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Christmas Music Playlists with Ray Conniff Songs
If You're Looking To Pop The Question Over The Holiday's Here Is Your Perfect Partner
Factfile - Ray Conniff
- Bandleader / arranger Ray Conniff (aka 'Jay Raye') has recorded 4 Christmas albums: Christmas with Conniff (1959), We Wish You a Merry Christmas (1962), Christmas Album: Here We Come A-Caroling (1965) (later reissued as Ray Conniff's Christmas Album), 's Christmas (1999)
- All his Christmas albums were recorded with The Ray Conniff Singers - 12 women & 13 men.
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas was certified platinum in the US in 1989. On its release in '67, the album appeared on the Holiday chart for 6 consecutive years. The 6 track album featured 4 festive medleys.
- Conniff's 1965 single The Real Meaning of Christmas peaked at #19 on the Christmas singles chart.
It may sound like something from a distant Christmas past (don't all the best ones sound like that!) but if you have yet to hear 'Christmas Bride' by Ray Conniff and his big band then you are in for a festive treat. Quite simply this is a song that defines the Christmas sound with rich orchestration, wholesome storyline and some of the best choral interplay that you'll likely ever hear. That it has faded from view is a major loss surely but it will surely entrance everyone that hears it over the holidays. ‘Christmas Bride’ was included on the first of Ray Conniff’s 4 Christmas albums ‘Christmas With Conniff’ which came out in 1959. The bandleader and composer had previously worked with Johnny Mathis on the arrangements of several of his songs but whether that inspired him to make a dash for the season is unclear. During his most successful years Conniff was accompanied on record by the Ray Conniff Singers, an army of backing vocalists made up of over 2 dozen men and women. In many ways they were the making of the Ray Conniff sound, that and the bandleader’s skilled arrangements.
Inevitably ‘Christmas with Conniff’ was made up of a festive-friendly 12 tracks with all but one coming from the secular side of the house. This is much more than a collection of choral interpretations of old favourites though, it is a living breathing monument to the power of Christmas music that shows no sign of growing old over half a century after it was released. Opening with bells aplenty on ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Silver Bells’ there is a merry swing to the way all concerned throw themselves wholeheartedly into proceedings. It is certainly an old timey sound but boy does it wake up those hibernating Christmas feeling of yore. And Conniff and friends give standards such as ‘Frosty The Snowman’, ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’ and ‘Sleigh Ride’ a similar family friendly joie to vivre to ensure that ‘Christmas With Conniff’ is ideal for any gathering over the holidays.
Ray Conniff’s second Christmas album, ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ came just 3 years after his initial snow flurry in 1962. This time he and his Singers concentrated on a batch of medley’s that again offered a sprightly collection of festive ditties that are perfect tinder for yuletide parties. The opening sequence is typical of the fare on offer as Conniff successfully paired the rush of excitement that is ‘Jolly Old St. Nicholas’ with the much more restrained ‘Little Drummer Boy’. Such a beautiful contrast and one that will undoubtedly have both old and young delighted. ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ focused more on carols than its predecessor which meant it was probably a little more restrained. Not that it was any less enjoyable especially as it sported uniquely retro artwork that would today seem unthinkable.
Ray Conniff fans had only to wait 3 years before his third celebration of the season arrived in the form of ‘Christmas Album: Here We Come A-Caroling’ (retitled ‘Ray Conniff Christmas Album’s on its re-release) in 1965. This time Conniff penned a song for the occasion and ‘The Real Meaning of Christmas’ sat imperiously amongst the sumptuous renditions of religious Christmas numbers all around it. If anyone could get away with dishing out advice on what Christmas should mean to all of us it is Ray and his Singers. Put it aside for those boys and girls that don’t make it onto the good list. Amongst the usual carols that are covered on this Christmas album is a vibrant retelling of ‘Here We Come A-Caroling’ and a faith restoring performance of ‘Adoramus Te’.
It would be over 3 decades before Ray Conniff returned to his frosty podium for his 4th and final Christmas album. 'S Christmas’ was released in 1999, only in Brazil where he had a huge following, and came 3 years before the great man’s death in 2002. ‘S Christmas’ didn’t do much in terms of uncovering new tracks but Conniff jumped at the chance to reprise his role as the master of choral Christmas jives. On the album’s sleeve notes Conniff remarked on how wonderful it was to be working with 25 singers again, one of whom was Andy Williams brother Dick! ‘S’ Christmas’ was not as widely heralded as Conniff’s previous Christmas escapades but as an exercise in proving that class is permanent it pretty much confirmed Ray Conniff’s status as a Christmas legend.
And when you're giving your presents, Don’t forget as you give them away, That the real meaning of Christmas, Is the giving of love everyday.
Ray Conniff, The Real Meaning Of Christmas (1965)
Ray Conniff Christmas Album & Single Covers