Welcome to Finnley’s Audio Adventures, where we take a deep dive into the weirdest and most offbeat records out there. I’m always on the lookout for hidden gems that will surprise and delight. From obscure business to business promotional materials to long forgotten radio jingles, you never know what sonic treasure we’ll unearth next. So strap in and get ready for a wild ride through the weird and wonderful world of music.

Recently, I stumbled upon a record that truly made a splash in my collection. “Radio Shack Presents Christmas With Santa And His Friends,” produced by Walt Jacobs in 1979, is a delightful journey through the holiday season that had me giggling and humming along to the catchy tunes.

Record sleeve for Radio Shack Presents "Christmas with Santa and His Friends" Story Coloring Book of The Adventures with Santa Inside.

The sleeve features the artwork from the coloring book with clouds with faces, polar bears, a snow fox, and elves. There is also a realistic painting of Santa Claus holding a cartoon mouse. 

It is also labeled CAT. No. 50-2051

The album opens with the music theme “A Ride With Santa,” setting the tone for the playful and whimsical journey that awaits. As Santa picks up reporter Dick in his sleigh, the story unfolds with a cast of colorful characters, including Slippery the Elf, Snowbell, and Tidbit the mascot mouse.

The songs on the album are a mix of classic Christmas tunes and original compositions by James Christensen, a composer who worked with Walt Disney Productions for over 37 years. His arrangements can be heard at theme parks around the world, including all the Disney parks, and his talent shines through in the music of “Christmas With Santa And His Friends.”

One of the standout tracks on the album is “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” sung by Santa himself. His jovial voice is infectious, and it’s hard not to feel the holiday cheer as he belts out the lyrics. Another memorable moment is when Santa and reporter Dick sing with the reindeer, their voices blending together in perfect harmony.

But it’s not all fun and games on this record. There are moments of tension and drama, such as when Santa gets lost in the fog and when Slippery the Elf plays a trick on reporter Dick. These moments add depth to the story and keep the listener engaged throughout.

James Christensen, the composer behind the delightful music of “Radio Shack Presents Christmas With Santa And His Friends,” was a prolific composer/arranger with over 400 published works to his credit. For twelve of his 37-plus years with Walt Disney Productions, he served as music director for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, conducting the All-American Marching Band at the grand opening of Euro-Disneyland in Paris on April 12, 1992.

Christensen’s talent wasn’t limited to the Disney parks, however. He appeared as a guest conductor with symphonic orchestras around the world, including the Houston, San Diego, Winnipeg, Honolulu, and New Orleans Pops. His arrangements can be heard at theme parks across the globe, from Knott’s Berry Farm to Movie World in Germany.

Despite his impressive resume, Christensen remained dedicated to sharing his love of music with the community. He guest conducted for high school, college, and community bands, and conducted the Community Band of America (Band at Sea) since 1994 until his passing in 2020. His contributions to the world of music will be remembered for years to come, and his work on “Christmas With Santa And His Friends” is just one example of his immense talent.

Regarding Radio Shack, in case you’re not acquainted, it was a prominent retail chain that specialized in providing a diverse range of consumer electronics, such as radios, computers, and various other gadgets. Since its inception in 1921, the company burgeoned to become a major player in the consumer electronics industry, boasting thousands of stores across the United States and beyond.

RadioShack was renowned for its dedication to hobbyists and do-it-yourself electronics enthusiasts, offering a vast assortment of components, parts, as well as finished products. However, the company encountered difficulties in keeping pace with shifting consumer preferences and the emergence of online shopping, eventually leading to its filing for bankruptcy twice, once in 2015 and again in 2017. Although RadioShack is still operational today, its presence is considerably diminished in comparison to its former glory.

Overall, “Radio Shack Presents Christmas With Santa And His Friends” is a charming and entertaining addition to any Christmas collection. The 28-page story coloring book that comes with the album is a delightful bonus, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in the world of Santa and his friends. Whether you’re looking for a fun family activity or just want to add a quirky and unique record to your collection, “Christmas With Santa And His Friends” is sure to bring a smile to your face and joy to your ears. So join me, Finnley the Dolphin, in this wacky and wonderful audio adventure, and let’s make some waves with the weird and wild world of music.

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