Customer Review

November 21, 2007
The 1963 LP record album "The Spirit Of Christmas", recorded in stereo by "The Living Strings" on the "RCA Camden" label, is by far the very best album of Christmas music that has ever been produced in the history of mankind. :)

I guess the last part of the above paragraph might seem a little bit overdone or exaggerated, but in my opinion it's really not. From the very first seconds of this exquisite album's first track ("White Christmas"), the feeling of an "old-fashioned Christmas" surrounds the listener.

The soft jingling of sleigh bells slowly fade in at the beginning of that first "White Christmas" track, followed by one of the finest instrumental versions of that famous Irving Berlin tune that has ever been recorded.

The feeling and the mood of the Yuletide season just pours out of your stereo speakers from the first signs of those sleigh bells on Side One of this treasured Christmas album.

I doubt that it's possible for me to express in mere words how excellent and "Christmassy" this "Spirit" album truly is. You simply MUST hear it for yourself. (And the stereo effects are quite good on the original 1963 RCA album as well. Excellent separation of channels, in fact.)

And the photo on the album cover is absolutely wonderful, too. It couldn't be any more perfect (again, in an "old-fashioned Christmas" kind of fashion), with a thick burning candle being depicted next to a couple of Christmas-tree ornaments (the "bowled-out" type that I can remember hanging on the tree every year).

I don't know who it was who designed this beautiful album cover; but whoever it was has my sincere and everlasting thanks and admiration. It's a brilliant (yet elegantly-simple) piece of photography.

"The Spirit Of Christmas" offers up 43 minutes of memorable and classic instrumental Christmas music, which demands to be listened to each and every December. It just wouldn't be Christmas without this record album playing in the background. The easy-listening nature of each track blends perfectly into the next.

Most of the standard holiday tunes are here (either by themselves or in medley form), including "Joy To The World", "White Christmas", "O Come, All Ye Faithful", "The First Noel", "Silver Bells", "Deck The Halls", "The Christmas Song", and "Away In A Manger", plus several others.

A few years ago, I transferred my family's LP copy of "The Spirit Of Christmas" to an Audio CD, which is something that I would recommend that other people do as well. It's nice having the original 1963 album, but a compact CD version is also very handy too.

And the slight pops and crackles that are emitted by the record player's needle are things that transfer to a homemade Audio-CD version too, which I really don't mind at all. In fact, I like hearing the "pops" of the needle. It makes even a re-recorded CD version seem more homespun and authentic, adding to the atmosphere of the original '63 album.

Here are the very suitable words that are printed on the back cover of this LP record album, which more than adequately describe "The Spirit Of Christmas".....

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"CHRISTMAS HITS, NEW AND OLD, IN A LOVELY MOOD SETTING:

"Christmas is a spirit, a state of mind, a mood. In this album, the Living Strings musically express every emotion, memory, and feeling that has traditionally accompanied the most joyous season. It's a lush sound, a rich sound--an atmosphere to pervade the whole household with the mood of the holiday.

"In medley form we hear the great traditional Christmas carols, the deeply reverent songs of Christmas: 'It Came Upon the Midnight Clear', 'O Holy Night', 'Silent Night'. Here also are the joyful songs of good will and good feeling: 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song'.

"The modern era of "pop" hits has produced a number of wonderful Christmas songs which have become an indispensable part of the holiday sound and scene. In the mid-1950s, a remarkable calypso Christmas song was recorded by Harry Belafonte. 'Mary's Boy Child' was a world-wide hit but so deeply identified with the Belafonte artistry that few others have dared perform it. In this album, the Living Strings do--and instrumentally capture the unique West Indian flavor in the song.

" 'The Little Drummer Boy' was a hit during the 1958 Christmas season. It is a poignant, deeply reverent song that has become a favorite for Christmas radio plays. It is given a haunting rendition here by the Living Strings.

"Perry Como first recorded the Al Stillman-Robert Allen song 'Home for the Holidays' in 1954. Its lyric message is a "natural"--the yearning for Christmas homecoming. The strings are in lovely "voice" as they capture the mood.

"This is the spirit of Christmas--yesterday, today, and tomorrow--in a wonderful and enduring mood setting by the most popular string orchestra on records today."

(Copyright 1963, RCA, New York, N.Y.)

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Another outstanding Christmas album recorded by "The Living Strings" came out in the year 1970. It's called "The Sound Of Christmas", and includes some of the same songs that are found on the "Spirit" album, but in different arrangements, so there's really no identical duplications on those two albums.

"Sound" isn't quite as spectacular as "Spirit", but it's still very, very good (and "old-fashioned" in nature, like "Spirit"), and for me, it's also a regular staple every December.

Other holiday albums that meet those "Good Old-Fashioned Christmas" requirements, IMO, include the following Audio CDs:

"Music Of Christmas" (Percy Faith);

"Christmas Caroling" (Ray Conniff);

"Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music" (Perry Como);

"A Merry Mancini Christmas" (Henry Mancini);

"Holiday Sing Along With Mitch" (Mitch Miller);

"The Christmas Song" (Nat King Cole);

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Vince Guaraldi);

"The Christmas Music Of Ruth Lyons" (Ruth Lyons).

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A Final "Spirited" Gush:

If you are lucky enough to add a copy of "The Spirit Of Christmas" to your Amazon "Marketplace" Shopping Cart before they are forever sold out, you should be celebrating the event.

Because if you've done that, you have the pleasure of knowing that you have just purchased a copy of the greatest Christmas-themed record album in the history of mankind. (I already said that earlier, didn't I? Oh, well; it can't hurt to say it again. Because it happens to be true.) ;)

Happy Holidays.

David Von Pein
November 2007
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