The Andrews Sisters were far and away the most successful female vocal group for the first half of the 20th century, with over a hundred singles on the charts. The secret of their success was an infectious, close-harmony style involving intricate vocal arrangements that suited the swing bands of that era. When World War II came along their tone matched perfectly the optimism the times needed, personified by their signature song, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." It is not surprising that LaVerne, Maxene and Patty produced a couple of Christmas albums during their time. "Winter Wonderland" brings together some choice selections from their holiday work.
A few of the songs the Andrews Sisters sing on this album are Christmas standards, namely "Winter Wonderland," "Sleigh Ride," and "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow." However, half the album consists of songs I have never heard before, with "Christmas Candles," "Merry Christmas Polka," "Jung-A-Ling Jing-A-Ling," "Christmas Tree Angel," and "Christmas Island." But surprisingly those "new" songs are the more interesting ones, mainly because beyond the title track the singing style of the Andrews Sisters does not suit the standards as well as it does these songs, many of which I suspect were written for their distinctive vocal approach.
This album also features a half-dozen songs with the girls singing with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. The Andrews Sisters had reached the Top 10 with both singers, having recorded "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," "Along the Navajo Trail," and "South America, Take It Alway," all with Crosby, "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)" with Kaye. Der Bingle is featured on "Jingle Bells," "Twelve Days of Christmas," "Here Comes Santa Claus," "The Toys Gave A Party For) Poppa Santa," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town. There is something compelling about the top female and male vocalists singing so many songs together. There are more such treats out there and you can find them on several of Crosby's Christmas collections. Kaye shows up for "Merry Christmas at Grandmother's," which is not bad, it just suffers from the comparison. Granted, this is an acquired taste in terms of holiday music, but for those raised on such songs there is more at work here than nostalgia.