Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring In The New Year With Star Wars!

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! I hope you are all welcoming 2010 in the best way possible! Here at the World of Wonder, we are bringing in the new year by celebrating Life Day! Here is the soundtrack to the classic (?) Star Wars Holiday Special complete with all of the songs including the great Bea Arthur number and, of course, Carrie Fisher's classic song! Enjoy! We'll see you in 2010 for the start of a new decade and the fifth (can you believe it) year of Dartman's World of Wonder! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Star Wars Holiday Special OST

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Mickey Rooney

In 1979, Mickey Rooney stepped into a recording studio to cut a Christmas album. The album was home produced, available by mail order only, and even included a letter with each copy on Mickey's own stationery (home address included on the letterhead). In addition to classic Christmas fare, it also included a few of Rooney's own compositions such as "Mr. Wha-Da-Ya-Want", "Mickey's New Year", and "The Gift". Throughout the entire album, Mickey alternates between singing, screaming, and some deeply creepy weird kiddie like voices. It's also interesting to note that the songs are extremely short with an average of two minutes per song. Originally released with a cover with vintage Christmas tree ornaments on it, it was re released a few years later with a picture of Mickey in long underwear. For what reason this was done I have no idea. But I do know it is quite entertaining. Here is "Merry Merry Micklemas". Enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Mickey Rooney-Merry Merry Micklemas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas:Which Frosty Is In Front?

One of my favorite Christmas records from my childhood is an album that I could never figure out what the front cover was. It was a Caroleers album by the name of Frosty The Snowman. On one side of the cover was a full sized picture of two children and Frosty. On the other was the title of the album, a song list and a series of pictures showing the adventures of Frosty. I always assumed that the full size picture was the front cover. Since then, I have had various debates with people who have told me otherwise. No matter what the front cover was, the album is still very special to me. Not only does it feature the great Christmas classic tale of the magic hat wearing snowman, but it also has such great songs as "Wait For The Wagon", "Sing A Kris Kringle Jingle", Christmas In Mother Goose Land" and more! Hear for yourself as you ponder which image is the front as you listen to "Frosty The Snowman"

Frosty The Snowman-The Caroleers Singers

Monday, December 21, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Jeannie

I don't remember where I found this album but it gave me quite the exciting time when I digitized it. I set it up, let it go and then came back to edit and clean it up only to think that I had screwed up and had it on the wrong speed. Needless to say, I used a program to slow it down and thought to myself, there's no way that this is the right speed. I had had it right the first time. I guess you can tell that Jeannie sings high. This is a soundtrack to a Christmas special of the same name. I have never seen the special nor could I find any info on it but the music is pretty nice to listen to. The album looks like a home-made job which makes it even more appealing. I share it with you now. Here is "Jeannie Sings Christmas". Enjoy!

Jeannie Conroy Sings Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: The Swinging-est Nutcracker Ever

In 1960, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn arranged their own adaptation of the classic Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. Changing the names of some of the movements to such titles as Toot Toot Tootsie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Flutes), Peanut Brittle Brigade (March), Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy), The Volga Vouty (Russian Trepak), Chinoiserie (Chinese Tea), Dance of the Floreadores (Waltz of the Flowers), and Arabesque Cookie (Arabian Coffee). The suite is was arranged for Ellington's Big Band at the time and since has gone on to be performed by countless others. I was first introduced to this amazing take on the ballet in college. It has since become a staple of holiday listening. If you have never heard it you are in for a treat. I guarantee that! Even if you dislike the original piece, you will find a whole new appreciation for it when you hear Duke's classic take on it. Here it is for you now. Here is Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite. Enjoy!

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Ernest Tubb

I love Ernest Tubb. He is a legend! Everything he sang sounded amazing. He could have sang anything and made it sound great. Which is why his Christmas album is pure awesomeness at it's best. Tubb not only cranks out the classics such as White Christmas, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Blue Christmas but he also rearranges one of his classic hits into a Christmas song with "I'll Be Walking The Floor This Christmas". Here's the mighty Ernest Tubb with his classic 1964 Decca release, "Blue Christmas". Enjoy!

Ernest Tubb-Blue Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Lorne Greene

Back in the early 80s, there was a syndicated radio series entitled, The Spirit of Christmas. It was a bunch of short stories narrated by the late, great, Lorne Greene. It only aired once and was then shelved. The master tapes are long presumed lost but a copy of them was ressurected by a radio jock named Scott Snailham. Thanks to him, we can all share the in the glory of these 30 short episodes. Since he was so kind as to share these items with me, I am paying it forward and sharing them with you. These are truly great. Here is "The Spirit of Christmas with Lorne Greene". Enjoy!

The Spirit of Christmas with Lorne Greene

Here's Lorne's great 1966 Christmas single featuring "Must Be Santa" and "One Solitary Life". I hadn't planned on posting this but when I first posted this, I accidentally put up the wrong link. ANyway, here it is! Enjoy!

