Edie Adams,
The Edie Adams Christmas Album
(Omnivore, 2012)

If you're unfamiliar with Edie Adams, look up her history -- she was a true triple threat: Broadway, television and film, as well as even cigar commercials. She was a buxom blonde that held her own with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Rosemary Clooney and Mitzi Gaynor. Even though Adams was in her heyday at the same time as Christmas album alums like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, et al., her Christmas/holiday-themed performances haven't been available until now.

The Edie Adams Christmas Album has collected her on-air performances of Christmas and holiday songs from her first husband Ernie Kovacs' television show for a new generation to enjoy. An interesting element is that it's not just cuts of song performances, but also includes some back-and-forth (seemingly unscripted) dialogue and even a backstage shout (at the end of "Silver Bells").

This album has the classic go-to holiday songs ("Let It Snow," "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas") and it should come as no surprise that they're all very nice. Even those that tire of the over-played songs will still enjoy these renditions; however, there are also some song selections that are familiar but not as frequent in rotation, such as "It's Christmas Time" (has anyone from that era other than Bing Crosby recorded that song?) and "I Wonder As I Wander." The latter is a hymn often heard in church, but is typically too "church-y" for these albums. Adams starts off a cappella and is later joined with a very understated piano accompaniment. It's a very pleasant rendition that displays Adams' range and control.

A true rarity is the delightful "It's a Marshmallow World." I grew up with dozens of Christmas cassettes (seriously, my Dad had two cassette suitcases he'd keep in his car all of November and December), and that's a song that isn't included on many Christmas albums. Perhaps because it clocks in at less than a minute? Regardless, Adams performs it with infectious peppy energy. There's even a blooper-ish moment where (presumably) she's fed a marshmallow and tries to finish the song, complete with a cute giggle.

It's not just all Adams on this album, there are some duets with Ernie Kovacs. While Adams & Kovacs have a great duet on "Silver Bells," I can't say the same for "Household/Holiday Blues." It's not bad, but it's so awkward -- kind of like hearing your grandmother start rapping or sing hardcore metal. Before singing the song, Adams mentions they were requested to sing it again. For a supposed "blues" song, it is the most saccharine-meets-starch (OK, just call it "white") version of blues you'll ever hear. Just remember the context (1950s broadcast television) and I'm sure singing blues on the air was considered risque.

This album may seem like it's being released to get some of that Bing Crosby and Rat Pack Christmas album money. Maybe it is, but it's also a historic compilation of songs previously unreleased since their original broadast by a truly talented star. The Edie Adams Christmas Album is an audio snapshot of the past that is certain to entertain.

music review by
C. Nathan Coyle

10 November 2012

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