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BrianBrian
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Date Posted:10/30/2010 04:27:56Copy HTML

Chip -

I have a question about the three Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas albums on your Top 300:  "Pops Christmas Party," "A Christmas Festival," and "Pops Goes Christmas."  It looks like there are a number of songs that repeat from album to album.  Does each album feature all newly recorded material?  Or are some of the actual recordings reused?  The only one I currently own is "Pops Christmas Party," so I have nothing to compare it to.

Thanks!
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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:10/31/2010 03:40:18Copy HTML


Brian,

All three are originally recorded albums: Pops Christmas Party was recorded in 1959 for RCA Records; A Christmas Festival was recorded in 1970 for Polydor Records, and Pops Goes Christmas was recorded in 1972 for RCA Records.

Regarding the latter album, Pops Goes Christmas, there some who have gotten the mistaken impression that it is only a compilation album, but that most certainly is not true. In fact, it was the first (and only) Christmas album in which Arthur Fiedler used a chorus (selections 2, 5, 8, and 14). However, there are indeed a few selections on the LP that were previously released. One of them was The Toy Trumpet, featuring the great Al Hirt. This song had been previously released on the non-holiday album Pops Goes Trumpet in 1964. Then there are a few selections on the album that were previously released and then re-recorded for this 1972 album, including Leroy Anderson's great medley, A Christmas Festival. This classic orchestration was a particular favorite of Mr. Fiedler and he included it on every Christmas album he did; in fact, it always led the way on each album as the very first selection.

By the way, the 1970 Polydor album also included songs that were re-recorded versions of earlier releases -- five, in fact. All five songs having first been recorded and released on 1959's Pop Christmas Party.

This concept of re-recording previously released Christmas material for subsequent albums is nothing new -- not in the least. Among the many other artists who have done it over the years are Andre Kostelanetz, Ronnie Aldrich, David Rose, Lawrence Welk, Chet Atkins, Danny Davis, Floyd Cramer, Roger Williams, Eugene Ormandy, George Melachrino, Billy Vaughn and Liberace.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:10/31/2010 06:13:43Copy HTML

Incidentally, it's important to distinguish A Christmas Festival, the 1970 Polydor album (which is currently available as White Christmas on the Deutsche Grammophon imprint) from A Christmas Festival, the compilation on RCA Gold Seal:

http://www.amazon.com/White-Christmas-Leroy-Anderson/dp/B000001G7R/ref=mb_oe_a

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Festival-Boston-Pops/dp/B000003EP8/ref=ntt_mus_ep_dpp_1

Chip, do you happen to know if the 1972 recording of "A Christmas Festival" has ever made it onto CD? I'm pretty sure all the RCA/BMG compilations I've come across use the 1959 version.

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:11/01/2010 02:24:23Copy HTML


Not that I know of, Mike. But it's no biggie since the 1959 and 1972 versions are very similar. It's the 1970 version that I have a problem with; Fiedler's tempo was way too slow. In fact, it runs a full minute longer than both the 1959 and 1972 versions.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:11/10/2010 06:00:57Copy HTML

Thanks for the info Chip!

I'm surprised "Pops Goes Christmas" has never made it to CD.  It seems like in general, RCA was very generous in the number of Arthur Fiedler titles they made available on CD back in the 80s and 90s.
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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:11/17/2010 03:46:56Copy HTML

The Pops Christmas Party album from 1959 has a stirring rendition of A Christmas Festival.  I play it when I light my Christmas tree for the first time each year.
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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:02/27/2011 07:57:15Copy HTML

On YouTube I recently stumbled upon a recording of "Sleigh Ride" that's credited to Arthur Fiedler, but which I'm completely unfamiliar with. It's in stereo, with heavy reverb, definitely not the 1959 or 1970 recording. Is it possible this is the version from the [i]Pops Goes Christmas[/i] LP?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WazEVTM51ZI

Of course, it's entirely possible that this is a recording by someone else entirely, and credited to Fiedler in error.  That's not an uncommon occurance on YouTube.

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:02/28/2011 07:00:26Copy HTML


It's definitely not the version on the 1959, 1970 or 1972 Arthur Fiedler/Boston Pops LPs.

It sounds more like the later version that John Williams did with the Boston Pops.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:02/28/2011 11:46:36Copy HTML

Hey, Chip...

It's been a while since your last "In the Spotlight" entry.  If you happen to have a copy of [i]Pops Goes Christmas[/i] handy, how about posting that album's version of "Sleigh Ride" (or "A Christmas Festival", or both) there, so we can compare them with the more common 1959 and 1970 recordings?

Just a suggestion.

