As I do every year, over the last month I’ve used my personal Facebook feed to countdown the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas. This year’s vintage countdown focuses on the great illustration/design from vinyl album covers of the 1940-60s.
Hope you enjoy seeing some old favorites …
🎼 25 Days to Christmas – Mitch Miller released this colorful album in 1958. He role of chorale leader was a side hustle to his career as record company executive. Miller & His Gang had the top selling Christmas albums in 1958, 59, & 60 …
🎄 24 Days to Christmas – ‘Little Miss Dynamite’ was just 12 years old when she recorded ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ in 1958. She was hand-picked by Nashville song writer, Johnny Marks, who also wrote ‘Rudolph’ & ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ …
🎅🏻 23 Days to Christmas – The Three Suns had some awesome album covers in the 1950s. The quirky, instrumental group put together some swell arrangements featuring playful a orchestra with organ, accordion & electric guitar parts …
❄️ 22 Days to Christmas – Elvis recorded two Christmas albums (1957 & 1971) out of the 55 LPs published in his lifetime. Irving Berlin was so upset by The King’s unconventional recording of ‘White Christmas’ he had his staff call radio stations to have it pulled from the air …
🌟 21 Days to Christmas – There are SO many Bing Crosby Christmas albums & re-releases, I thought I’d start with these two Decca albums (1945 & 1949). The ‘cutout head’ graphic style was pretty popular in this era!
❄️ 20 Days to Christmas – Last night’s snowfall reminded me of this serene Count Basie album art. Basie was nominated for 9 Grammies and won every time!
🎅🏻 19 Days to Christmas – Gene Autry introduced the world to “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. He also wrote, “Here Comes Santa Claus”. His “Poppy the Puppy” didn’t quite make it big for Christmas 1951 …
🎼 18 Days to Christmas – “Sing choirs of Angels … !” The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been singing for an amazing 174 years – back to 1847. Members must join between ages of 25-55 and live within 100 miles of the Tabernacle …
🎺 17 Days to Christmas – Louis Armstrong never released a full Christmas album in his lifetime, but recorded a number of 1950s hipster holiday tunes. Pops’ 1953 hit, ‘Cool Yule’ was written by future Tonight Show host, Steve Allen …
🌟 16 days to Christmas – This adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ was released by Disney in 1974. The popularity of the LP inspired the animated ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ special that came out eight years later …
❄️ 15 Days to Christmas – A tuxedo & red backdrop was all Andy Williams needed for an album cover. His recording of “White Christmas” spent 5 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. It hit the charts just a week after the Kennedy assassination.
❄️ 14 Days to Christmas – This album cover looks like the houses in Minnesota during last night’s 20” of snowfall. The light, playful George Melachrino strings will be a good accompaniment to addressing Christmas cards today!
🎅🏻 13 Days to Christmas – Scandinavian Yogi Yorgesson (aka Henry Stewart) started as a stand-up / radio act during the 1930s. It wasn’t until almost 2 decades later (1949) that he recorded a song – shooting to the Billboard Top Ten with both sides of this holiday single. I love the mid-century modern moose styling on the album cover.
❄️ 12 Days to Christmas – Bing Crosby’s White Christmas still stands as the #1 song of all time. It debuted in the movie ‘Holiday Inn’, which inspired its namesake sequel. Peggy Lee appeared on the soundtrack album instead of movie lead Rosemary Clooney, who was under contract to another label.
💙 11 Days to Christmas – Written by Willie Nelson, first made a hit by Roy Orbison. ‘Pretty Paper’ is the somber story of a disabled gentlemen Nelson recalled selling wrapping paper & pencils outside Leonard’s Department Store in Fort Worth TX.
🎼 10 Days to Christmas – The King Cole Trio, led by Nat ‘King’ Cole was the first to record ‘The Christmas Song’ in 1946. It was an instant hit and re-recorded 3 more times. This 1961 version, with a full orchestra & the first recorded in ‘full dimensional’ stereo is the version you typically hear on the radio & movies today.
✂️ 9 Days to Christmas – Perry Como went with the ‘floating head’ album cover design in 1968. The ‘singing barber’ of Canonsburg PA started cutting hair at age 10 and had his own shop by age 14. He sang ‘romantic songs’ between cuts.
💋 1 Weekend to Christmas – Kay Starr was a Las Vegas lounge act in the 1960s who was frequently on Santa’s naughty list for her racy party albums.
🎿 7 Days to Christmas – Johnny Mathis recorded 6 Christmas albums. His first effort (in 1958) is one of the top 5 best selling Christmas albums of all-time. Mathis was a star basketball & high jump athlete who skipped the 1956 Olympic Trials to make his first studio recordings in NYC.
🎁 6 Days to Christmas – Some of the best, old, Christmas illustrations are on kids’ albums/singles from the 1950s/60s, including the Chipmunks, Spike Jones, and anything from Peter Pan Records.
🎅🏻 5 Days to Christmas – Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin lead the Rat Pack with holiday albums, although Sammy Davis recorded a few tracks as well.
🎼 4 Days to Christmas – Ella Fitzgerald put out 2 very different Christmas albums. The first (1960) had a crazy unicorn cover & was all secular songs. The second (1967) was Ella with church glass & all religious hymns.
☃️ 3 Days to Christmas – Burl Ives, the ‘Wayfarin’ Stranger’, was a successful radio performer & Academy Award winning actor before he narrated ‘Rudolph’ for Rankin Bass (1964). Ives re-recorded ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ and other soundtrack hits for this album in 1965. Another floating head album design, too!
❄️ 2 Days to Christmas – Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’ was written in 1948 and recorded fas an orchestra piece by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops a few months later. It was instantly popular and has been for almost 75 years. Lyrics were added by Michael Parish a year after it was originally recorded.
🎅🏻 1 Day to Christmas – Bing Crosby’s 1955 album, ‘Merry Christmas’, is the quintessential LP from the vinyl era. The album cover with Santa Bing is a classic. It’s a compilation of the best tracks from earlier Bing albums with ‘Silver Bells’ & ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ added.
🏆 Honorable Mentions …
M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S – !
2017 Countdown: Vintage Christmas Advertising
2018 Countdown: Christmas Classic Toys
2019 Countdown: Vintage Christmas Magazine Cover
2 thoughts on “Vintage Christmas Album Covers”
How about adding Eartha Kitt’s singing “Santa Baby” to your PG section, 8 days to Christmas and Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” to the classic music section. What a collection of great voices. I hear Brenda Lee sing Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree al the time and did not realize that she was so young when she recorded it.
My son’s attended a Catholic K-8 with an exceptional music teacher. One day he told me a story about one of his students commenting on how good and clear Bing Crosby’s voice was and he didn’t know they had AutoTuners back then. The teacher informed the student that they didn’t have AutoTuners back then, and his voice was really that good when they had to rely on talent.
Have a Merry Christmas.
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Those are all worthy choices – the honorable mention category here would be broad. I focused on popular music / albums from the 1940s-1960s, which is why ‘Nutcracker’ didn’t make the cut. The Les Brown or Duke Ellington versions would have been good from that era, though.
I read this NYT article from 1976 some time ago and it made me appreciate Bing’s vocal quality. He made huge investments in magnetic recording tapes that ended up being owned by 3M. One of your dividend stocks helps pay you out through Der Bingle’s foresight! https://www.nytimes.com/1976/12/05/archives/a-bel-canto-baritone-named-bing-crosby-bing-crosby-a-bel-canto.html
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