It’s not too early to start making that Christmas list! Just ask Real Gone Music. On October 29, the label will release five deluxe holiday-themed collections from some of the most beloved vocalists of all time, in addition to two other titles reflecting the label’s usual eclectic tastes.
For those who need a little Christmas right this very minute, now’s the time to peruse Real Gone’s upcoming offerings. The crown jewel comes from Andy Williams, already announced as the subject of a 2013 compilation from Legacy Recordings. We couldn’t be more enthused about Real Gone’s unveiling of The Complete Christmas Recordings, containing the entirety of Williams’ three Columbia Records Christmas LPs: The Andy Williams Christmas Album (1963), Merry Christmas (1965) and Christmas Present (1974). A handful of bonus tracks round out the 2-CD, 42-song collection: the Columbia single “Ave Maria,” Spanish and Italian language versions of “White Christmas,” and the rare 1955 Cadence Records single “Christmas is a Feeling in Your Heart” b/w “The Wind, The Sand and the Star.” (Williams fans are directed to The Second Disc’s special Holiday Back Tracks installment dedicated to Andy’s Christmas music, with in-depth looks at all three Columbia albums plus his holiday recordings for the Barnaby, Curb, LaserLight and Unison labels.)
Williams is joined by Bobby Darin for a reissue of 1960’s The 25th Day of December with Bobby Darin. Amazingly, this classic has never been available on CD in stereo, so Real Gone is rectifying that with a new edition also containing one mono bonus track (“Christmas Auld Lang Syne”). Darin’s heartfelt set primarily consists of hymns and gospel performances; a blend of spiritually-themed songs and Tin Pan Alley Christmas standards can be found on Real Gone’s new Christmas with Patti Page. This deluxe CD is the most definitive reissue yet of the original Mercury Christmas album from Patti Page, adding a rare single and bonus tracks licensed directly from Page’s estate. The New Christy Minstrels’ The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings should also get you into the holiday spirit, containing both of the vocal group’s original Christmas LPs (Merry Christmas and Christmas with the Christies) plus five bonus sides. Lastly (for Christmas aficionados, at least!), Real Gone revives a rare collection from Cotillion Records. 1976’s Funky Christmas featured holiday offerings from the label’s latest signings, meaning that you’ll hear tracks from John Edwards (of the Spinners), Margie Joseph, The Impressions, Lou Donaldson and Willis Jackson, and most tantalizingly, Luther Vandross’ group Luther. The two tracks here are the only Luther songs currently available on CD, and they’re worth the price of admission!
Real Gone is also reflecting on the recent passing of Tompall Glaser with a two-for-one release from Tompall and the Glaser Brothers, pairing 1981’s Lovin’ Her Was Easier with 1982’s After All These Years. Both albums showcase the Glasers’ country-and-western harmonies at their finest. The final release for October 29 is an expanded reissue of the Elektra debut of hard rock band Belfegore. The 1984 album, with an added clutch of six bonus tracks drawn from 12-inch singles, should appeal to industrial and goth fans.
After the jump, you’ll find the entirety of Real Gone’s press release – with more details on each of the above releases – plus pre-order links for all seven titles!
LOS ANGELES, CA – Andy Williams didn’t gain the nickname ”Mr. Christmas” for nothing. His first Christmas album, 1963’s The Andy Williams Christmas Album, remains one of the most popular holiday releases of all time, vaulting to #1 on the charts and staying there for nine weeks, and re-entering the Christmas charts 10 straight years after that, twice at #1. It also spawned a #1 holiday hit with his rendition of ”White Christmas” and offered the definitive rendition of ”It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” His second Christmas album, 1965’s Merry Christmas, also went to #1, this time for ”only” three weeks, and re-entered the Christmas charts for five straight years, twice more at #1 (it, too, featured a Christmas charting single, the #18 hit version of ”Do You Hear What I Hear?”). Yet, despite all this artistic and commercial success, there has never been a collection that compiled every seasonal side that Andy Williams recorded during his legendary career [JM: at Columbia Records]…until now! Andy Williams: The Complete Christmas Recordings collects all three classic Christmas albums cut for Columbia — the aforementioned LPs The Andy Williams Christmas Album and Merry Christmas plus his 1974 album Christmas Present — plus the Columbia single ”Ave Maria,” unreleased Spanish and Italian-language versions of ”White Christmas” and, as a special added treat, the 1955 single of ”Christmas Is a Feeling in Your Heart/The Wind, the Sand and the Star,” which were the first two songs the young singer cut for the Cadence label back in 1955. John Alexander’s notes touch on the many high points of Andy’s career, and the package also includes photos from the Columbia vaults. 42 tracks that will form the cornerstone of any Christmas music collection.
