December isn’t all about Christmas – Here’s some singing facts
We have always been interested in Christmas music and last year we looked at Bing Crosby’s perennial ‘White Christmas’. There are, of course, numerous Xmas standards and I thought we’d have a change this year by looking at the special treatment given to some of them by Phil Spector. He gave, amongst others, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Frosty The Snowman’, ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, ‘Sleigh Ride’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’ his trademark ‘Wall Of Sound’ treatment featuring artists such as The Crystals, The Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans and Darlene Love. It was recorded throughout September and October 1963 with layer upon layer of piano, sleigh bells, buoyant percussion and, of course, the legendary harmonies. It was originally issued on 22nd November that year, the day of President Kennedy’s death, and was a relative failure. Since then, however, it has been re-released on a number of occasions and has become an iconic classic of its era.
December is, of course, not all about Christmas and here are some musical events that reflect the month in its entirety;
1944 (3rd) Frank Sinatra recorded ‘Old Man River’ for Columbia Records.
1958 (1st) The Teddy Bears were at No1 on the US singles chart with ‘To Know Him
is to Love Him.’ Phil Spector was a member of the group and the song came from words on his father’s tombstone.
1973 (20th) Bobby Darin passed away following open-heart surgery at the age of 37. He left a legacy of rock ’n’ roll smash hits including ‘Splish Splash’, ‘Queen of the Hop’, ‘Dream Lover’ and ‘If I Were a Carpenter’. It is rumoured that Motown had recently headhunted him.
1982 (18th) UK-based Italian tenor and English female singer Renee And Renato were at No1 on the UK singles chart with ‘Save Your Love’; the duo’s only UK Top 40 hit and this years Christmas No1.
1999 (30th) In the Queen’s Millennium Honours list, former Slade singer Noddy Holder was awarded an MBE and guitarist Mark Knopfler was awarded an OBE.
I have also always taken an interest in the Christmas playlists of radio stations. In the early to mid 1990’s London’s Melody Radio was the mix with a difference. Last year, however, I discovered something new; Chill Radio. It’s an internet broadcaster but is also available on DAB in London, Leicester and Nottingham. It’s not necessarily the genre of music I choose to listen to but last year I thought its Christmas tracks were almost magical. I suggest you try it. Next month I’ll list some of this year’s, obscure as they might be.
In the meantime let me wish you a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.