Lorne Greene Christmas Single

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Holiday Ballads and Sleigh Ride Songs

Another classic album from "the pile" of records that my dad brought up every year is the Marty Robbins Christmas Album. The cover of this album is what I remember the most. It had a profile of Marty superimposed over a night shot of a city from the air. I don't know why but I always found the cover to be fascinating. I look at it today and wonder what the heck it has to do with Christmas at all. The opening song on the album is "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and to me, this is the ultimate version of this song. See if you think that as well as you take a listen to "Christmas With Marty Robbins". Enjoy!

Christmas With Marty Robbins

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Larry & Mo

One of the coolest theaters that I have ever played is the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA. Over the course of the past few years, I have played all but one of the Fox Theaters in the United States and each one is an amazing work of art. There was a special added treat to the one in Atlanta in that I befriended the amazingly talented organist, Larry Embury. Larry is The Fox Theatre's Organist in Residence and he presides over the thunder-and-whisper majesty of "Mighty Mo." Mighty Mo is the Fox Theatre's crown jewel. This irreplaceable relic of movie theater lore is a masterpiece of organ design, capable of producing sound as delicate as a dainty piccolo to wall-shuddering accompaniment for a battle scene. The organ was custom-made for the Fox Theatre in 1929 for the then astronomical price of $42,000.00 by M. P. Möller Inc. of Hagerstown, Maryland. It's the second
largest theater organ in the world with 42 ranks, four manuals and 376 stop tabs and 3,622 pipes, spread out over
five chambers, ranging in size from a ball point pen to 32 feet tall and big enough around for a man to stand in. In 1963,
Joe Patten, The Fox Theatre's retired technical director collaborated with organist Bob Van Camp and a few members of the American Theatre Organ Society to restore the organ. With financial support from the Fox, over the course of nearly 9 months, Patten spent hundreds of hours painstakingly rewiring the organ with 36,000 feet (nearly seven miles) of new wire, rebuilding the entire organ from the inside out. For all of this work, Joe Patten received no payment. His only request was that he be allowed to take care of the organ until the day he dies. His is currently in his 90s and still takes care of Mighty Mo. As a thank you to Patten, the Fox Theater renovated a back section of the building and turned it into an apartment where Joe resides rent free. He is known as "The Phantom of The Fox". When I was there, I was given the rarest of all opportunities to tour not only Joe's apartment but to actually go inside the organ and see the 100 + instruments and pipes. It was pretty amazing! The reason I tell you all of this is that Larry Embury gave me a CD of him playing Christmas Carols on Mighty Mo as a present. It is entitled, "Christmas At The Fox: Holiday Fun With Larry, Carols and Mo". If you are ever in Atlanta, be sure to stop by the Fox and try to make it to a performance with the organ. Tell Larry the Dartman says Hello! Here is "Christmas At The Fox". Enjoy!

Larry Embury-Christmas At The Fox

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: More Wishbook Memories

One year my grandfather decided to get all of the cousins a tape recorder for Christmas. They were the classic ones pictured here that had the top loading feature and the microphone right next to the buttons. In addition, we each got a cassette tape to play on it as well as blank tapes to make our own recordings. My tape was a Christmas compilation called, "I Like Christmas" that featured classics from Skeeter Davis, Spike Jones and a few others. The blank tapes got quite a lot of use as well. I used to record all of my favorite TV shows by placing the tape recorder right next to the speaker of the TV. This was way before the idea of VCRs even existed so that was the best way to record your shows! I used to make fake variety shows and tape them with me doing my best impressions of the hit stars of the day. The one I remember the most was Paul Lynde. I wish I could find some of those tapes. We also used them to record the birthday parade on the mornings of our birthdays. The local radio station would have this feature every morning and my mother would send in our names for our birthdays. They would play a Sousa march and the DJ would announce the names of the kids celebrating their birthdays. One year, I took a tape of my sister's birthday parade announcement from that particular year and recorded over it with my impression of Ralph Malph from Happy Days. My sister freaked out and I got into some serious trouble for that. I still have no idea how she found out. I mean, who listened to the birthday parade announcements? Obviously she did.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Little Gives Us The Dickens

