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Date Posted:12/25/2017 05:03:26Copy HTML

Although it isn't on the Top 50 Christmas Albums of all time, I have a personal favorite that one hardly hears.  It is The Harry Simeone Chorale's 1963 release of "O Bambino".  The album also contained a new recording of "The Little Drummer Boy".  The original Little Drummer Boy was released on 20th Century Fox records in 1958.  The O Bambino album was released on Kapp Records.

O Bambino was one of my grandmother's favorite Christmas carols from her native Italy.  My mother loved that song growing up as well.  My mother purchased the Harry Simeone Chorale O Bambino album in 1965.  I always liked that album.  Apparently it's not available on CD.  Amazon offers it on vinyl only.

Any chance we might see this long lost treasure released on CD?

Merry Christmas to all!
Motown Mike Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/27/2017 06:04:55Copy HTML

MCA Special Products released this one on CD in 1995 as The Little Drummer Boy. It’s OOP now but used copies can be found on Amazon under that title.
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/27/2017 09:17:03Copy HTML





Frank,

Harry Simeone's Christmas album entitled O Bambino/The Little Drummer was released by Kapp Records in 1965, not 1963 as you had mentioned in the first paragraph of your post. This album resides in the 2nd Tier of my
Top 500, coming in at #190.

The original version of Harry Simeone's rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" song was released as a 45-rpm single in 1958, and then on the full-length LP Sing We Now Of Christmas in 1959. By the way, the record label for this album was actually 20th Fox, without the word "Century" in the middle. That's how 20th Century-Fox did their record label back then.

But going back to the 1965
O Bambino/The Little Drummer LP, as Mike said in his previous post, it was indeed released on CD. However, only in an abridged form: the last song on the album, "Sing Of A Merry Christmas," was cut. Something Universal Music is notorious for.

And no, currently there are no plans to release any of Harry Simeone's Christmas albums on CD, but perhaps in the future.


Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/28/2017 05:02:21Copy HTML

Thanks for the update, Chip. Yes, I’d forgotten they’d lopped a song off for that CD.
Unfortunately, doing Harry Simeone reissues means having to deal with Universal Music, since no less than three of their major Christmas albums were originally released on labels affiliated with them: 

Sing We Now of Christmas (20th Fox, 1959) 
The Wonderful Songs of Christmas (Mercury, 1963)
O Bambino/The Little Drummer Boy (Kapp, 1965)

Only the first of these has been reissued on CD in its entirety, albeit with a different title (The Little Drummer Boy, natch) and different cover art. The Mercury album hasn’t made it to CD at all. 

Meanwhile, I’m curious as to the current status of Simeone’s fourth (and, as Chip has stated many times, best) seasonal LP, It’s Christmas Once Again, released on the independent Omnisound label in 1973. Who even owns those recordings now? Are the master tapes still extant?
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/29/2017 07:15:36Copy HTML


Mike,

The other thing that was different about the CD reissue of Harry Simeone's O Bambino/The Little Driummer Boy LP was that the 9th and 10th songs were reversed.

As for Mr. Simeone's fourth and, yes indeed, best overall Christmas album, It's Christmas Once Again, it's a mystery. If I could ever find out what became of the masters, I'd try to get it released. I personally know Mr. Simeone's daughter, Molly, and she never knew either. I haven't talked with her in a while; so before I wrote this post, I gave her a call to catch up and revisit this subject. She's going to try and reach out to an old agent of her father's that she thinks is still alive and see what she can find out. It'd be nice to give this album the recognition that it deserves.

Ironically, the two best Christmas albums that Mr. Simeone released were the two that did not include the hit song "The Little Drummer Boy." That's the reason why they are the most rare and least known about. The record companies have treated them like second-class sisters because they don't have the song ("The Little Drummer Boy") that they feel is needed to sell the release. By the way, that other Christmas album that is the second-best after the 1973 Omnisound Records album
It's Christmas Once Again, is the 1963 Mercury Records Christmas album, The Wonderful Songs Of Christmas.


Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/30/2017 05:36:25Copy HTML

Sorry about that errant release date.  I got it off Wiki.  So that means my mother purchased "O Bambino" the year it was released, 1965.  That's what I thought in the first place!  And yes, I vividly remember the album cover.  I hope the full-length album eventually gets released on CD.

I also had "Sing We Now Of Christmas" not the 1959 single album but as a double album b/w "Merry Christmas Carols" by The Radio City Organ and Chimes which IINM was released in 1961.  Sides 1 and 2 was "Sing We Now Of Christmas".  Sides 3 and 4 was "Merry Christmas Carols".  I do recall the label read "20th Fox". 
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:12/31/2017 08:15:46Copy HTML


Frank:

You're correct: that special double LP package was released in 1961 (catalog #TCF-110-2 for mono; and #TCF-110-2S for stereo).



To all members:

Update: Though I have never been able to locate the original masters, I went ahead and formally proposed to Gordon (Anderson) in Hollywood the release of Harry Simeone's fourth (and best) Christmas album from 1973,
It's Christmas Once Again. Not only has this album never been released on CD, it also had a very limited release on LP back in the 1970s. Therefore, I suggested to Gordon to promote the CD's release as "The lost Harry Simeone Christmas album classic."

Anyway, as long as I can come up with the original masters by spring, we'll be golden.



Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:01/01/2018 06:09:26Copy HTML

That is wonderful news! I hope you are successful in finding the original masters. It is only January 1st yet I am already excited about Real Gone Christmas re-issues for this year!
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:01/02/2018 06:49:51Copy HTML


Hello Chip,

I am very excited at the prospect of "The Harry Simeone Lost Christmas Album" by Real Gone Music for 2018. Hopefully you can tract down those master recordings, but I am sure it will not be an easy task.

Meanwhile, I am still basking in the glory of your iconic releases for this year, particularly that glorious release of Percy Faith's Music Of Christmas Expanded Edition with the maestro himself's brilliant use of counter melody and Mr. Vic Anesini's phenomenal remastering of this masterpiece. I have well over 100 albums that Mr. Anesini has remastered including some deluxe box sets by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Ronnie Milsap and I have got to tell you that his remaster of Music Of Christmas is my favorite one he has ever done.

I know Chip that you and Vic would be the first to acknowledge Percy's favorite recording engineer, Harold "Chappie" Chapman, who did such a fantastic job as the original recording engineer on that magnum opus by Mr. Faith if I am correct. I know this was part of the frustration with that original lousy remaster by Sony in the early eighties was the fact that the original vinyl recording was a sonic splendor to behold as Columbia was known for their great recording facility in New York and their fine recording engineers like Chappie.

A question for you Chip that I have never been able to verify but assumed was true. Did Chappie also engineer that great Merry Christmas album by Johnny Mathis with the magnificent Percy Faith arrangements too? The sound on that album is fantastic, particularly on that great remaster by Vic's associate at Sony Battery, Mike Piacentini for the fantastic Complete Christmas Album Collection that RGM did a few years ago and for Johnny's current The Voice Of Romance box set this year. I read a quote from Mr. Mathis where he said that the 30th Street Studio where he cut that album and many others had a fantastic recording quality and reverb that he could never find anywhere else when he recorded at other studios later in his career.

Again, the fantastic RGM releases that you got out this year including Percy, Fred Waring, Connie Smith, Robert Shaw, Ames Brothers and the Supremes have just made me so excited for the 2018 Christmas releases. Wow, we might get Jim Reeves, Harry Simeone and that great John Klein A Christmas Sound Spectacular album in Living Stereo for the very first time on CD. I am sure you will have a few more gems up your sleeve as well as you always seem to surprise us with something we did not even see coming.

Happy New Year, Chip, and thanks again for all you do to get the greatest music ever recorded back out to us in such splendid and glorious fashion!

