Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CHICAGO 25

Continuing my trip through my Christmas CD collection, right up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Today we're listening to the first of three Christmas releases by the legendary ensemble named after the Windy City.


Now right off the bat I can hear you saying, "Excuse me-shouldn't that be 'Chicago XXV'?"

During the 80's the band dropped their love affair with Roman numerals, and the '25' in question refers to the day in December that the album's theme is derived from, so back off, haters!

This is what you'd expect from the band, Christmas standards with the trademark Chicago jazz-rock arrangements.

FELIZ NAVIDAD



CHILD'S PRAYER



THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Continuing my trip through my Christmas CD collection, right up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Today's title is a nod to my good friend Stephen T. McCarthy, as I feature one of his favorite vocalists with The Carpenters Christmas Collection.

Compiling their two Christmas releases, 1978's Christmas Portrait and 1984's An Old Fashioned Christmas, this is a two disc set perfect for snowy days and Mondays.

It was actually cheaper to pick up the two-disc set than the individual titles.

Karen Carpenter's voice is perfectly suited for a holiday album, why not pick up two?

MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING


THE CHRISTMAS SONG




DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?


Monday, December 29, 2014

WINTER WONDERLAND

Continuing my trip through my Christmas CD collection, right up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Paul Carrack has had a career in rock spanning five decades. First gaining fame as vocalist for Ace, Carrack's incredible voice has fronted Roxy Music, Mike & The Mechanics, and Squeeze.


One of the most acclaimed voices in rock music, Carrack has also released seventeen solo albums, one of which, Winter Wonderland, was a-you guessed it-Christmas album.


HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY 
LITTLE CHRISTMAS
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD



WHITE CHRISTMAS 








Sunday, December 28, 2014

IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Continuing my trip through my Christmas CD collection, right up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Today's title comes from the legendary Booker T. & The MG's.



As Stephen T. McCarthy once remarked to me, "a little bit of organ makes every piece of music better."

Well, In The Christmas Spirit gives you a lot of organ.

THE CHRISTMAS SONG


JINGLE BELLS


SILVER BELLS


WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS





Saturday, December 27, 2014

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS III: (THE VIXENS STRIKE BACK)

Continuing my trip through my Christmas CD collection, right up to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

Today's title is also entitled "Home For Christmas," but is the release from Sheryl Crow (prior posts featured the Hall & Oates and Susan Boyle discs).

Sheryl Crow can sing. 

And she's pretty hot. 

Just ask Lance Armstrong (who let her get away-the idjit).



And Ms. Crow released a holiday album, first as a Hallmark store exclusive in 2008, then as a 2010 Target exclusive, and finally as a major release worldwide in 2011. Ten of the twelve tracks appear on all three editions, with the original 2008 release and the 2011 release sharing one song, and the 2011 release having an additional bonus track.

Confused? 

You should be.

Here are a couple of songs from the album...

THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S




WHITE CHRISTMAS



Friday, December 26, 2014

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (THE SEQUEL)

The other day, when I said I was done with Christmas music posts, I was not entirely forthcoming.

It was a fib. 

A mistruth. 

A falsehood.

I lied to you.

You see, the Christmas season does not END on December 25. If you are Catholic, that is when the Christmas season actually begins (the weeks leading up to Christmas are Advent).

Since air travel did not exist back in 4 B.C. (which was the year Herod died and presumably the year Jesus Christ was actually born), those three wise men traveled by camel to Bethlehem.

These were kings from the Orient (it says so in the Christmas carol).

As you might imagine, the journey took some time. 

These guys did not see the star and arrive at the manger the same night. 

They would have needed the Concorde for that (which they probably could have afforded had it been invented yet).

Hence the twelve days of Christmas, which represent the elapsed time between Jesus' birth and the Epiphany (celebrated by the Catholic Church on January 6), when the wise men arrived at the manger.

With gold, frankincense and myrrh. What is myrrh, anyway?

I digress.

In short, you get twelve more days of Christmas CD posts from me.

And I have plenty of CD's to choose from-I have barely touched on my collection.

Today I am going to clue you in on a CD that duplicates the title of a prior post, but this CD was offered up in 2013 by Susan Boyle, the unlikely winner of Britain's Got Talent. 