In 1978, my family had yet to have cable. However, my grandparents had it and with it came the holiest of these new cable channels, HBO. Before MTV, HBO was the best reason to watch TV at my Grandparent's house. Around Christmas of that year, HBO aired a special featuring the impressionist, Rich Little. At the time, Rich Little was huge. Though looked at today as tacky, back then he was a bona-fide star! The special that aired on HBO was Little's version of the Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol". In true fashion, the cast was an ensemble made up of Little doing celebrity impressions. Scrooge was W.C. Fields, Cracthit was Paul Lynde and the Ghosts ranged from Richard Nixon to Humphrey Bogart to Peter Falk to Peter Sellers. Add Jean Stapleton, Groucho Marx, Johnny Carson, Jack Benny, John Wayne, Laurel and Hardy, James Mason, Jimmy Stewart and Truman Capote, and you have, in my humble opinion, a classic! For the next few years, HBO reran the special and it became a staple in my family's holiday viewing. Then it disappeared. I have always remembered it fondly and when I walked into that record store in Santa Monica (see earlier post) and saw the soundtrack from the album, it didn't take me long to spend my money on it. The album is pretty much the audio track from the special. Much like the story records of Star Wars and the like, this features all of the dialogue as well as the music from that HBO classic. It is a Canadian pressing and the cover states that it is the soundtrack from the 1979 CBC special. Obviously, HBO lent the special to Canadian Television a year later. Here is that album. BTW, the original special is finally on DVD. I purchased mine from Amazon and am patiently awaiting it's arrival to relive all of the glory! Here is the soundtrack album to "Rich Little's A Christmas Carol". Enjoy!

Rich Little's A Christmas Carol OST

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas At News Radio

Here's an episode of the great 90s hit, "News Radio." It's rather new in the TV history but to me it is a modern day classic and this particular Christmas episode is one of my favorites! Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: A Byrd In The Hand

One of my utmost favorite albums that were in the stack of Christmas records that my dad brought out every year was an album of Christmas Carols played on solo acoustic guitar. The guitar player was Charlie Byrd. Charlie was most famous for the collaboration he did with Stan Getz on the famous 1962 album Jazz Samba. The recording pushed bossa nova into the mainstream of popular music. In 1967, he released his now infamous Christmas record. The production on the album is amazing and the guitar actually sounds like it is right next to you. The album was released on CD a few years back but I am sharing the original vinyl version with you today. A word of warning: this album has not aged well. While most of the records I inherited from my father are in good to excellent condition, this one is not. However, the pops and crackles add a bit of ambiance to the feel of the record. If you are looking for a pristine sounding version of this album, I suggest you head to Amazon and purchase the CD release. Otherwise, please enjoy this well loved copy of Charlie Byrd's "Christmas Carols For Solo Guitar".

Charlie Byrd-Christmas Carols For Solo Guitar

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With The Man of 1000 Voices

Following yesterday's Jack Benny episode, I thought it only fitting to feature the great Mel Blanc in a post of his own. Here is an episode of Mel's classic radio show from this day in 1946! It's entitled, "Betty's Christmas Present". Enjoy!

Mel Blanc-Betty's Christmas Present

Here are the episodes that followed "Betty's Christmas Present". "Exchanging Gifts", broadcast a week later on December 17, 1946, and "Mel Plays Santa Claus", broadcast on Christmas Eve of 1946. Enjoy!

Mel Blanc-Exchanging Gifts

Mel Blanc-Mel Plays Santa Claus

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Christmas With Jack Benny

Here is a classic episode of The Jack Benny Show in which Jack goes Christmas shopping. It features a running gag that occurred on every Christmas episode of the show between Jack and Mel Blanc. In this particular episode, Mel pulls out all of the stops and breaks up Jack. Watch for it, it's hilarious! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: The Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of Christmas

Back in October, we talked a little bit about Disney's "Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House" LP. It had a story on one side complete with sound effects and on the other side was just the sound effects so that you could make your own story! Disney did the same with a Christmas themed record entitled, "The Sounds of Christmas". It's a pretty cool concept and I don't think any other company has ever released a Christmas record in this vein. Here is that album for you to make wonderful Christmas stories with. If you were to be really creative, you could combine the sound effects of "The Sounds of Christmas" with the ones on "Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of The Haunted House" to create an over-the-top holiday story. If anyone out there takes up the challenge, feel free to send your creations this way and I will gladly share them here on the World of Wonder! Here is "The Sounds of Christmas". Enjoy!

Disney's The Sounds of Christmas

Monday, December 07, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Wishbook Memories

As a child, gearing up for Christmas meant breaking out the latest Sears Wishbook and writing out a 3+ page list of all of the goodies inside that I wanted for Christmas. I then gave it to my Mom who of course sent it to Santa who we all knew used the Sears Wishbook for all of his shopping! Those of you who have been following the blog for a few years know that every Christmas I share some of those great items that made the list and eventually made it under the tree. Today we have the Fisher Price Adventure People! Over the years I received several different playsets with the FPAP. I had the Rescue Truck with the super cool extending ladder for saving people from burning buildings and such. It also came with a cool fold out side that you could load the patients into after having them carried by the EMTs on a stretcher. The best part was the siren button that you could push down over and over and really annoy anyone within earshot with! The Super-Speed Racer was also great. In fact, many a day I would incorporate both the Racer and the Rescue Truck together in one viciously gruesome car crash and rescue scenario. The coolest playset from FPAP was the Sea Explorer Set. It came with a boat, wave rider with water ski tow and water skis and, the best part, a dolphin that squeaked and squirted water! These toys actually floated on water so bath time soon became sea exploration time! The figures floated on water if you bent them a certain way to make them look like they were swimming. It was pretty ingenious if you think about it. I have yet to see a toy come close to that in a while! All of this talk makes me want to go on e-bay and find a sea explorer set for my son!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Spike Wants Leia's Dad

