Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A happy Herb Alpert Christmas to you! Plus bonus Elvis

Actually, it's a happy Herb Alpert Christmas to Mr Robot and myself, as he mentioned Tijuana Brass Christmas tunes the other day (probably in the pub) and I immediately thought DO WANT. Because nothing says 'Christmas' like Herb Alpert's not-actually-Mexican midcentury style, inorite?

I realise at this point you're either thinking, “HOW DID I LIVE WITHOUT A HERB ALPERT CHRISTMAS ALBUM?” or “Well, that's it. Mim's finally cracked.” Doesn't matter which camp you fall in, because I have the CD and I'm happy with it. Like 20s singer Helen Kane, or fish sauce, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass is something you'll start out neutral about at best but will probably hate, and then you'll secretly start to like it even though you still can't work out why, and finally you'll just accept that you love it and the 'why' will just have to remain a mystery and all the people who don't like it don't know what they're missing out on.

I like the Tijuana Brass best when they're doing their upbeat, pah-pah-pah trumpet sort of thing. Some of the tracks on this CD are therefore a bit too smooth for me, all late 60s smooth vocal harmonies and 'oooh-oooh-oooh'. However, 'Winter Wonderland', 'Jingle Bells', and 'Jingle Bell Rock' all contain a satisfying amount of pah-pah-pah, and I actually like the sentimentality of 'The Bell That Couldn't Jingle' – I'm surprised that hasn't become a more popular Christmas song. Mr Robot and I couldn't quite work out why 'My Favourite Things' was included in the tracks (I'd guess because The Sound of Music film was released just a few years earlier), but it segues into a few bars of Bond theme at the end which is both magnificently wrong and magnificently right.

If you can't work out where a Herb Alpert Christmas album might figure in your life, it would make a good CD to have on in the background at a kitschy Christmas party. Make sure there's a cheese and pineapple hedgehog and plenty of Babycham and you'll be good to go, I reckon. Moreover, in its gaudy way it encapsulates the fun of a lot of the festive season, and will prove a decent antidote to the Bah Humbugs.

So to Elvis. There are things in this world that simply do not need sexing up. Mitsouko perfume. Dusty Springfield's voice. Silk pyjamas. And, of course, Elvis. He is/was sufficiently sexy – too sexy, according to some back in the 1950s – in himself. So the cover of this CD is an absolute abomination, as though the poor bloke had been reduced to advertising his singing services on cards in phone boxes. However, the music is (of course) fine, and for £3 in the cheapie bookshop I can overlook the underdressed dollies. Even if you can't find this particular one, you should be able to find some sort of Elvis Christmas album easily enough. Something to enjoy with your loved one and some mulled wine, I reckon, while you curl up on the sofa reading books.

Mr Robot tweeted something about my 'obsession with Christmas albums', which startled me, but I suppose I do have quite a few now. Here are some I've talked about previously on the blog: A Christmas Gift to You From Phil Spector; Nat King Cole and Dean Martin: Christmas Together, Essential Jazz Christmas, The Muppets' A Red and Green Christmas and The Glenn Miller Orchestra In The Swinging Christmas Mood.

And now I really want to make a cheese and pineapple hedgehog. Because CHEESE.

20 comments :

  1. Because I know all sorts of useless things, I can let you know there was a Herb Alpert perfume called, "Listen." You might find some on eBay.

    Personally, it wouldn't be Christmas without the Mel Torme Christmas record, but late last year we also found a Julie Andrews Christmas album. We're gonna drive the neighbours nuts (the joys of a shared wall).

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    1. Herb Alpert perfume? DO WANT.

      As much as I love a Christmas album, I'd probably say NO to the Julie Andrews too - a dislike of The Sound of Music has translated into shunning all her works!

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  2. Because cheese..never was there a couple of words truer said.
    I'm not into Xmas stuff but love a ridiculous piece of vinyl with a tacky cover, our house is in danger of becoming over run with 50p LPs. xxxx

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    1. I ended up buying a whole truckle of Cornish Blue at Bath Christmas Market after making this post. That's on top of all the other cheese in the fridge. CHEESE.

      One of the sad things about the near-demise of vinyl is the decline of the album cover. There were some fab ones, especially in the 1970s (eg Emerson Lake and Palmer's 'Brain Salad Surgery').

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  3. Um...okay...not sure that Herb Alpert is on the top of my Christmas album list, but each to their own! I cannot do Christmas without Andy Williams. It's my Dad's fault as he would put in on every year as we were opening up our presents. I will be digging out my vinyl Andy Williams Christmas album this weekend. Can't wait!

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    1. Andy Williams, eh? *Adds to list*.

      The Herb will get you one day.

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  4. Love a good Christmas tune! We have the Phil Spector one and a Dean Martin/Nat King Cole one among others.

    My, that Elvis cover is quite something!

    I'm now wondering if there is such a thing as a mariachi Christmas album as things are always better with a mariachi band involved!

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    1. You are a genius! Mariachi Christmas would be *brilliant*.

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  5. One can never, ever have too many Christmas albums - especially of a vintage nature - in my books. From November 1st to early January, old school holiday tunes are far and above my favourite thing to listen to.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I do sneak in some of my Halloween stuff, but it's good to have lots of Christmas music.

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  6. The Herb Alpert Christmas album is always in heavy rotation at my house during the holidays. Love it...my cats, not so much!

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  7. Cheese, mmmm cheese that is all I have to say

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    1. My, what a lovely smile you have!

      CHEEEEESE!

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  8. I second the cheese , in all its forms. I have an Elvis Christmas album but some of the songs are a bi glum. I do have a the Phil Spector one but my faves are a Blue Note Christmas album and one of really cheesy lounge core. Plus it wouldn't be Christmas without Eartha. :) Xx

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    1. Ooh, I've just googled 'Blue Note Christmas' and those look *good*. Guess my Christmas album collection will continue to grow...

      My dance teacher says everyone in burlesque gets sick of 'Santa Baby' by mid-December!

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  9. Tijuana brass is good. It's happy music. I like cheese in every form; edible, music, anything really, so I'm in. Bonus Elvis? Now you're talking. Xxx

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    1. My tolerance for cheesy music has definitely grown as I've got older and become less serious (and cared less about what other people think). I love a bit of bobbins nowadays.

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  10. You can never have too many Christmas albums, the cheesier the better! I was brought up on a heavy dose of Herb Alpert records and as a teen only had eye rolling distane for it, but now I love him and have lots of his albums, its cocktail party music at its finest! Oh and a Cheese and Pineapple hedgehog, yes please! x

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    1. I honestly do not think I could face any more cheese right now... I still have a shelf in the fridge full of the stuff!

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