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Dec 13, 2012, 01:00 PM
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No shortage of strange Christmas music...

...but hey, that's what makes it fun!

The magnificent technology which allows me to post this blog entry is something we now take for granted, but it really came through the other day on a search for a song I was certain I wouldn't find.

It was 1968, the year my dad bought some nice stereo components. I still have all but the speakers, in fact.

To me, the beat-all end-all of the bunch was the Sony TC-350 reel-to-reel tape deck. Stereo. Sound-on-sound. All solid state. Three heads so you could listen to recordings as they were being made. One of the inspirations for me to enter the broadcast industry later in life. Prior to the Sony, Dad had an enormous tube-powered Webcor portable reel-to-reel tape recorder he used for dictation when he worked as a newspaper photographer. Huge, heavy and it smelled like burning hair whenever it was running, that is, if it were even running in the first place. The motor worked fine; the amplifier was hit or miss. Mostly miss.

Fred Flintstone, meet your iPod.

Dad and I used to go to the public library to check out records. He'd spin them on the Garrard Synchro-Lab 95 turntable (probably the ultimate bachelor pad accessory back in the day) while rolling tape on the Sony.

Christmas music was always the most fun and the time of year when the Sony really got its workout.

Of all the music we ever transfered to tape, a somewhat strange version of "The Little Drummer Boy" became a personal favorite.

Imagine a very dissonant-sounding carillon backed by an orchestra...with a bassoon in unison helping carry the melody in places. Imagine too a very distorted, overmodulated string section about midway through the song.

Pure 60s weirdness and one which I was actually able to find with a simple Google search of "little drummer boy carillon." I hadn't heard this in nearly 40 years prior to digging it up the other day.

For your holiday enjoyment, please give it up for The John Klein Orchestra from the out-of-print 1964 album, "Let's Ring The Bells All Around The Christmas Tree." The album was produced by RCA for Coca-Cola as a souvenir of the 1964 World's Fair.

This one is best listened to in the presence of an aluminum tree lit by a color wheel.

The John Klein Orchestra: The Little Drummer Boy (2 min 34 sec)
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Dec 20, 2012 at 04:29 PM.
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Dec 13, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Very "Bolero" to me.
Dec 13, 2012, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim T. Graham
Very "Bolero" to me.
Yup, me too! In fact, I am sometimes reminded of this bit of weirdness whenever I hear "Bolero," except this is in 4/4 with a couple of switches to 2/4 and "Bolero" is in 3/4.

Bassoons, tin whistles, an overmodulated string section and someone trying to play a carillon like a shouldn't work, but it does.

Hey, this needs to show up on your next Christmas compilation, Jim!

UPDATE: Mom and Dad loved the blog! Dad actually remembered the song and Mom thought she did.
Last edited by DismayingObservation; Dec 31, 2012 at 02:40 PM.

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