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DECCA 48185; NOVEMBER 1950



As if tossing in musical threads of a number of far-flung genres on the flip side wasn’t confounding enough, here Cecil Gant manages to add one he somehow missed…

Whoever was in charge of his October Christmas session had some balls, that’s for sure.

But that’s also what makes this interesting… a chance to see different ideas filtered into a transient – admittedly borderline – rock artist who somehow landed at a major label and amazingly didn’t conform to thei pre-existing ideals, but rather remained true to himself to the very end.


Stroll Through The Snow
The last person in this field you’d ever imagine as someone crooning a sweet song to a child would be Wynonie Harris… for rather obvious reasons.

But the SECOND most unlikely figure you’d picture doing so would be Cecil Gant, whose harsh metallic croak of a voice emanating from a throat that had been pickled in pure grain alcohol for years was someone who might frighten children… or adults for that matter, if he were sitting by your bedside in the dark on Christmas Eve delivering a lullaby like It’s Christmas Time Again.

Yet here he is doing just that and much like the flip-side, Hello Santa Claus, which despite being completely incongruous in many ways still retained enough charm to win you over, he pulls off the same trick here.

This one may be a little more focused lyrically and not have quite as many musical variations in its arrangement, but they’re both defined by the quirks of the man in the center of the room which, strange as it may seem, is sometimes enough for Cecil Gant to make things work.


Go To Sleep My Little Baby
The way this opens, as delicate as a snowflake, you’re almost afraid to take a deep breath for fear of breaking the spell.

Within seconds though you can’t help yourself from gasping because once again we have an instrument that seems to have wandered in from another studio entirely.

This is either a guitar borrowed from a recording session calling for a vaguely Hawaiian feel… or at least the music industry’s mid-century idea of what exotic trappings would convey the image of swaying palm trees and hula girls to their listeners who’d just moved to the suburbs. Of else it’s a zither hauled out of a German beer hall that is trying to replicate the feel of Anton Karas’s smash hit The Third Man Theme.

Either way this alien sound has no place on a record calling itself It’s Christmas Time Again… not that they don’t celebrate the holiday on the islands or in Germany, but rather the aural motif it offers is completely wrong for what Cecil Gant is singing.

Yet somehow it doesn’t detract from it much, if at all. Yes it sounds a little unusual in this setting but it’s also a very peaceful tone he’s using which lends itself to the hushed vocals that you imagine hearing at 7 years old with eyelids too heavy to stay awake much longer even with the promise of Santa Claus bringing you all that loot.

After the music box intro he offers Gant’s piano takes on a different vibe as it ripples during the break while the other instruments ease back into the darkness. Because his left hand maintains such a sleepy pace even as his right flashes more dexterity, the mood he sets is never quite broken. This is what these kind of songs do and why they’re so effective in helping parents get some peace and quiet when putting rambunctious kids to bed each night. If you’re not careful you might find yourself nodding off listening as well.

Your Time Will Be My Time
For his part Gant is remarkably engaging throughout this, painting a vivid picture of all of the thoughts swirling in every kid’s head on Christmas Eve as they drift off, not only with the familiar tropes of snow and Santa but also the relaxed reassuring manner in which he delivers it, making what is to follow seem inevitable rather than just an adult using whatever means necessary to get the child to settle down on the biggest night of their year.

So much of Christmas Eve is about winding down – odd in that the days leading up to it can be the most hectic of the season – and Gant was wise to tap into that feeling here. In that way It’s Christmas Time Again has a remotely similar mindset to the similarly titled Vince Guaraldi classic Christmas Time Is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas which debuted fifteen years later.

It’s definitely not the musical shadings which relate them, however tangentially, but rather the way it lazily unfolds itself and still manages to captivate those who tend to want to get right to the point in other circumstances.

All of which makes this a rather unique holiday offering. It’s certainly filled with too many peculiarities for it to ever be widely appreciated, from the instrumental choices to a voice that most would find harsh and grating, but if you let yourself shake free of what we think Christmas music should sound like, this has a way of eliciting a similar feeling of serenity as some of the more beloved classics in the annual playlist.

God Will Send Santa Claus To You
Just as it’s unfair to hold every singer cutting a Christmas record to the standard of Bing Crosby or Perry Como, it’s equally unfair to suggest that when someone deviated from that approach like Cecil Gant did, that he might be holding this composition back from broader acclaim.

But that being said you almost can’t help but wonder what a more traditional sounding singer might’ve done with It’s Christmas Time Again. In fact, considering Decca always had Crosby, the cornerstone of their label, cover songs from every conceivable realm – including having Hawaiian sounding guitars on a couple of tunes – it’s rather surprising they didn’t let him tackle this one too.

His surely would’ve been more in line with what we’ve come to expect out of Christmas, but while Cecil Gant’s record is hard to effusively praise for its specific parts they manage to add up to something sublime and poignant in their own unusual way.


(Visit the Artist page of Cecil Gant for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)