill us in.  I found a couple references to the radio show that featured this chicks, but nothing about this record.

2. Star Of The East by Ballard & Wheeler, Tenor & Baritone with Orchestra Accompaniment.  This one, to me, sounds like old 78s should sound.  Not good, not bad, all treble, no bass. (Silvertone (Sears-Roebuck) 10" 78 RPM 5129)  Again, no year, but surely this showed up in an old Sears & Roebuck catalog somewhere.

3. Let's Put Christmas Back Into Christmas by Don Moreland with Eddie Ballantine's Orchestra and Choir.  You though putting Christ back into Christmas was a modern sentiment?  Hardly.  This one has to be from sometime in the early fifties, but I think you can find earlier examples without looking too hard. (Jay 10" 78 RPM E2-QB-5855/5856)  I just noticed a big volume jump between the last track and this one.  Sorry about that.

4. I Want A Puppy In My Stocking by Kathryn King With Savoy Orchestra.  I seem to recall this one had a picture sleeve, I really need to get a new scanner... (Prevue 10"78 RPM 1111-78 "Compliments Of Vigilant Insurance Specialists")  This one was a giveaway at some point, I wish they gave away stuff like this these days.

5. Santa Claus Polka by Lennon Bros. With Don Shaw Orchestra.  I was a little unclear on this one, are these guys related to the Lennon Sisters?  I think so.  I know that the male children of The Lennon Sisters are in a group, and members of that group sang backup at the Roger Waters concert I went to a couple weeks ago.  How's that for bringing full circle?  (Zodiac 1212)

6. The Night Before Christmas by Cora Mel Patton.  Finally, one with a date.  1914, so this one was recorded 98 years ago!  Wow!!  (Victor 12" 78 RPM 35418)  Is this the first spoken word I've put in here.  With sound effects!

7. Santa Claus Gives Away His Toys by Gilbert Girard.  Apparently, he made many records like this, some Christmas, some not, and they were hugely popular in the day.  What day was that?  This one dates to 1918!  (Victor 12" 78 RPM 35679 "Descriptive Specialty With Imitations")  Note that reindeer don't all have their correct names...

8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing by Columbia Stellar Quartette With Orchestra Accompaniment.  Another early one, this time from 1919.  I'm just amazed that I'm able to get sound out of something that old.  (Columbia 10" 78 RPM A2788)

9. Jingle Bells by Criterion Male Quartet With Orchestra.  I think the very oldest Christmas audio recording is a version of Jingle Bells.  Or maybe it was the oldest made, but it doesn't exist anymore.  I need to research these things better.  This one is from 1923.  (Gennett 10" 78 RPM 5267 (Division of The Starr Piano Co. Richmond, Ind.))

10. Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers by Paul Whiteman And His Orchestra.  This one is also from 1923.  I'm sure Lee will enjoy seeing some Paul Whiteman on the sleighlist, but I'm sure he's already got this track. (Victor 10" 78 RPM 19007)

11. Little Jesus by Basil Rathbone With The Robert Mitchell Boychoir.  Yes, that's right, Sherlock Holmes himself.  Now if I could just find Benedict Cumberbatch doing the same track, I could die happy.  (Columbia Masterworks 12" 78 RPM 7407-M)  Oh, this one seems to be from 1939.

12. All Around The Christmas Tree by Raymond Scott And His New Orchestra, Vocal Chorus By Clyde Burke.  Yes, that's right, _the_ Raymond Scott does a Christmas song!  This hails from 1940, and unfortunately, it's not very good, which is probably why you've never heard it. (Columbia 10" 78 RPM 35864)

13.  All Around The Xmas Tree by Mark Warnow-Dick Todd, Hit Parade Orchestra And Chorus.  Just a little confusion here between this and the previous track.  Mark Warnow was Raymond Scott's brother-in-law, and the two titles are very similar, but they aren't the same track.  This one came out few years later in 1945.  (Sonora 10" 78 RPM 3000)

14. Sleigh Ride In July by The Three Suns, Vocal by Artie Dunn.  Look, it's another vaguely Christmas song by The Three Suns!  I couldn't resist when I discovered this one.  The Three Suns Christmas catalog has been a little project of mine for years, so this excites me no end.  This one is also from 1945, right at the end of the war. (Majestic 10" 78 RPM 7122).  I'm a little surprised this has never popped up on any of the Suns' budget reissues of their Majestic material.  Leastways, I've never seen it anywhere other than this 78.

