Have a Ding Dong Dandy Christmas Redux
I originally posted this two years ago, along with a downloadable file of one of the tunes (no longer available here). I'm reposting it for this holiday season with a link to the Psychotic Leisure Music blog, which has the full album available for download. Just make sure you read the instructions carefully.
As a result of my original post I was contacted by a woman who found this because her husband is also related to the Nevins brothers, and she had been doing genealogical research on the family. Through her I found out all sorts of things about my father and his family that she had dug up in public records. So now I know that my father's birth name was Aaron, not Harry. My father died when I was two years old, so I never really knew him. My mother apparently didn't know everything either, as the revelation about his name came as a total surprise to her.
When I was a kid this was the only Christmas album we had in our secular Jewish household. The only reason we had a copy was because two of The Three Suns, Al and Morty Nevins, were my father's cousins. We were on a comp list, and RCA Victor sent us every new Three Suns release. I never actually met the Nevins brothers, and both are long gone. Perhaps it's just family pride, but I consider "A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas" the greatest Christmas album of all time.
The Three Suns got together in the early forties. The trio consisted of Al on guitar, Morty on accordion, and their cousin Artie Dunn on Hammond organ. They had a number of hits, beginning with "Twilight Time," an original instrumental eventually better known for the Platters' vocal version. Among the Suns' many fans was Mamie Eisenhower, who once said they were her favorite musical group. The original trio toured and recorded for about a decade, but by the mid-fifties there were, in essence, two parallel Three Suns. Artie Dunn kept a touring trio together, and Al Nevins produced of a number of studio albums featuring augmented instrumentation and arrangements that often went over the top. These Suns albums are coveted by contemporary fans of "lounge" or "space-age bachelor pad" music.
Al Nevins himself didn't play on most of these later recordings. He had made a very successful move to the business side, both as an A&R man for RCA Victor and as the young Don Kirshner's partner in the Brill Building's hit factory Aldon Music. Among the songwriters in the Aldon stable were Neil Sedaka, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.
The RCA Three Suns albums utilized several different arrangers, but the wildest charts were penned by a true genius of instrumental wackiness, Charles Albertine. Albertine is responsible for the arrangements on the Christmas album.
Here are the original liner notes:
Is there one person you like? Not just like, but really like? Is he a pretty swingin' guy? A pal who gets a kick out of things? A kid who spends a lot of time learning that life, after all, is for fun? This album is for those people. It's a gone album, gang, with the kind of melodic surprises we've come to expect from The Three Suns.
The Suns have remained the same over the years. But, as on other of their recent hits, they've added instruments. They've got some novel ones here: chimes, bells, an oboe and two tubas.
The result of this lineup is a collection of melodic Christmas songs with a real crazy rhythm. The beat is Cha-Cha, Merengue and Rock 'n' Roll, all wrapped up in one. These are not carols, mind you, just songs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer hangs out here, and so does Alvin, star of The Chipmunk Song. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town in this album, going through a Winter Wonderland to the tune of Jingle Bells as he takes his Sleigh Ride—all to the fun arrangements of Charles Albertine.
If, after listening to these, you think you've heard everything, hold still a minute as the Suns and their helpers bring a weird, exotic sound to White Christmas and such other lovely tunes as Skaters Waltz and The Christmas Song.
Santa Claus has been pushing his staff at the North Pole hard all year with only one thing in mind: fun. If you want to lend him a helping hand, give this album to someone you really like this Christmas. If he's spirited, if he's swingin', if he's a ding-dong dandy guy, he'll love it.