Today's post is a cute little ditty from the great Spike Jones. Though not as popular as his "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth", this holiday single is still a classic to me. Here is Spike and The City Slickers with their ode to the real father father of Princess Leia. Here's "I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas". Enjoy!

Spike Jones-I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: In Any Other Language It's Still Christmas

Following yesterday's Steve and Eydie post is today's Eydie without Steve post! Today we feature Eydie's amazing holiday collaboration with the famed Trio Los Panchos. Eydie gained crossover success in the Latin music market through a series of albums she made in Spanish with them. In 1964, they released a collection of Spanish-language standards called Amor. In 1965, a sequel appeared called More Amor. Her last album with Los Panchos was the 1966 Christmas collection, "Navidad Means Christmas". The album was a giant smash and even made it into the top ten on the Christmas Chart that year (I didn't even know there was a Christmas Chart!) This album is one of the ones from the legendary "pile" that my father would bring out every year. I share it with you now. Here is Eydie Gorme with Trio Los Panchos with "Navidad Means Christmas". Enjoy!

Eydie Gorme & Trios Los Panchos-Navidad Means Christmas

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: There's A Feeling In The Air

If you've followed my Christmas posts from the past, you know that I always talk about the infamous "Christmas Pile" that my dad would bring upstairs every year. It wasn't a very big pile but the records contained in it were what I consider the primo Christmas albums. My dad was a big fan of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Their Christmas album was part of "the pile"and it still sounds great! The arrangements are out of this world and the performances of the classics blasts through the speakers like you are at the Copa. Here is that album. Here is Steve And Eydie with "That Holiday Feeling". Enjoy!

Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme-That Holiday Feeling

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Have A Hip Christmas

A little over two years ago, I was hanging out in Santa Monica and happened into a little hole in the wall record store. They carried the usual small record store fare so I wasn't that impressed. However, when I took a look at their Christmas section, my eyes bugged out of my head. I spent more money than I had originally intended and went home with a great stack of cool Christmas records. One of those records sported a cartoon drawing of a bearded man and was titled, "Harry The Hipster Digs Christmas". When I turned the cover over and read the back, it sealed the deal. The Harry The Hipster in question was none other than Harry Gibson, the original rock and roller. Harry the Hipster was known for his unique, wild singing style, his energetic and unorthodox piano styles, and for his intricate mixture of a hardcore, gutbucket boogie rhythms with ragtime, stride and jazz piano styles. He had several hits in the forties that featured impressive piano playing that would rival the soon-to-be-pioneers of rock such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. His career went into a tailspin in 1947, when his song "Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine" put him on the music industry blacklist. His own drug use led to his decline but in the early 1970s, Harry's songs were revived by Dr. Demento, particularly "Benzadrine" which was included in his 1975 compilation album Dr. Demento's Delights. It gave Harry the boost he needed to start recording again. His first "comeback" album was none other than Harry The Hipster Digs Christmas. It is obviously something Harry recorded at home on the fly. The lyrics go off on tangents and the drummer (when there is a real drummer as opposed to the drum machine) is chasing the rabbit the whole time. There are the traditional Christmas songs done in a complete non traditional form and there's even an original tune, "I Wish My Mother-in-law Don't Visit Us This Christmas". This is a great treasure that I'm sure you will love just as much as I do! Here is "Harry The Hipster Digs Christmas". Enjoy!

Harry The Hipster Digs Christmas

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The 25 Posts of Christmas: Wishing You A Happy Christmas, Boo Boo

Today is December 1, 2009 and the beginning of the annual "25 Posts of Christmas" here at the World of Wonder. We start the festivities off with a Little Golden Record from 1961 featuring none other than that lovable cartoon character, Yogi Bear. This single was put out by Hanna-Barbera on the Little Golden Record label and features the song A Hap-Hap Happy Christmas From Yogi Bear" backed with "Give A Goody For Christmas". Both songs were written by Paul Parnes. The single was released on both 78 and 45. Today's sharity is the original 78. Enjoy!

A Hap-Hap Happy Christmas From Yogi Bear/Give A Goody For Christmas

Here's the complete Golden Book "Yogi Bear: A Christmas Visit" written by S. Quentin Hyatt! Enjoy!

Yogi Bear: A Christmas Visit (Golden Book)
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