Santa Claus Is Canadian (1981)


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Back in the 1980’s, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation through the Ontario Lottery Corporation (OLC, now Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, OLG).

The first album released was Santa Claus Is Canadian: A Taste of Christmas In Canada in 1981 by Music Writer’s Orchestra and pressed by Quality Records. Apparently if you bought the $20 gift pack, you were given a LP, and apparently 200,000 copies were given away and the album went Platinum here in Canada (even though it was only available in the province of Ontario, but Ontario makes up nearly 40% of Canada’s overall population ! Of course now this album is always popping up at thrift stores, pawn shops and garage sales. I’ve never seen or heard of issues on cassette, and someone did an online blog post about it and got a comment from the Executive Producer of the album in 2019, Tom Fleming, saying that the original masters and wax masters still exist, but because of different issues, ranging from getting OLG’s permission to financing the transfers and paying the artists through SOCAN, there has been no digital release at all (although a few people have upload files from their own LP copies).

Now then the music on this LP is all Canadian. There are a few instances where public domain music is borrowed, such as in the first track, the instrumental Fanfare For Christmas seems to have a few bars from Joy To The World incorporated into its melody. I also like how the trumpet kind of has that 80’s/early-90’s mix to it where it’s upfront but not upfront at the same time and seems to float above the rest of the orchestration. Plus I think the trumpeter was using a mute, which from what I’ve heard has sort of fallen out of use over the past 30 years.

Christmas Pictures & Old-Fashioned Christmas are great as well. OFC kind of reminds me of Richard Carpenter’s song, but aside from similar titles, the songs are very different, and the MWO version is a duet. And if you want to do a samba at Christmas, we’ll the last track of side 1 is a Christmas Samba.

Side 2 opens with Christmas Is For Children, a very fun upbeat song. In 1982 the second OLC album (which also still has its masters available as of 2019) would use this title for both the album title and a completely different song.

Christmas Is Here sounds like it could be part of a cantata or a church play. Then the other tracks like Images of Christmas, Christmas Time is Coming, Home For Christmas, Christmas Toast & Country Christmas are good as well.

Also the album cover is really Canadian with Santa’s white gloved hand grabbing a glass of milk while a couple of maple cookies (including one that’s half-eaten with crumbs on the table top) are nearby.

This is an LP that I play every year!
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