Christmas Presence With You (Music Man Records)
Larry Hale

By Jean Metcalfe

Christmas came early to this reviewer's office. A small box from Music Man Records was in the mailbox in mid-November. "Here it is, your Christmas presence from me," began the letter from Charlie Walls, the Springfield, Ky., guy who put the Man in Music Man.

Inside the box was a cassette copy of Walls' latest project, Christmas Presence With You. If I hadn't already been forewarned, I probably would have correctly guessed that the title cut was the handiwork of Walls and his business partner, Sam Reid, of "Puns & Hooks Are Us." (It ain't everybody who can come up with a song that's called "The Last Time I'll Let You Down," about a cheatin' sonovagun who, as his wife's coffin is lowered into the ground, moans that it's the last time he'll let her down. As Walls is wont to say about songs that he likes, "It's a pretty good little tune."

Well, Charlie, this album is also a pretty good little Christmas album.

Larry Hale, the artist, does a pleasant enough job on the 12 songs, two of which he wrote. Besides the two originals from Walls and Reid, Hale pleasantly covers some half-dozen holiday classics, including "White Christmas," "Blue Christmas," and "Jingle Bell Rock." Then there's the cheerful "Santa's Little Workshop," penned by local songwriter Earl Meyers, which is assigned to a publishing company that I'm a part of. (Charlie, I do miss the mood-setting whistling on Earl's version.)

To be perfectly honest, I don't buy many Christmas albums, usually sticking with familiar carols sung by favorite artists. Willie's Pretty Papers comes to mind. But heck, once a year I'll listen to "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

Hale has obviously been influenced by The King, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I'll have a blue Christmas without you . . . thank you, thank you verra much.

If you're willing to invest a little time and money in a regional product, pick up a cassette or CD of Larry Hale's Christmas Presence With You at your local record store. Then stop on the way home for a quart of nog and prepare to get the Christmas spirit.

If your local record store is sold out when you stop by, get in touch with Music Man Records at P.O. Box 303, Springfield, KY 40069; 606-336-9839.