Without a doubt, 2014 has shaped up to be another joyous year for fans of Christmas music. Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings has been at the vanguard of delivering holiday music with a recent batch of titles from Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and others as part of its Classic Christmas Album Series. Sony has also licensed festive titles from Robert Goulet, Rosemary Clooney, The Brothers Four and Frank DeVol and the Rainbow Strings to Real Gone Music. Those titles have recently been joined by 20 digital-only releases from the Columbia and RCA libraries which can be found in The Legacy Vault, all of which are new to the digital format.
Since its inception in 2013, The Legacy Vault has allowed fans to suggest undigitized titles from the vast Sony Music Library for digital release. The Legacy Vault Christmas Series is open for business now, and has something for everyone to place under the digital Christmas tree. Four titles were added to the Christmas series last year, with another 16 having recently arrived in time for this year’s merriment.
Fans of classic vocalists will appreciate the holiday titles from musical theatre star, actor and television personality John Davidson, talk show host Mike Douglas and the late, great Italian-American singer Jerry Vale. Also on the television front, the Vault has trips down Memory Lane via The Waltons Christmas Album and Bonanza star Lorne Greene’s Have a Happy Holiday. Other warmly nostalgic albums being issued digitally for the first time include easy listening favorites John Gary’s Christmas Album and The Melachrino Strings’ Christmas Joy, and one for fans of the Bronx Bombers: Yankee Stadium organist Eddie Layton’s 1964 The Organ at Christmas! NFL fans aren’t left out, either, thanks to the reissue of John Facenda’s The Nativity. Many football fans knew the broadcaster and NFL Films narrator, simply, as “The Voice of God,” but on this 1964 release, he celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
A number of vintage country-and-western titles are also part of this release slate, from legends like Ray Price, Boots Randolph, Hank Snow, Jimmy Dean and even the satirically-minded Homer and Jethro, known as the “Thinking Man’s Hillbillies.” The Beers Family’s 1967 Appalachian folk-flavored Christmas album for a Columbia is a rare slice of Americana. Other releases available now include RCA’s 1972 A Golden Age Christmas with songs from the earliest part of the twentieth century (from artists like Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, and Richard Crooks), a treat from Polka King Frankie Yankovic, a holiday set from instrumental group The Three Suns (reportedly Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite group!) and a groovy winter wonderland courtesy of The Moog Machine’s Christmas Becomes Electric. More reverent is The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ gospel-R&B holiday fusion, Peace is Blowin’ in the Wind, from 1969.
Hit the jump for more information on these titles including a complete list!
These long out-of-print recordings, now available for download on iTunes and Amazon, have all been remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios from the original master tapes. During the holiday season, most of the 20 titles are available for just $4.99 per album. You can visit The Legacy Vault for more information on all of these, or sample tracks on Spotify via The Legacy Vault Christmas Sampler. For more information, you also might want to sit back, pour some hot cocoa and take a listen to a special Legacy Vault Christmas podcast featuring Legacy’s Tom Tierney and author Greg Ehrbar. Amazon U.S. links are provided below. As of this writing, all releases are $4.99 on Amazon except where indicated.
Melachrino Strings, Christmas Joy, RCA, 1959 ($7.99)
Eddie Layton, Christmas, Epic, 1964
John Davidson, My Christmas Favorites, Columbia, 1969
Mike Douglas, My Kind of Christmas, Epic, 1967
Jerry Vale, Christmas Greetings, Columbia, 1964
Three Suns, Ding Dong Dandy Christmas, RCA, 1959
Frank Yankovic, Christmas Party, Columbia, 1964
John Gary, Christmas Album, RCA, 1964
FOLK & COUNTRY
Hank Snow, Christmas with Hank Snow, RCA, 1967
Homer & Jethro, A Cool Crazy Christmas, RCA, 1968
Christmas with the Beers Family, Columbia, 1967
Jimmy Dean, “Christmas Card”, Columbia, 1965
Boots Randolph, Boots & Stockings, Monument, 1969
Ray Price, Christmas Album, Columbia, 1969 (also available on CD)
The Waltons Christmas Album, Columbia, 1974
John Facenda, The Nativity, RCA, 1964 ($3.99)
Lorne Greene, Have A Happy Holiday, RCA, 1965
Various Artists, “A GOLDEN AGE CHRISTMAS”, RCA, 1972 (Link TBD)
Moog Machine, Christmas Becomes Electric, Columbia, 1969
Edwin Hawkins Singers, Peace Is Blowin’ In The Wind, Buddah, 1970