For no apparent reason, one of my co-workers posed this question on Twitter yesterday:
Best Christmas crooner ever? a) Bing Crosby b) Nat King Cole c) Burl Ives d) Johnny Mathis e) Karen Carpenter
Hmmm. None of the above?
Someone said Elvis Presley. There’s more than “Blue Christmas.”
Mel Torme? Well, certainly for “The Christmas Song.”
Dean Martin? His louche style doesn’t quite fit Christmas songs.
Lou Rawls? Too hip to be a crooner.
No one came to mind right away, but then it came to me.
“That Holiday Feeling!” Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, 1964.
I bought this record on a whim right after Christmas three years ago. It sat in the crates for almost a year, waiting until the next Christmas.
I thought it might be cheesy, but it’s pretty good. It’s a bit of a time capsule, with Steve and Eydie serving up a bubbly, sophisticated slice of the seemingly lost art of the pop duet. Yes, this may be crooning, but it’s done in the finest nightclub tradition.
We saw Steve and Eydie so often on the TV variety shows of the ’60s and the ’70s — my dad loved watching them — that they seemed like family.
When this record came out, Steve and Eydie were in their early 30s. Ever since they debuted separately on “The Tonight Show” with Steve Allen in the late ’50s, then as a duo on Oct. 6, 1960, they were among the biggest pop acts around. Can you think of a duo like that today?
Steve and Eydie are in their late 70s now. Eydie has all but retired, but Steve still does a show now and then. They haven’t released a record in 10 years. That’s OK. They’ve left us Christmas classics like this:
A sassy, sexy duet written by Bill and Patty Jacob, orchestrated by Don Guercio and arranged by the great Don Costa.
A textbook nightclub duet, a showstopper, and not even 2 minutes long.
Wait until it gets 1:50 in. Another showstopper of a finish.
Yes, ladies can croon, too. Take it away, Eydie!
All from “That Holiday Feeling!” Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, 1964. It’s hard to find but is available from Steve and Eydie’s website, with two extra cuts.
“Navidad Means Christmas,” Eydie Gorme with the Trio Los Panchos, 1966.
Here’s a little something extra in your stocking. This is one of several Spanish-language records Eydie did from the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s.
Eydie Gorme with the Trio Los Panchos, from “Navidad Means Christmas,” 1966. The LP was reissued on CD in 1991 as “Blanca Navidad.”
The Trio Los Panchos was a Latin group that became popular after World War II. It came together in New York in 1944 with founding members Alfredo Gil and Chucho Navarro of Mexico and Hernando Aviles of Puerto Rico. Simply put, it was three voices, three guitars as one. They moved to Mexico in 1946 and became international stars. Gil, Navarro and Johnny Albino, another Puerto Rican, made up the trio when this was recorded.
Postscript: I’m on Steve and Eydie’s mailing list, and what should drop into my e-mail three days after writing this? A note reminding fans that these two Christmas records are available on CD from Steve and Eydie’s website. “That Holiday Feeling!” with two extra cuts is here, and “Navidad Means Christmas” is here.