Headin’ For The Christmas Ball Compilation

Following previous holiday-themed compilations, Bear Family Records have released an album of swing and R&B themed festive tunes.

This year’s collection is packed full of big names and a delightful mixture of Christmas standards and more novel numbers. Having said that, there is less novelty here than some of Bear Family’s other Christmas albums, such as Yulesville, which we reviewed last year.

There is much about Headin’ for the Christmas Ball to like. With many up-tempo swing numbers, it is evocative of holidays gone by. Bringing to mind favourite seasonal movies from generations past, by track number 8 we definitely know what we are in for. Big bands and crooners abound, with names such as The Andrews Sisters, Benny Goodman, and Louis Prima.

A nice touch is including Cary Grant’s Christmas Lullaby, inspired by his young daughter, which illustrates a cozy mood of old-time entertainment. When we are looking for accompaniments to aid the festive mood, we tend towards content from yesteryear to bring that tradition that is synonymous with this time of year. That performance is so tender, around the middle of the track listing, it heartens the listener and makes the following numbers feel all the more Christmassy.

Much here is light yet rich, a blend that offers a balanced feel. Some tracks outstay their welcome slightly. Though there is enough variety to keep the listening experience from getting monotonous. However, overall it feels cohesive, perhaps because there isn’t too much novelty and most of the songs all feel as if they come from a similar mould. I find the first half of the album is perhaps more in the swing mode, then after track 17, we lean a little further towards R&B and other genres’ flavours. On the whole, though, everything works well together.

Sound Quality:

Most tracks have a very warm and velvety sound, with excellent clarity. It sounds as if these recordings have been taken from quality sources. The lush sounding reproduction adds to the Christmas mood created by this collection of material.

A Little Something Extra…

As is usually the case with Bear Family Records releases, this compilation is accompanied by an extensive booklet containing biographical information on each artist and/or track. The quality of the information and images included is as high-quality as we have come to expect from Bear Family. This is a nice companion to the listening experience.

Track Listing:

  1. Georgie Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnel – Christmas Ball.
  2. Louis Prima & His Orchestra – Shake Hands With Santa Claus
  3. Bill Bronson’s Overtones w/. Tommy Ferguson’s Trio – Christmas Is On Its Way
  4. Roy Milton & His Solid Senders – Christmas Time Blues
  5. Jo Stafford – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  6. Knuckles O’Toole & The Brigadiers – Jingle Bells
  7. The Andrews Sisters – Jing-A-Ling, Jing-A-Ling
  8. Benny Goodman & His Orchestra feat. Peggy Lee – Winter Weather
  9. George Auld & His Orchestra feat. Bill Darnel – It Ain’t Snowin’ Outside
  10. Leroy Anderson & His “Pops” Concert Orchestra – Sleigh Ride
  11. Art Mooney & His Orchestra – The Christmas Choo Choo Train
  12. Lawrence Welk’s Little Band Feat. Janet, Brian, Cubby & The Lennon Sisters.
  13. Barry Gordon – Zoomah, The Santa Claus From Mars
  14. Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians with The Glee Club – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  15. Dorothy Collins – Mister Santa (Christmas Version of ‘Mister Sandman’)
  16. Cary Grant – Christmas Lullaby
  17. Mickey Rooney – Susie The Snow Girl
  18. Kay Martin & Her Body Guards – Come On Santa, Let’s Have A Ball
  19. Kay Martin & Her Body Guards – Santa’s Doing The Horizontal Twist
  20. Dinah Washington – Ole! Santa
  21. Ramsey Lewis Trio – Christmas Blues
  22. Dave King & The Keynotes & Roland Shaw Orchestra – Hotta Chocolata
  23. Tina Robin – Winter Wonderland Cha Cha
  24. The Enchanters – Mambo, Santa, Mambo
  25. The Surfers – Here Comes Santa Claus In A Red Canoe
  26. Louis Armstrong – Christmas In New Orleans
  27. Noel Chiboust El Son Orchestre feat. Django Reinhardt – Noel Blues
  28. Jerry Lewis – I’ve Had A Very Merry Christmas
  29. Johnny Otis & His Orchestra feat. Big Jay McNeely – Happy New Year Baby
  30. Ramsey Lewis Trio – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve
  31. Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians – Auld Lang Syne.

Conclusion:

The overall swing vibe of this compilation gives it a lovely old-fashioned Christmas feeling. It creates a very welcome festive mood. Much like another Bear Family Records seasonal release, Christmas on the Range, Headin’ for the Christmas Ball is a worthwhile addition to your holiday experience.

The compilation Headin’ For The Christmas Ball is now available from Bear Family Records.

Headin' For The Christmas Ball

7.5

Rating

7.5/10

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