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The Last Month of the Year
(Capitol T/ST-1446)

 

LINER NOTES:

THE KINGSTON TRIO
THE LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR

Here, in one of the most beautiful and unusual collections of Christmas music ever recorded, are songs that capture the sound and spirit of December. -- the last month of the year when people the world over celebrate, in many different ways, the joys of the holiday season.

None of the songs in this album is deeply religious. Instead, each one carries a message that is universal, reaching beyond the story of Christmas to encompass the traditional spirit of rejoicing and good will shared by people of all faiths during this most wonderful time of year.

Some of the carols trace their ancestry to medieval Europe and England, where they began not as sacred music, but rather as lovely popular songs, usually with a strong devotional flavor.. Many, in fact, were well-known folksongs which were adapted for this album by the Kingston Trio.

Researching and collecting these tunes was indeed a labor of love for Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds and Bob Shane. Each member of the group made his own, personal contribution, choosing the carols which to him best conveyed the spirit of the season. The result is a collection of songs of rare beauty, reflecting a sincere Yuletide sentiment that is shared alike by the Kingston Trio -- peace and good will the whole year round.

BYE BYE THOU LITTLE CHILD, or the Coventry Carol, appeared originally in early 1534 as part of the mystry play "The Pageant of the Shearmen and The Tailors." In one scene of the drama. Mothers of Bethlehem croon this lullaby to their tiny babies after hearing the terrible order of King Herod to slay all infants under the age of two. The tune is the earliest known version, predates by 57 years the words that were written for the pageant itself. Found all over Europe, the British Isles, and Middle Russia, the modal melody, enhanced here by the celeste, remains in a minor key but ends on the major third for an especially beautiful effect.

WHITE SNOWS OF WINTER, adapted from Brahm's First Symphony, is a Christmas love song, arranged by Bob in collaboration with Tom Drake. The beautiful musical setting is evocative of the lover's plight and its resolution with the arrival of Christmas.

WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS, May be performed as a round if desired, as it used to be in Worcestershire, with different verses. The Kingston Trio particularly wanted to use The Weavers arrangement and version of this tune, since they feel it is the classic rendition of the song. In effect, they wished strongly to second the motion stated so significantly in the bridge: "Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around?"

ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, with its stately harmonies and gentle melodic contours, creates the mood of the holiday season as felicitously as any carol. As the Trio so aptly sums up this tranquil offering, "Christmas should be softly spoken . . . "

GOODNIGHT MY BABY, a father's tenderly-sung lullaby for his baby son on Christmas eve, anticipates the excitement in store for both parent and child the following day. Nick's status as a new father contributes a meaningful touch to the situation portrayed.

GO WHERE I SEND THEE, serves as a children's go-round today, but was once, with an altered text, a part of the Jewish Passover service. Known originally as "The Carol of the Twelve Numbers." This cumulative song is at least 1500 years old. At present, scholars are uncertain whether the Christians adapted the song from the Jews, or visa-versa. In this spirited rendition, the bass of Buck Wheat, a permanent adjunct to the Trio, adds effective rhythmic stimulus to the accompaniment.

FOLLOW NOW, OH SHEPHERDS, is and aguinaldo, a traditional Christmas carol frequently in couplet form. The term aguinaldo also means "gift." In Puerto Rico at Christmas time, costumed singers journey through the vilages, asking for and singing aguinaldos. The Spanish influence becomes apparent in the lilting accompaniment, which weaves a polyrhythmic network in 6/8 time beneath the singing of the Trio in 4/4.

SOMERSET GLOUCESTERSHIRE WASSAIL, a combination of traditional English tunes dating from the 18th century, served as musical fare for troupes of carolers who, carrying bowls of spiced ale, traveled from house to house toasting the master. The word wassail derives from the Old English wes hal which was a wish for good luck or good health. To this lusty wassail song, the Bouzouki adds a harpsichord-like sound.

MARY MILD, a version of the ballad "The Bitter Withy," is found on an Oriental legend known is Europe before the end of the eleventh century. The story, not found in official church writings, tells of Jesus at the age of eleven being chastised by Mary for building a bridge of sunbeams to illustrate his divine power to neighborhood children who refuse to play with a child so humble born. The "bridge of sunbeams" miracle has been traced from Egypt to Ireland, and to the lives of the medieval saints.