Bobby Darin was probably the most versatile and fearless vocalist of his generation, fully capable and willing to tackle The Great American Songbook, rock and roll and even folk music with his impeccable phrasing and warm tone. So why should his Christmas album be any less adventuresome? The 25th Day of December with Bobby Darin alternates between reverential, traditional readings of songs like ”O Come All Ye Faithful,” ”Ave Maria” and ”Dona Nobis Pacem” to rousing, gospel-inflected numbers like ”Child of God,” ”Go Tell It on the Mountain” and ”Jehovah Hallelujah,” with great backing (on the gospel songs) by the Bobby Scott Chorale. This all-time Christmas classic from 1960 has somehow been out of print for a while; our Real Gone release offers a first time ever STEREO reissue, complete with a bonus track (in mono), ”Christmas Auld Lang Syne.” Darin expert James Ritz provides the liner notes and rare single picture sleeves.
Much like Percy Faith’s Music of Christmas, which Real Gone Music reissued last year, Christmas with Patti Page (not to be confused with the later album on the Columbia label) proved so popular that Mercury released multiple incarnations of the record. An 8-song version came out in 1951 in 78 rpm format and as a 10” album, then as a double 45 rpm set in 1952 and, finally, as a 12” LP with 12 songs in 1955. In the digital age, the 1955 version was released in 1995 with one bonus track (”Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”); this digital incarnation far surpasses its long out-of-print forebear with the non-LP Mercury holiday single ”Little Donkey,” and four tracks licensed straight from the Patti Page estate (three taken from The Patti Page Show TV series) to create the ultimate Christmas package from Patti’s Mercury years. Liner notes are by Page nephew Tim Akers, and the collection is mastered by Mike Milchner of SonicVision, with original 1955 album cover art.
The New Christy Minstrels’ Merry Christmas and Christmas with the Christies are two of the most beloved and sought-after holiday-themed albums of the ’60s. The New Christy Minstrels: The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings not only includes those two albums but also presents five bonus sides to comprise the COMPLETE Christmas recordings by the all-time great folk group during their storied career on the Columbia label! Notes are by NCM guru Tom Pickles along with choice pictures from the sessions taken from his private collection. The 28-track collection is newly remastered and re-sequenced, too.
Issued on Atlantic Records’ Cotillion imprint, Funky Christmas is part of a venerable recording tradition: the holiday compilation featuring performances by a variety of artists from a single label, Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You being the most prominent example. But Funky Christmas actually inhabits two traditions. In addition to being a themed label compilation, it’s a new-artist sampler. All six of the acts represented on it had issued their first Cotillion LPs earlier in 1976 and Funky Christmas was a way to keep those acts in the public eye. The key cuts, or the elephant in the room, are the brace of tunes from Luther Vandross, then just 25 and fronting his namesake quintet (it was signed to Cotillion as Luther), which had made its debut only weeks earlier. Due to a quirk in licensing, this collection is about the only place you can find any recordings by Luther, and their two songs are the clear highlight of the collection. But the rest of the roster is top shelf, too; future Spinner John Edwards contributes two tracks produced by Stax legend David Porter, Southern soul star Margie Joseph sings two songs produced by Motown mainstay Lamont Dozier, Hall of Fame vocal group the Impressions stretch out on the album’s two longest tracks, and soul-jazz saxmen Lou Donaldson and Willis Jackson trot out some tasty licks on two tracks each. CD debut, with notes by Gene Sculatti and added photos.
With the recent passing of the great Tompall Glaser, it was time to reissue the two records Tompall and the Glaser Brothers recorded for Elektra during their brief reunion in the early ’80s. 1981’s Lovin’ Her Was Easier, of course, features the smash hit title track penned by Kris Kristofferson, and the rest of the album is something of an attempt by Tompall to educate the younger generation about their country forebears, with versions of ”Busted,” ”A Mansion on the Hill,” ”Just One Time” and ”The Last Thing on My Mind” joining some new songs. 1982’s After All These Years, on the other hand, was devoted to new material and included the hits ”I Still Love You (After All These Years)” and ”Maria Consuela.” Colin Escott’s liner notes include quotes from all three Glaser brothers. One of the great country harmony groups.
Perhaps best known (until director David Fincher used ”All That I Wanted” in his 2011 film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) for opening for U2 on their Unforgettable Fire tour, Belfegore started out as a German new wave band, but by the time this, their 1984 self-titled, major label debut for Elektra, came out, they had moved in a harder, more industrial direction. Famed producer Conny Plank (Kraftwerk, Neu!, Guru Guru, Cluster) lent the record a simultaneously driving yet atmospheric sound, one which continues to attract a significant Goth following today (and will appeal to fans of Public Image Limited and Killing Joke). Our Real Gone reissue features no less than six bonus tracks taken from 12-inch releases, with notes and design by long-time fan Tom D. Kline.
You can pre-order all seven releases just below!
October 29 Releases from Real Gone Music
Andy Williams, The Complete Christmas Recordings (2-CD Set) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Bobby Darin, The 25th Day of December with Bobby Darin (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Patti Page, Christmas with Patti Page (Deluxe Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The New Christy Minstrels, The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Various Artists, Funky Christmas (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Tompall and the Glaser Brothers, Lovin’ Her Was Easier/After All These Years (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Belfegore, Belfegore (Deluxe Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)