Originally released in 1963 just as televisionâ€™s Bonanza was climbing to #1 in the Nielsenâ€™s, Christmas on the Ponderosa was one of several commercial tie-ins that accompanied the showâ€™s success. Released by RCA, the thirteen tracks feature the golden throats of Bonanzaâ€™s four stars – Dan Blocker, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon and Pernell Roberts – performing in character, along with the backing vocals of the Ken Darby Singers. The album is structured as a story, with the Cartwright clanâ€™s caroling neighbors invited into the Ponderosaâ€™s ranch house for a Christmas party. The music includes both traditional and new Christmas songs, and theyâ€™re held together by continuity that includes toasts, elegies, dramatic conversations and humorous dialog.
Pernell Roberts proved himself the familyâ€™s standout singer on his lone track,â€œThe Newborn King.â€ His solo album, Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies, was also released by RCA the same year, and here he sings in a similar folk style. Michael Landon is appealing on â€œOh Fir Tree Dearâ€ and the novelty â€œSanta Got Lost in Texas,â€ and though Dan Blocker gives it a go on â€œDeck the Halls,â€ his gifts are better applied to the recitation of â€œThe First Christmas Tree.â€ Lorne Greene uses his sonorous voice to conjure both gravitas and humor in his performances, as he would later employ on the chart-topping single, â€œRingo.â€ In addition to the Christmas albumâ€™s thirteen tracks, this reissue adds the first-ever CD release of Lorne Greeneâ€™s 1965 seasonal album, Have a Happy Holiday, and both sides of his 1966 single â€œMust Be Santaâ€ b/w â€œOne Solitary Life.â€
The Bonanza characters provided a surprisingly sturdy platform for acting, singing and merchandising. The Christmas album followed the castâ€™s initial 1962 foray into recording, Ponderosa Party Time, and was in turn followed by Lorne Greeneâ€™s 1964 album Welcome to the Ponderosa (both of which are included in Bear Familyâ€™s Bonanza box set). This Christmas collection includes remastered audio by Mike Piacentini at Sonyâ€™s Battery Studios, liner notes by The Second Discâ€™s Joe Marchese, and rare cast photos. Christmas on the Ponderosaâ€™s sing-along party theme will add a celebratory spark to your own holiday gathering, and the addition of Lorne Greeneâ€™s follow-up album and single adds another gift under the tree. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]