The LoTiempos of Niagara Falls, NY
I have something very cool for you to celebrate Christmas this year.
‘The Coldest Night of the Year’ is – like ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ (kind of the other side of this particular coin) is more specifically a ‘winter’ song, but has become associated with Christmas since it was first recorded in 1965.
Contrary to what you might have heard over the years, the original version wasn’t recorded by Twice as Much with Vashti Bunyan (whose version is quite good) but by Nino Tempo and April Stevens.
I have been in the midst of a major rediscovery/exploration of the Nino & April catalog (expect a special edition of the Iron Leg Radio Show), and one of the things I discovered was their version of the song.
Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, ‘The Coldest Night of the Year’ was recorded by Nino and April for their 1965 ‘Hey Baby’ album.
At the time, they were under contract to Atco, and while they were still having some small amount of success, their last big hit was ‘Stardust’ in 1964, and they wouldn’t hit big again until ‘All Strung Out’ in 1966.
Their contract with Atco was running out, and though the ‘Hey Baby’ album is excellent, thanks to Tempo’s knack for experimentation and studio skill and the duo’s harmonies, it wasn’t promoted and sank without much notice (which is why it tends to be fairly expensive and hard to find these days).
Their version of ‘The Coldest Night of the Year’ is a gentle slice of folk pop with a chorus that builds nicely. It never attains the Wall of Sound heights that Tempo was capable of, but it is a pretty song, performed with subtlety.
Bunyan would record the song in 1968 with the duo Twice as Much, and it was done again this year by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward under their ‘She and Him’ guises.
It’s a groovy song, and I’ll be back sometime in the new year with a comprehensive look and Nino and April.