FROHE WEIHNACHTSGRÜSSE

A mystery Christmas record for Christmas. This one-sided 45 has riddle written all over it. Who made them? Why two Christmas Records? Why Harold M. Kirchstein? Help me solve the riddle.

I bought these two very similar 45s, credited to a Harold M. Kirchstein, at a local second-hand record store. Both have white labels, are hand-decorated with Victorian die-cut Santa Clauses and wrapped in plain paper sleeves. The one with the small hole has the words  Liebe Weihnachtsgrüsse, Harold M. Kirchstein and the speed 33 1/3 written in red marker. The other one with the large hole says Frohe Weihnachtsgrüsse, plus the name and the same 33 1/3 speed. The first thing you´ll find is the name. Harold M. Kirchstein (1906 -1993) was better known in the world of popular music as Henri René. I own a few of René´s 45s backing Eartha Kitt.

But it´s not Harold M. Kirchstein or Henri René  that is heard on these records. These elaborate Christmas joke records were made by a smart and sophisticated person not so long ago. The small hole 45 even has Henri René written in the outer grooves, plus I – m – re – I. Further the small hole 45 cites the swingin´ Ach, verzeih’n sie meine Dame, Gottlieb Schulze mein Name, a song written by Harold M. Kirchstein and recorded in 1936 by Peter Igelhoff. The lyrics also mention Die Goldene Sieben, one of the top German swingin´ orchestra in the 1930s, co-founded by Kirchstein. Harold M. Kirchstein left Germany in 1937. The whole record musically hints at the German-American story of Henri René. A story that has not been told in full yet. Let´s hear:

HAROLD M. KIRCHSTEIN, Frohe Weihnachtsgrüsse

Two minutes into his goofy Christmas collage you´ll hear a sample of the Singing Dogs version of Jingle Bells. Frohe Weihnachten und Prosit Neujahr! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

HAROLD M. KIRCHSTEIN, Liebe Weihnachtsgrüsse

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