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:03/01/2011 02:10:26Copy HTML


Thanks for the suggestion Mike, but in my In The Spotlight series, the artists/songs that I choose to feature basically have to meet one of two criteria: they are either ones that are among the greats that have been largely forgotten today (such as previously spotlighted artists Stanley Black, Bert Kaempfert, Al Hirt, Ferrante & Teicher, Paul Mauriat, Mitch Miller, Jim Reeves, Kate Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Kitty Wells, The McGuire Sisters, The Ralph Hunter Choir, Mike Douglas and Vic Damone); or they are ones that are among the Super-Greats (such as previously spotlighted legends Percy Faith, Mantovani, Fred Waring, Ray Conniff and Johnny Mathis). Percy Faith, of course, was honored with a category dedicated entirely to him, and the spotlight tribute to him is the leadoff thread: Percy Faith: The Great Master and Maestro.

As for Arthur Fiedler, he is definitely one of the greats; however, his music -- especially his 1959 version of Sleigh Ride -- is widely known today and gets a lot of airplay. It is definitely the definitive version of the song, even better, I must say, than the version conducted by the song's composer, Leroy Anderson. Ironically though, Mr. Anderson never included the song on either one of his two Christmas albums. Another irony is that even though Arthur Fiedler had the definitive version of Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson's overall albums rank higher in my Top 300: #17 & #28 for Anderson's two Christmas albums; and #59, #60 and #61 for Fiedler's three Christmas albums.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:03/01/2011 05:14:36Copy HTML

Chip,

Forgive this being a bit off topic, but would Frank DeVol count as a forgotten great worthy of being In the Spotlight?

Also, any idea as to why Mr. Anderson never put Sleigh Ride on either of his Christmas albums?

-=Perry
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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:03/01/2011 09:50:12Copy HTML


Most definitely, Perry; Frank Devol is another one of the great forgotten artists most worthy of an In The Spotlight tribute. Sadly, there are just so many.

And to answer your question about why Leroy Anderson never included his composition Sleigh Ride on either one of his two Christmas albums; he actually
wrote the song in the middle of a sweltering summer heat wave never intending it to be a Christmas song, but rather just a winter-themed song. He never imagined that someday it would eventually become the Christmas season classic and standard that it is today.

Sleigh Ride was one of the many pieces that Mr. Anderson wrote when he was employed with the Boston Pops organization in the 1940s as a composer, arranger and guest conductor. Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra were the first perform and record many of his original compositions during this time, including Sleigh Ride. The song was released in 1949 as a 45-rpm single by RCA Records (catalog #49-0515). It was a hit on the Billboard charts, reaching a maximum position of #24 on December 24, 1949. Then, in 1959, Fiedler and the Pops re-recorded the song in stereo for their 1959 LP, Pops Christmas Party. It is this 1959 version that receives the most air play and is universally accepted as the definitive version of this song.

As for Leroy Anderson, he struck out on his own in 1950 and signed a 10-year contract with Decca Records. That same year he recorded his own version of Sleigh Ride. It, too, was released as a 45-rpm single (catalog #9-16000). For his later 1955 and 1959 Decca Christmas LPs, he chose to record a program of sacred and traditional carols only -- no cotemporary Christmas songs, which is why Sleigh Ride was not included. In 2004, when Universal Music released his 1959 Christmas LP on CD, they added both his and Arthur Fiedler's version of Sleigh Ride to the disc as bonus tracks.



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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:03/01/2011 05:27:04Copy HTML

To confuse matters even further, Mr. Anderson did his *own* stereo remake of "Sleigh Ride" in '59...but, as Chip points out, not on his Christmas album from that year.

It first appeared instead on the LP [i]Leroy Anderson Conducts Leroy Anderson[/i] (Decca DL-78865), and can be found on the 2-CD MCA compilation [i]The Leroy Anderson Collection[/i]. (Strangely, it *wasn't* included in the [i]Leroy Anderson Christmas[/i] CD, which is instead bookended by the 1970 Fiedler and 1950 Anderson recordings of the tune.) 

Somebody posted Anderson's stereo version to YouTube here. It ain't bad, though I second Chip's opinion that the Fiedler/BPO recording from that year is *the* definitive instrumental recording of the tune. (Johnny Mathis, of course, made the definitive vocal recording.)
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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:03/02/2011 03:30:34Copy HTML


I was extremely reticent to mention that later stereo re-recording because of the very confusion that you mentioned it might cause; but now that you have brought it up, I will address it.

Mr. Anderson did indeed re-record Sleigh Ride in stereo. The recording session took place at the Pythian Temple in New York City on May 26, 1959, just two days before he began re-recording his 1955 Christmas album in stereo. But again, let me stress that there was never any intention of including the song on the new 1959 Christmas LP. The plan from the beginning was to include it on a new LP of Mr. Anderson conducting his own works. That LP, Leroy Anderson Conducts Leroy Anderson (catalog # DL-8865 for mono and #DL-78865 for stereo), was released in 1959 -- the same year as the re-recorded Christmas LP.

