Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Benny Hill’s Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in The West, turns 40

December 26, 2011

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It’s the 40th anniversary of Benny Hill’s unforgettable comedy song ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)’. It was the UK Christmas No. 1 in 1971.

During his appearance on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron proudly declared he knows all the words to the innuendo-laden song.

It tells the tale of Ernie, the widow Sue, and Ernie’s arch-rival Two Ton Ted from Teddington.


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Engelbert Humperdinck new album Released…

September 9, 2010

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Engelbert Humperdinck has released a new album, titled Released, which was recorded in Los Angeles with Australian record producer Paul Wiltshire who has previously worked with artists such as The Backstreet Boys and Delta Goodrem.

Wiltshire and Engelbert’s son and manager Scott Dorsey were executive producers of the 11-track album which sees Engelbert stamping his own touch on current songs such as ‘We’ve Got Tonight’.

Wiltshire produced Engelbert’s first-ever iTunes hit, ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’, which is also be featured on the new album.

Engelbert says he was thrilled by the success of ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’ on iTunes. “In the old days, you put out a single and promoted it in person,” he says. “Now with iTunes it’s instantly all over the world. It’s quite exciting.”

Engelbert, who turned 75 last May, admits he will forever be best known for his version of the ballad ‘Release Me’, which was recorded over 44 years ago (and was responsible for keeping The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ from reaching Number One in the UK).

He feels it’s “an honour” to be so closely associated with the song. “I’ve recorded so many albums in my life, but because it was my signature and because it was my first song and because it went to number one around the world and gave me a global career immediately, it’s the only song they sing in my face at airports. It just goes to show the power of one song.”

During his 45-year career, the ‘king of romance’ has always been synonymous with smooth ballads. But he doesn’t like being classed as a ‘crooner’. “No crooner has the range I have,” he says. “I can hit notes a bank couldn’t cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylised performer.”

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‘West Coast Seattle Boy’ to spearhead more deluxe Jimi Hendrix reissues in October

August 13, 2010

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Forty years after Jimi Hendrix’s untimely death, a brand new 4CD set titled West Coast Seattle Boy – a compilation of demos, alternate takes and previously unreleased recordings – will spearhead a second wave of deluxe Hendrix reissues this autumn.

Following a first round of reissues and rarities earlier this year, the Hendrix Estate and Sony Music have announced plans to release three new albums in October based on Hendrix’s Woodstock performance and tracks from his UK television and radio appearances.

The album titles are Jimi Hendrix: Blues; Jimi Hendrix Experience: BBC Sessions; and Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock.

Jimi Hendrix: Blues is a collection of blues classics and originals which was first released in 1994. The new version will contain extra DVD material, including extended footage from Martin Scorsese’s tribute to Hendrix in his acclaimed documentary The Blues.

Jimi Hendrix Experience: BBC Sessions will include a previously unreleased performance of ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ from a 1967 episode of Top of the Pops. The album will also come with a DVD containing some of Hendrix’s legendary BBC TV appearances, including his unscheduled version of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ on Happening For Lulu.

The West Coast Seattle Boy album will include a new Hendrix documentary by director Bob Smeaton.

The Live at Woodstock reissue will be an updated version of MCA’s 1999 release of Hendrix’s legendary Woodstock concert on 18 August, 1969.

There will also be a festive Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year EP which includes a medley of ‘Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. It will be available on CD and as a seven-inch vinyl picture disc.

Sony Music’s series of deluxe Hendrix reissues began earlier this year with the release of Valleys of Neptune, a collection of unreleased Hendrix studio recordings that included the psychedelic title track.

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Aretha Franklin to release album of classical music

October 29, 2008


‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has revealed she is planning to record an album of classical music – and reportedly spent the summer studying to play the piano with classically-trained musicians at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School.


The legendary 66-year-old soul singer says she plans to both sing and play on the classical album. “I came to New York this summer and I took some classical piano lessons – just the basics,” she said. “I’m going to be singing arias on the album, including ‘Nessun Dorma’.”


Aretha is also about to release the first-ever Christmas album in her 52-year career. Titled This Christmas – Aretha, the 11-track album features classic and contemporary songs performed in Aretha’s trademark gospel, soul and R&B styles. Tracks include her version of Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas’, and traditional songs such as ‘Silent Night’, ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.


Aretha recently revealed she has finally found a cure for the throat problems that have hampered her voice for years. She has to try to stop talking!


The winner of 20 Grammy Awards said: “I used to get laryngitis, and I couldn’t understand why. Then it dawned on me I was wearing out my voice box. I was over-singing and talking when I should just be keeping quiet.”

The Salvation Army signs £1m record deal with Universal

October 7, 2008

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The Salvation Army has reportedly signed a £1m record deal with music giant Universal – with the organisation’s International Staff Brass Band set to release their first mainstream album, titled Together, on the Universal Classics & Jazz label on November 24.


According to Universal, the 14-track album is “packed with tracks full of emotion, beauty and timelessness”. It features traditional brass band arrangements of classic songs such as ‘Nessun Dorma’, ‘You Raise Me Up’, ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’.


There are also special guest appearances from leading classical music stars such as Lesley Garrett, Aled Jones and The Fron Male Voice Choir.


Hailed by Universal Music as “the world’s ultimate buskers”, The Salvation Army hopes sales of the record will help to boost its Christmas fundraising drive.


