Hark, which herald angel sings?
November 20, 2007 8:12 PM   Subscribe

My aunt's family has been listening to the same Christmas tape (as in, the same physical tape) repeatedly for about 25 years. The tape was originally made by dubbing from vinyl. I'd like, as a gift, to remaster the whole thing, but I need help identifying all the song versions.

Here are all the songs on the tape. What I need help with is identifying not just the song title (nearly all of them are rather obvious and trivial) - but the specific recording - what artist/band/orchestra/group/whatever. No substitutes - I'm looking for these exact recordings. Extra super duper bonus points for a iTMS link or some other way of actually finding the song in question.
posted by dmd to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
#28 is Burl Ives. I felt so sure I'd recognize more than one, as we had so many old classic Christmas records growing up.
posted by padraigin at 8:46 PM on November 20, 2007


Maybe a bunch of us can pool our knowledge. I only had time to do a few quick clicks but did recognize a few immediately. Will give another listen tomorrow if they aren't all identified by then, although I'm sure they will be. I can rustle up a few of these as MP3s as well if no one else has them.


6 is Jingle Bells by The Ray Conniff Singers

7 is The Christmas Song by Robert Goulet

8 is Here Comes Santa Claus by The Ray Conniff Singers

28 is 12 Days of Christmas by Burl Ives
posted by iconomy at 8:46 PM on November 20, 2007


5 is Gene Autry's version of Rudolf
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:51 PM on November 20, 2007


Damnit iconomy you beat me to it. I was just about to post The Ray Conniff link you posted.
posted by nola at 8:54 PM on November 20, 2007


#19 is very probably Tennessee Ernie Ford
posted by deCadmus at 8:55 PM on November 20, 2007


Is it possible it was all recorded from a single album? Would your aunt know? I live in Florida and the Goodwill stores down here have tons of records, including themes like Christmas from the 50's, 60's and 70's that are compilation recordings from the big names at the time. Robert Goulet, Liberace, Anita Bryant, Burl Ives, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Nat King Cole, Jim Nabors, etc. etc. etc. The cover art is priceless on some of these albums with each artist face appearing as a bulb on a Christmas Tree or something like that.

Anyway, just mentioning it as a possibility that it might have come from a single album which might save you 1000 dead ends on your search. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 8:59 PM on November 20, 2007


#14 likely the Canadian Brass.
posted by deCadmus at 9:09 PM on November 20, 2007


Here is a simple title listing, if anyone wants to listen selectively:

1-4: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
5: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
6: Jingle Bells
7: The Christmas Song
8: Here Comes Santa Claus
9: Let it Snow
10: Jingle Bells
11: White Christmas
12: Sleigh Ride
13: The First Noel
14: O Christmas Tree
15: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
16: Good King Wenceslas
17: Silent Night
18: The First Noel
19: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
20: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
21: O Little Town of Bethlehem
22: Deck the Halls
23: Angels We Have Heard on High
24: Joy to the World
25: Away in a Manger
26: God Give Ye Merry Christmas Tide
27: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
28: 12 Days of Christmas
29-30: 'Twas the Night (repeat/reprise)
posted by miagaille at 9:10 PM on November 20, 2007


5 is Gene Autry singing Rudolph, I believe. Number 7 is definitely Robert Goulet. I agree with the Ray Conniff singers suggestion above.

Still listening...
posted by miss lynnster at 9:13 PM on November 20, 2007


#14 is the version that is played at the beginning of the venerable WPIX-TV Christmas Day Yule Log broadcast. Could well be the Canadian Brass; I haven't been able to find the song list yet on Google.
posted by ROTFL at 9:15 PM on November 20, 2007


Man, I was SOOOO hoping there would be some obscure old jazz/pop vocalist or instrumentalist on there that I could get all excited about naming. But I'm not good with choirs so everything sounded like the Ray Conniff singers to me. Soooo, I'm not going to be much help beyond confirming gene and goulet and burl ives.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:19 PM on November 20, 2007


Well a chunk of the track listings match up to this lp: A Christmas Chorale - Edward Harrington Chorale.

I wonder if there are songs from several records on the tape.

Good luck tracking it down, I am getting all nostalgic and misty eyed now, remembering the Christmas records my grandparents used to play at their house on the hi-fi.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:48 PM on November 20, 2007


FYI, it sounds like the tape might be slowed down a bit, which means the key and tempo might be off if you're doing an exact comparison to downloadable versions. Anyway, here's my best shot...

miss lynnster: "5 is Gene Autry singing Rudolph, I believe.

I agree. Sounds like the version on this album.

Number 7 is definitely Robert Goulet. I agree with the Ray Conniff singers suggestion above.
"

I agree with 6, 7 and 8 too.

14, I think, is the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble off this album.

A lot of the simpler, more traditional choral arrangements (e.g., Track 15) sound like they could be the Robert Shaw Chorale. The thing is, Shaw had a bit of a corner on the Christmas Carol market for a while, and released a number of versions of previously-recorded numbers, so you might have to hunt around to find the exact tracks but IMO it's worth a shot.

In any event, so many of these sound familiar enough that I'm sure some must be either on the wax my Dad drags out around this time or from the WPIX Yule Log. I'll let you know if I find any here at my folks' place, but in the meantime you might want to check out this Yule Log fan page.
posted by Opposite George at 12:00 AM on November 21, 2007


And hey, Chip Arcuri, the fellow behind the Yule Log's audio restoration, seems to be quite the expert on Christmas music. You might try dropping him a line.
posted by Opposite George at 12:07 AM on November 21, 2007


I think 1-4 might be Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
posted by Madamina at 5:05 AM on November 21, 2007


That version of Deck the Halls (22) is fairly distinctive (harpsichord, low voices). I'd focus on that and hope that the source for that might be the same as some of the ones around it.

On the tape, can you tell which songs were recorded in a continuous block (from the same album) vs. singly (i.e. can you here obvious breaks between tracks where someone had to stop the record/tape recorder to switch to the next song?
posted by mikepop at 6:48 AM on November 21, 2007


mikepop: It seems to me that they skipped around, even from the same record. The noise signature sounds different between tracks.
posted by dmd at 6:57 AM on November 21, 2007


Oh, and y'all are helping beyond my wildest dreams! Thanks!
posted by dmd at 6:58 AM on November 21, 2007


Looking for something unrelated, I just stumbled on FaLaLaLaLa.com, a site "dedicated to preserving the memories of Christmas vinyl past." The stuff they're focusing on seems to be right in the ballpark of what's been posted here. Perhaps contact the webmaster?
posted by ROTFL at 9:32 PM on November 23, 2007


Done!
posted by dmd at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Congratulations! :)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:46 PM on December 7, 2007


Yay Intarnets!
posted by Jofus at 3:29 AM on December 8, 2007


Schweet. God bless us, every one.

And mad props to pluckysparrow for nailing a pretty arcane group. How on earth did you (dmd) find those recordings once you had a positive ID?
posted by Opposite George at 8:35 PM on December 10, 2007


Most of them were in iTunes. One I had to email a guy for. The Edward Carrington stuff was only available on LP, which I purchased off eBay and then ripped at 31d1's place.
posted by dmd at 7:47 AM on December 12, 2007


dmd: "Most of them were in iTunes. One I had to email a guy for. The Edward Carrington stuff was only available on LP, which I purchased off eBay and then ripped at 31d1's place."
That, my friend, is dedication.
posted by Opposite George at 6:21 PM on December 13, 2007


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