15. The Jingle Bell Polka by The Modernaires Featuring Hal Dickinson-Orchestra Under The Direction Of Lou Bring.  And Christmas polka is a big hit in my book!  When is this one?  1947.  (Columbia 10" 78 RPM 37980)

16. The Mistletoe Kiss by Art Mooney And His Orchestra, Vocal By The Art Mooney Choir.  I'd heard this song by Russ Morgan, but never by anyone else.  I guess that's what happens when you limit yourself to music pressed on vinyl and skip all the stuff on shellac.  This is from 1949, the very first year of commercial vinyl. (MGM 10" 78 RPM 10522)

17.  Snowy White Snow And Jingle Bells by Primo Scala And His Banjo And Accordion Orchestra With The Keynotes.  I'd never heard of Primo Scala, but now I'll know to keep my ears open for his stuff.  And I'd never heard anyone other than Vaughn Monroe do this song.  I think Primo was a bigger artist in the UK than here in the US.  This one hails from 1949, same as the last. (London 10" 78 RPM 495)

18.  Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter by Tommy Tucker And His Orchestra, Vocal By Don Brown, Sally Sweetland And Group.  Some of these old 78s try to cram so much info onto a little tiny label...  We're up to 1950 here. (MGM 10" 78 RPM 10824)

19. I Said A Prayer For Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd Accompanied By Norman Luboff.  I'm sure you've heard other stuff by Jimmy Boyd, but this is one of his more obscure Christmas tunes.  This is from 1953, so I'm sure with a little hunting I could find it on vinyl. (Columbia 10" 78 RPM 40080)

20. Where Did My Snowman Go? by Molly Bee, Music By Van Alexander.  Last but not least, here is little-remembered child star Molly Bee.  I don't think I've ever seen anything by her other than two Christmas singles, but I'm sure I'll be corrected.  This last track is from 1954, really close to the end of the 78 era. (Capitol 10" 78 RPM CAS-3192)

There, that's the first 20 of 78 tracks.  I may get another group up tonight, or it may take me from here to the end of June, we'll see.  The music's all recorded, I just need to create the MP3's and write up my pithy comments.  Happy Christmas and a Half!



  1. Happy Birthday to you, but you're giving us the gifts! Wow! And more to come! Thanks so much, Ernie! This absolutely makes my day!

  2. Happy Birthday Ernie! Thank you for the great Christmas and a half gift!

  3. Happy Birthday man! May San Cla and his 4 tiny reindeer bring you 50% of what you wished for ... and thanks as always for the tunage.

  4. Ernie,

    Happy birthday. Our christmas was, is, and will never be as happier because of the joy you gave us by sharing your christmas music treasures. All the best.

  5. Happy belated birthday, Ernie! Thanks for sharing the gifts with all of us.

  6. Happy Birthday!!

    One and a half thanks for your Shellacmas list!

  7. Happy birthday, my friend. Some real gems here!

    Let me get this straight - you are saying that the "Santa Claus Polka" involves the brothers of the Lennon Sisters and you saw them with Roger Waters recently?

  8. Thanks everyone, for your kind comments! Part two is up now, and plenty more to come after that.

    Buster: I never know what I'm saying, believe me. The guys I saw with Roger Waters are the children of the original Lennon Sisters, I think. But I'm not sure if the Lennon Brothers are related or not...

  9. Happy B day Ernie! Thanks for all your great work on Christmas music and the wonderful pictures you post year round.

  10. Your 78 rips are quieter than mine. I hate you. (Nothing personal!)

    Great-sounding transfers and excellent selections! I believe that, 78-wise, you have arrived. Welcome to the society of shellac geeks. I'd capitalize that, but we're not official. (Hence, no dues.)

  11. Thanks Lee, that means a lot coming from a pro such as yourself. I certainly don't do anything fancy with my transfers, most of the time I don't even play with the EQ curves like I should. :)

    Oh, and thanks to every one else, too, for the comments. That makes it all worthwhile!

  12. Chipmunks are very friendly little critters once they get to know and trust you. We have several who live in the woods behind our house. One comes on the front porch and I feed him sunflower seeds and peanuts. They stash themin their burrows for the Winter months. He will climb up into my lap to get a peanut and will even let me pet him and scratch his back. Like people they all have different personalties and are fun to have around.

  13. Ernie,

    I'm a LOT late this year getting to Christmas and-a-half AND Christmas in July. I look forward to it every year. been a crazy summer. Happy (really) belated Birthday to you and a million thanks for all you do!

    Tom (Puckwheat)

  14. Ernie,

    I found an old ad from Billboard Magazine from 1954 talking about "I Want A Puppy In My Stocking For Christmas". If nothing else, it gives us a year!

  15. I was looking on line for artwork or a label scan to use on my iTunes. Too bad I can't just grab the ad off that page!

    Tom (Puckwheat)


    Here's the link to the ad for Kathryn King from 1954....

  17. Got years for the Kathryn King...1954 (Googled Prevue 1111 and got a hit on an old Billboard Magazine)

    Same deal for "Santa Claus Polka". Found a Billboard ad from 1950 saying it was " as a firecracker!"


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