In the music industry that churns out slender young scantily-clad vixens without much of a voice, a middle-aged Catholic woman who was...well...normal...but has an exceptional voice...actually received her due, was awarded a record contract, and has sold millions of records, even outselling Taylor Swift worldwide in 2009.



I loved the fact that Ms. Boyle has been so successful, as it proves that some people actually value the quality of a voice over a dress size.

The tracks below feature Boyle's posthumous duet with The King (no, not Jesus....the other King) and her duet with Johnny Mathis.

O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL



WHEN A CHILD IS BORN


Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON


Although I have only met a couple of the regulars who indulge my idiocy on this blog face to face, I feel like I have come to know many of you at least a little through our exchanges and I am glad for our paths having crossed.

Merry Christmas, my friends!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HO! HO! HOEY

Over the years, I have unearthed a profusion of Christmas titles, and each December I let them out of their cases for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.


When I was a yewt, I liked to get ripping on wrapping paper-I'm telling ya, I really shredded!

But no one shreds better than Gary Hoey!

Early in this series, I warned you about the record labels reissuing holiday material under different covers, and that has gone on a little bit with this artist.

Gary released three Ho! Ho! Hoey titles, then a best-of with a couple of extra tracks, and finally this one, billed as complete, but not quite, although I posted about it since it gives you the most notes per sheckel. Or shilling. Or farthing?

Gary rose to fame as a surf rock musician, but I have always thought of him in the Joe Satriani vein, although I like his recorded output far more than Satch's.

The Christmas CD's are must-haves for rock guitar fans. Take a listen...

From the sacred AWAY IN A MANGER


To the profane YOU'RE A MEAN ONE MR. GRINCH



THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS



That brings us to the end of this blog cycle, as tonight is Christmas Eve, and I will be watching my Trans-Siberian Orchestra DVD and hoping that this is the year Santa finally brings me that freakin' pony! 



Or at least leaves a nicely gift wrapped Jennifer Esposito look-alike under my tree (well, where the tree would be if I had a tree).

I said gift wrapped, Santa, not tied up...I know it's a subtle difference but it's also the difference between a restraining order and a felony kidnapping stay in Tent City!

Get your last-minute shopping done early and spend time with your families!

Merry Christmas to all....



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

R.I.P. JOE COCKER

Interrupting the Christmas music posts for a sad reason...

Another rock great goes on to the studio in the sky...

Joe Cocker died yesterday, aged 70, after a battle with cancer.

The Sheffield-born singer had a career lasting more than 40 years, with hits including You Are So Beautiful and Up Where We Belong.

His agent Barrie Marshall said Cocker, who died after battling lung cancer, was "simply unique".








One of my favorite Joe Cocker memories was his Saturday Night Live appearance...


We will miss you, Joe!

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



I talk a lot about Todd Rundgren on this blog, but there are a couple of other Philadelphia icons who you may have heard of, who have crossed paths with Todd professionally (he's produced records for them, had them as guests on his tours and vice-versa, and even did a couple of web broadcasts with Daryl), and who share the same Philly Soul roots.

I am talking about, of course, Daryl Hall and John Oates, named by Billboard as the most successful duo of the rock era, above the Everly Brothers.

34 Billboard chart hits, six number one hits, seven platinum albums, six gold albums-their resume speaks for itself.

They released their holiday album, Home For Christmas, on my forty-fifth birthday, which I am certain was not a coincidence.

NO CHILD SHOULD EVER CRY ON CHRISTMAS



CHRISTMAS MUST BE TONIGHT



MARY HAD A BABY


Monday, December 22, 2014

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS MORNING

Over the years, I have amassed a boatload of Christmas titles, and each December I break them out for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.


Dan Fogelberg was an artist I'd lost track of after my college years. 

Dan's Phoenix and Innocent Age albums were regulars on my turntable, but I'd never picked them up on CD and Dan fell off my radar. 

Sadly, he remained off my radar until his passing in 2007. Dan Fogelberg was only 56, and he died just before Christmas that year.

When I heard the news, I looked for my copies of those two albums, and was surprised to find that I no longer had my vinyl copies and had never bought the compact discs. 

I spent some time in the record stores and online looking for CD copies of those two albums, but they were out of print and commanding high prices on eBay.

I picked them up on vinyl for a dollar each (at Zia Records, naturally), and that got me listening to vinyl records again (although CD's are still way more convenient). 

Within a year or so his albums started being reissued on CD, and I eventually collected the whole catalog, including The First Christmas Morning.

