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Christmas Music Guru
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  • Register:09/07/2005 11:04:22

Date Posted:11/24/2010 06:05:36Copy HTML


  1959 original release on RCA                                1962 re-release on Camden 

After recording only five albums for RCA Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, choral director Ralph Hunter decided to leave the label and return to his first love of teaching. Shortly thereafter, because of a marketing decision by RCA, his wonderful 1959 Christmas album, Christmas Surprises, was repackaged and re-released on RCA's budget Camden label in 1962 with the new title, The Living Voices Sing Christmas Music. As a result, both Mr. Hunter and his original LP release are little remembered today -- a true victim of circumstance.

Incidentally, the repackaged LP became the first in the classic series of Living Voices Christmas albums that were issued on the RCA Camden label. Regarding those later LP releases, one was arranged and conducted by Anita Kerr, two by Johnny Douglas, and all were produced by the legendary RCA Records producer, and my good friend, Ethel Gabriel.


In this In The Spotlight tribute, I will out of respect recognize both the original RCA LP, as well as its Camden successor (since, as a result of being in print for many more years than its original predecessor, it has gone on to become much more widely known).


By the way, this LP, in either incarnation, has unfortunately never been released on CD before. It is yet another great classic Christmas album that today is sadly forgotten. I was very proud to have provided Louise Hunter (Mr. Hunter’s widow with whom I am acquainted) copies of this LP on CD-R for her and her two sons, Rich and Chris. In fact, it was Chris Hunter who told me that the train sound which is heard on the song "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" was actually from a toy train that belonged to him and his brother Rich.


The first song that I chose to spotlight from this fine LP is the one that has always been my own personal favorite on the album, "Latin Lullaby" (aka "Canción de Cuna"). Last year, when I added a fourth hour to the Yule Log broadcast (click here), this song was on my short list of the selections that I had under consideration. I couldn’t fit it into the program, but I present it here for you now. It’s a lovely and unique song that can only be described as sweet, sentimental, and wistful. I hope you enjoy it:

 Click Here ~ "Latin Lullaby"

My second selection from the LP for this tribute is the group’s beautifully haunting rendition of "White Christmas," accentuated perfectly by that equally beautiful high falsetto:

 Click Here ~ "White Christmas"

Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri Owner/Webmaster | The Yule
anthonyv Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
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  • Register:10/30/2005 12:29:54

Re:The Ralph Hunter Choir (The Living Voices): Latin Lullaby

Date Posted:11/24/2010 08:17:55Copy HTML

I really like the artwork on both albums but especially the original '59 cover! I know that it  sounds odd, but I always thought a large part of the appeal on so many great classic vinyl Christmas albums had to do with what the covers looked like.

log_fan Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #2
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  • Register:12/26/2006 08:26:49

Re:The Ralph Hunter Choir (The Living Voices): Latin Lullaby

Date Posted:11/24/2010 06:21:26Copy HTML

Artwork was a big part of those classic Christmas albums!  The original cover (1954) of Percy Faith's Music of Christmas, showing a father dressed as Santa cradling his sleeping daughter.  Perry Como's likeness in an ornament hung on a Christmas tree on the 1956 RCA release of Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music.  Johnny Mathis in skiing attire on the classic 1958 album Merry Christmas.  Just a few examples of Christmas album cover art that hinted to the buyer of the musical treasures within the grooves.

When Music of Christmas was re-recorded and re-released in stereo in 1959, Columbia changed the artwork.  The 1959 cover showed a Christmas tree with a poinsettia plant and a lit candle.  Today that cover might create controversy since some would say it's a fire hazard!

Personally, I much preferred the original cover of Music of Christmas.  Even in 1959, Columbia probably felt that with the re-recording, the artwork should be updated as well.  Just MHO.

When London re-released and re-recorded Mantovani Christmas Carols in stereo in 1958, the artwork was much the same as the original 1953 release.  What was the thinking at London?
johnnyelectron Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #3
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  • Register:11/17/2008 07:33:50

Re:The Ralph Hunter Choir (The Living Voices): Latin Lullaby

Date Posted:12/03/2010 05:46:43Copy HTML

I still have my 'pipe dream' of the ultimate remastered Percy Faith total Christmas collection.  It would include all three of the stereo LP's - remastered, plus the two singles that were on regular LP's that could b considered Christmas songs, and also include the 1954 mono with original cover, also remastered.  It would include two booklets for Music of Christmas Volume 2 and/or Hallelujah - so you had your choice of CD cover that would resemble your LP. 
Guess I gotta win the lottery for that one.

Other Columbia artists that I would issue huge 3-4 CD remastered packages would include the Christmas works of The Ray Conniff Singers (1959, 1962, and 1965 LP's plus the 1999 recording recorded in L.A. and issued only in Brazil !  Same for Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams.

Side note: as long as I've bought LP's, this is the first year EVER that I didn't see (at BestBuy or Target) CD's from the Ray Conniff Singers, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams or Perry Como!  What's this music world coming too?
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