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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Various Artists - Here Comes Santa Claus [Bear Family Records - 2021]

Here Comes Santa Claus is a twenty-nine track CD compilation, taking in a selection of more swinging-to-easy listening festive songs mainly from between the ’50s and the early ’60s.  With the selection moving between largely inventive/ interesting renditions of classic tunes, and wackier novelty tracks.

The release appears on Germans Bear Family Records, who are known for their well-presented retro music compilations- and Here Comes Santa Claus is no exception. The jewel case presented CD comes with a colourful twenty-four-page inlay booklet- this features a write up about each of the twenty-nine tracks, artists pictures, and retro ‘n’ tacky festive artwork. There is also a coloured vinyl pressing of this release too, which cuts down the tracks to fourteen and a runtime of twenty-nine minutes.

The tracks here date from between the late 1930s and early 1960s, but mostly they originate from the 1950s. The disc kicks off with a festive classic with Bing Crosby & The Andrews sister take on “Here Comes Santa Claus”- this is from 1949 and features a nice blend of swinging and swooning orchestration, bright harp-like plucks, and big-buoyant female chorus. As we move on we come to the more wacky side of the comp, with Molly Bee’s “Willy Claus (Little Son Of Santa Claus)”- which is a jaunting 1952 track, which finds Ms Bee telling a sing-song tale of Santa's young son who fills in one Christmas for his dad. Or there’s the cute/bizarre “The Happy Reindeer” by Dancer, Prancer, & Nervous- which finds the chipmunk like voices of the Singing reindeers joyful singing/ talking over a blend of jiving horns & sleigh bells.

As we get deeper into the comp, we have dual horn swing meets bold jazzy vocalising of Ella Fitzgerald's take on “Sleigh Ride”. There’s the tinkling keys, slow bass line slug, lightly chugging percussion of “Empty Stocking Blues” by Floyd Dixon with John Moore’s Three Blazers. We've got the grooving-to-skipping orchestration, bell chimes, and buoyant piano key runs of Ramsey Lewis Trio’s “The Sound Of Christmas”. There’s the simmer church organ meets warbling-to-soaring vocalising of Mahalia Jackson’s “Silent Night, Holy Night”. With the disc been finished off jiving jazz rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” by The Roy Kral-Jackie Cain Sextet.

Over the discs seventy-nine-minute length, there’s a fair bit of variation in the type of tracks. The covers are largely fairly creative and well done, and the novelty songs are amusing/ quirky- though I’d say we could have done with maybe a few more of these. On the whole, this is a worthy compilation of the ’50s and 60’s sonic festive fare, with a nicely presented and informative booklet that nicely seals the deal.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

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