Merry Christmas (Bing Crosby album)

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Merry Christmas
A-550 1947.jpg
Compilation album by Bing Crosby
Released 1945 (original 78rpm album)
1947 (re-release 78rpm album)
1949 (original LP album)
1955 (re-designed LP album)
Recorded 1942, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1950, 1951
Genre Christmas
Length 27:24 (original 78rpm album)
21:37 (re-release 78rpm album)
32:57 (original LP album)
Label Decca
Bing Crosby chronology
Song Hits from Holiday Inn
(1942)Song Hits from Holiday Inn1942
Merry Christmas
(1945)
Selections from Going My Way
(1945)Selections from Going My Way1945
White Christmas
Bing Crosby - Merry Christmas.jpg
Compilation album by Bing Crosby
Released Current reissue: 2014
Label Geffen, Universal
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[1]

Merry Christmas is a compilation album by Bing Crosby that was released in 1945 on Decca Records. It has remained in print through the vinyl, CD, and downloadable file eras, currently as the disc and digital album White Christmas on MCA Records, a part of the Universal Music Group, (reissued in June 1995) and currently on vinyl as Merry Christmas on Geffen Records (re-issued in September 2014). It includes Crosby's signature song "White Christmas", the best-selling single of all time with estimated sales of over 50 million copies worldwide. The album has sold over 15 million copies and is the second best-selling Christmas album of all-time behind Elvis' Christmas Album, which has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide.[2]

Content[edit]

The original album consisted of ten songs on five 78 records, all of which had been previously released. Each one had a holiday theme with the exception of "Danny Boy", paired with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on its original record. Prior to the long-playing album era, such assemblies were not uncommon for popular music, Merry Christmas instigated by the enormous popularity of the "White Christmas" record. The 78rpm album quickly reached the top of the Billboard Best-selling popular record albums chart[3] in 1945 and remained there for several weeks.

Decca issued a second edition in this format in 1947, catalogue Decca A-550, consisting of four 78s, omitting recordings of "Danny Boy" and "Let's Start the New Year Right" from the previous release, and including new recordings of "White Christmas" and "Silent Night" from March 19, 1947. This recording of "White Christmas," heard on every subsequent pressing, is actually a re-recording of the song as, in an unprecedented occurrence, the 1942 master had actually worn out and was no longer usable. Decca and Crosby undertook the remake with the same orchestra and chorus, in an attempt to re-create the original May 1942 recording as closely as possible. The original recording of "White Christmas" to this date, has never been stamped on LP records or 45 rpm singles, and has appeared in a few holiday compilation albums on CD.

The 1955 vinyl LP configuration is the one extant to date, consisting of the entirety of Decca A-550 plus four additional tracks. The Andrews Sisters, often Crosby's recording partners in the 1940s, are featured on the tracks "Jingle Bells", "Mele Kalikimaka", and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". After the original cast recording to Oklahoma!, also from Decca Records, released in 1943, the 1955 album configuration has been continually in-print longer than any other album in the history of the United States.

Although unintentional, the unifying theme, composition, narrative, and lyrics all place this among the earliest released concept albums, predating the LP record itself.[4][better source needed][5][better source needed]

Release history[edit]

After the introduction of the LP by Columbia Records in 1948, its competitors in the music industry began switching over to the new format. Decca reissued the eight song Merry Christmas album in the form of a 10-inch LP in 1949, catalogue Decca DL-5019 with its standard brown label. The original 78rpm album cover (seen above) had a light blue background and showed a large black and white photograph of Crosby's head. This was the same cover design that had been used on all issues of the 78rpm album. Copies released after 1951 featured a newly designed red and green cover.

Merry Christmas was also issued as a 45 rpm box set in 1950, catalogue Decca 9-65. It had the same basic cover with a new yellow background and the same four singles as the 78 rpm album A-550, and the individual records had the same catalog numbers, in this case preceded by the "9-" prefix. In 1952, the 45rpm box was discontinued, replaced by a 2-EP set, catalogue Decca ED 547. This had the same cover as the second version of the 10-inch LP; each 7-inch single had two songs per side, and the sides were numbered 91123 and 91124, respectively.

When Decca (and the rest of the industry) abandoned the 10-inch LP format in 1955, it created a 12-inch LP version of Merry Christmas, catalogue Decca DL-8128, with four additional songs and the now familiar cover with Crosby in his Santa Claus stocking cap as pictured above. The new songs were "Silver Bells" and "Mele Kalikimaka", both recorded in September 1950, and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and "Christmas in Killarney", both recorded on October 1, 1951. The album's track listing was also adjusted slightly, with "Faith of Our Fathers" now preceding "I'll Be Home for Christmas." This issue has remained unchanged to present; first pressings of the album were released on Decca's all-black label with the catalog number in the top left corner of the front cover. This album was exactly duplicated for the 2014 re-issue by Geffen Records.

