Steve RammTop Contributor: Classical Music
TOP 500 REVIEWER
5.0 out of 5 starsA cleverly curated seasonal comp with so much variety, great notes and great price
December 1, 2019
The German-based Bear Family Records label is one of the premier reissue labels in the world and they don’t skimp on quality and completeness in their box sets (with 200-page hardbound books included.) They are not inexpensive and often overlooked. But in recent years they have released some single-CD albums at very affordable prices and yet don’t skimp on the sound quality or the thoroughness of the liner notes.
A year or more abo they started compiling (mostly) seasonally-themed albums. I think the first I remember getting was the summer-related “Banana Splits” volume (which spawned a “Volume 2” this past summer. For Easter they did “Bunny Hop” and Halloween brought “The Shadow Knows”. For Halloween and Thanksgiving it was called “Autumn Leaves” (see my reviews on Amazon. Now it’s Christmas time and they just released this CD: “Yulesville”
Using the 80-minute-plus time that a CD will hold, “Yulesville” contains 33 “holiday treats” recordings from the 40s, 50s and 60s whose titles or lyrics reflect the season when we prepare for winter. Most are from obscure 45 rpm records – sometimes only two are three copies are known to exist.- on small labels as well as a few songs you probably remember – if you are over 60 years old. But I doubt you have any of these in your music library (or could find them if you do) and there are some that I was thrilled I found. The sound is great too!
The female singers include Patti Paige (“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”) and Dinah Washington (“Silent Night”). But you’ll also find Dodie Stevens (“Merry Christmas BaBY” – WHICH IS A VARIATION ON THE CLASSIC “Happy Happy Birthday Baby”), The MCGuire Sisters, The Four Seasons, and Santo & Johnny. Want obscure tracks by arties you know? How about “Comin Down the Chimney” by Little Joey? Don’t know Little Joey? It’s really a pseudonym for Sonny Bono! And in the notes you’ll learn that singer Kerry Adams (“Lonely Christmas”) changed careers and was a well know researcher in cataracts.
You’ll find Dee Dee Ford (without her partner Don Gardner), The Penguins, and Edd “Kookie” Byrnes from his holiday singler. The list goes on.
The jewel box holds a gorgeously-illustrated 24-page booklet with in-depth (really) track notes by Marc Mittelacher.
I mentioned the list price being reasonable. Well, it’s under $12. So you get a lot of value for your money. What I love about this “curated” collection is that after playing the album a few times, I put it away only to bring it out again in nine months when the season rolls around.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.