One of the most popular chorale groups from the 1950s through to the 1970s was the one led by Norman Luboff, born in Chicago on May 14, 1917, an accomplished pianist who, after studying music at the University of Chicago and well as that city's Central College, did some vocal work and writing for local radio before re-locating to New York around 1946. In 1948 he moved to Hollywood where, after acting as choral director for the popular radio show, The Railroad Hour, he signed with Warner Brothers with whom he would eventually write the scores for close to 80 films, as well as many TV programs.
In the 1950s he formed the first of many incarnations of The Norman Luboff Choir and, in addition to dozens of his own albums for Columbia and RCA Victor, his vocal groups backed many stars of the day on some of their hit records, among them Doris Day (When I Fall In Love in 1952 and Mister Tap Toe in 1953), Jo Stafford (Jambalaya in 1952), Paul Weston (Nevertheless I'm In Love With You in 1950 and Charmaine in 1952), Dennis Day (Mister And Mississippi in 1951), Jimmy Boyd (I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952), Frankie Laine & Jimmy Boyd (The Little Boy And The Old Man and Tell Me A Story in 1953), and Frankie Laine (The Kid's Last Fight in 1954).
Among his own most popular albums were the two devoted to Christmas, starting with this one which first came out in 1956 as Columbia CL-926. A re-release in 1958 reached # 22 on Billboard's Pop album charts containing these tracks: 1. Medley - Joy To The World - I Saw Three Ships - We Three Kings Of Orient Are - O Little Town Of Bethlehem; 2. Medley - What Child Is This? - The Twelve Days Of Christmas - Baloo Lammy; 3. Medley - The Holly And The Ivy - A La Nanita Nana - Joseph, Dearest Joseph Mine - Whence Comes This Rush Of Wings; 4. Medley - The First Nowell - Wassail, Wassail All Over The Town - God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; 5. Medley - O Tannenbaum - O Holy Night - The Coventry Carol; 6. The Wassail Song (Here We Come A-Caroling) - O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) - Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly - Silent Night, Holy Night.
In 1963, the tracks were re-recorded and re-released in stereo as Columbia CS-8846, and this version first charted at # 57 in 1965 on Billboard's Christmas charts, and again at # 44 in 1966. Meanwhile, in 1964, RCA Victor released their album, Christmas With The Norman Luboff Choir (RCA Victor 2941) with these tracks, side 1 of which simply re-issued a different mix of 12 of the titles that first appeared in the above Columbia album:
1. Medley - Joy To The World - O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - O Holy Night; 2. Medley - Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly - Baloo Lammy - The Wassail Song (Here We Come A-Caroling) - O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles); 3. Medley - God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen - Whence Comes This Rush Of Wings - The First Noel; 4. Silent Night; 5. Jingle Bells; 6. The Little Drummer Boy; 7. Silver Bells; 8. Do You Hear What I Hear?; 9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; 10. White Christmas.
Both albums are now available in CD format, the first from Sony Special products in 1995, and the second from (shudder) Madacy in 2002.
One quality re-mastered CD release containing that original Columbia configuartion and side 2 of that RCA Victor 1964 release would be a welcome sight.