|The Dean Martin Christmas Album (1966)|
The Dean Martin Christmas Album was Dino's second festive offering, the first being 1959's Winter Wonderland, which shares a few tracks including the tenuous inclusion of The Things We Did Last Summer. Aside from this, many of the old chestnuts are here, such as a delightful Marshmallow World, a Blue Christmas to rival that of Elvis, and of course everyone's favourite, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, as so memorably used in Die Hard.
On the making of the album the sleeve notes state,
"'Twas the ninth of September, a very warm night, and we were in California. And on this hot desert night, not a sleigh or a jingle bell in sight.... Dean Martin sauntered into his friendly neighbourhood recording studio and made himself an album of song. Christmas song."His vocals must have been dubbed separately, as there are plenty of bells here, as well as tinkling xylophone, jaunty strings and sweet backing vocals. The combination of these with Dino's laid back, nonchalant style results in a seemingly effortless, gently swinging, warm and breezy record that's completely uplifting and a joy from start to finish.
Less uplifting, despite the title, is A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra, which I bought for 50p in August 2015.
|A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (1957)|
|Alternative cover and title|
First released in 1957, my copy is a slightly later US issue with Capitol's "rainbow" label. Assisted by the "orchestra and chorus of Gordon Jenkins" (the chorus being the Ralph Brewster Singers), like many before and after him Frank brings us one side of popular Christmas songs and one of carols.
I found the album to be rather leaden and samey, and in particular Frank's delivery isn't suited to the carols, which for me fall flattest. But as a nice bit of background music it's pleasant enough, and no doubt could act effectively as a soothing accompaniment to that post-Christmas dinner booze-snooze in the armchair.
In the '60s the album was briefly issued as "The Sinatra Christmas Album" with a different cover image. When it was reissued on vinyl in 2010, the original title and artwork were restored.
Last but by no means least is A Jack Jones Christmas, which cost me a pound in March 2015.
|A Jack Jones Christmas (1969)|
Like Dean Martin, this RCA release was Jack's second Christmas album, coming after 1964's equally imaginatively titled "The Jack Jones Christmas Album" on Kapp Records. After Frank 'n' Dino's Burgundy baritones, Jack's easygoing tenor makes for a nice change, and as well as the usual parade of suspects he throws in some curveballs like gospel number Little Altar Boy, Bacharach and David's Christmas Day from the Broadway musical Promises Promises, and a look at the different ways Jesus is perceived around the world in Some Children See Him. There's also the inexplicable inclusion of Oh Happy Day; an odd choice, but it fits in quite well.
The highlights for me are his a cappella version of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, the aforementioned Little Altar Boy, and best of all his absolutely winning rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the latter making the perfect signing-off track for Car Boot Christmas 2016, which you can listen to using the player below.
Thanks for joining me; I hope you've enjoyed this year's countdown and the accompanying cloudcast, and I also hope you can pop back in the new year to see and hear what other records I've been liberating from car boot sales and charity shops here on the Suffolk coast.
Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas, whatever it is you're up to.