Tag Archives: Harry Belafonte

12 days of Christmas, Day 9

In the e-mail today is a note about NPR Music’s Jingle Jams holiday mix.

They asked 10 stations to suggest 10 Christmas songs each, then put it all together into one playlist. You can stream it here.

Here are 12 of the songs, in the order they appear on the Jingle Jams playlist. The station or program suggesting the song is in parentheses.

“Let It Snow,” Leon Redbone, from “Christmas Island,” 1989. (Folk Alley)

“‘Zat You, Santa Claus” Louis Armstrong, 1953, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Hipster’s Holiday,” a 1989 CD compilation.) (WBGO, Newark, New Jersey; WDUQ, Pittsburgh)

“Last Month Of The Year” the Blind Boys of Alabama, from “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” 2003. (WXPN, Philadelphia)

“Santa Claus, Santa Claus,” James Brown, from “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” 1966. The LP is out of print but all the songs are on “The Complete James Brown Christmas,” a 2-CD set released earlier this year. (KUT, Austin, Texas)

“Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter, from “Soul Christmas,” 1968. (KUT)

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love, from “A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector,” 1963. (WXPN)

“Christmas Wrapping,” the Waitresses, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on the “Christmas Wrapping” EP. That also appears to be out of print, but the song is available digitally.) (KUT)

“Greensleeves,” the Vince Guaraldi Trio, from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 1965. The buy link is to a 2006 remastered CD release with extra tracks, including an alternate take on this one. (WDUQ)

“Jingle Bells,” Jimmy Smith, from “Christmas ’64,” 1964. Smith’s “Christmas Cookin’,” from the same year, is the same record but with a much cooler cover.  (WBGO)

“Must Be Santa,” Brave Combo, from “It’s Christmas, Man!” 1992. Hard to find, but available from the band or digitally. NPR’s version is from a live performance at KUT. This version is done as a polka.

“Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Yule Be Miserable,” a 2006 CD compilation) (WDUQ)

“The 12 Days of Christmas,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You A Merry Christmas,” 1962. (NPR Music staff)


Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Vol. 26

Tonight, one more round of requests as we get ever closer to Christmas.

No. 1: Everyone knows Santa Claus is coming to town. But did you know …


“Santa Claus is Comin’ (In a Boogie-Woogie Choo-Choo Train),” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself a Tractors Christmas,” 1995. It’s out of print.

This one is another tasty slice of country swing. If you’ve heard the Tractors’ mid-’90s single, “Baby Likes to Rock It,” you’ll know this Christmas tune. It’s the same music, with the lyrics customized for Christmas, all by Steve Ripley and Walt Richmond.

No. 2: Sometimes, finding the right Christmas song can make your entire holiday season. In this case, the search goes on.


“Mary’s Boy Child,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You a Merry Christmas,” 1962.

Onie is seeking “a slightly faster (but nowhere near as upbeat as the one done by Boney M) version” of this song. This one, I suspect, is “the slower, more melodic version” Onie has found, but has found lacking.

Belafonte originally cut this tune in 1956 and released it as a single (RCA Victor 47-6735). That, I think, is what Onie is looking for. Six years later, Belafonte re-recorded a longer version of this tune for the album I found last week.

No. 3: One of our visitors is longing for more from “A Creole Christmas,” which he once had on cassette. Now, sadly, that cassette is “worn out and broken.”


“White Christmas,” Allen Toussaint, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print.

This is a rollicking instrumental romp, driven by Toussaint’s fine New Orleans piano and nicely complemented by a horn section.

Enjoy. More to come, but …

Just five days until Christmas …
and just three more days for “Three under the tree”

We’re going to wrap up this series on Sunday. When it ends, I’ll post a list of all the songs and provide links to the posts in which they appeared. The tunes will be available through the end of the year, if you’re just too busy to go get them now.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 25

That Ella Fitzgerald tune was put under the tree last night to fulfill a request. As are tonight’s tunes.

Someone asked whether I had “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I do. Exactly three versions, each distinctly different, so they fit nicely under the tree.


“The 12 Days of Christmas,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You a Merry Christmas,” 1962.

No calypso here, just a nice, rather traditionally orchestrated version. It’s highlighted, of course, by Belafonte’s smooth, high tenor. Belafonte, who turned 80 this year, was just 35 when he cut this record in Hollywood.

I found this album in the $1 bin at my friendly neighborhood used record store the other day. This 45-year-old vinyl has almost pristine sound.


“The 12 Days of Christmas,” the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, from “A Festival of Carols in Brass,” 1967. (This is a CD rip. My vinyl has a nice big skip right at the beginning of this song.)

This was the second Christmas record I ever bought. I didn’t buy Christmas records until after I left home for college. I bought it at Prange’s, a big department store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in December of 1977 or 1978.

I bought “A Motown Christmas” at the same time, and I remember thinking I needed to get something traditional to go along with it, something like the Christmas albums we had at home.

“A Festival of Carols in Brass” consists of 25 traditional Christmas carols, most of them fairly short cuts, “played by the first-chair virtuosos of the Philadelphia Orchestra.”

The liner notes on the original vinyl album also say this:

“Maybe it’s the influence of the Salvation Army, or maybe it’s just a special kind of inherent affinity. Whatever the cause, it’s a fact that practically everyone associates the sound of brass instruments with the music of Christmas.”

When this was re-released on CD in 1991, those liner notes had disappeared, as had all the credits for the performers. The producer’s name survived, but not the names of those who played all that elegant brass.

So, for the record, here is the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, circa 1967: Gilbert Johnson, first trumpet; Seymour Rosenfeld, second trumpet; Mason Jones, French horn; Henry Charles Smith, trombone; M. Dee Stewart, euphonium; and Abe Torchinsky, tuba.


“The 12 Days of Christmas,” from “Christmas Party Dancing.”

These upbeat performers sound a little like the Salsoul Orchestra, but aren’t them, obviously. I’m guessing this is something from the ’80s or ’90s. It’s a budget CD with no credits or copyright dates. All I know is that it was made and distributed by LDMI, a Canadian company.

And that it has a nice cover.

Enjoy. More to come.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds