EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: A “Jingle Bell Rocks” Playlist by Roy Forbes

Even as someone who has scoured countless record bins looking for private-press Christian and new age records, I’m impressed by the tenacity and indifference to social acceptability displayed by collectors of Christmas music. Collecting Christmas music, even the weird and wild stuff championed by the likes of John Waters, will probably never, ever be cool. Then again, maybe the tide is turning: see Jingle Bell Rocks, a new documentary by Mitchell Kezin which explores the world of those very collectors. Everyone from Waters to Wayne Coyne weighs in on this lonely corner of the collector world, with wildly entertaining results. I’m a hard man to please when it comes to Christmas music, and even I started wondering what might be in hiding in the bins…

Thanks to the good Christmas graces of our friends at Oscilloscope Laboratories, FM DUST is proud to present the premiere of a great mix made especially for the film by Roy Forbes. It’s a Christmas miracle! The mix and more details are below, but first, enjoy this trailer of the film:

ROY’S TWELVE TUNES OF CHRISTMAS

01. NRBQ- Christmas Wish (from their 1986 Rounder 12″ EP Christmas Wish)

02. Bobby Gimby- Santa Claus Rides Again (from the 1958 RCA Victor 45)

03. Lord Nelson- A Party For Santa Claus (from the 1963 N.R.C. 45)

04. Marty Martin- Hootenanny Santy (from the 1963 Anvil 45)

05. Stompin’ Tom Connors- The Snowmobile Song (from the 1972 Summus 45 Music

from the Muskoka Winter Carnival)

06. Claudine Longet- Snow (from the 1968 A&M LP Something Festive)

07. Slim & Slam- It’s Gettin’ Kinda Chilly (from the 1938 Vocalion 78)

08. Homer, Jethro & June- Baby It’s Cold Outside (from the 1953 RCA ten inch LP Homer

& Jethro Fracture Frank Loesser; ‘Baby’ first released in 1949)

09. Spartanburg Famous Four- Go Where I Send Thee (from the 1938 Decca 78)

10. Staples Singers- There Was A Star (from the 1962 Riverside 45)

11. Little Willie Littlefield- Merry Xmas (from the 1949 Modern 78)

12. Twistin’ Kings- Xmas Twist (from the 1962 Motown 45)

 

SOME WORDS ABOUT ROY’S TWELVE TUNES OF CHRISTMAS:

I’ve been making use of my Christmas collection on yearly compilation tapes or discs since 1985. Starting around 2003, I began restricting the contents of my comps to music from my Christmas LPs, 45s and 78s. For this little web-mix, I’ve stuck to that principle.

01. NRBQ- Christmas Wish (from their 1986 Rounder 12″ EP Christmas Wish)

The most modern song in this batch is from a 1986 NRBQ Christmas EP, and it’s a dandy way to begin any Christmas collection of tunes. NRBQ’s deceptively simple sounding “Christmas Wish” is a beauty. The lyrics say it all. “It’s the time of the year when all good dreams come true”.

02. Bobby Gimby- Santa Claus Rides Again (from the 1958 RCA Victor 45)

Bobby Gimby was, in his way, a Canadian institution, starting off as a part of CBC’s Happy Gang, graduating to playing jazz with Bert Niosi, then later writing the Ca-na-da Song for our 1967 Centennial Celebration. “Santa Claus Rides Again” dates from 1958. Michael Buble, if you’re checking out this site, please give some thought to recording this one.

03. Lord Nelson- A Party For Santa Claus (from the 1963 N.R.C. 45)

Lord Nelson’s “A Party For Santa Claus” has been a long time fave, first heard on a Rykodisc Caribbean Christmas disc. I finally found the 45 on eBay several years ago, although it seems to have a different vocal take than the version on the Rykodisc set. Pure Christmas Calypso magic.

04. Marty Martin- Hootenanny Santy (from the 1963 Anvil 45)

It was my pal Martin Johns, proprietor of the fine Christmas music website Stubby’s House Of Christmas, who informed me that Marty Martin later morphed into Boxcar Willie. I was a happy guy when I stumbled across this 1963 45 of “Hootenanny Santy”, although Santa sounds more like an early sixties bar-band shit-kicker than a folkie on this essential track.

05. Stompin’ Tom Connors- The Snowmobile Song (from the 1972 Summus 45 Music from the Muskoka Winter Carnival)

Stompin’ Tom Connors (1936-2013) left us a whole whack of fabulous songs, including a must-have Christmas album. Tom recorded “The Snowmobile Song” for the Muskoka Winter Carnival in 1972. I found this single in a collection of 45s I bought from my northern B.C. hometown Dawson Creek’s radio station, a perfect place for this celebration-of-winter platter to show up.

06. Claudine Longet- Snow (from the 1968 A&M LP Something Festive)

I discovered Claudine Longet’s recording of “Snow” on one of those tire company Christmas albums – Something Festive, from A&M, 1968. I’m still waiting to hear a Randy Newman recording of “Snow”, one of his earlier songs.

07. Slim & Slam- It’s Gettin’ Kinda Chilly (from the 1938 Vocalion 78)

I wish Slim Gaillard had made a Christmas album – maybe “Christmas in Vout” or “Santa-O-Roonie Is Coming To Town”. Oh well, “Gettin’ Kinda Chilly” will have to do. It took a long time to locate this 1938 Vocalion 78 but it was well worth the wait. The surface noise adds to the winter-wind ambience of the tune. Brrrr.

08. Homer, Jethro & June- Baby It’s Cold Outside (from the 1953 RCA ten inch LP Homer & Jethro Fracture Frank Loesser; ‘Baby’ first released in 1949)

There are many, many recordings of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but this version stands out for me. Apparently, Frank Loesser loved what Homer & Jethro did to his songs. June, by the way, is June Carter, a part of the latter-day Carter Family, who later married Johnny Cash.

09. Spartanburg Famous Four- Go Where I Send Thee (from the 1938 Decca 78)

Pretty well every Christmas compilation I’ve ever put together has included a short trip to the manger. The magnificent grittiness of the Spartanburg Four’s 1938 acapella version of “Go Where I Send Thee” makes for a stand-out take of this Christmas classic.

10. Staples Singers- There Was A Star (from the 1962 Riverside 45)

One of my all-time desert-island Christmas LPs is the Staples Singers’ The Twenty-Fifth Day Of December. I’ve yet to unearth a vinyl copy of that record, but was delighted to track down a Riverside 45 of “There Was A Star”, one of the finest cuts from that album. Mavis Staples sings it gentle and pretty and strong.

11. Little Willie Littlefield- Merry Xmas (from the 1949 Modern 78)

Little Willie Littlefield’s “Merry Xmas” is one of my top-ten Christmas 78s. I’ve had it for years and even though the record has a hairline crack and shows some groove wear, Little Willie gives off a sincere bluesy Christmas message in a true-fine fashion.

12. Twistin’ Kings-Xmas Twist (from the 1962 Motown 45)

We need more dancing at Christmas time and what better way to end this Christmas journey than with “Xmas Twist”, an obscure 1962 Motown single from the Twistin’ Kings. And it goes like this…

About Roy Forbes:

For over forty years now, Roy Forbes has been a prominent and critically acclaimed artist, and one who has made enduring artistic contributions to the Canadian music scene as a performer, recording artist, songwriter, producer and broadcaster. From his solo recordings that began with the 1975 album Kid Full of Dreams, to his collaborations in UHF, to his work hosting CKUA and CBC programs, Forbes has proven to be an inspired artist who has never lost touch with the magic of music.

Roy started collecting Christmas records in 1985 while doing research for a Christmas album he produced featuring himself and fellow Canadian songwriter/performer Connie Kaldor. He made his first Christmas compilation tape that same year, needing some intermission music for the Vancouver concert that celebrated the release of Connie and Roy’s New Songs For An Old Celebration LP. The yearly Christmas compilations graduated to compact disc in 2000, and continue to this day.

Check out Roy’s weekly radio show, Roy’s Record Room, on Alberta’s CKUA Radio Network – every Monday, 6 PM MST. He’ll be playing Christmas records on December 15th and 22nd.

Check out Roy’s website: www.royforbes.ca

Dustin Krcatovich is a cartoonist, writer, designer, founder of FM DUST, and a collector of certain curios and ephemera (with a focus on 20th century "junk culture"). His writing and illustration work appears frequently in The Quietus, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Esquire's Culture Blog. He is also a former editor and contributor to Secret Zen Garden,Saagara's illustrated mindfulness/wellness blog for young people. He currently resides in Portland, OR.

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