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🎄 Holidays! Annual holiday listens: Herb's Christmas Album(s)

Mike Blakesley

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I am currently spinning the TJB Christmas Album.

I have always wondered if this album was recorded at the same bunch of sessions that produced the Warm album, considering that the choir that's all over the Christmas record seems to show up (buried in the mix) on "The Sea is My Soil" and maybe some of those folks joined in on "Zazueira" too, who knows? Also some of the tracks from both albums have orchestrations too. And of course they were released relatively close together.

Right ahead of the TJB album, I played Herb's newer "A Christmas Wish." It's enjoyable top to bottom too, although it might have benefited from being maybe one or two tracks shorter. But it's really one of those records that puts you in the Christmas mood. The first half of the album especially. I've always been a big fan of medleys and I love the medleys here. I wish he'd done more of those. Maybe for the next one! :)

I will have to say that I really do like the old album better than the new one (because you really can't replace the TJB) but the newer one is one of the few Christmas albums to come out in the past 20 years that I'll ever play annually. I don't really even spin Mannheim Steamroller much anymore -- most of that music, with its synths and electro-drums, is just too dated-sounding for me these days. That's one thing about Herb's music -- it's timeless, no matter when it was recorded. You can listen to that first Christmas LP and nobody would ever guess it was from the '60s.
 

Mike Blakesley

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In other semi-unrelated news, Amazon Music is showing a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass album called "Christmas Things." I figured it was just going to be a re-titled version of the Christmas Album, but no..... it was TJB Volume 2, but in a different running order. (The lead-off track being "Surfin' Senorita".... I dunno, maybe surfing in December is a Mexican Christmas tradition...?)
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
In other semi-unrelated news, Amazon Music is showing a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass album called "Christmas Things." I figured it was just going to be a re-titled version of the Christmas Album, but no..... it was TJB Volume 2, but in a different running order. (The lead-off track being "Surfin' Senorita".... I dunno, maybe surfing in December is a Mexican Christmas tradition...?)
I think that Christmas things release is sadly "ANOTHER BOOTLEG FRAUD" I checked it out myself And it was not on HAP the fact someone would have the Umittigated Gall to Call it a Christmas album with "NO CHRISTMAS MUSIC WHATSOEVER" plus Bootleg an album that is very much Readily Available such as TJB volume 2 are Both Blatantly Deceptive and So Obvious as we have Discussed in previous threads these Bootlegs are ever plentiful BUYER BEWARE.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
I am currently spinning the TJB Christmas Album.

I have always wondered if this album was recorded at the same bunch of sessions that produced the Warm album, considering that the choir that's all over the Christmas record seems to show up (buried in the mix) on "The Sea is My Soil" and maybe some of those folks joined in on "Zazueira" too, who knows? Also some of the tracks from both albums have orchestrations too. And of course they were released relatively close together.

Mike:

I don't think so. My understanding is that the TJB Christmas Album and the videos supporting it were produced in the summer of 1968---a couple of months after The Beat of the Brass TV special and album.

If I remember correctly (and I'm pretty sure I learned it here), Warm was recorded after Herb's escape to Brazil in early '69, when he began to question the whole thing, and was at least partially inspired by the trip (The Sea Is My Soil, Zazueira). A track or two (To Wait For Love, maybe Without Her) might have been from the Christmas Album sessions, but that'd have been it. The bulk of Warm was probably recorded in March or April of '69. The LP was released in June.

Which prompts a question: If The Monkees (and a lot of other artists) have sessionographies, where you can tell the exact day they dubbed in a tambourine, why doesn't Herb?
 
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DAN BOLTON

Well-Known Member
Well, it's got that great festive track of "The Green Leaves Of Summer"! :D
Don't forget the first few bars of "America"...


I always thought that the bulk of The Christmas Album was probably recorded sometime in 1966, with the vocal tracks recorded at about the same time as "This Guy's In Love With You". To my ears, most of the arrangements on the album seem to have the same flavor as the songs from SRO. When I first heard the album, I thought it sounded a bit dated, not at all like Sounds Like or The Beat Of The Brass, but from the heyday of the TJB sound, which was basically 1966.

And, IIRC..."The Continental" from Warm was recorded during the SRO sessions.


