The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

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The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
Studio album by The Beach Boys
Released November 9, 1964 (1964-11-09)
Recorded October 20, 1963; June 18–30, 1964
Studio Capitol Studios and United Western Recorders, Hollywood
Genre Christmas
Length 27:37
Label Capitol
Producer Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys chronology
Beach Boys Concert
(1964)
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
(1964)
Today!
(1965)
The Beach Boys UK chronology
Shut Down Volume 2
(1964)
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
(1964)
Beach Boys Concert
(1965)
Singles from The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
  1. "The Man with All the Toys" / "Blue Christmas"
    Released: November 9, 1964

The Beach Boys' Christmas Album is the seventh studio album by the Beach Boys, released in November 1964.[1][2] Containing five original songs and seven standards, the album proved to be a long-running success during subsequent Christmas seasons, initially reaching number six in the US Billboard 200 chart in its year of release[3] and eventually going gold.[4]

While leader Brian Wilson produced and arranged the "rock" songs, he left it to Dick Reynolds (an arranger of the Four Freshmen, a group Wilson idolized) to arrange the forty-one piece orchestral backings on the traditional songs to which the Beach Boys would apply their vocals.[5]

One single was released from the album, original composition "The Man with All the Toys" backed with the group's rendition of "Blue Christmas". "Little Saint Nick", a single which had already been released the previous year, was included on the album.[3]

Background[edit]

The album was devised as a response to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records (1964), an album Brian had attended recording sessions for.[6] He played piano on the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" but was dismissed by Spector due to his substandard piano playing.[7]

Recording[edit]

With the exception of "Little Saint Nick", sessions for the album spanned from June 18–30, 1964, one month after the All Summer Long album was completed.[1] "Christmas Day" is the first Beach Boys song to feature a lead vocal from Al Jardine.[original research?]

The album was released in mono and stereo; the stereo mix, prepared by engineer Chuck Britz, would be the last true stereo mix for a Beach Boys album until 1968's Friends.[original research?]

In addition to orchestral renditions of "Jingle Bells" and the original Wilson composition "Christmas Eve" which never received vocal overdubs,[8] outtakes of the All Summer Long track "Little Honda"[8] and Today! single "Don't Hurt My Little Sister" were recorded in between June sessions.[1]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]

In a retrospective review, Allmusic's Jason Ankeny stated: "Brian Wilson's pop genius is well suited to classic Yuletide fare, and the group delivers lush performances of standards ranging from 'Frosty the Snowman' to 'White Christmas' as well as more contemporary material like 'The Man With All the Toys' and 'Blue Christmas.'"[3]

While interviewing Wilson for a promotional radio special in 1964, Jack Wagner remarked that Wilson's decision to sing solo on a version of "Blue Christmas" could be "the start of a whole new career," to which Wilson responded "I don’t know. It could and it couldn't. I really don’t know."[5] Referring to the standards which he believed "proved that the Beach Boys' vocal power was bigger and more agile than the surf and hot rod records [and] staking a claim for wider musical terrain," author Luis Sanchez reflected: "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album music shows a quality of aesthetic selectivity that none of the group's records that came before it do, aspiring not just to assimilate one of pop's stock ideas, but also enabling Brian to make one of his biggest artistic advances."[5]

On April 6, 1982, the album was certified gold by the RIAA, selling more than 500,000 units.[4]

Release history[edit]

