Patric J. Miller
Music from A Claymation Christmas Celebration
The CBS Television Special Original Air Date
Dec. 21st 1987
were two different worlds of music in regards to the Claymation
Christmas Celebration. The first cycle is from the actual
television broadcast on CBS. As the company the sells the
video doesn't allow full length YouTube versions of the
show, the best thing available other than BUYING
your own copy, are various YouTube videos posted by fans
over the years.
While I make nothing on video sales, I strongly suggest
owning the complete video, as much of the charm comes from
the clever writing of the banter between the "hosts"
Herb and Rex from head writer Ralph Liddle.
the original music master tapes somewhere...the operative
word being "somewhere."
second cycle came about after the TV broadcast was a hit,
and an album on Atlantic Records was produced and released
shortly after receiving the Emmy Award for Best Animated
Program. The album was more elaborate in production, and
a great chance to showcase the talents of a number of Northwest
musicians and singers.
We Come a Waffling
This is the first music cut from the special, and sets up
the running gag with Herb and Rex about "What is Wassailing?"
As with much of the work on the show, I produced all of
the backing music in my own studio, using few outside musicians,
as the original budget simply wouldn't allow more. Once
CBS was on board, we were able to add voices and talent
to the roster. In this case, the Dogs singing are all pretty
much me…altering my voice on multiple tracks. Greg Black
and Will Vinton are added into the post mix for the Voice-overs.
Three Kings Bop
This is one of the cuts from the special that I hear time
and time again is a childhood favorite. I suspect it has
to do with the great animation as well as the battle between
the kings and the camels to see whose version will win out.
While I performed and produced all of the music again on
this one, the voices of the kings and camels were local
talent. The kings were local choir directors Dan Sachs and
Jim Steinberger, as well as their deep-voiced friend, Pat
Harryman. The camels were sung by the incredible Ron Tinsely
and myself. Great fun.
of the Bells
This is one of my favorites from a purely funny, clever
animation standpoint. I believe that John Logue was the
primary director on this…but Craig Bartlett's voice is the
narrator- so I am not really sure on that. What I do know,
is that I still laugh every time I see it, and creating
the perfect bell sound, as well as being able to sync them
up to final video was a nightmare. This is completely played
by hand, and was edited several times to match the action.
we come a Waddling
The next version of the mangling of the word Wassail. This
one is near and dear to my heart as my wife, Debbie voiced
one of the geese. We always like to imagine that she is
the "blonde" goose. Roxy Ragozzino (a local musical theater
legend) and our next-door neighbor, Bernadette Coughlin,
rounded out the geese. Featured on this one is Julia Heydon
on the crumhorn…and ancient, reed instrument that sounds
more like a goose than a clarinet…it's distant cousin.
(none found yet)
Oh Christmas Tree
This is the one song that broke my heart to cut from the
follow-up album. The powers that be felt that it didn't
fit the general "rock" flavor of the record. It
features the angelic voices of my two daughters, Joni and
Amy who were ages eleven and nine at the time. They are
now grown with babes of their own, as the old song goes.
We Have Heard on High Walrus Dance
I created this piece using keyboards, samplers, and some
live percussion. It was by far the most challenging piece,
as it had to be scored as a guide track, then post scored
to match the final action. Timing the plopping penguins
was the first time I used the amazing SMPTE capability of
Robert Keller's 64 Track sequencing program, that allowed
me to place hit points in the score to one 3,000th of a
second. Pretty cool. I love the action, and the loopy, fluid
feel of the arrangement.
we Come a Wallowing
This is the final version of the attack on Wassailing. It
is ironically the first piece I did as a demo, turning it
out almost overnight to get the attention of John Logue
and Ralph Liddle, who were in charge of the initial project.
It features some live, bombastic tuba playing by Jesse Graham
(a symphonic player, and then (current?) member of the local
"heavy metal tuba band" here in Eugene.
to the World
This is one of my favorite pieces both graphically and musically.
The clay painting animation by Christina Sells Tooke is
beautiful. It was the song that changed the whole direction
of the video, and propelled it from "home video release"
to National Network Special. I played all of the instruments,
except for the blistering sax solo by NW jazz great Warren
Rand (recorded live in my laundry room with mic cables running
down the hall). The voice is again, the amazingly smooth
and soulful Ron Tinsely, one of the best singers I have
ever had the pleasure to have worked with. Ron sings lead,
as well as the bass part. I fill in the middle and high
parts. The original demo has a blues harp part where Warren's
sax part now resides... Warren's part won hands down.
with the California Raisins
This was the add-on song that some would say dated and sunk
the special from becoming an annual perennial favorite like
"Rudolph" with Burle Ives, or the Charlie Brown special.
Because the contracts with the Raisin Board, and competing
Raisin albums- I personally think that the dancing balls
of clay got over-exposed, and were even parodied on the
Simpsons (by creator Matt Groening, brother to Lisa Groening
who is married to then, Vinton animator Craig Bartlett).
ANYWAY… this was the only real "Big Time Production" from
the video- in that I was told to copy the Barry Gordy- Motown
version lick for lick…which we did…and it took a large studio
to capture the amazing voices of Portland's Streetcorner
Singers who sang the Temptations parts. I played all of
the instruments, recording most of the basic tracks in my
home studio, then syncing them up in Portland's Spectrum
Studio. Great sound. Hope Barry liked it.
we come a Wassailing- The Final Version
In the end, Herb and Rex finally are inundated by a huge
group of singing leprechons, and later the "entire cast
of characters" singing the correct words to the lyrics.
Because it was impossible to bring everyone back for a short
overdub, my wife Debbie and I did all of the voices…including
the rather lame cut-away of the Raisins, but overdubbing,
and pitch shifting our voices to match the different characters.
Fun…and as I remember frantic…as we had to do it all in
one night to be added to the show the next day.