Steve Sidoruk would probably have the best knowledge of the recording dates.
 

Mike Blakesley

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I believe it does say in the liner notes to the Shout Factory version of Christmas Album that it was recorded in June '68. Michael's version of the events does make sense because we do know about Herb's trip to Brazil being the inspiration for much of the Warm album.
 

DAN BOLTON

Well-Known Member
I believe it does say in the liner notes to the Shout Factory version of Christmas Album that it was recorded in June '68. Michael's version of the events does make sense because we do know about Herb's trip to Brazil being the inspiration for much of the Warm album.
Could be...I don't have the Shout! Factory CD
 

alpertfan

Well-Known Member
I was going to start a separate thread, but I think I'll include my thoughts here. I first streamed A Christmas Wish on Spotify when it was originally released, and to be brutally honest, didn't like it. Over this past weekend, I decided to give it another shot, and my opinion's changed a bit. I don't much like the renditions of "Santa Baby" and "Merry Christmas, Darling", on the album, just because, as songs, I've never cared for them. Christmas Album is, of course, the better album. I have to say, I prefer the version of "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring" on A Christmas Wish, as opposed to the one on Christmas Album.
 

Harry

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I believe it does say in the liner notes to the Shout Factory version of Christmas Album that it was recorded in June '68. Michael's version of the events does make sense because we do know about Herb's trip to Brazil being the inspiration for much of the Warm album.
This is correct. The liner notes start out with Herb saying:

"It was a Merry Christmas for the Brass and me in June of 1968 when we started recording the Christmas Album to be ready for a December release.
 

Harry

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I got the Tijuana Brass' CHRISTMAS ALBUM (SP-4166) back when it first came out. Those original pressings had the blue-background cover with Herb in his Santa outfit. I played the heck out of that one year after year. Between that and SOMETHING FESTIVE and some older Christmas albums and singles I had around, but Herb's album was always in heavy rotation.

Sometime in the early 80s, I guess the TjB CHRISTMAS ALBUM went out of print, but quickly back in print with a new catalog number (SP-3113), new cover (the white-bordered one with the smaller inset of Herb's photo), and a smaller back photo in black & white of the band members.

As I was buying my first CDs, there was Herb's TjB CHRISTMAS ALBUM in the racks, and it was one of my earliest CD purchases. This 80s version retained the white-border cover and the CD jewel case was one of the early smooth-sided ones. I was delighted to hear the album without the pops and clicks that were inherent in vinyl.

That 80s CD again served well for many years and still sounds just fine. But being the completist collector that I am of all things Alpert, I couldn't resist the next iteration which was 2005's Shout! Factory issue, now restoring the original full-image cover (adding Shout's red border for the Herb Alpert Signature Series). The sonics, lovingly mastered by Bernie Grundman, sounded great - just a hint more bass than the old A&M CD. And like all of the Shout! reissues, came with a booklet with some details about the group and the recordings.

Finally, in the reissue category and among the first to come out on the new Herb Alpert Presents imprint, the album was again remastered as HRB-012 and sounding as good as ever.

A couple of diversions along the way, I picked up an import CD called HERB ALPERT & HIS TIJUANA BRASS AT CHRISTMAS. This was a UK issue on the Universal / Spectrum label back in 2000.

1608570224537.png

Finally, I think my favorite of all of the versions mentioned above is one not commonly available. 1968 was changeover year from albums being issued in both mono and stereo. So by the time of CHRISTMAS ALBUM, A&M had decided not to issue stock mono versions of their albums. BUt they continued to mix and press mono versions for AM radio stations, still stuck in mono. The label realized that in order to sound good on the still important AM radio, those mono records had to punch through the noise floor of the signal.

CHRISTMAS ALBUM got its special mono mix and was released as a promo, white-label version, with a catalog number of LP-166. Sometime in the last decade, I managed to find a copy of this rare treat - a treat because of its little differences from the stereo album we've all heard countless times over the decades.

Right off the bat, "Winter Wonderland" comes up a little different at the key change. The male vocalists do their bah, bah routine as usual, but Herb's overlaid solo comes up missing in the mono version. But the album makes up for it later in "Sleigh Ride" where we get treated to a little extra Herb in the middle. Other little changes include some extra Wechter marimba in "Jingle Bell Rock".

