Technically, they were just "The Congregation"; the "English" bit was added for American release, presumably to avoid confusion with some other Congregation. This particular Congregation comprised a fairly large mixed choir and a fair-sized orchestra, fronted by veteran session vocalist Brian Keith (no, not that Brian Keith), and they were congregated by songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway for this particular song, written many years before and recorded by Cook and Greenaway themselves in 1967 under their "David and Jonathan" nom de disque. Intended as a novelty for the Christmas 1971 buying season, the record proved to have more staying power than EMI had anticipated, and rose to #4 on the British charts. Atlantic picked it up for American distribution Capitol, EMI's US affiliate, had evidently passed on it and it eased into the Top 30 in early 1972. Touring for the Congregation being out of the question, the group disbanded nearly as quickly as it had been assembled, though enough tracks were in the can for two more singles ("Lovers of the Worlds Unite", also from the David and Jonathan days, and "Jesahel", both issued on Signpost in the US) and two albums (Softly Whispering I Love You, Atlantic 7217, and Jesahel, Signpost 8405). The All-Music Guide reports that the late Plasmatics leader Wendy O. Williams was part of the choir on this track, which I suspect to be a database error.
Where can I get this on CD?
Time-Life's Sounds of the Seventies AM Pop Classics II (Warner Special Products OPCD-2715) and Rhino's Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 7 (R2 70927) are the easiest places to find this track.
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Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill
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