This was Dan's only Christmas album, released in 1999.

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS MORNING
CHRIST THE KING



SAME AULD LANG SYNE

This song was released on The Innocent Age, but fits the season, and I always loved it. So I'm posting it. If you think I am breaking the rules, you don't have to listen to it.




Sunday, December 21, 2014

AN IRISH CHRISTMAS

Over the years, I have amassed a bunch of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



While most of you will not recognize Moya (actual spelling is Maire, but the spelling above reflects the Gaelic pronunciation), but many of you know her sister Eithne.

You may know her an Enya, 

Robin at Your Daily Dose featured on of her songs in a recent Battle Of The Bands post.

Both sisters were members of the celtic group Clannad beginning in the early seventies, but Enya left soon after to pursue her solo career while Maire remained with the band through the late 90's, although she released her first solo disc (Maire) in 1992.

An Irish Christmas was released in 2005.

THE WEXFORD CAROL



CAROL OF THE BELLS





Saturday, December 20, 2014

CHRISTMAS

Over the years, I have amassed a lot of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.


Chris Isaak sure is cool.

But would we even know who he is if not for that video featuring Helena Christensen?

It was her whispering in his ear on that beach that made me notice his music.

Yowza.

In 2004, Isaak released Christmas, an album of songs celebrating-you guessed it-Christmas.

BLUE CHRISTMAS



LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR



AULD LANG SYNE



Friday, December 19, 2014

ONE WISH

Over the years, I have amassed a bazillion Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



I had a crush on Whitney Houston from day one. 

She was beautiful, and she could sing.

After she married Bobby Brown, the turn her life took saddened me, the downward spiral ending in tragedy with her drug-related death a few years ago.

There were moments during that decade and a half of decline where the Whitney I had a crush on peeked through the fog of addiction, most notably on the 2004 Christmas album, One Wish.

On the cover above, she almost looks like that Whitney who wanted to dance with somebody...

ONE WISH (FOR CHRISTMAS)



WHO WOULD IMAGINE A KING



Rest in peace, Whitney

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CHRISTMAS WITH YOU

Over the years, I have amassed a slew of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.


Rick Springfield continues to record although his output in the last three decades has never come close to matching the commercial success of his eighties heyday-and don't try to tell me you never got caught singing along to "Jessie's Girl."

In 2005, he went back to General Hospital (where it all started), and in 2007 he released his holiday album.

CHRISTMAS WITH YOU



THE FIRST NOEL


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ROCK 'N' ROLL CHRISTMAS

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.


Dion Francis DiMucci is best known for his 1961 singles "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer," although his career has spanned parts of seven decades.

His Rock 'N' Roll Christmas album was released in 1993, and while the record did not spawn any singles that challenged the legacy of those early 60's classics, DiMucci done good.

ROCKIN' AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE



I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS



RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CHRISTMAS MEANS LOVE

Over the years, I have amassed a few Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



A classic example of a one-hit wonder, Joan Osborne ruled the airwaves in 1995 with the hit "One Of Us." 

Although she has since released seven studio follow-ups, two live albums and a compilation, Osborne was never able to match her initial success.

In 2005, Joan also released a Christmas record. Which should not surprise you, since you've been reading this post up to here-why would I have droned on this long if there was no holiday album in there somewhere?

CHILDREN GO WHERE I SEND THEE



WHAT DO BAD GIRLS GET?


ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH


Monday, December 15, 2014

BOTB-THE BATTLE FOR CHRISTMAS


For the last couple of weeks, I have posted about some of the Christmas titles I have acquired over the years.



But today is the Battle Of The Bands, so rather than feature one of those titles, I am going to put one song each from two of those titles into the arena to battle to the death....or at least until you wandering bloggers tire of commenting and go back to searching for that elusive holy grail of Christmas gifts.

Yes, the Battle for Christmas will be fought here...today.

There can be only one!

I'll post two versions of a song, and all you have to do is stop wrapping gifts long enough to listen to them.

Then you pick the one you like best and say why in the comments.

As quickly as that you can go back to baking those  chocolate chip cookies (and I know you will send a little care package to Arizona, right?)

Since you're already way behind on your holiday preparations, it really won't set you back any more if you check out these other bloggers who are doing the same thing.

Far Away Series   (the one who started all this)

STMcC Presents BATTLE OF THE BANDS  


Tossing It Out

Your Daily Dose


Curious As A Cathy

Everybody loves Christmas! 