“At a time when lives are being turned upside down, people need something to rely on,” said Universal Music’s Dickon Stainer.


“The sound of The Salvation Army gives comfort to people when times are tough, as they are now,” he said. “We hope that this record will help expand the reach of their traditional fundraising.”


Major David Hinton of The Salvation Army said: “This is a really exciting project, which we hope will not only raise money but will also help to raise awareness of the needs of the people with whom we work.”


The Salvation Army famously helps people who have fallen on hard times, including the homeless and the elderly.


Full track listing:


1. Largo

2. Nessun Dorma

3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

4. Nimrod

5. You Raise Me Up

6. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – O Waly Waly

7. Let It Be

8. Nearer My God to Thee

9. Wind Beneath My Wings

10. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (with Aled Jones)

11. O Christmas Tree

12. In the Bleak Midwinter

13. You’ll Never Walk Alone (with Lesley Garrett)

14. Going Home (with The Fron Male Voice Choir)


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Status Quo announce new UK tour and album – and first-ever Christmas single!

September 6, 2008


Status Quo fans are in for a real treat this winter. As well as hitting the road later this month for another UK tour, Quo plan to release their first-ever Christmas record and a unique ‘greatest hits’ collection – titled Pictures: 40 Years of Hits – which will span their entire 45-year chart career.


Pictures: 40 Years of Hits will be released in the UK on November 3, 2008 in a variety of formats – including a deluxe 4CD+book ‘EarBook’, a 3CD set which includes a DVD and rare tracks, and a 2CD album. It will also be available on vinyl and in digital form, including USB.


Status Quo also plan to release ‘It’s Christmas Time’ – the band’s first-ever Christmas record … and, amazingly, their 75th UK single!


The ‘EarBook’ version of Pictures: 40 Years of Hits will comprise a lavish 4CD collection and a full-colour 120-page Art book. It will include remastered versions of all of the original radio edits of Quo’s singles in one package for the first time.


The band will also kick off a UK winter tour in Newcastle on Saturday, September 27. Described as “a Quo tour like none before”, the show is said to feature a new one-off set list packed with hits to mark the occasion – as well as state-of-the-art stage backdrops designed to evoke classic Quo moments from the past 45 years.


Tickets for the Pictures: 40 Years of Hits tour are on sale from 0844 576 5483 or

Elvis Presley to release new Christmas Duets album – 31 years after his death

August 7, 2008


Elvis Presley is to release a brand new Christmas duets album this autumn – despite being dead for over 30 years.


Sony BMG and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. have announced plans to release a newly-recorded album, titled Elvis Presley Christmas Duets, in October 2008.


The release is seen as marking yet another milestone in Elvis Presley’s legacy. It’s the first Elvis album of duets and, according to Sony BMG, the first Christmas compilation of its kind ever produced.


With the aid of the latest advanced audio technology, 10 leading country stars – including LeAnn Rimes, Amy Grant and Anne Murray – have been able to ‘duet’ with Elvis on some of his classic Christmas songs.


For older songs originally recorded on a single track, studio engineers created new musical beds to perfectly match the instrumentation and arrangements on the original recording. In the case of songs recorded in multi-track – where Elvis’s vocal was isolated on a single track – his voice was simply dropped for a given verse or chorus to make room for the duet artist.


To be as faithful as possible to the original recordings, the new album was recorded in the fabled RCA Studio B in Nashville where Elvis recorded his second Christmas album, Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas, in 1971.


Elvis’s first Christmas LP – titled Elvis’s Christmas Album – was originally released in October 1957. It consisted of eight Christmas songs plus four gospel songs taken from his EP Peace In The Valley. It has since become the biggest selling Christmas album of all time in America.


Elvis’s Christmas Album included Presley’s version of the perennial favourite ‘White Christmas’. When the song’s composer, Irving Berlin, heard the recording, he was so disgusted he reportedly tried to have the song – and the entire album – banned from radio airplay in the United States.


On the new album, though, Elvis can be heard singing ‘White Christmas’ with the far-from-controversial Amy Grant


“We are so pleased that these accomplished artists are collaborating with Elvis in this unique way to make exciting new versions of his Christmas songs,” said Priscilla Presley. “I am sure Elvis would be proud to have worked with them.”


Joe Galante, chairman of Sony BMG Nashville, added: “There has been tremendous excitement from the many artists contributing their voices to these Elvis Christmas classics. We believe Elvis fans will truly enjoy these unique collaborations while introducing Elvis’s holiday classics to the many fans of his duet partners.”


The album also contains another surprise for Elvis fans. The Jordanaires – Elvis’s old vocal backing group – have even been brought back to re-record their parts.


“It’s amazing what they can do,” said The Jordanaires’ Gordon Stoker. “Elvis sounds great. The recordings sound as if they were done yesterday.”


The following tracks have so far been confirmed for the album:


‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ – with Carrie Underwood

‘Blue Christmas’ – with Martina McBride

‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ – with LeAnn Rimes

‘Silent Night’ – with Sara Evans

‘Merry Christmas Baby’ – with Gretchen Wilson

‘Silver Bells’ – with Anne Murray

‘White Christmas’ – with Amy Grant

‘O Little Town’ – with Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town

‘Santa Claus Is Back In Town’ – with Wynonna Judd.

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