In 1963 the album was made available in electronically re-channeled stereo (with Decca's moniker, "Enhanced for Stereo" added on the upper right corner of the cover), Decca DL-78128. Mono copies made after the introduction of stereo have "DL-8128" in the bottom left corner of the front cover. All copies from the 1960s feature the Decca rainbow label. The mono version was temporarily deleted in 1968. The re-channeled stereo mixes are considered by many[6] to be inferior due to the addition of artificial reverb, giving the once intimate-sounding "dry" original masters a "concert-hall" sound. The reverb is particularly intrusive on tracks such as "Adeste Fideles", "White Christmas", and "Silver Bells."

In 1973, after MCA merged all their labels (Decca, Uni, Kapp) to one corporate name, MCA Records, the album received a new catalogue number, MCA 167. This version was only available for a short time. Eventually, MCA chose to create a new numbering series for its reissued Christmas albums, and Merry Christmas was assigned MCA 15024. This exists on the black with rainbow, tan, and blue with rainbow labels. While the initial MCA pressings were in re-channeled stereo (as on the post-1963 Decca issues), the original "dry" mono mixes were restored to several of the later MCA pressings- most notably on the blue with rainbow labels.

In 1986 Merry Christmas was transferred to compact disc, MCAD-31143 and included these same twelve songs in their original mono mixes. Universal Music Group (successor to MCA Records) changed the name of the album to White Christmas, keeping the contents and the catalogue number unchanged. A new mono re-master was made in 1992 and reissued in 1995. It was further reissued in 1998, now with catalogue number B0017220-02. This is the one available at present. Note that it still says MCAD 31143 on the disc.

Notes regarding European versions: In 1970, the re-channeled stereo version of Merry Christmas was released on vinyl as White Christmas on the Coral label with catalogue number COPS 1011. In 1987, this version was transferred to compact disc on the MCA label with catalogue number 255 199-2. In 1991, it was reissued (possibly remastered) with catalogue number MCD30195, and later on with catalogue number MCD 18226.

The entire album over time, minus the songs "Faith of Our Fathers" and "Danny Boy"(which was only on the 1945 original album) can be found on the 1998 double-disc Bing Crosby: The Voice of Christmas, a compendium of all of Crosby's Christmas recordings for Decca from 1935 to 1956.

On August 29, 2008, the "White Christmas" album was re-issued as a "Collector's Edition" by Madacy Special Products. This issue featured the original album's 12 tracks in a slightly different order and added two additional tracks ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Here Comes Santa Claus"). The album was packaged in a collectible tin along with the Special Edition DVD of the 1942 film "Holiday Inn." This version of the album, unfortunately, has noticeably inferior sound quality as opposed to the 12-track MCA CD release of the same name- possibly because Madacy used the rechanneled stereo mixes for many of the tracks instead of the more contained, and intimate sounding mono originals.

It's possible that the original mono masters (acetates and glass masters from the 1940s and tapes from the 1950s) were destroyed in the fire on the Universal Studios lot in 2008.

On September 30, 2014, the album was reissued on a newly remastered LP by Geffen Records and Universal Music Enterprises. This limited edition mono reissue faithfully reproduces the newly designed 1955 LP, right down to the album jacket artwork (which restores the original "Merry Christmas" title) and the period-appropriate black Decca label on the vinyl record.

Original track listing[edit]

The 1945 album issue Decca A-403 consisted of these previously issued 78 rpm records:[7][8]

Side / Title Writer(s) Recording date Performed with Time
Disc 1 (18510):
A. "Silent Night" Joseph Mohr, Franz Xaver Gruber June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 2:40
B. "Adeste Fideles" Frederick Oakeley, John Francis Wade June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 3:08
Disc 2 (18429):
A. "White Christmas" Irving Berlin May 29, 1942 Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra 2:58
B. "Let's Start the New Year Right" Irving Berlin May 25, 1942 Bob Crosby and His Orchestra 2:33
Disc 3 (18570):
A. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" Buck Ram, James Kimble Gannon, Walter Kent October 1, 1943 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra 2:34
B. "Danny Boy" Frederic Weatherly July 5, 1941 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra 3:11
Disc 4 (18511):
A. "Faith of Our Fathers" Frederick William Faber June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 2:52
B. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Traditional June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 2:16
Disc 5 (23281):
A. "Jingle Bells" James Lord Pierpont September 27, 1943 The Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra 2:33
B. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie September 27, 1943 The Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra 2:39