Even atheists love Christmas. 

And every year, artists release albums of Christmas songs, many of which have been done a million times.

But I think I speak for all men when I say that few have every worn the red suit as...ahem...proudly as this individual....




Mariah Carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. Her first Christmas CD, titled (oddly enough) Merry Christmas, has sold 5.3 million units, putting it in the top ten best selling Christmas titles of all time (Elvis' Christmas album has sold ten million copies, but he had a forty year head start).

Here is "Oh Holy Night" from Ms. Carey's Christmas album.








Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an American progressive rock band founded in 1996 by producer, composer, and lyricist Paul O'Neill, who brought together former members of Savatage to record a series of holiday-themed concept albums (Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic and The Lost Christmas Eve).

Described as "Pink Floyd meets Yes and The Who at Radio City Music Hall," TSO has sold more than 10 million concert tickets and as many albums, and while I have watched their DVD (The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve) every Christmas Eve since it’s release in 2001 (sort of a tradition since I do not live near family), I never saw their live show until this year, an elaborate stage presentation that includes a string section, a light show, lasers, pyrotechnics, a two-story storage trunk with a moving lid that houses the band on a rising platform, video screens, and effects synchronized to music. 

Well worth seeing if you have not already.




Here is "Oh Holy Night" as rendered by TSO. It features Michael Crawford on vocals, and is a little more mainstream than some of their music.



Well if you're reading this, the rest is up to you. Which one do you like better? 

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NOT SO SILENT NIGHT

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



Today we're listening to the holiday offering from 70's and 80's arena rockers REO Speedwagon.

I BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS




WINTER WONDERLAND



Saturday, December 13, 2014

CHRISTMAS ROCKS!

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.




Former Stray Cats frontman Brian Setzer has issued a handful of holiday albums, and this one is a compilation from those releases with a couple of new tracks to sell it to idiots like me who have to have every song.

First off, Setzer's take on a tender holiday chestnut...

YOU'RE A MEAN ONE MR. GRINCH



DIG THAT CRAZY SANTA CLAUS



Friday, December 12, 2014

JOY: A HOLIDAY COLLECTION

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



Back in the mid-90's, Jewel was all the rage, with her debut album topping charts and her songs getting played to death on the radio. 

In 1999, Jewel released her own holiday CD, with her take on 11 standards along with two originals.

Here is one of the originals....

FACE OF LOVE


Along with one of the standards....

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM


Thursday, December 11, 2014

AH! LELUIAH!

Over the years, I have amassed a variety of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.




Donnie Iris is best known for his near-miss, Ah! Leah, which peaked at number 29 on February 7, 1981.

Iris has maintained a cult following that includes me (big surprise there, huh?), and released a holiday album in 2010.

Here are Donnie Iris and the Cruisers* doing "The Hallelujah Chorus"



* They were Donnie Iris and the Cruisers long before there was an Eddie & The Cruisers movie

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MR. VOCALIST X'MAS

Over the years, I have amassed a plethora of Christmas titles, and each December I get them out of the box for the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



Best known as the frontman for Mr. Big, who had their biggest hit way back in 1992 with the ballad "To Be With You," Eric Martin (and Mr. Big) have always had a huge following in Japan, where the flow of albums has continued up until this year.

Martin did a series of standards albums, and followed those up with this Christmas collection, released in 2009.

Here is Eric's rendition of "Last Christmas."



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS

Over the years, I have amassed a cornucopia of Christmas titles, and every December I dig them out in honor of the season that celebrates the birth of Bethlehem's favorite (and God's only begotten) Son.

This year, I thought I'd share some of them with you.



Yet another Christmas CD collecting tip-while compilations are great ways to get those "one-off" songs by artists who were not motivated to do an entire album, be prepared for lots of duplication.

The "A Very Special Christmas" series debuted in 1987, the brainchild of producer Jimmy Iovine who wanted to produce a Christmas album to honor his father, with proceeds benefitting Special Olympics.

With ten titles in the series, I thought I'd post about the first, which brought together some of the giants of the day (Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, U2, Whitney Houston).

Hard to go wrong with this one.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY (BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN)



CHRISTMAS [BABY PLEASE COME HOME]  (U2)



DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR (WHITNEY HOUSTON)




THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (BOB SEGER)