DEAR JERRY: Musically speaking, my fondest Christmas memory is 1963.
That year seemed to be the breakthrough one for Christmas albums by artists popular with teenagers.
Just a few acts that come to mind, the tunes of which we still hear every year about this time, are the Beach Boys, 4 Seasons, Jackie Wilson, Paul & Paula, and Phil Spector's incomparable “Christmas Gift to You” collection.
Before '63, I cannot recall any Christmas LPs by Teen Top 40 stars other than Elvis. Are there some that have slipped my mind?
Ellen Mitlo, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR ELLEN: Your point is well-taken; however, there are others intended for the teen and R&R market, issued between 1957 “Elvis' Christmas Album” (RCA Victor LOC-1035) and that bountiful year of 1963:
“Connie Francis - Christmas in My Heart” (MGM 3792) (1959); “Pat Boone - White Christmas” (Dot 3222) (1959); “Let's All Sing with the Chipmunks” (Liberty 3132) (1959); “Frankie Avalon's Christmas Album” (Chancellor 5031) (1962); “Christmas with the Everly Brothers (and the Boys Town Choir)” (Warner Bros. 1483) (1962); and “Merry Christmas from Bobby Vee” (Liberty 3267) (1962).
For the record, the Beach Boys' hit single, “Little Saint Nick” (Capitol 5096), filled the air waves in December 1963, but their brilliant “Beach Boys' Christmas Album” (Capitol 2164) didn't come out until the fall of '64.
Also, “The 4 Seasons Greetings” (Vee Jay 1055) first came along in 1962, but attracted considerably more attention the following year.
You are right about “Merry Christmas from Jackie Wilson” (Brunswick 54112); “Paul & Paula's Holiday for Teens” (Philips 200101) and “A Christmas Gift to You (from Philles Records)” (Philles 4005). All are 1963 releases.
DEAR JERRY: When my brother and I were growing up in the 1960s, Little Jimmy Boyd had a record out titled “I Saw Mommy Do the Mambo (With You Know Who),” all around the Christmas tree.
Everyone knows his Christmas classic, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” but when I sing this other one no one ever recognizes it. Still, they do think it's cute.
Do you have some details that will support my memory of this tune?
Is there a compact disc collection of songs by Jimmy Boyd?
Kathy Carlson, Wheeling, Ill.
DEAR KATHY: Your memory of the song seems very good, and I have not even heard you sing it.
There does, however, appear to be a discrepancy regarding dates.
“I Saw Mommy Do the Mambo (With You Know Who)” (Columbia 40365) came out in November 1954, which indicates your family simply had a copy in the '60s that had been lying around since the mid-'50s.
As for a CD, Collectables issued the 26-track collection, “The Best of Jimmy Boyd” (090431763421), and though “I Saw Mommy Do the Mambo (With You Know Who)” is inexplicably missing, it does include “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and his great duet with Frankie Laine, “Tell Me a Story.”
DEAR JERRY: I doubt it's the title, but I recall a song in which the line “any kiss today” is frequently sung.
As another clue, they pronounce the word “kiss” as it might have been said by the Cisco Kid's sidekick, Pancho more like “ke-e-e-e-e-s,” exaggerating the “e” sound.
Can you identify this recording?
Rita Bailey, Paducah, Ky.
DEAR RITA: Certainly, though you have been phonetically fooled by that memorable line. There's no smooching going on here.
From the Gaylords' 1955 release, “Poppa Poppadopolis (The Happy Locksmith Man)” (Mercury 70543), they really are asking the musical question, “Any keys today?”
This enterprising locksmith is simply out trying to boost sales of keys, which in turn keeps him happy.
About a year earlier, the Gaylords sang of another old world small business owner, “The Little Shoemaker.” This tune became their biggest hit, a million-seller that reached the Top 5.
IZ ZAT SO? Often called the greatest Pop-Rock concept album ever, “A Christmas Gift to You (from Philles Records)” was duly honored in 1999 with the GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award.
Besides producer-narrator Phil Spector, this LP features the Ronettes, Crystals, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans.
Established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973, the Hall of Fame Award honors recordings of historical significance, some from as early as 1905.