Re-release track listing[edit]

The 1947 album issue Decca A-550, the top picture, consisted of these 78 rpm records, and with the exception of the two remakes, all were reissues of the earlier recordings.[9][8]

Side / Title Writer(s) Recording date Performed with Time
Disc 1 (23777):
A. "Silent Night" Joseph Mohr, Franz Xaver Gruber March 19, 1947 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers 2:34
B. "Adeste Fideles" Frederick Oakeley, John Francis Wade June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 3:08
Disc 2 (23778):
A. "White Christmas" Irving Berlin March 19, 1947 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers 3:01
B. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Traditional June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 2:16
Disc 3 (23779):
A. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" Buck Ram, James Kimble Gannon, Walter Kent October 11, 1943 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra 2:34
B. "Faith of Our Fathers" Frederick William Faber June 8, 1942 John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus 2:52
Disc 4 (23281):
A. "Jingle Bells" James Lord Pierpont September 29, 1943 The Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra 2:33
B. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie September 29, 1943 The Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra 2:39

The additional tracks were issued as 78 rpm and 45 rpm singles in 1950 and 1951 respectively:

  • "Mele Kalikimaka" (Decca 27228) (Decca L-5830)
  • "Silver Bells" (Decca 27229) (Decca L-5832)
  • "Christmas in Killarney" / "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" (Decca 27831) (Decca L-6462 and L-6463)

LP track listing[edit]

Recording dates follow song titles.

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed withLength
1."Silent Night" (March 19, 1947)Joseph Mohr, Franz Xaver GruberJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers2:34
2."Adeste Fideles" (June 8, 1942)Frederick Oakeley, John Francis WadeJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus3:08
3."White Christmas" (March 19, 1947)Irving BerlinJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers3:01
4."God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (June 8, 1942)TraditionalJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus2:16
5."Faith of Our Fathers" (June 8, 1942)Frederick William FaberJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Max Terr's Mixed Chorus2:52
6."I'll Be Home for Christmas" (October 11, 1943)Buck Ram, James Kimble Gannon, Walter KentJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra2:34
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed withLength
1."Jingle Bells" (September 29, 1943)James Lord PierpontThe Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra2:33
2."Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (September 29, 1943)J. Fred Coots, Haven GillespieThe Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra2:39
3."Silver Bells" (September 8, 1950)Jay Livingston, Ray EvansCarol Richards and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra3:02
4."It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" (October 1, 1951)Meredith WillsonJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and with Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires2:44
5."Christmas in Killarney" (October 1, 1951)John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank WeldonJohn Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires2:42
6."Mele Kalikimaka" (September 7, 1950)Robert Alexander AndersonThe Andrews Sisters and Vic Schoen and His Orchestra2:52

White Christmas[edit]

Delta Music also released an album in 1992 on the LaserLight label titled White Christmas often confused with the newer Decca imprint.

  1. The Christmas Song
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. Silent Night, Holy Night
  4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (with Max Terr’s Mixed Chorus and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra)
  5. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
  6. I'll Be Home For Christmas
  7. Adeste Fideles (with Max Terr’s Mixed Chorus and John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra)
  8. White Christmas
  9. Joy to the World
  10. The First Noel
  11. Good King Wenceslas
  12. Away In a Manger (with Paul Weston’s Orchestra and Norman Luboff Choir)
  13. Deck the Halls
  14. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  15. Silver Bells (with Carol Richards, the Lee Gordon Singers and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "White Christmas - Bing Crosby | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  2. ^ "Bing Crosby Christmas Songs". Yuleplay.com. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  3. ^ "Billboard". Billboard: 26. December 29, 1945. 
  4. ^ Concept album
  5. ^ LP record
  6. ^ "Help: Bing Crosby lp in 'Simulated Stereo' | Steve Hoffman Music Forums". Forums.stevehoffman.tv. 2003-12-12. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  7. ^ "DECCA (USA) 18000 series (to 18499) 78rpm numerical listing discography". 78discography.com. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  8. ^ a b "DECCA (USA) 78rpm numerical listing discography: 23000 - 23500". 78discography.com. 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 
  9. ^ "DECCA (USA) 78rpm numerical listing discography: 23500 - 24000". 78discography.com. 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2016-06-14. 

External links[edit]