Tag Archives: Golden Voices Ensemble

An impromptu Christmas

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.

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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.

 

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2014, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 28

And so we come to Christmas Eve, to the end of our series for another year.

The three under the tree tonight have a valedictory feel to them.

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“Silent Night,” the Blackhearts and special guests, from “A Blackheart Christmas,” 2008.

This is one of the songs that will define 2008. Listen to the special guests, and you’ll know why.

(This record is a compilation of Christmas tunes by artists on Blackheart Records label. It includes Joan Jett’s version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” originally released on early vinyl pressings of “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” in 1981.)

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“The Silent Night Sermon,” Robert Banks with the Golden Voices Ensemble, from “Christmas Gospelodium,” 1967. It’s out of print and apparently rare.

From the liner notes:

“(‘Silent Night’) is not generally used in gospel singing, except when it is treated as the background to a sermon. The performance here, wherein Robert Banks throws the lines to the choir, is exceptionally soulful.”

Indeed.

As the night grows increasingly quiet, as Christmas draws near …

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“The Night Before Christmas (A Poem),” Louis Armstrong, 1971,  from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print, but you can find the original 7-inch single (Continental CR 1001) on eBay.

No music. Just Satchmo’s warm, gravelly voice and Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem.

Armstrong cut this in the den at his home in Corona, Queens, New York, on Feb. 26, 1971. It was the last thing he ever recorded. Satchmo was 69 when he died that summer.

“But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. A very good night.’

“And that goes for Satchmo, too. (Laughs softly.) Thank you.”

After all the gifts are opened, stop back on Christmas Day. We’ll be returning to our regular programming here at AM, Then FM.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 4

Your Sunday brings three tunes from an album I found last month at the annual collectible vinyl sale at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on Willy Street in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from my old neighborhood.

I hadn’t known about the sale before this year, and I hadn’t known about this record until I got there.

xmasgospelodiumlp

“Christmas Gospelodium” was released on the Verve label in 1967. It’s a compilation that was co-produced, arranged and conducted by Robert Banks. Last summer, Jason Stone, who writes the fine Get On Down With the Stepfather of Soul blog had this to say about Banks:

Gospel singer, pianist and choral leader 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’s pretty much what “Christmas Gospelodium” brings to the Christmas table. Enjoy these three.

“Go Tell It On A Mountain,” Alice McClarity, Robert Pinkston and orchestra. Done slowly, in the traditional gospel style, with a big-voiced choir providing backup.

“The Christmas Song,” Lloyd Reese with the Golden Voices Ensemble. Once you get past the over-the-top moments by the choir — especially the intro — you’ll dig Reese’s soul vocals, which go from smooth to urgent. This is the only secular song on the album. (Another cut on the album features Reese with his Solid Rock Chorus, which was 65 singers strong.)

“Sweet Little Boy,” Alice McClarity, Robert Pinkston and orchestra. More blues than gospel, with some sweet piano, bass and harmonica behind it.

All from “Christmas Gospelodium,” 1967. It’s out of print. You might be able to find it on the Web somewhere.

I can’t tell you much more about this record or its artists. I’ve looked, but haven’t been able to find much.

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Filed under Christmas music, November 2008, Sounds