Jean-Paul Kreder Choir, Christmas Music Of France, Capitol International Series 10484
The Capitol International Series is a mainstay of any Goodwill record bin. Released in the 60s and 70s, they were American pressings of international releases. Most were recorded by people no one has ever heard of, but every now and then the series came up with a Ravi Shankar or Xavier Cougat record.
This flood damaged record isn’t one of the good ones. While I’m usually a sucker for an unknown French Pop record, a random chorus singing French Christmas music just doesn’t cut it. The stock photograph of a pretty French woman getting snowed on is a nice touch, but it doesn’t help the music.
So, because its a Christmas record, I’ll probably keep this in the Christmas section and see if I ever play this again. My guess is “non”, but we shall see.
Cost: $2, $540 Remaining
The Sinatra Family, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Reprise FS-1026, 1968
If you’re like me, finding a record like this is about as great a gift as one could ever hope to receive. I can’t imagine the nerve it would take for an artist to try something like this today. Getting the whole family together for a Christmas album, despite the fact that the whole family has no business singing anything.
I suppose it helps when Dad owns a record company. Especially when Dad is trying to remain relevant to record buyers by appearing younger than he really was. The times, they were a changin’ too, and the smooth vocal style that The Sinatras were known for was hopelessly out of touch with fans of Janis Joplin and The Doors.
So while this record may have failed at the time (the inch long cut out on the jacket implying that a retailer returned this to the distributor because it didn’t sell), today we have a kooky kitschy ding dong of a Christmas record that is just so much fun. The stand out track is the reimagining of The 12 Days Of Christmas, with all of “the kids” getting presents for their father. I can just imagine Frank Sinatra in the lavender tie Nancy got him or playing with the nine Scrabble sets that Tina oddly bought. Tina, by the way, makes Nancy seem like Maria Calas, with serious tempo and pitch problems that would have her booted from American Idol in the preliminary rounds. This record is a must to find, it’ll bring you comfort and joy all year round.
Cost: $3, $542 Remaining
Various Artists, Something Festive, A&M SP-19003, 1968
Corporate tie-ins and Christmas giveaways go hand in hand. They don’t always result in something actually worth getting. Every thrift store record bin has a vast selection of 1960s various artists “free with any purchase” Christmas albums. There’s always a cut from Mahalia Jackson, because she didn’t rock the boat too much on Civil Rights, usually something from Julie Andrews, because she never had a major recording contract to provide interference with, and then a random assortment of the D-List of whatever label put together the package.
This 1968 package, distributed through BF Goodrich tire stores, stand out from the bunch. Not only is it actually fairly decent to listen to, but the artists involved rival any compilation album I’ve ever seen. Goodyear for years (!) sold tires that came with a free Christmas record. BF Goodrich, late to the game, turned to A&M to come up with a rival product that they could give away too. Being a mid-sized independent, their artist roster wasn’t full of the kind of “talent” that a major label like Columbia could afford to keep on staff in the hope that they could sell some records. A&M had to produce hits to survive, and it’s reflected in this record.
Even the non-household names stand out. Liza Minelli was just about to burst out on her own as a cabaret performer, Burt Bacharach was trying to kick start a recording career after writing some of the biggest hits of the 60s, and Claudine Longet was happily married to Andy Williams and six years from killing her younger lover in a bizarre shooting incident. Anyway, this is one Christmas record I listen to year round. It’s really quite amazing how it all came together, and I would consider this a must find cheap record.
Cost: $2, $545 Remaining
Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song, Capitol SW-1967, 197?
I say it every single time. I hate re-issues. I never try to allow myself to buy them, but in a case like this I threw away $2 to actually have this music on vinyl. It doesn’t get more classic (assuming that’s a phrase) then a record like this. And it just sounds so much better on vinyl. Like I said, Christmas albums are a label’s best friend, and a perennial seller like this one is a cash cow.
Truth be told, I was in a rush and never bothered to check the record inside the jacket. That’s a huge rookie mistake to make because you never really know what’s inside a record jacket. Finding a warped classical record inside a Beatles jacket is about the ultimate fail, but buying a re-issue unknowingly is right up there.
This is the 1972-1979 Capitol label. As a kid, I bought my Beatles albums on this label. So despite it’s ugliness, I have a warm spot for it. Still, it’s not the label this record would have been issued on, so it’ll never have any value beyond what I sold it for. But I don’t mind. It’s Nat King Cole and The Christmas Song. I can re-gift it back to Goodwill when I find the real one, and until then, Let It Snow!
Cost: $1, $547 Remaining
The Holiday Singers, The Waltons’ Christmas Album, Columbia KC-33193, 1973
Who knew they ate this well in The Depression? For those who don’t know, and I suspect anyone born after 1980 would know, The Waltons was a TV show set in 1930s Virginia and features a huge family all living together on the mountain named after them dealing with all that life had to offer during that difficult period. Of course, every problem got resolved within the course of each episode and they all went to bed at night telling each other sweet things through the floor boards.
I had no idea they also had a recording career. Music was never an integral part of the show, and until I found this in a $2 bin I had no idea it existed. It just goers to show you the depths producers sometimes went to milk the profits from a show. It doesn’t seem as though anyone appearing on the show, outside of “Grandpa” Will Geer, also appears on the record besides Earl Hamner, the show’s creator and narrator. He also narrates the record and zzzzzzzzzzz.
