"It's Christmas time pretty baby and the snow is falling on the ground"… well, not here in Brisbane it's not, but in the Christmas sprit I have pulled this record from the pile.
Now, I have always liked, no loved, The Everly Brothers, and I have no problems with Christmas albums by rock 'n' roll stars.
Though I am highly biased Elvis' first Christmas album (and a another first by him the first Christmas rock 'n' roll album) "Elvis' Christmas Album" from 1957 still is the benchmark for all rock Christmas albums. It contains Christmas rock, Christmas rock ballads, traditionals and a touch of gospel.
The Everly Brothers coming from the same paddock as Elvis, and having had the benefit of hindsight, I thought, may tackle Christmas in a similar manner.
I should have looked at the title a little closer
"Christmas with The Everly Brothers and The Boys Town Choir"
Well, it was 1962 and raucous rock 'n' roll had moved off the mainstream and the Everly Brothers were new traditionalists in many ways anyway.
Still, I'm not going to let anything discourage me.
For biographical details check out my other Everly Brothers comments.
The 33 member Boys Town Choir from Omaha, Nebraska are the choir formed from boys of the celebrated Boys Town organisation, originally an orphanage but then, also, a non profit organisation dedicated to helping familles in times of need in the US. To us, over here in Australia, it is mostly known by the films starring Spencer Tracy who portrayed its founder Father Edward Flanagan, Boys Town (1938) and its sequel, Men of Boys Town (1941).
So, there are no guitars. no beats, and not much in the way of the Every Brothers harmonies. Two songs are sung entirely by the choir, and the Brothers don't sing entire songs together usually, being joined by the choir and the church organ.
There is nothing innovative about the arrangements either. This is done straight and must have been aimed at the mainstream adult market of the time.
Oddly, it didn't chart. Clearly the adult were wary and the kids stayed away.
There is still something there though.
This is traditional stuff and if you like your Christmas straight up and down but have a ear for music, and are rightly sick of the modern secular and Christian pop Christmas Albums, then this is an excellent choice.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) – (Traditional) – nice.
- Away in a Manger – (Traditional) – Sung entirely by the choir.
- The First Noel – (Traditional) – now, this is beautiful, reverential obviously and beautiful.
- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen – (Traditional) – I always found this song stodgy …still is.
- What Child Is This? – (Dix, Traditional) – Don sings solo on this. His voice alone, with organ and choir works well.
- Silent Night – (Gruber, Mohr, Traditional) – Compare this to Elvis' version from his 1957 album for a small combo, and no less reverential, take on this famous Christmas song. The Everly Brothers harmonies don't soar and aren't meant to but they do mesh well here
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – (Mendelssohn, Traditional) – sweet.
- Angels, From the Realms of Glory – (Traditional) – Sung entirely by the choir
- Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly – (Traditional) – Okay.
- Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella – (Traditional) – I'm not familiar with this song at all.
- O Little Town of Bethlehem – (Traditional) – Phil sings solo on this. Beautiful and Phil had the sweeter voice of the to brother's. Again, an interesting comparison can be made to Elvis' version.
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas – (Traditional) – largely reverential but they spice it up, briefly , at the end.
A little Everly Brothers is better than no Everly Brothers … and this reminds me (a little) of my Catholic Boys school schooling … I'm keeping it.
Nothing no where
The whole album is here:
Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
Away in a Manger
The First Noel
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
What Child Is This?
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Angels, From the Realms of Glory
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella
O Little Town of Bethlehem
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- The back cover proclaims" a beautiful hour of song … one what you will never forget". Yes, if you play the record three times as the playing time is only about 26 minutes all up.
- The Boys Town Choir had already put out a batch of Christmas songs on "The Boys Town Choir Singing Christmas Music" in 1953 on Capitol with their conductor, Francis P. Schmitt (who also worked with Don and Phil here) http://www.discogs.com/The-Boys-Town-Choir-Boys-Town-Choir-Singing-Christmas-Music/release/7618892
Merry Christmas …