Wow! I'll have what she's having - but make it a double. Babs sure knows how to get into the holiday spirit, and in the late 1960's, she contributed several songs to two promotional Christmas compilation LPs, the first put out by Maxwell House, the second by Good Year Tires. And they're here today, both of them super-exclusive to the Cheerful! Aren't you glad you stopped by?
If you really-really love your Barbra, then you must give a listen to "Seasons Greetings" above. The first part is an all-Babs "Christmas Concert" in which she sings "Ava Maria," "Silent Night," and more, in a slow, reverent tone that's more in keeping with her "Classical Barbra" than her pop albums of the day. Oh, and there's also Doris Day on the flip side, as well as Jim Nabors singing "Jingle Bells" in a low-low basso profondo voice which sounds...I'm not quite sure. Ridiculous? Delightful? You decide.
The second LP offers more variety in terms of singers - and a bit of overlap with a few of Barbra's and Doris' songs reappearing from the first LP. But how can you resist Ella Fitzgerald doing "White Christmas?" Or more holiday songs from Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Jo Stafford, Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews? There's also a contribution from Pat Boone, though I'll say no more about that (except to say that it's almost painfully, soul-killingly bland) (but really, I have no fixed opinion on the matter).
Do you know the giggly ladies above? They're the Lennon Sisters, a sort of second-rung Andrew Sisters group who nevertheless distinguished themselves with their toothsome high spirits. They were discovered one day at their school by Lawrence Welk's son (no, really), then whisked onto "The Lawrence Welk Show" on Christmas Eve in 1955. From that point on, they were dubbed "America's Sweethearts."
Their Christmas LP finds them putting their own bubbly spin on "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells" (of course), "Joy To The World," and scads more. Fair warning, the first two cuts are a bit scritchy-scratchy, but honest, it's the best LP copy out there I could find. So live with a few scratches, and enjoy! The Lennon Sisters certainly are.
Now let's kick it up a notch. Or two or five or twenty. You can't listen to holiday tunes all month, can you? And don't you want something to take you into the New Year? Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the one, the only...
...Miss Shirley Bassey. There is no other. And you really must hear her song "Johnny One-Note." You know the drill. If Shirley is only going to get one note, then she's. Going. To. Kill. It. She's slays in all the other songs, too, on her 1966 LP "I've Got A Song For You," a Cheerful Exclusive!
From one number to the next, Bassey nearly gives you whiplash on numbers like "All Or Nothing At All" (my favorite, because the insane arrangement seems to match her vocals) and "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy," which is as close to an autobiographical song as you're going to get from her, and wow, does she live. Every Single. Damn. Note.
I don't know about you, but with family, friends and all sorts of what-ev-uh over the holidays, I need some yucks. Happily, my Cuban Luvuh allowed me to digitize his prized Lily Tomlin LP. Her first one. And the only one that earned a Grammy.
Get ready. Everyone's favorite Tomlin character is here - in this supah Cheerful Exclusive! - none other than Miss Ernestine, the supremely pushy phone operator who delightedly squabbles with the likes of Joan Crawford and J. Edgar Hoover, while also contending with obscene callers, the mafia and the Pope. And that's just for starters.
Equally fun is the one-and-only Thelonius Monk. Yes, I said fun. Too often our music greats are lionized and praised and eulogized to the point that you forget what made them great to begin with, or in Monk's case, you lose sight of the sheer joy you feel when you hear him perform.
I love the picture of Monk above with British Baroness Panonicca "Nica" Rothschild de Koenigswarter, or "The Jazz Baroness," a devoted patron to Charlie Parker and Monk, both of whom she cared for during their last dying days in her apartment. Her gaze is pure adoration.
Want to know what Nica was all crazy about? Give a listen to his 1964 LP "Monk," yet another Cheerful Exclusive! (in lossless). The track "Panonnica" is a wonderful tribute to you-know-who in an LP evenly mixed between covers and originals. In other words, it's pure jazz pleasure. And fun! There, I said it.
Finally, after the New Year has passed, in the chill of night, you just might need to add an extra spine-tingling shudder with a certain Baltimore scribe:
Yes, you need Poe. In this mwah-haha Cheerful Exclusive!, listen with eyes wide open as the peerless Basil Rathbone reads all of your Poe favorites like "The Raven," "The Fall Of The House Of Usher," "The Black Cat," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and oodles and kaboodles more. I'm pretty sure Rathbone was created for this job.
This will be my last post until after the New Year, so Merry Jingle Thingies and Happy New Year's to you all. What a tumultuous year. The Cheerful Earfull went from having hundreds of posts, and then - poof! - they were all vanquished by dastardly foes (every link was gone in a flash). But now it's coming back as a respectable (ish) blog one post at a time. And all along you've been cheering me on, dear reader. Don't think I'm not grateful.
Less grateful is The Secret Song File, who was told by her pimp to go mass-market and clean up her act. In other words, no more dyed platinum hair. Sad emoticon. The same thing might have happened to a certain Honolulu-born recording artist, even though his mobsterish (*cough*) first CD sold well. In his latest CD here today, there seems to be an effort to really go commercial and really make it big. I'm not saying it's a money grab, it's not, but it's...hmm, I don't know. You tell me.
I do know one thing. If you think The Secret Song File is giving up platinum hair or going mass-market or even cavorting within sniffing distance of respectability in the New Year, relax, kemosabe. Nevah. Gonna. Happen.
Joy to the world, be happy, drink like a fish, give big sloppy kisses to lots of people!
And leave a comment if you like. Or whisper. I'll hear.