As for the reason why UMG (Universal Music Group) used the 1950 mono recording of Mr. Anderson's Sleigh Ride as a bonus track on the 2004 CD A Leroy Anderson Christmas instead of the 1959 stereo recording, well, that is a story in and of itself. It was told to me by Mr. Anderson's son Kurt, who is a friend of mine. Here's the story
:

Joseph Szurly (the executive producer for the 2004 reissue project) felt that Leroy Anderson's name wasn't strong enough to carry (sell) the new CD, so he chose to use Arthur Fiedler's 1970 version of Sleigh Ride as the opening number on the disc. He felt that Fiedler's presence on the CD would guarantee more sales. However, Kurt insisted that he also include his father's own version of the song as well. And Szurly only agreed after Kurt suggested using his father's 1950 mono version, instead of his later 1959 stereo version. The reason why Szurly didn't want to use Anderson's stereo version is that he didn't want it to compete with Fiedler's stereo version on the CD.

That, my friend, is the kind of mentality that you're dealing with at UMG.

As you probably know, I also know Mr. Anderson's wife Eleanor as well, and she told me that for several years now they have been trying to get UMG to upgrade that totally drab cover on the CD, The Leroy Anderson Collection. So far UMG has only made promises, but as of yet, they have taken no action (typical of UMG). As I have lamented many times in the past on this message board, UMG is the most difficult of the "big four" record companies to deal with. In fact, quite frankly, they are just a big pain in the you know what.

And yes Mike, I fully agree that Johnny Mathis (with Percy Faith who arranged and conducted) did indeed record the definitive vocal version of Sleigh Ride. The lyrics for Sleigh Ride were written in 1950, but not by Mr. Anderson, but rather by Mitchell Parrish, who among many other things, also wrote the lyrics to Hoagy Carmichael's legendary classic, Stardust.

By the way, I just spoke with Kurt the other day, and both he and his mother, who is now 93, are doing just fine.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:06/20/2013 10:26:42Copy HTML

Time to pester you again, Chip. Sorry!
Linked below is the Amazon page for a CD collection called Leroy Anderson's Greatest Hits. Included on the page are MP3 sound samples of all the tracks that you can click on and listen to. Track #3 is given as "Sleigh Ride (Reader's Digest Mastered)". 

Listening to it, it's definitely not the 1959 or 1970 version, and it also has an odd panning effect in the stereo spread (with the sleigh bells and clip-clops of the "horses' hooves" going from left to right and back again) that's not on either of the other versions. I'm wondering if I haven't finally discovered the 1972 version from Pops Goes Christmas?

Hoping you can listen and confirm for me one way or the other. Thanks! 

Here's the link:

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:06/21/2013 08:24:22Copy HTML


Yes Mike, it is the 1972 RCA version from the Pops Goes Christmas LP. The giveaway is that it is slightly more up-tempo than the 1959 RCA version from the Pops Christmas Party LP.

Except for the slight difference in tempo, the 1959 and 1972 versions are almost identical. The version that Fiedler recorded in 1970 for Polydor Records for the A Christmas Festival LP had a noticeably different sound.



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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/12/2022 08:17:39Copy HTML

Reading through this old thread I found myself confused about one point: Is "The Toy Trumpet" that's on the 1972 Pops Goes Christmas album the exact same recording that was on the 1964 "Pops" Goes the Trumpet (Holiday for Brass) album? Or did they re-record it?

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/12/2022 02:21:19Copy HTML


John,

You probably just missed it, but I addressed that in the second paragraph on my first post on the thread. I'll post the pertinent excerpt below:

Regarding the latter album, Pops Goes Christmas, there some who have gotten the mistaken impression that it is only a compilation album, but that most certainly is not true. In fact, it was the first (and only) Christmas album in which Arthur Fiedler used a chorus (selections 2, 5, 8, and 14). However, there are indeed a few selections on the LP that were previously released. One of them was The Toy Trumpet, featuring the great Al Hirt. This song had been previously released on the non-holiday album Pops Goes Trumpet in 1964.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/12/2022 06:45:41Copy HTML

So there were some other songs besides "The Toy Trumpet" that were re-used (as opposed to re-recorded) as well?

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/13/2022 05:06:37Copy HTML


That is correct.


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/19/2022 06:32:54Copy HTML

What were the other previously released songs?

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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/19/2022 10:01:48Copy HTML


There are several, but among them are "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" and "Winter Wonderland."


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Re:Arthur Fiedler / Boston Pops Christmas Recordings

Date Posted:09/22/2022 06:03:01Copy HTML

Thanks, Chip. That's good to know. Man, do I wish somebody would give Pops Goes Christmas a proper CD release.

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