TOMORROW, Friday, November 3, is the day we've been waiting for here at Second Disc HQ - when we can finally unveil our new, and biggest ever, Second Disc Records slate of Christmas releases to you! Tomorrow, we're joining Real Gone Music for a trio of titles beginning with The Supremes' The Ultimate Merry Christmas, a deluxe 2-CD, 50-track celebration of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard's 1965 Merry Christmas. This is one ultimate collection we're confident will live up to its name! We're also proud to reissue The Ames Brothers' nostalgic 1957 classic There'll Always Be a Christmas to CD in its rich, original mono mix for the very first time with bonus tracks; as well as the worldwide CD premiere of country legend Connie Smith's Joy to the World, expanded with a rare Willie Nelson duet.
The Supremes ushered in 1965 with the electrifying, era-defining "Stop! In the Name of Love," their fourth of five consecutive, record-breaking, chart-topping singles. In that year alone, the undisputed queens of Motown released five sizzling LPs, including their only holiday album: the instant classic Merry Christmas. Produced by Detroit legend Harvey Fuqua with arrangements by the great Gene Page, H.B. Barnum, and Ernie Freeman, Merry Christmas was filled with joyful delights.
In addition to The Supremes' inimitable versions of yuletide favorites, it introduced Jimmy Webb's first-ever recorded song ("My Christmas Tree") and yielded a pair of charting singles (the Motown originals "Children's Christmas Song" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me") plus a yearly Christmas radio staple ("My Favorite Things"). This salute to the season quickly became a chart mainstay and all-time perennial.
In 2015, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Merry Christmas was expanded as a digital-only release with nine previously unreleased bonus tracks. Now, in conjunction with Motown/Universal Music Group, Second Disc Records and Real Gone Music are releasing a Christmas feast that is so bountiful, it could only be called The Ultimate Merry Christmas. This landmark collection boasts all of the tracks from the 2015 digital edition and more, for an astounding total of 50 tracks on 2 CDs, of which 16 are previously unreleased and 21 are new to CD!
The Ultimate Merry Christmas features the album in three distinctive versions: the original 1965 mono and stereo mixes, as well as a brand new, never-before-heard 2017 mix premiering previously unheard vocals and instrumentation. And that's not all! The additional, previously unreleased bonus tracks include a Diana Ross/Florence Ballard duet on "Silent Night," and a Diana/Mary Wilson duet on "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)."
The Ultimate Merry Christmas has been curated and co-produced by Andrew Skurow and George Solomon, the team responsible for Motown's long-running series of Supremes and Diana Ross expanded editions, including the recent Supremes A' Go-Go. It's been newly remastered by Kevin Reeves, who has also mixed all of the bonus tracks. It's been beautifully designed by John Sellards, following his work on Second Disc Records' newest releases from Laura Nyro and Melissa Manchester. The 24-page, full-color booklet features the original album cover and artwork, and numerous photos and memorabilia, as well as my own liner notes, track-by-track annotations and more. Additionally, the deluxe digipak has been designed in the style of all of The Supremes' past expanded editions so that The Ultimate Merry Christmas can sit right next to them on your shelf!
On their 1957 album of the same name, The Ames Brothers proclaimed in song, "There'll Always Be a Christmas" - and as it turns out, Ed, Vic, Gene, and Joe Ames had created a joyful Christmas album for all time. Now, their holiday perennial is coming to CD in its original mono mix for the very first time on Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records' There'll Always Be a Christmas: 60th Anniversary Deluxe Mono Edition.
Between 1948 and 1960, The Ames Brothers notched a remarkable fifty entries on the Billboard charts, including three Number Ones and a further six Top Ten hits, and became one of America's most beloved singing groups. Their distinctive sound - consisting of four bass-baritones and no tenor voices - can be heard at its most robust on There'll Always Be a Christmas. Supported by the lush orchestra of Broadway veteran Sid Ramin, the quartet delivered fresh renditions of both upbeat Christmas standards like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Silver Bells" and sacred songs such as "What Child is This?" and "O Holy Night."
This 60th anniversary reissue adds two bonus tracks to further showcase the enormous versatility of the group. "I Got a Cold for Christmas" is a comic novelty in the tradition of The Ames Brothers' favorites like "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane," while "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" is a swinging romp through Irving Berlin's wintry tune. All 14 songs have been newly remastered by Maria Triana at Sony's Battery Studios in their original mono mixes, while my liner notes are based on a brand-new interview with the only surviving member of the group, stage and screen legend Ed Ames. Filled with beautiful harmonies and rich arrangements of some of the greatest Christmas songs of all time, There'll Always Be a Christmas is a heartwarming and nostalgic treat you'll want to share with your family, and generations to come.
Seeing as we've tackled the 1950s with The Ames Brothers and the 1960s with The Supremes, it's only fair that we turn our attention to the 1970s for our third Christmas release of the year. What do Keith Richards, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, and the late George Jones all have in common? All have counted themselves as fervent fans of Connie Smith. A true singer's singer, Connie has entertained fans for over fifty years with her singular blend of country-and-western, gospel, and pop. Along the way, she's earned thirty charting albums and three Number Ones, twenty top ten Billboard Country singles, eleven Grammy Award nominations, and inductions to both The Grand Ole Opry and The Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1975, Connie recorded her only full-length Christmas album, Joy to the World, for Columbia Records. This rootsy holiday celebration featured Connie, The Jordanaires, and a cast of "Nashville cats" - the city's finest session musicians - breathing new life into traditional melodies and spiritual favorites. Shockingly, this beautiful slice of seasonal Americana has never been released on CD anywhere in the world...until now.
Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records' expanded edition of Joy to the World premieres the original album on CD and adds one rare bonus track for a vivid and festive portrait of Connie Smith's Christmas classics. Connie wraps her rich voice around a selection of songs that have stood the test of time for centuries, among them "The First Noel, "O Come All Ye Faithful," and the stirring "Joy to the World," as well as spirituals "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "Sweet Little Jesus Boy." As a special bonus, Connie's duet with fellow legend Willie Nelson on "Silent Night, Holy Night" has been included. Maria Triana has remastered at Sony's Battery Studios, and The Second Disc's Joe Marchese has written new liner notes based on an exclusive interview with the artist. Additionally, as a special Christmas treat, Connie Smith herself has penned a new introduction to this reissue. Rousing and reverent, Joy to the World is a moving, homespun, and timeless treat from one of country music's most enduring and powerful voices.
Both The Ames Brothers' There'll Always Be a Christmas: 60th Anniversary Deluxe Mono Edition and Connie Smith's Joy to the World: Expanded Edition have been designed by John Sellards, and feature original artwork from both titles as well as rare photographs and memorabilia.
All three titles arrive TOMORROW from Second Disc Records and Real Gone Music, and can be ordered at the links below. You won't want to miss the rest of Real Gone's festive Christmas slate, either - featuring classic albums from Percy Faith and His Orchestra, Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians, and The Robert Shaw Chorale!
The Original Mono Album
- White Christmas (Mono Version)
- Silver Bells (Mono Version)
- Born of Mary (Mono Version)
- Children's Christmas Song (Mono Version)
- The Little Drummer Boy (Mono Version)
- My Christmas Tree (Mono Version)
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Mono Version)
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Mono Version)
- My Favorite Things (Mono Version)
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Me (Mono Version)
- Little Bright Star (Mono Version)
- Joy to the World (Mono Version)
The Original Stereo Album
- White Christmas (Stereo Version)
- Silver Bells (Stereo Version)
- Born of Mary (Stereo Version)
- Children's Christmas Song (Stereo Version)
- The Little Drummer Boy (Stereo Version)
- My Christmas Tree (Stereo Version)
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Stereo Version)
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Stereo Version)
- My Favorite Things (Stereo Version)
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Me (Stereo Version)
- Little Bright Star (Stereo Version)
- Joy to the World (Stereo Version)
- Christmas Greetings
The New 2017 Mix
- White Christmas (Alternate Vocal)
- Silver Bells (Alternate Mix, with additional verse)
- Born of Mary (Alternate Mix)
- Children's Christmas Song (Alternate Vocal)
- The Little Drummer Boy (Alternate Vocal)
- My Christmas Tree (Alternate Vocal)
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Alternate Mix)
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Alternate Mix)
- My Favorite Things (Alternate Mix)
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Me (Stereo Mix of Mono Vocal)
- Little Bright Star (Alternate Mix)
- Joy to the World (Alternate Vocal)
- The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) (2015 Mix Version)
- Just a Lonely Christmas (2015 Mix Version)
- The First Noel (2015 Mix Version)
- O Little Town of Bethlehem (2015 Mix Version)
- Silent Night (2015 Mix Version)
- O Holy Night (2015 Mix Version)
- Just a Lonely Christmas (Alternate Vocal)
- The First Noel (Alternate Vocal)
- O Little Town of Bethlehem (Alternate Vocal)
- The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) (Duet Version)
- Silent Night (Duet Version)
- It Won't Be Long 'Til Christmas (2015 Mix Version)
- My Favorite Things (Live)
CD 1, Tracks 1-12 from Merry Christmas, Motown LP M638, 1965
CD 1, Tracks 13-24 from Merry Christmas, Motown LP MS638, 1965
CD 1, Track 25 from Seasons Greetings From Motown, Motown promotional single 2482, 1966
CD 2, Tracks 1, 3-12, 19-23 previously unreleased
CD 2, Tracks 2, 13-18, 24, 25 from digital Merry Christmas - Expanded Edition, 2015
- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
- Deck The Halls
- Oh Holy Night
- Silver Bells
- What Child Is This?
- Jingle Bells
- Good King Wenceslas
- The Night Before Christmas Song
- Santa Claus is Comin' To Town
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- There'll Always Be a Christmas
- I Got A Cold For Christmas
- I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
Tracks 1-12 from There'll Always Be a Christmas RCA Victor LP LPM-1541, 1957
Track 13 from RCA Victor Little Nipper Single WY 491, 1954
Track 14 from Sing the Best of the Bands RCA Victor LP LPM-2273, 1960
- What Child is This
- O Holy Night
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- The First Noel
- The Little Drummer Boy
- Sweet Little Jesus Boy
- Away In a Manger/Silent Night
- Joy To The World
- Come All Ye Faithful
- While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
- Silent Night, Holy Night - with Willie Nelson
Tracks 1-10 from from Joy To The World, Columbia LP C 33553, 1975
Track 11 from The Nashville Christmas Album, Epic LP PE 40418, 1986