Tag Archives: 1947

Intimate Christmas music for lovers

Or is this Christmas music for young lovers?

The album jacket and the record label can’t agree, but it probably doesn’t make much difference.

This is a record that comes all the way from 1956. I’m not sure which is more remarkable — that I paid just $1 for it this spring, or that after 55 years, its vinyl grooves are still crisp and clean.

My copy is “a special D.J. album of ‘Merry Christmas Baby!'” from the Starday-King Radio Station Service. It is marked “not for resale,” but I trust the statute of limitations expired long ago.

Hollywood Records was an R&B label founded in Los Angeles by Don Pierce in October 1953.

A year later, it bought the masters of several R&B Christmas songs from the bankrupt Swing Time Records, some of which Swing Time had bought from the defunct Exclusive Records. The latter included “Merry Christmas Baby” (widely credited to Charles Brown but more likely done by Johnny Moore’s Blazers with Brown singing lead) and Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” two of the biggest hits in the genre in the late ’40s.

In early 1955, Hollywood bought more Swing Time masters, including songs by Lowell Fulson (“Lonesome Christmas, Parts 1 and 2”), Lloyd Glenn (“Sleighride”). and Jimmy Witherspoon (“How I Hate To See Christmas Come Around,” renamed “Christmas Blues” here).

All those now-familiar hits make up half of this compilation LP.

In late 1955, Hollywood released Christmas 45s by Johnny Moore’s Blazers (for whom Brown had starred until leaving the group in 1948) and the Jackson Trio (also known as the Ebonaires). Both sides of those singles are here, too. Add two more by Johnny Moore’s Blazers and you have the LP.

None of the six Hollywood releases did as well as the six songs bought from Swing Time. Truth be told, Hollywood had trouble selling much of anything, at any time of the year, and went out of business in 1959.

Having unraveled all that, it’s clear that the latter-day Hollywood releases were being pitched as that intimate Christmas music for lovers … or as Christmas music for young lovers. The cuts from those older masters (which got top billing on the album cover) were a little more gritty.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” credited as Charles Brown but more likely Johnny Moore’s Blazers with Brown singing lead, 1947.

“Christmas Eve Baby,” Johnny Moore’s Blazers, 1955. A shameless remake of “Merry Christmas Baby” with Frankie Irvin singing lead.

“Love For Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Hop,” Jackson Trio, 1955. This group remains a mystery.

All from “Merry Christmas Baby,” 1956. It’s long out of print.

Also worth noting: DJs must have been exasperated with Hollywood Records once they took a closer look at this Christmas release. The order of the songs on the big promo sticker on the front of the LP doesn’t match the order on the record.

Much of the time line in this post is drawn from J.C. Marion’s fine and rather detailed study of the Swing Time and Hollywood labels.

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Filed under December 2011, Sounds

Moving day at Ray’s Corner

If you’re a regular visitor to AM, Then FM, you know we occasionally visit Ray’s Corner and cue up some selections from my dad’s music collection.

Ray’s Corner is the apartment with the loud music, where the martinis are still made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.

Tomorrow, though, Ray will be moving from his corner apartment.

At 82, he’s finding it increasingly difficult to get around, so he’s moving from the second floor down to the first floor, and moving his parking space so he doesn’t have to walk across the lot to get to his car. He’ll be next door to his friend, Maxine, so that’s an added bonus.

So we’ll be up early in the morning to help him with a move that comes just in time.

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“Early in the Mornin,'” Louis Jordan, 1947, from “The Best of Louis Jordan,” a 1989 compilation on CD.

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“Just in Time,” Dean Martin, 1960, from “Dino: The Essential Dean Martin,” a 2004 compilation on CD.

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Filed under February 2008, Sounds

Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 33

When Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure, was growing up in Smackover, Arkansas, in the late ’40s and early ’50s, he had a lot of musical influences.

“I grew up listening to Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Bill Monroe, Tommy Dorsey, Muddy Waters, Bob Wills, Roy Acuff and Big Joe Turner,” he said in the liner notes to today’s album.

Of the latter, Sleepy added: “He had that big, big voice, but he had such an easy delivery. There was no strain to him. That’s what I aim for.”

So let’s spin a Big Joe Turner cover, recorded in January 2000 at Emerald Sound in Nashville. That’s David Hughes pounding the piano and Jim Davis blasting the sax.

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“Low Down Dog,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Tomorrow Never Comes,” 2000.

Anyone for the original?

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“Low Down Dog,” Big Joe Turner, from “Jumpin’ With Joe: The Complete Aladdin and Imperial Recordings,” 1993. This was recorded on Nov. 6, 1947, and released in October 1948 as Aladdin single 3013.

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Filed under October 2007, Sounds

Been one of those weeks

The good news is that I’ve been busy ripping away, stashing a bunch of tunes for future use.

The bad news is that I sit here at the Mac on Friday morning with no coherent notion for a post. It is entirely possible it’s too early in the morning.

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“Early In The Mornin’,” Louis Jordan, 1947, from “The Best of Louis Jordan.”

Nothing like some smooth, syncopated rhythms from a swinger who helped launch rock ‘n’ roll. This is the same tune Harry Nilsson did on “Nilsson Schmilsson,” another of my faves from my younger days.

This selection comes from my dad’s collection. Dad is 81 and still swinging … musically, that is. We’ll be hearing more from Dad’s collection as we go.

I also promised guilty pleasures. Here’s one. You seemed to like the recent Isaac Hayes, so here’s some more. Hope you have a weekend exciting enough to have this be the theme for it.

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“Truck Turner,” from “Truck Turner” soundtrack, Isaac Hayes, 1974.

This comes from a CD full of soundtrack music that came with Mojo magazine a while back. It’s the only music magazine I read.

Mojo comes from England, and it’s pricey — almost $10 at the newsstand — but is well worth it for the writing, for its appreciation of great music and rock history and for the compilation CDs that come with it every month. Not all the CDs are my cup of tea, but they may be yours. Enjoy.

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Filed under March 2007, Sounds