The Kingston Trio

The Last Month of the Year

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Released in 1960, when the Kingston Trio were one of the most popular recording acts in the U.S.A., The Last Month of the Year did not tear up the charts as expected. It peaked at number 11, a relatively low placement given their popularity, and it didn't become a catalog item, which is the ultimate goal of any holiday record. The reason why The Last Month of the Year failed to become an accepted standard is due entirely to its ambition. Most musicians stick to the tried-and-true carols but the Kingston Trio dug deep into unheralded English, European, and American spiritual and carol songbooks. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," an old English carol, as is often performed, as is the Wassailing song, and the Weavers had popularized "Go Where I Send Thee," but most of The Last Month of the Year would've been unfamiliar to 1960 audiences, as it would be to modern listeners. This may have doomed the album to obscurity but it's a remarkable record, one that's canny in its construction and heartfelt in execution. The Last Month of the Year celebrates the deep history of the holiday while showcasing the trio's warm harmonies and sensitive, savvy interpretative skills. It may not have made many waves at the time but it remains one of the most distinctive -- and best -- holiday records.

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