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Burl Ives Christmas CD

Burl Ives Christmas Songs & Music

Hard to believe but Burl Ives was once young. I say this because in the public consciousness at least he always appeared as the grandfatherly type with the slightly odd yet eternally upbeat voice. As well as a fine discography Ives was also a noted actor and appeared in several high profile movies like 'East of Eden', 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' and 'The Big Country'. Ives was a prolific artist releasing dozens of albums over a 40 year career stretching from the 1940's to the 1970's. Amongst his folk and country output there is a liberal sprinkling of fine Christmas albums, the first of which appeared in 1952 and was called 'Christmas Day In The Morning'. The album contained 8 traditional tunes, most of which were not that well known like 'The Seven Joys of Mary' and 'The Friendly Beasts'. All 8 tracks appeared on the folk singers follow-up 'Christmas Eve With Burl Ives' in 1957 but this time the obscurity was tempered by a selection of traditional favourites like 'Silent Night', 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' as well as his classic 'A Holly Jolly Christmas'.

Ives was to return to Christmas material in a big way in 1964 when he was cast as the voice of the character Sam the Snowman for the stop-motion TV feature 'Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer'. As well as narrating the popular show (it appears on US television every December) Ives also sang 3 tunes (all of which were written by Johnny Marks) including a reworked 'A Holly Jolly Christmas', Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' and 'Silver and Gold'.

With the success of Rudolph it didn't take Ives long to return to full-length Christmas albums and 'Have A Holly Jolly Christmas' duly arrived the following year in 1965. The LP contained what were at this stage his perennial Christmas party pieces but there were other jewels amongst the 12 tracks like 'The Little Drummer Boy' and 'Silver Bells'. Ives, as was becoming his trademark on his Christmas albums, also included several lesser known songs like the waltzing 'Snow For Johnny', the gentle 'Christmas Child (Loo, Loo, Loo)' and the distinctly traditional 'Christmas Is A Birthday'. For its retrospective qualities and keen choice of tracks 'Have A Holly Jolly Christmas' is probably Ives best holiday album.

1968 saw the release of Burl Ives 4th Christmas album and appropriately enough it was called 'Christmas Album'. On this occasion Ives talked rather than sang most of the traditional favourites which included 'Jingle Bells', 'Ave Marie' and new song 'Santa Mouse'. 4 years later and Ives was rewriting the rulebook governing Christmas album again as he sang presidential festive favourites for his 1972 'Christmas At The White House'. Each of the 12 songs was twinned with a past US president with the team behind the album going to great lengths to uncover what the Presidential favourites were. George Washington it seems was partial to 'While Shepherds Watch'd Their Flocks by Night' while John F. Kennedy liked a bit of 'Silver Bells' and Richard Nixon favoured 'The Little Drummer Boy'.

Burl Ives 6th and final original Christmas album 'Christmas By The Bay' came out in 1978. On this album he was joined by the United States Navy band for a pleasant trawl through his biggest Christmas songs. There was just one new song written by Ives called 'The Sense of Christmas', which was a nice way to sign off from an artist that had become the voice of Christmas for so many people.