So these days, after 50 years of hearing the album one way, I'm more than likely to grab the mono version for a little variation.

1608570953329.png
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
As I may have mentioned elsewhere my first experience with the TJB Christmas album was the day after Thanksgiving in 1980 when the SP 3113 reissue was in the Store racks and on sale ( the one Harry described except it was out of print from the mid 70s until 1980 as A&M was moving their reissue to the midline series) and as a 13 year old I was one happy Fan Las Mananitas was definitely the first standout ( not knowing it was previously a single only release ) the Christmas song with Herb's vocal was another fave along with Sleigh ride which I heard on the radio several Christmases in a row Leading up to this reissue along with "Let it snow Let it snow etc. And all the others. I eventually Bought the A&M CD version and The shout factory reissue both stellar CDs and since I first heard the album in my old Home area of Southern Idaho I admit it still makes me Homesick longing for the Christmases past.as well as missing Dear family members who are no longer with us. Nevertheless This is Still a Joy and Delight to listen to i like the Christmas wish too but for some reason I'm more drawn to the TJB Christmas album
 

Steve Sidoruk

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Here is some history:

10/25/68 CHRISTMAS ALBUM (A&M SP 4166) released
11/22/68 THE CHRISTMAS SONG b/w MY FAVORITE THINGS (A&M 1001) released
12/01/68 ED SULLIVAN SHOW (CBS TV) appearance - above two titles pre-recorded by Herb & TJB, as musicians striking in New York City at the time
12/16/68 CHRISTMAS ALBUM awarded GOLD ALBUM

I don't have a session sheet for these recordings. I also don't have dates for these sessions, supposedly in June 1968.

Hope that you enjoy the following:

BILLBOARD 1968-10-26 HERB CHRISTMAS.jpg
BILLBOARD 10/26/68

BILLBOARD 1968-11-23 HERB CHRISTMAS.jpg
BILLBOARD 11/23/68

BILLBOARD 1968-12-14 HERB XMAS CANADA.jpg
BILLBOARD 12/14/68
 

martin

Well-Known Member
Like Harry, I also have the mono version of the Christmas Album. In fact, until the CD came along it was the only version I had heard since I got hold of it back in 1970. I got it from someone working in Polygram Norway that distributed A & M at the time, and I was trying to get hold of the Christmas Album "off season". I have always loved it, but I must say I also really like "The Christmas Wish" for its excellent arrangements and Herb's great playing. Merry Christmas from snowy white Norway. :)

Martin
 

abstract_fan

Well-Known Member
As I may have mentioned elsewhere my first experience with the TJB Christmas album was the day after Thanksgiving in 1980 when the SP 3113 reissue was in the Store racks and on sale ( the one Harry described except it was out of print from the mid 70s until 1980 as A&M was moving their reissue to the midline series) and as a 13 year old I was one happy Fan Las Mananitas was definitely the first standout ( not knowing it was previously a single only release ) the Christmas song with Herb's vocal was another fave along with Sleigh ride which I heard on the radio several Christmases in a row Leading up to this reissue along with "Let it snow Let it snow etc. And all the others. I eventually Bought the A&M CD version and The shout factory reissue both stellar CDs and since I first heard the album in my old Home area of Southern Idaho I admit it still makes me Homesick longing for the Christmases past.as well as missing Dear family members who are no longer with us. Nevertheless This is Still a Joy and Delight to listen to i like the Christmas wish too but for some reason I'm more drawn to the TJB Christmas album
" Las Mananitas was definitely the first standout"

Agreed.

Baja Marimba Band version - very good

Whipped Cream, B side version - very good

Christmas Album version - perfection
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
Here is some history:

10/25/68 CHRISTMAS ALBUM (A&M SP 4166) released
11/22/68 THE CHRISTMAS SONG b/w MY FAVORITE THINGS (A&M 1001) released
12/01/68 ED SULLIVAN SHOW (CBS TV) appearance - above two titles pre-recorded by Herb & TJB, as musicians striking in New York City at the time
12/16/68 CHRISTMAS ALBUM awarded GOLD ALBUM

I don't have a session sheet for these recordings. I also don't have dates for these sessions, supposedly in June 1968.

