Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas 2012 (Part Three)

Welcome, everyone, to the last instalment of this year’s Christmas cavalcade. Each of today’s songs comes to you courtesy of our old friend Ross Hamilton, who I can’t thank enough for sending me a copy of his home-compiled collection of Christmas-themed novelties and oddities.

First up is the truly horrible Christmas on the Moon, by Troy Hess. Probably better known by bad music aficionados for his classic Please Don’t Go Topless Mother, Troy was just four years old when he recorded this virtually unintelligible piece of nonsense, written for him by his father Bennie. Fellow music blogger Steve Carey once described his performance as ‘Huckleberry Hound talking to you on a broken telephone, with a bad connection, in a big echo-y bathroom, standing ten feet away from the phone. Also he's wearing a mask and eating a banana.’ I couldn’t have put it better. So I didn’t.

Next up, a pair of kitsch crackers from Mae West and Kay Martin. Ms West’s contribution to bad music is well documented, with a clutch of awful albums, featuring dreadful cover versions of rock and roll standards such as Twist and Shout and her own feeble attempts at composition, never better exemplified than in the horror that is Mr Criswell Predicts, her ‘tribute’ to TV psychic, Ed Wood alumnus and all round crackpot Jeron Criswell King. Here Mae performs Santa Come Up And See Me, from her 1967 album Wild Christmas, recorded when the old gal was nearing 75. Kay Martin was a model, nightclub entertainer and party album singer, who later in life became a hotelier, running the Kay Martin Lodge in Reno, Nevada. Born in Bakersfield, California she released several albums, the most popular being her 1962 release I Know What He Wants For Christmas... But I Don't Know How To Wrap It! From which this cut, Come On Santa, Let’s Have a Ball, comes from.

Finally today we have Christmas is For the Family by the Happy Crickets from their album Christmas With the Happy Crickets. Undated, but probably originally released around 1960 – ‘they’ released a 45 (a cover of the Chipmunks’ hit the Christmas Song in 1958) - Ross describes this as ‘probably the worst attempt at cashing in on the singing animal phenomenon. The singing is horrible, even when sped up, and the arrangements sound like they were slapped together by a committee of drunks’.  

Thanks again Ross for all of your contributions over the years, and especially for ruining everyone’s Christmas with these horrors. I’ll be back next week with something a little less Christmassy.


1 comment:

  1. 12/21/12
    The Happy Crickets album was issued in 1960. Grand Prix Records was a U.S. low budget label run by U. S. Pickwick Records, perhaps the best known of the cheap 99 cent record companies at the time. All Pickwick Records did with this release was cash in on Ross Bagdasarian, alias David Seville and his Alvin & the Chipmunks popularity, just like they did with hundreds of other offerings. Pickwick Records lasted from the mid-1950's (1955, I'm predicting, with a line of budget albums on their Design imprint),and concluding in 1979 with many releases in co-operation from major record labels (such as RCA, Capitol, Mercury, MCA, and Motown Records, before closing their business in America. In Canada, however, the Pickwick name continued issuing records and tapes until around 1990, all with budget-concerned prices (usually $1.99-2.99 in Canadian Dollars.)The true identities of the Happy Crickets is unclear, but Ross Bagdasadrian managed to sue the Pickwick Label for infringing on his "Chipmunks" name. This did not stop other record labels from cashing in on the Chipmunk's name recognition (Anyone for The Nutty Squirrels,or Shirley, Squirrley, & Melvin? These cash-ins continued until the 1980's, even long after Bagdasadrian's death in 1972.)


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