AROUND ABOUT CHRISTMAS is an old children's round based on an English nursery rhyme. As the line "Please to put a penny in the old man's hat" suggests, the tune is often sung while the hat is being passed around for holiday collections.

SING WE NOEL was once used with appropriate text as an Easter song entitled "Love Is Come Again." Based on a lovely bell-like old melody associated with the carol "Noel Nouvelet," the piece combines verses in the Dorian mode with a refrain of middle eastern character, the Bouzouki heightening the oriental flavor.

THE LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR, while not specifically a spiritual, apparently provides children with a convenient method of memorizing the proper order of the months by means of oral transmission. The song was given to the Kingston Trio by Alan Lomax who, along with Pete Seeger, is investigating the Southern Negro backgrounds of the tune. The blue-toned banjo countermelody lends a further note of interest to the Trio's rocking performance.

Produced by VOYLE GILMORE

Pictured above is the Bouzouki, a Greek instrument with a unique sound somewhat similar to a lute or mandolin. The Bouzouki which is used so effectively in this album was made especially for the Kingston Trio by George Atanasiou of New York.

COMPILATION PRODUCED AND RESEARCHED BY RON FURMANEK
DIGITALLY REMASTERED BY BOB NORBERG AT CAPITOL RECORDING STUDIOS, JULY 1989
ANNOTATION BY BOB FURMANEK
SPECIAL THANKS TO: ROBIN CALLOT, DAVE GUARD, NICK REYNOLDS AND PAUL SURRATT.
THIS RECORDING WAS MASTERED FROM THE ORRIGINAL 3 TRACK MASTER SESSION TAPES -- STEREO "ADD."
SINGS REMIXED BY RON FURMANEK AND BOB NORBERG.
1. BYE BYE THOU LITTLE CHILD
(
Dave Guard) Time: 2:35
Sanga Music BMI
Master # 33988 -- Take 19 Recorded June 16, 1960
8. SOMERSET GLOUCESTERSHIRE WASSAIL
(
D. Guard / E. Schwandt) Time: 1:47
Sanga Music BMI
Master # 33993 -- Take 25 Recorded June 17, 1960
2. WHITE SNOWS OF WINTER
(
B. Shane / T. Drake) Time: 2:34
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 34042 -- Take 10 Recorded June 23, 1960
9. MARY MILD
(
Stafford / Shane / Drake) Time: 2:50
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 33987 -- Take 22 Recorded June 16, 1960
3. WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
(Paul Campbell) Time: 1:34
TRO-Filkways Music Publishers, Inc. BMI
Master # 33991 -- Take 19 Recorded June 17, 1960
10. AROUND ABOUT CHRISTMAS
(
Nick Reynolds) Time: 1:30
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 33989 -- Take 24 Recorded June 16, 1960
4. ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT
(
Nick Reynolds) Time: 2:44
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 33990 -- Take 39 Recorded June 17, 1960
11. SING WE NOEL
(
Dave Guard) Time: 2:03
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 34043 -- Take 28 Recorded June 23, 1960
5. GOODNIGHT MY BABY
(
Nick Reynolds) Time: 1:54
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 33996 -- Take 21 Recorded June 16, 1960
12. THE LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR (What Month Was Jesus Born In)
(Hall / Tartt / Lomax) Time: 2:37
TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. BMI
Master # 34006 -- Take 35 Recorded June 21, 1960
6. GO WHERE I SEND THEE
(
Guard / Reynolds / Shane) Time: 2:31
Unichappell Music Inc. BMI
Master # 34007 -- Take 28 Recorded June 21, 1960
  The Last Month Of The Year" was originally released on October 3, 1960 (Capitol ST-1446)
Charted Billboard December 5, 1960 Reached #11
7. FOLLOW NOW, OH SHEPHERDS
(Gretchen Guard) Time: 2:49
Sanga Music BMI
Master # 33992 -- Take 17 Recorded June 17, 1960
  Recorded at Capital Studios, Hollywood
Produced by Voyle Gilmore
Engineered b
y Pete Abbot

(p) (c) 1989 Capitol Records, Inc. Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., a subsidiary of Capitol EMI Music, Inc.Hollywood and Vine Streets, Hollywood, California. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is violation of applicable laws.

 

 

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Last revised:March 30, 2006.