Hope that you enjoy the following:

View attachment 6235
BILLBOARD 10/26/68

View attachment 6236
BILLBOARD 11/23/68

View attachment 6237
BILLBOARD 12/14/68
It is interesting to see that "The Christmas Song" was issued as a single with "My Favorite Things" on the flip side.
In this market back in 1968, My Favorite Things got the airplay and Christmas Song was ignored on the radio.
I bought the album when it was in a discount bin at Christmas in 1973 or 1974. It has since been lost in a move or went with a batch to the thrift store.
 

alpertfan

Well-Known Member
On Christmas Album, the stand-out tracks, in my opinion, are "Winter Wonderland", "Las Mananitas" and "Jingle Bell Rock".
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
It is interesting to see that "The Christmas Song" was issued as a single with "My Favorite Things" on the flip side.
In this market back in 1968, My Favorite Things got the airplay and Christmas Song was ignored on the radio.
I bought the album when it was in a discount bin at Christmas in 1973 or 1974. It has since been lost in a move or went with a batch to the thrift store.
In ‘68, they were still hoping for Herb to hit with a vocal again—-this “The Christmas Song” as the A-side. Trouble is, Nat Cole had the definitive version. Flipping it made sense for radio.
 

TjbBmb

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Bell That Couldn’t Jingle probably would have been a better choice for the single than Christmas Song; as much as I can’t stand it...

In my book, Jingle Bells is the real highlight of the album!
 

Michael Hagerty

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Bell That Couldn’t Jingle probably would have been a better choice for the single than Christmas Song; as much as I can’t stand it...
Nah. "This Guy's In Love With You" was lightning in a bottle. There wasn't anything wrong (apart maybe from extreme dynamic range) with "Without Her". If Herb was going to have a second vocal hit, that would have done it. They put out the right record---the disc jockeys and radio stations just needed to straighten A&M out on the A-side. Herb's version helped cement "My Favorite Things" place as a Christmas record.
 

Harry

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"To Wait For Love" was the follow-up vocal to "This Guy's In Love With You". It was a single-only for a long time before WARM placed it on an album, and I heard it a fair amount on the radio at the time, but it only could muster a #51 on Billboard's Hot 100. It had pretty much the same "Bacharach-bounce" of its predecessor, and was probably why it failed - it was too same-y.

"Without Her" failed even more on the main chart, peaking at #63. One has to wonder where "Close To You" would have charted. Was it more gold? Or was Larry Levine right that it was not the right song? We know Herb was right to pass it along to the Carpenters.
 

Rudy

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Personally, "Bell" is the one that I prefer as a favorite from this album, since it's not part of the tired, overused holiday music canon. Maybe if I actually play any Xmas music next year, I'll listen to it. 🤷‍♂️

"This Guy's In Love With You" was lightning in a bottle.
It also had the ultimate promotional piece--the TV special, which is what lit up the phones at A&M asking for a single release of the record. It had a heck of a running start.

Those eyelashes though... 🤣
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
"To Wait For Love" was the follow-up vocal to "This Guy's In Love With You". It was a single-only for a long time before WARM placed it on an album, and I heard it a fair amount on the radio at the time, but it only could muster a #51 on Billboard's Hot 100. It had pretty much the same "Bacharach-bounce" of its predecessor, and was probably why it failed - it was too same-y.

"Without Her" failed even more on the main chart, peaking at #63. One has to wonder where "Close To You" would have charted. Was it more gold? Or was Larry Levine right that it was not the right song? We know Herb was right to pass it along to the Carpenters.

I realized when I wrote my post that "To Wait For Love" was the follow-up. But I never thought that was going to be a hit. Too much like "This Guy" and yet, not nearly enough. "Without Her" (again, apart from the epic dynamic range issues) I think could have---good song, hot (at the time) writer. But 1969 was not Herb's (or A&M's) year.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Personally, "Bell" is the one that I prefer as a favorite from this album, since it's not part of the tired, overused holiday music canon. Maybe if I actually play any Xmas music next year, I'll listen to it. 🤷‍♂️


It also had the ultimate promotional piece--the TV special, which is what lit up the phones at A&M asking for a single release of the record. It had a heck of a running start.

Those eyelashes though... 🤣
I know! When we watched the documentary a few months ago, I was stunned. Live caterpillars glued to her eyelids wouldn't have been worse.
 
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