Related compilations
A new CD compilation containing all of the twelve tracks from the original LP (in stereo, with "Little Saint Nick" presented in a new stereo mix that added the sleigh bells from the single version), all of the bonus tracks from the previous CD except for "The Lord's Prayer", and 11 additional tracks including the 1974 single "Child of Winter" and several previously-unreleased tracks from an aborted 1977 Christmas album.
  • 2004: Christmas with the Beach Boys
Essentially a reissue of Ultimate Christmas with a new title and cover art and one song ("Christmas Time Is Here Again") deleted from the tracklist. Like Ultimate Christmas, it omits "The Lord's Prayer" from the "Little Saint Nick" single.
  • 2009: Christmas Harmonies
Includes 11 of the 12 tracks from the original LP (including the single mix of "Little Saint Nick" and mono mixes of the other Wilson/Love compositions), as well as the alternate take of "Auld Lang Syne", the "Child of Winter" single, and two of the 1977 tracks.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "Little Saint Nick"   Brian Wilson/Mike Love Mike Love 1:59
2. "The Man with All the Toys"   B. Wilson/Love Brian Wilson/Love 1:32
3. "Santa's Beard"   B. Wilson/Love Love 1:59
4. "Merry Christmas, Baby"   B. Wilson Love 2:22
5. "Christmas Day"   B. Wilson Al Jardine 1:35
6. "Frosty the Snowman"   Steve Nelson/Jack Rollins B. Wilson 1:54
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead Vocals Length
1. "We Three Kings of Orient Are"   John Henry Hopkins Love/B. Wilson 4:03
2. "Blue Christmas"   Billy Hayes/Jay W. Johnson B. Wilson 3:09
3. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"   J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie B. Wilson/Love 2:20
4. "White Christmas"   Irving Berlin B. Wilson 2:29
5. "I'll Be Home for Christmas"   Kim Gannon/Walter Kent/Buck Ram B. Wilson 2:44
6. "Auld Lang Syne"   Trad. arr. B. Wilson group 1:19

Personnel[edit]

The Beach Boys
Session musicians and production staff

Orchestra Conducted by Benjamin Barrett. Special Arrangements by Dick Reynolds.

  • Robert Barene  – violin
  • Arnold Belnick  – violin
  • Harry Bluestone  – violin
  • George "Red" Callender  – tuba
  • Frankie Capp  – drums
  • Gene Cipriano  – woodwind
  • Eugene DiNovi  – piano
  • David Duke  – french horn
  • Jesse Ehrlich  – cello
  • Virgil Evans  – trumpet
  • Jimmy Getzoff  – violin
  • Billy Green  – woodwind
  • Urbie Green  – trombone
  • Clifford Hils  – upright bass:
  • Bones Howe  – percussion
  • Robert Jung  – woodwind
  • Armand Kaproff  – cello
  • Raymond Kelley  – cello
  • Bernard Kundell  – violin
  • William Kurasch  – violin
  • Henry Laubach  – trumpet
  • Alfred Lustgarten  – violin
  • Arthur Maebe  – french horn
  • Lew McCreary  – trombone
  • Oliver Mitchell  – trumpet
  • Richard Nash  – trombone
  • Richard Perissi  – french horn
  • Al Porcino  – trumpet
  • Dorothy Ramsen  – harp
  • Lou Raderman  – violin
  • Karl Rossner  – cello
  • Henry Roth  – violin
  • Joseph Saxon  – cello
  • Wilbur Schwartz  – woodwind
  • Frederick Seykora  – cello
  • Paul Shure  – violin
  • Marshall Sosson  – violin
  • Darrel Terwilliger  – violin
  • Al Viola  – electric guitar

Sales chart positions[edit]

Albums
Year Chart Position
1964 US Billboard 200 6[3]
Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1964 "The Man with All the Toys" US Billboard Hot 100 3[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS64". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 72
  3. ^ a b c d e f Allmusic review
  4. ^ a b Doe, Andrew. "RIAA". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Sanchez, Luis (2014). The Beach Boys' Smile. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-1-62356-956-3. 
  6. ^ Sanchez 2014.
  7. ^ Sharp, Ken (January 2006). "Christmas with Brian Wilson". Record Collector (United Kingdom): 72–76. 
  8. ^ a b Boyd, Alan; Linette, Mark; Slowinski, Craig (2014). Keep an Eye On Summer 1964 (Digital Liner). Mirror. Capitol Records. 

Further reading[edit]