Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Cavalcade 2013 (Part One)

It's Christmaaaaaaassss!

Well, not quite, but as we rush headlong towards the turkey and tinsel fest it is time to launch this year's Christmas Cavalcade. Once again you're going to get an album's worth of bad Christmassy-themed music over the nest few week and - along with the Sunday reposts of some of the horrors from previous years - by December 22 you'll have enough material to cobble together your own very special bad Christmas compilation.

Today I'm kicking off with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from Don 'Lofty' Estelle's festive album Don Estelle Sings Songs for Christmas. In all honesty it's not that bad: Estelle had a pleasant enough baritone voice and released several albums in a singing career that ran parallel to his acting jobs. It's fine - until the horrid kiddie choir comes in, that is. Then it's time to strangle someone.

The album, first issued in 1979, has been repackaged several times - most recently by Castle as A Don Estelle Christmas - but I picked my original Pickwick Records copy up in a charity shop recently for 25p. Money well spent.

Next up is The Christmas Dolly by Little Betty Ashley and J. W. Thompson. Now I know next to nothing about this particular monstrosity, apart from the fact that it was released as the B-Side to a song called It's Your Turn on Fine Records, catalogue number 1007, but have a good listen to that male singer and tell me that J. W. doesn't sound exactly like Rodd Keith. There is (or perhaps was) a country singer called J. W Thompson, who scored a few hits in the States between 1979 and 1984, but this track sounds to me to have been recorded much earlier than that and he usually sounds quite different from the singer present here. It isn't Rodd, of course, but it's eerily like him.

Next up is a wonderful track from the equally wonderful Ellen Marty. X-Mas Gift comes from her rockinghorse-shit rare album Mixing and Making with Marty, and I'm indebted to the wonderful Dead Wax blog, which originally posted this in January and first alerted me to the amazing Miss Marty. I am so in love with this woman!

Finally a track from the utterly bonkers Major Bill Smith. I'm going to be writing a whole lot more about The Maj in the New Year, but briefly he was a bone fide US Air Force Major who scored a few hits as a producer at the turn of the 60s - Bruce Channel's Hey Baby, Paul and Paula's Hey Paula and the teen death sicko Last Kiss by J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers - had a hand in the career of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and in the early 80s was insisting that Elvis was still alive and that he, The Maj, was his de facto manager. This shocker - Happy Birthday Jesus - is credited to Major Bill Smith and Nancy Nolte, although poor old Nancy doesn't get much of a look in. The actor Nick Nolte has a sister called Nancy, who I assume this ain't. There was a Nancy Nolte who recorded for Todd Records in 1959 and then went on to release the 45 Christmas Night/Christmas Tree in Heaven for Major Bill's Le Cam label the following year. I've not heard that but my suspicion is that this disc uses one of those Nancy Nolte tracks as its backing (it appears to be a version of Silent Night, perhaps that's the same track as Christmas Night?) - which is why she gets a credit here.

See you on Sunday. Enjoy!

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