In the last two years, we have reviewed a few festive themed compilations from Bear Family Records. The various albums including Yulesville, Headin’ For The Christmas Ball and Christmas On The Range were eclectic affairs that served their niche and provided an alternative to the same old Christmas songs that populate speakers each year. Will 2021’s Here Comes Santa Claus bring more festive cheer?
The album begins with the melodic title track, performed by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters; Setting the tone for the compilation perfectly. Crosby also features in a rendition of Mistletoe and Holly with Frank Sinatra. This album is packed with stars of a bygone age, including the aforementioned Sinatra and Crosby, Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Alma Cogan and The Mills Brothers; Each bringing their own flair to festive standards.
It wouldn’t be a Christmas album without featuring some rare novelty numbers, and this one delivers. The big highlight, for this reviewer, was The Happy Reindeer, sung by Dancer, Prancer & Nervous, The Singing Reindeer. There is just something nostalgic about the sound emanating from this recording, along with the very catchy melody.
As with albums of this type, the quality of the recording differs depending on the track. The less obscure recordings are, understandably clear, and sounded great on my old Hi-Fi system. The radio recording of Frank Sinatra singing Jingle Bells, had less clarity but was still audible.
A Little Something Extra…
The accompanying booklet provides some welcome background on each track in turn. There are relevant images included alongside the paragraphs, with attractive vintage Santa Claus artwork on the back cover of the booklet matching the musical content perfectly.
- Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – Here Comes Santa Claus
- Les Baxter & His Orchestra – Santa Claus Party
- Johnny Desmond – It’s A Marshmellow World
- The Fontane Sisters – Nuttin’ For Christmas
- Molly Bee – Willy Claus (Little Son Of Santa Claus)
- Dancer, Prancer & Nervous (The Singing Reindeer) The Happy Reindeer
- Bobby Darin – Christmas Auld Lang Syne
- Les Brown & His Band Of Renown – Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
- Frank Sinatra & Bing Crosby – Mistletoe And Holly
- Rex Griffin – I’m Ready To Reform
- Pearl Bailey – Five Pound Box Of Money
- Frank Sinatra – Jingle Bells
- Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Christmas
- Ella Fitzgerald – Sleigh Ride
- Michael Warlop, Django Reinhardt & Louis Vola – Christmas Swing
- Frank ‘Sugar Chile’ Robinson – Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Floyd Dixon With Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Empty Stocking Blues
- Nat ‘King’ Cole – The Christmas Song
- Peggy Lee – I Like A Sleighride (Jingle Bells)
- The Sispoto Sisters – Willy Claus
- Ramsey Lewis Trio – The Sound Of Christmas
- Les & His Band Of Renown – The Nutcracker Suite
- Peggy Lee – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
- The Lennon Sisters – Winter Wonderland
- Andy Williams – Sleigh Ride
- The Mills Brothers – You Don’t Have To Be A Santa Claus
- Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker – Jingle Bell Rock
- Mahalia Jackson – Silent Night, Holy Night
- The Roy Krai-Jackie Cain Sextet – Auld Lang Syne
Bear Family Records have compiled an album continuing their legacy of Christmas compilations that offer a mix of rare and known recordings. The lesser-known tracks fit right alongside the standards we hear emanating from shop doorways every year.
This compilation delivers something that feels very conventional and encompasses the traditions of yesteryear. These qualities make it a great companion for the festive season when we crave the nostalgic touches of our past.