There once was a time when you’d find Christmas music posted here pretty much every day before Dec. 25. Those days are long gone.
My passion for Christmas music has waned. It seems like the soundtrack to all the insanity, all the hype of the Christmas retail machine.
Instead, I’m going zen, remaining open to random, inspired moments of Christmas music. The unexpected. The genuine. One such moment when our son and his fellow university chamber singers performed “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” a week ago. Enjoyed that.
Another such moment came the other day, via a comment left by Jeremy from Arizona on a Christmas blog post from some time ago.
“I found out about Alice McClarity’s ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ from a friend’s Christmas compilation and haven’t been able to find anything about it online. I’d love to hear some other tracks.”
There we go. Some random inspiration at Christmas.
Six years ago, we featured some cuts from “Christmas Gospelodium,” which was released on the Verve label in 1967. That Alice McClarity song was one of them. I’d found it in a thrift store in Madison, Wisconsin. Had never seen it before. Haven’t seen it since.
It’s a compilation that was co-produced, arranged and conducted by Robert Banks, a gospel singer, pianist and choral director.
Jason Stone, writing in his Get On Down With the Stepfather of Soul blog in 2008, had this to say about Banks:
Robert Banks is best known among soul fans, and Northern Soul fans particularly, for the rocking “A Mighty Good Way” on Verve. … Banks recorded an album for Verve, “The Message,” which featured Banks and other soloists doing gospel tunes with touches of soul and pop.”
That pretty much describes “Christmas Gospelodium,” too. Hear, then, five more cuts not included in our long-ago post (which has been updated with the three cuts posted back then).
“The Silent Night Sermon,” Robert Banks with the Golden Voices Ensemble.
“It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” Golden Voices Ensemble.
“A Blessing,” The Gospel Ambassadors.
“Glory To The New Born King,” Bill Hardy with the Golden Voices Ensemble.
“So Much To Thank Him For,” Robert Banks with the Shockley Sisters.
All from “Christmas Gospelodium,” 1967. It’s out of print.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.