Greetings from Asheville, where the good music is always on the turntable. Continuing our look at some classic Country Christmas albums, by heading back to 1970 for Charley Pride’s holiday release, Christmas In My Home Town.
1970 had been a good year for Charley Pride. Entering the fall, he was in the midst of six consecutive number one hits. His albums were selling as well as anyone’s in the genre, and now it was time for an album of Christmas tunes.
The project began in earnest in May 1970, when nine of the album’s ten tracks were recorded. The tenth, “They Stood in Silent Prayer”, had been recorded in August 1969 and released as a single that November. All the recording was done in RCA Victor’s Nashville studios. Several prominent names took part in the sessions; Billy Grammar (guitar), Lloyd Green (steel), Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano), and Johnny Gimble (fiddle), among others. Christmas In My Hometown entered the marketplace in November 1970 and the title track was concurrently released as a single. Both did well, that year, as the album was the fifth best-selling Christmas album for the year, while the single garnered a number eleven placing.
The title track opens things, and even almost fifty years later, this is still one of my favorite Christmas songs. It sets the pace for the rest of the album. Bouncy, lite, and lyrically sound, with an easy-to-follow melody.
Charley’s straightforward take on “Deck the Halls” feels like how the song was meant to be performed. To me, Ed Ames did the best version of this classic; Charley’s is number two.
“The Stood in Silent Prayer” had been released as a single in 1969, a year before the album. Simply put, it’s an outstanding tune. Fortunately, it’s gotten its share of airplay over the years. The beautiful description of Jesus’ birth and those who witnessed him in the manger. Love this one.
“Santa And the Kids” is a bouncy tune that reminds the kids that they need to be asleep on Christmas Eve, or else ol’ St. Nick will leave if he sees you peaking. Cute? Yes. Classic? No. A fun song to hear from time to time, that again, gets you into that holiday spirit.
Side one ends with Charley’s version of “Silent Night”. Again, nothing fancy, it’s a good, straightforward version.
On the record, side two opens with “Little Drummer Boy”. It’s a good version, albeit a bit quicker pace than normal. The Charley Pride baritone is a perfect vehicle for this classic.
Gotta love “Happy Christmas Day”, as well. It’s one of those songs that has a pleasant feel to it. A nice listing of things that help to make Christmas Day what it should be, mentioning both religious and secular things.
“The First Christmas Morn” is an okay track. Another cut that talks of that first Christmas; it’s not bad, but compared to “They Stood in Silent Prayer” …
“Christmas And Love” has a great message that should be heard by all.
The album’s final track is the always beautiful “O Holy Night. Again, the Charley Pride baritone is a perfect vehicle for this song. I like the quicker pace he sings. Too often, you hear someone sing it so slow that it drags, but that’s not an issue, here. And such a great way to wrap this album.
Initially released on album and 8-track, Christmas In My Home Town also seen life on cassette, CD, and MP3 download. Several years later, RCA repackaged it as Happy Christmas Day. Currently, it’s still available on CD and MP3. As for used copies, the Goldmine price guide gives a near-mint value of $25 for the original release with the LSP prefix, and $15 for the later reissue with the ANL prefix. Used copies can be had for as little as $5 on sites such as Amazon and eBay.
When I first wrote a review for this album on the old blog back in 2010, I read some customer reviews as research. And I found it interesting that one thing kept coming up again and again. Most everyone commented that Charley Pride Christmas In My Home Town was the family favorite that was always played during the decoration of the tree. An album that brings back the warm fuzzies for many people. Understandably so; it’s an excellent album, by one of the best country singers of all-time. This was the third most listened to Christmas album of my youth, trailing only the Christmas sounds of the two Ed’s, Ames and Arnold. An album that I still try to play at least once a year, as it is still one of my all-time favorites.
Your thoughts and comments are always welcome! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.