The Andy Williams Christmas Album
|The Andy Williams Christmas Album|
|Studio album by|
|Released||October 14, 1963|
|Recorded||September 9–13, 1963|
|Andy Williams chronology|
1975 UK reissue cover
The Andy Williams Christmas Album is the first Christmas holiday album released by singer Andy Williams and his twelfth studio album overall. It was issued by Columbia Records in 1963, and it would prove to be the first of eight Christmas albums released by Williams. Though it was also the album that introduced Williams' perennial holiday classic "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", Columbia instead opted to release Williams' cover of "White Christmas" as the album's promotional single at the time.
A front-page story in Billboard magazine on Nov. 23, 1963, made clear the album was already destined to be a big hit, reporting: "Though the majority of retailers around the country that were contacted reported that Christmas product sales were just starting, they have already singled out the new 'Andy Williams Christmas Album' as the probably No. 1 LP for the next two months; at least of those albums thus far on the market. It is already registering heavy sales, as is his single 'White Christmas.'"
From 1963 to 1973, Billboard published special weekly Christmas Albums and Christmas Singles sales charts. For all five weeks that these special charts were published in 1963 (for the weeks ending November 30, 1963 through December 28, 1963), The Andy Williams Christmas Album was the number one selling Christmas album, while Williams' cover of "White Christmas" was the number one selling Christmas single. The Andy Williams Christmas Album spent three weeks as the number one selling Christmas album during the holiday season of 1964, and one week as the number one selling Christmas album during the holiday season of 1965. It charted on Billboard's Christmas Albums chart at least one week for each of the years that the chart was published. In 2018, when separate Christmas rankings were not published in the magazine, the album made its debut on the Billboard 200 chart at number 152.
On December 14, 1964, The Andy Williams Christmas Album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of 500,000 copies in the United States. The album was reissued with a different cover in the UK in 1975 and was awarded Silver certification by the British Phonographic Industry in 1976 for selling 60,000 units. Platinum certification in the United States was awarded on November 21, 1986.
Aaron Latham of Allmusic summed up the release as an "album of wonderful holiday songs perfectly performed" and singled out several noteworthy tracks, describing Williams as "at his playful best on the irresistibly raucous 'Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells.' He also wraps his voice around chestnuts like 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song' with all the warmth of a favorite blanket, while a soaring version of 'O Holy Night' is both enchanting and moving. His tender reading of the lesser-known 'Sweet Little Jesus Boy' is as beautiful and serene as a crystal clear winter's night, but it is the instantly catchy opening line of 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' that people remember the most."
"Strong arranging, good programming, and the sincerity of Williams' performing" were the high points of the album for Billboard magazine that they mentioned in their capsule review at the time of its release.
Side one is made up of secular Christmas songs, whereas side two covers traditional spirituals and carols.
- "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin) – 2:29
- "Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season" (Irving Berlin/Kay Thompson) – 2:38
- "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 2:34
- "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (Edward Pola, George Wyle) – 2:33
- "A Song and a Christmas Tree (The Twelve Days of Christmas)" (traditional) – 3:57
- "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" (James Pierpont, Kay Thompson) – 2:06
- "The First Noël" (traditional) – 3:08
- "O Holy Night" (Adolphe Adam, John Sullivan Dwight) – 3:24
- "Away in a Manger" (traditional) – 2:51
- "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" (Robert MacGimsey) – 3:17
- "The Little Drummer Boy" (Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati, Harry Simeone) – 2:17
- "Silent Night, Holy Night" (Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr) – 2:15
"A Song And A Christmas Tree" began as "The Twelve Days of Christmas", which was first published in 1780. "Stille Nacht", which was later translated into "Silent Night", was first performed during Midnight Mass on Christmas in 1818 in Austria. "The First Noël" debuted in print in 1833. "O Holy Night", with music by Adolphe Adam, originated in French as "Cantique de Noël" in 1847. The song that came to be known as "Jingle Bells" was published under the name "The One Horse Open Sleigh" in 1857. The earliest printing of the lyrics to "Away In A Manger" dates back to 1885.
Of the songs on the album composed in the 20th century, "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" is the oldest, written on Christmas Eve, 1932. In the 1942 film Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby performed "White Christmas" and "Happy Holiday", with the former spending 11 weeks at the top of Billboard magazine's Best Seller chart that same year. Kay Thompson first performed her song "The Holiday Season" as well as her "Jingle Bells" variation on December 22, 1945. "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" was a number three hit for Nat King Cole's King Cole Trio when it was first issued in 1946. The Harry Simeone Chorale reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "The Little Drummer Boy" upon its first release in 1958.
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
In a 2005 interview Williams discusses how The Andy Williams Show figured into his recording of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year": "George Wyle, who's a vocal director, who wrote all of the choir stuff and all of the duets and trios and things that I did with all the guests, he wrote a song just for the show -- I think the second Christmas show we did -- called "Most Wonderful Time of the Year". So I did that, you know, every Christmas, and then other people started doing it. And then suddenly it's become—not suddenly but over 30 years—it's become a big standard. I think it's one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time now."
In the issue of Billboard magazine dated November 28, 2009, the list of the "Top 10 Holiday Songs (Since 2001)" places the Williams recording of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" at number five. 2001 also marks the first year in which the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (also known as ASCAP) started compiling data regarding the radio airplay of holiday songs, and although the Williams classic started out at number 25 of 25 songs that were ranked that year, it gained steam over the next 10 years, reaching number 18 in 2002, number 13 in 2003, and eventually getting to number four in 2010.
|11/30/63||5||1 (5 weeks)|
|12/5/64||4||1 (3 weeks)|
|12/11/65||3||1 (1 week)|
From the liner notes for the original album:
- Andy Williams — vocals
- Robert Mersey — arranger (except as noted), conductor, producer
- Marty Paich — arranger ("Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season")
- Johnny Mandel — arranger ("It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells")
- George Wyle — arranger ("A Song and a Christmas Tree (The Twelve Days of Christmas)", "Silent Night, Holy Night")
- (2009) Moon River: The Very Best of Andy Williams by Andy Williams [CD booklet]. New York: Sony Music Entertainment 88697 59112 2
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- Whitburn 2004, p. 28.
- Whitburn 2004, p. 58.
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- "ASCAP Announces the Top 25 Holiday Songs -- "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" Tops List". ASCAP.com. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
- ""Sleigh Ride" Tops ASCAP's List of Most-Played Holiday Songs in 2010". ASCAP.com. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
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- Hill, Richard S. (December 1945). "Not So Far Away in a Manger: Forty-One Settings of an American Carol". Notes, The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association. Music Library Association. III (1): 20.
- Nobmann, Dale (1999), Christmas Music Companion Fact Book: The Chronological History of Our Most Well-Known Traditional Christmas Hymns, Carols and Songs As Well As the Writers & Composers Who Create Them, Perigree Books, ISBN 0-399-52477-0
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