Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas with the Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir - The Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir

Christmas with the Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir
The Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir
Warner Bros. Records  W 1483

I put this one on while we were trimming the tree and didn't make it through side one before my wife demanded I take it off and put on some "real Christmas music."  I get her point, this is the least festive, most solemn Christmas record in my collection.  It is extremely "churchy" which has some nostalgic appeal for me because I grew up singing many of these songs in church accompanied by old ladies with high voices and an organ, which is pretty much what this record sounds like.  The liner notes refer to the Everlys singing Christmas carols as boys with their neighbors back home in Kentucky which seems like a charming idea for an album - get the Everlys a small back-up group like the Jordanaires to harmonize with, maybe a piano and a guitar and make an intimate, heartfelt Christmas album.  That is not this record.  The choir dominates this record, overwhelming the Brothers' low key vocals with their lovely but lifeless vocalizing.  The Everlys seem like guest performers on their own album.  Their are even two tracks, "Away In a Manger" and "Angels, From the Realms of Glory" that don't feature the Everlys at all just the choir.  The Everlys' contribution to the album is so slight, it feels like a rip-off.  I suspect the boys just went in the studio and knocked out their contribution in a couple of hours.  I was extremely disappointed when I first heard this album and it is only my immense love for the Everlys' work that keeps it off my purgatory shelf.  I think it is by far their worst record.  The arrangements are stodgy and lethargic, the album lacks emotion and inspiration.  Nonetheless there are parts of it that I do enjoy.  The first verses of "Adeste Fideles," "The First Noel" and "Silent Night" sound terrific but then the choir takes over and I lose interest.  Don's solo vocal on "What Child Is This?" is very appealing with only minimal interference from the choir.  This is my favorite track and it suggests what a good record this might have been without the choir.  Phil's solo turn on "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is nice as well but suffers from the obtrusive choir being too high in the mix.  I wish there was some way I could erase the choir from this record, even though I would be left with only about 10 minutes of the Everlys singing given the fragmentary nature of their contribution.  This record rarely makes onto my turntable, but I do play it once in a while on a chilly December night when my family is not around to complain about it.  In the darkness of the living room with the Christmas tree lights blinking it brings back not entirely welcome memories of school pageants and midnight Christmas Eve masses.  Recommended to people who consider Santa Claus sacrilegious. 

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