Do I need to tell you that The Waltons was a CBS show? Naturally, this record came out on Columbia records, the recording arm of the nations largest network. Either way, the homespun family warmth sounds cornier today than it probably did for Christmas 1973. The snippet of the Waltons Theme isn’t the same recording as heard on the show credits…that was the only reason I bought this turkey, pun intended.
Cost: $5, $548 Remaining
Werner Mueller, O, Tannenbaum, Decca DL-78388, 19??
Christmas music can just be so weird. Everyone has their own traditions and there are thousands of records to appeal to each one of them. Today, it’s Christmas on the Rhine, supposedly what you’d expect to hear in Germany.
When a Christmas record does a bit of business when new, it automatically becomes a record company’s best friend because they get to release it again year after year with no expenses beyond pressing and shipping them. People who loved it once, will still love it because it only gets played 2-3 times a year, so they buy it again hoping to remember holidays gone by. Records like this are the easiest to find of any kind ever.
Take this one for example. I didn’t buy it, it was given to me for free. Once people know that you “like” records, you receive all of their valueless records that they didn’t have time to go down to Goodwill and donate. Judging by the cover photo, this record came out in the 50s or 60s on Decca, but this one has a late 70s MCA label. That means it was in print for at least 15-20 years. There’s no reason to ever buy a record like this, unless you have $0.99 burning a hole in your pocket and you grew up in Frankfurt.
Cost: $1, $553 Remaining
David Seville & The Chipmunks, Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks, Liberty 3132, 1959
I think even Ross Bagdasarian, I mean David Seville, knew what a hit he had on his hands when he created The Chipmunks. He was a really prolific pop song writer who experimented with recording voices at one speed and playing them back at a faster speed. In 1958, he sang Witch Doctor with a sped up voice singing the chorus and the record shot to number one. For his next experiment, he played around with sped up voices singing in harmony, and the result was The Chipmunks.
Naming them for the top three executives at Liberty Records, Alvin Simon and Theodore released The Chipmunk Song in December 1958 and their record also shot to number one, where it stayed for a month, long past the Christmas season. Naturally, an album was needed to reach the stores, but it wasn’t ready until early January.
So thankfully, there’s just the one Christmas song. Unfortunately, however, it was such a rush job that the other songs are mostly public domain standards that are just fairly boring to hear even once. The cover has “realistic” chipmunks that needed to be redrawn when the characters moved to an animated television series. So there’s really no need to look for this record, unless you’re lucky enough to find it pressed on red vinyl (those copies are worth hundred of dollars!). But today was the first time this season that I heard The Chipmunk Song, so I had to feature this today.
Cost: $2, $609 Remaining
Elmo & Patsy, Will You Be Ready?, Oink 8021, 1980
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again today. You never know what you’re going to find when you look through a bargain bin of records. It’s unknown how long this essentially homemade bluegrass record sat around in Al & Joanne’s house before they dropped it off with a bunch of other records in order to clean out their basement or move. It ended up at a fairly decent local record store with a really large $1 bin.
At first glance, this record would seem to be a prime candidate for a $1 bin. Homemade bluegrass records, whether brand new or 36 years old, generally don’t have much value. What drew me to this record though was that it was recorded by Elmo & Patsy. Virtually everyone on this planet knows Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, but a much smaller subset of that group know that it was recorded by a Bay Area veterinarian called Dr. Elmo and his then wife Patsy. It’s just that no one bought Grandma for the incomparable artistry of Elmo & Patsy anymore than people watch The Godfather because Al Martino plays the wedding singer.
So, I can easily see how a bored record clerk would not recognize the name or even bother to turn the record over to see that Elmo & Patsy signed this copy “with every best wishes” to Al & Joanne. While Elmo & Patsy aren’t exactly John & Yoko to an autograph collector, it’s still a pretty neat thing to find. Especially since they haven’t signed anything together since their 1985 divorce decree. This record came out the year after Grandma was recorded, but three years before it was championed by Dr Dimento and became a worldwide sensation. I think they just seem to be a couple with day jobs that played bluegrass at night, blissful in their lack of success. They never made another non-Christmas record, and probably not just because Al & Joanne stopped being fans.
Cost: $1, $649 Remaining
The Ventures, The Ventures’ Christmas Album, Dolton BST-8038, 1965
I’ve been waiting for the right moment to begin laying Christmas records into the blog. I decided to wait until the day I was confronted with a full on Christmas display. Low and behold, my local Costco now has a huge floor to ceiling double row of lights tinsel and plastic reindeer. Behold readers, meet the amazing Ventures’ Christmas Album!
The album is actually a Christmas Classic. It placed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 25 Christmas Albums list at #12. The band does a really good job at taking rock classic and mixing them into the holiday tunes they play. It’s a really fun record to listen to any day of the year. This particular copy, much to my amazement, appears to be signed by the band! I’m not exactly sure how I can verify that, it’s not like The Ventures are exactly household names this side of Tokyo, but it’s still pretty damn exciting to find that.
Again, the luck might just be that The Ventures were a Pacific Northwest band, and I mostly shop for records in the Pacific Northwest. I would imagine I would need to go to Detroit to be this lucky with a Temptations album, or New Jersey to find an autographed Four Seasons record. I doubt they’d cost $2 though!
Cost: $2, $725 Remining