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Christmas Is A Many Splendoured Thing Thanks To Engelbert
The Indian born British singer Engelbert Humperdinck (he borrowed his stage moniker from a 19th German composer of the same name) has been an ever present in the recording studio since he started out in the late 1950's. As recently as 2012 he represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest illustrating his endless passion for his craft. Humperdinck’s easy going style has endeared him to a huge pop loving audience (he has sung love songs ranging from 'Last of the Romantics' to 'Lesbian Seagull') down through the years which has understandably opened the door for him to record Christmas songs on occasion.
And his first foray into the snowy season arrived in 1969 when his ‘Winter World of Love’ was a big worldwide hit. A song about winter might grate with the Christmas purists but one listen to Engelbert’s epic vocals is something that is most appealing to any family situation like the 25thof December. Comes 1977 there was no argument about Engelbert’s Christmas credentials however as the velvet crooner donned some woollen garb and recorded his first festive LP ‘Christmas Tyme’. From the Tom Jones sounding opener ‘Silent Night’ to the orchestral lushness of Engelbert’s take on Nat King Cole’s ‘The Christmas Song’ this was a hugely polished affair. Lacking irony and all the better for it ‘Christmas Tyme’ was also great value for money with 4 medley’s closing the album wherein should greats ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ were given that special Engelbert treatment.
‘A Merry Christmas With Engelbert Humperdinck’ would come 3 years later in 1980 with the focus this time being mostly on the religious side of Christmas with a scattering of well-known carols getting a resplendent rendition courtesy of the singer’s personality filled vocals. ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Away In A Manager’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ are probably the pick of the bunch with each retaining the reverential nature of the original works without ever losing any of Engelbert’s warm and romantic intonations.
It would be a full 15 years before Engelbert’s next Christmas album. 1995’s ‘Christmas Eve’ twinned the singing legend with composer James Last for an album that while not always Christmas related was certainly imbued with the spirit of the season. Standout’s included ‘White Christmas’, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and nice redoing of Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’. If the album seemed a little short of Christmas detailsthere was always ‘The Magic of Christmas’ which also came out in 1995. Over 12 tracks this compilation successfully gathered the best of Engelbert’s canon of Christmas songs onto one release.
In 2009 Engelbert sang at the annual Carols in the Domain concert that takes place each year in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney in the run up to Christmas.Author: Kevin