Best regards,

Steve
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:01/03/2018 09:22:27Copy HTML


Yes indeed Steve, Percy Faith was a brilliant contrapuntist; and it's his magnificent counter-melodies in his arrangements that gave his Christmas music such an ethereal, celestial and angelic quality to it. So much so, in fact, that it sounds like it was phoned in from God -- or as I said in my CD liner notes, like it was literally piped down from heaven. There was an otherworldly quality to his Christmas music that no other recording artist has ever come close to in duplicating. And this from a man who was Jewish, which in my opinion, made it all the more special, as let's not forget that Christ was Jewish.

As for the great recording engineer Harold "Chappie" Chapman, he and Percy were close friends. He did all of Percy's albums up to 1970, when sadly, he retired. Regarding Johnny Mathis, in 1957, after Columbia A&R chief Mitch Miller asked Percy to help Johnny with his fledgling recording career, Percy acted as a guide and mentor, as well as arranger and conductor on some of Johnny's most important early albums -- including the biggest and greatest album that Johnny ever recorded (Christmas or otherwise): 1958's Merry Christmas. And yes, to answer your question, Chappie was the recording engineer for this legendary album as well. Johnny became very fond of Chappie through Percy, and whenever was possible, was the recording engineer for Johnny's albums as well. And you are correct that all this incredible music magic that Percy, Johnny and other Columbia recording artists created with Chappie was done right here in New York at Columbia's legendary 30th Street Studios, also known as "The Church" because it originally was a Presbyterian church from 1875 until 1948.

By the way, later on, after Percy relocated his home to Encino, Ca, and his recording operations to downtown Los Angeles, Chappie did the same and went with him. And unfortunately for us, they left "The Church" behind. As a result, nothing was ever like the acoustics they had achieved with that spectacular 30th Street Studio.

Oh well, we just have to be very thankful that Percy's first two Christmas albums (his greatest), and Johnny's first Christmas album (his greatest) were recorded here in New York at what in my opinion -- and many others as well -- was the greatest recording studio the world has ever known -- the Columbia 30th Street Studios.



                     Chappie Chapman



Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com
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Re:O Bambino - The Harry Simeone Chorale

Date Posted:01/03/2018 04:58:14Copy HTML


Hello Chip,

Thanks so much for sharing with the board your incredible knowledge and insight into the legendary Percy Faith and his magnificent Music Of Christmas album. My first exposure to Mr. faith's brilliance was with Johnny Mathis's Merry Christmas album, which I still believe without a doubt is the greatest vocal Christmas album with orchestra ever recorded as that is the one my parents worshipped and the one I grew up listening to along with the John Klein album.

The thing that always struck me about Johnny's Merry Christmas album, besides his fantastic voice and vocal range as well as the stellar arrangements of the strings by Percy, was the fact that sonically the album was so incredibly recorded and the sound so pristine. I could never understand why the sound on that album was so unique and rich until I started learning about the importance of recording engineers and particular recording studios like 30th St. in New York.

I learned of course as a huge Elvis fan the importance of certain recording studios, like Studio B in Nashville, and the fact that they had a certain signature sound and great engineers like Bill Porter that made their records really stand out for their sonic beauty. The Tower Recording Studio at Capital Records in Hollywood is another great one with its signature reverb chambers built below the building and designed by Les Paul I believe. Of course as we all know, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra made some of their greatest recordings at that facility.

Percy was such a musical genius as well as a very smart man to know that "Chappie" was a very important element of his great sound. As a huge Roy Orbison fan I have learned that many music historians trace his rather sharp decline in record sells after the middle sixties to his new record contract that left both his producer, the great Fred Foster, and Fred's fantastic engineer, the previously mentioned Bill Porter, out of the recording process. Many experts say that Roy recorded some great songs after this period with even some of the same musicians, but his signature sound with Bill Porter's great engineering and Foster's stellar production was lost.

Best regards,

Steve
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