Sunday, December 02, 2012

Surprise Soundtrack

Some days, I start to get a little haughty and think that I've seen all the Christmas music there is to see, at least in one category or the other.  I thought I'd seen all of the Christmas music on the RCA Victor label from the Sixties, for instance, then this soundtrack pops up one day.  This was the soundtrack to a Rankin-Bass Christmas special that I was unfamiliar with, and it doesn't appear to have been reissued, at least the soundtrack.  I'm not sure why Danny Thomas is all dressed up on the cover since it's an animated special, so no one could see him while he was voice-acting, but there he is.  They didn't spare any expense on the soundtrack, featuring not just Danny but his daughter Marlo, alongside Ed Ames and The Norman Luboff Choir.  Not all of the songs are Christmassy, but I think the whole package is worthwhile.  So before I get all cross-eyed from sitting at the computer all day, please be my guest and download Cricket On The Hearth (RCA Victor LSO-1140, Stereo, 1967).

1. Danny Thomas-The First Christmas
2. Ed Ames-Don't Give Your Love Away
3. Abbe Lane-Fish 'N' Chips
4. Maury Laws Orchestra-A Waltz For Christmas
5. Danny Thomas-Through My Eyes
6. Marlo Thomas-That Was Yesterday
7. Danny Thomas & The Norman Luboff Choir-Cricket On The Hearth
8. Marlo Thomas-Smiles Go With Tears
9. Maury Laws Orchestra-Parade Of The Toys
10. Ed Ames-Through My Eyes
11. The Norman Luboff Choir-The First Christmas



luckymike said...

Hi Ernie, Happy Christmas Season! What an amazing, even creepy, coincidence...lemme explain. Back over the Summer, I found the remastered DVD of this at Half Price Books for 99¢ and thought I'd watch it this season, remembering it from the last time I saw 1970! It's not one of Rankin-Bass' shiningest moments, but it's astounding how many of the Laws/Bass songs stuck in my head for, what, 42 years? So anyway, yesterday, before putting up my tree, I watched it and thought, hmmm, I'll bet Ernie doesn't have an LP of this, I should rip the songs off the dvd and share them as a little holiday oddity. Lucky for me, I didn't go through all the work, as less than 24 hours later you've (almost by magic) produced the (who knew there was an) LP! I think I can explain why Danny himself, and not an animated character, appears on the cover in that getup. This show did something different for a RB holiday special. Instead of a little animated version of Danny Thomas setting up Dickens' story (a la Burl Ives, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire and so many others) the show is bookended by 2 live action sequences with Danny in a very 1967 living room set. First he sets the story up, then after, he literally presents photos of the cast one-by-one, and finally reflects on the message of the show's Big Song. ("The First Christmas"). It all seems like it's from another planet in this day and age, but very sincere and sweetly done. As for the music, it's not up there with the greatest of the RB tunes, but the Luboff touch is very, very nice. Your blog has become an annual part of the holiday season, and I do pop in other times thru the year to take a peek at your wonderful photos. Please accept my annual thank you for your commitment to Christmas music and my warmest wishes for a lovely Christmas and healthy, successful New Year. -- Mike

Duane said...

Hi Ernie, and THANK YOU. For the blog and everything, but thanks for sharing this. It's a nicely memorable collection of songs, even if it's not one of Rankin/Bass' best.

By the way, the special was created as part of the original Danny Thomas TV show, which is why its "bookends" are so different from the usual R/B specials.

It also explains why the budget on the animation was clearly smaller. Interesting side note, its also the only R/B special produced by Aaron Spelling!


Anonymous said...

You can watch it on Youtube

DonHo57 said...

I remember watching this on its original showing...but I remember ALL the holiday shows shared and discussed here and other places on their original showing/hearing. They never age for me, and I appreciate this wonderful treat, Ernie.

Fraiser said...

I love this soundtrack. It is a shame it's not commercially available. Thanks, Ernie! You saved me a lot of time.