"18 Original Ruth Lyons Christmas Recordings .... This CD Will Take You Right Back To The 1950s & 1960s, December 2, 2006
By David Von Pein (Mooresville, Indiana; USA) -
By David Von Pein (Mooresville, Indiana; USA) -
If anyone reading this review happened to live in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area during the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s, this Audio-CD ("The Christmas Music Of Ruth Lyons") is sure to have you basking in the memories of hearing these 18 Christmas tunes, all written by Lyons, when they were sung every December on Cincinnati's live local TV variety/talk show, "The 50-50 Club".
I can remember regularly tuning in to Cincinnati's WLWT-TV to watch the "50-50 Club" during the Bob Braun years. The program was re-titled "The Bob Braun Show" in 1967 when Braun took over as host of the show after Ruth Lyons retired due to poor health. Ruth passed away, at the age of 81, on November 7, 1988. Bob Braun died on January 15, 2001. Lyons' and Braun's daily syndicated 90-minute program was one of the top-rated shows of its kind in the United States. In fact, the "50-50 Club" was the highest-rated daytime show in all of America in the year 1960, garnering ratings that were five times higher than all other competing daytime programs COMBINED!* * = This information comes from the excellent liner notes that are included in this Audio-CD package.
Many big-name guest stars would often appear on the Cincinnati-based "50-50 Club", including Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Dick Clark, and even Ronald Reagan. Bob Hope would also pop up on the show frequently when he visited Cincy. Members of the Cincinnati Reds' baseball club were also frequent visitors to the show's informal set. (I always liked it when Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, or Pete Rose would show up.) Christmastime was a favorite time of the year for regular members of the show (and for the program's loyal audience), because that meant the beginning of the "Christmas Countdown" at the beginning of each "Bob Braun Show". ("Five more days till Christmas, five more days till Christmas, five more days till Christmas, and Santa will be here!" -- remember that jingle at the start of each December show?)
The month of December in Cincinnati also meant that the "Ruth Lyons Children's Christmas Fund" was in full swing, with Bob (or Ruth) unveiling the current Fund total at the start of each show during December. The "Christmas Fund" was a charity which raised a great deal of money every year to help support area children's hospitals.
I'm sure that local Cincinnati residents also have fond memories of the several other local programs that were staples for many TV viewers in the '50s and '60s, including "The Paul Dixon Show" and "Midwestern Hayride". This CD of "The Christmas Music Of Ruth Lyons" contains -- to quote directly from the back of the CD jewel case -- "The original 1957-1963 recordings of her best-known holiday songs, featuring Ruby Wright, Marian Spelman, Bonnie Lou, Peter Grant and Bob Braun, with Cliff Lash and the 50-50 Club Band".
My favorite song out of this wonderfully-nostalgic batch of eighteen Ruth Lyons-composed Yuletide originals, and certainly the best-known of the lot, is "Let's Light The Christmas Tree", which is sung by Ruby Wright (a regular performer on "The 50-50 Club" for 20 years). That song is one that I believe can hold its own with many other classic and more well-known Christmas tunes.
"Let's Light The Christmas Tree" wasn't just a locally-known song in the Cincinnati area either -- it was recorded by Wright in a Chicago studio in the late 1950s and, somewhat amazingly, made it all the way into the "Top 100 Records" survey on the famed charts of Billboard magazine in December 1957 (ranking #41). In June 1958, Ruby Wright re-recorded "Let's Light The Christmas Tree" as part of Ruth Lyons' first LP record album, "Ten Tunes Of Christmas". The album, which was distributed only regionally in the Cincinnati area, sold more than 250,000 copies, a staggering figure considering the limited market in which it was made available.
As a side piece of trivia concerning that beautiful holiday tune ("Let's Light The Christmas Tree") -- The song was written by Ruth Lyons in the year 1943; and was composed by Ruth while she was driving on Cincinnati's Central Parkway on her way to work one day. The 18 songs that make up this CD collection were originally released on two different holiday albums in the '50s and '60s -- "Ten Tunes Of Christmas" (which came out in 1958) and "It's Christmastime Again" (1963). The original LP cover photos from both of those albums are shown on the paper insert (liner notes) that comes with this product.
Those Christmas LPs were first issued by Ruth Lyons' own "Candee Records", named after Ruth's daughter (Candy Newman). This CD re-issue was distributed by "X-Star Radio Network" in 1995. The liner notes that come with this Compact Disc are a real treat too, due to the inclusion of some very informative and interesting tidbits of info about Ruth Lyons' career and the history of these Christmas songs, plus the inclusion of five rarely-published "behind-the-scenes" photographs of Ruth Lyons (and company) during studio recording and rehearsal sessions.
CD Track List (audio quality is very good too): 1.) "Hey Nonny Nonny" 2.) "Soon 'Twill Be Christmas Eve" 3.) "Christmas Is Getting Mighty Close" 4.) "Christmas Is A Birthday Time" 5.) "Have A Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas" 6.) "The Happy Time" 7.) "There's No Time Like Christmas Time" 8.) "It's Christmas Time Again" 9.) "Sing A Song Of Christmas" 10.) "Christmas Marching Song" 11.) "This Is Christmas" 12.) "Always At Christmas Time" 13.) "Once Upon A Christmas Time" 14.) "All Because It's Christmas" 15.) "Christmas Lullaby" 16.) "Everywhere The Bells Are Ringing" 17.) "It's That Very, Very Special Time Of Year" 18.) "Let's Light The Christmas Tree" "