Clinch Mountain Echo

V/A - Christmas Time's A Comin'

Featuring In The Heat Of The Night Cast & Friends

(Sonlite SON 140) 1991

Christmas Time's A Comin'
CD Tray Rear Cover Inner Booklet Inner Booklet
Randall Franks Randall and Jimmy Martin Chubby Wise and Randall Randall and Ralph Stanley
Jim and Jesse with Mac Wiseman

Average Album Rating: 3.75
(Total votes 4)

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This charity Christmas album was the brainchild of Randall Franks and Alan Autry, who starred in the 80s/90s US TV cop series 'In The Heat Of The Night'.[1]

The title cut, in addition to the cast of the TV show, includes a mind-boggling list of bluegrass musicians. Featured artists include Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Chubby Wise, Jim & Jesse, Josh Graves, Little Roy Lewis and The Lewis Family, Doug Dillard, Wayne Lewis, Jerry Douglas, The Whites, Buddy Spicher, and Mac Wiseman... in total 74 people are credited as performers, with Tex Logan's classic song being recorded at numerous sessions in five studios and three cities...

The results are surprisingly good, given the logistical nightmare not only of organising such a feat, but of mixing down so many musicians. Randal:- "When Alan Autry, my co-producer and I first started kicking this album idea around (in early 1991), we knew we wanted the top names in bluegrass music to be involved in this project. So, we started making calls. Everyone was very receptive to our idea. Besides being bluegrass legends, most of these pickers and singers are great fans of the show! And when we told them this album was being produced to raise funds for various Drug Abuse Prevention charities... well, let's just say there was very little arm-twisting to get all of them to commit!"[2]

To record the song, Randall first recorded the fiddles with Chubby Wise, Buddy Spicher and himself. Back-up singers and instrumentation were then added: "As each singer was featured I tried to make the instrumentation match. For example, when Jim and Jesse are singing, Jesse is also featured on mandolin. When the Lewis Family steps up to the mike, you hear Little Roy predominantly in the background. And so on."

Ralph of course, later re-cut Christmas Time's A Comin' on his 1993 album Christmas Time With..., which makes me wonder whether Ralph's appearance here gave him the idea to do his own Christmas CD...

The other tracks on the album are mainly an assortment of Christmas songs and recitations by the TV show cast, delivered in a more 'mainstream' music vein. They are, therefore geared more towards fans of the TV Show, rather than bluegrass per se.

I don't think the TV show was aired here in the UK, so I'm pretty ignorant of it's impact stateside. Second hand copies of the CD crop up occasionally on ebay for $40-$50, so I'm guessing it still has quite a fan base! The good news, is that the album is still available at $20 (including postage in the US) as a CD-R direct from Randall Franks, with all proceeds going to the Share America Foundation (a non-profit organisation that promotes Appalachian music in the youth of the region, with scholarships etc).

Randall started out playing fiddle with the The Peachtree Pickers, a bunch of young bluegrassers who had some releases on Atteiriam. Appearances on 'The Country Kids TV Series' led to guest appearances on The Grand Ol' Opry performing with Bill Monroe, Jim & Jesse and other Opry stars, as well as other TV work that ulitmately lead to the 'In The Heat Of The Night' TV show. Randall has also appeared on several other TV shows and films, recorded numerous gospel / fiddle albums, and written some books. For more details see his website:

You can also check out the Christmas Time's A Comin' song on youtube, in a video which includes a couple of appearances by Ralph, in the studio and then endorsing the CD at the end.

Introduction: Grant Turner

Christmas Time's A Comin'

Tex Logan
Little Drummer Boy

Katharine Davis / Henry Onorati / Harry Simeone
Let It Snow

Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)

Mel Torme / Robert Wells
The Night Before Christmas

Clement C. Moore / Randall Franks
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Johnny Marks
Bring A Torch, Jeanette Isabella

P.D. arr. Randall Franks
I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow / Johnny Marks
Let's Live Every Day Like It Was Christmas

Mark Wheeler / Randall Franks
Jingle Bells

James Pierpoint


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[2] 'Officer Randy's Christmas Times A Comin' by Vicki H. Moser in Dec. 1992 edition of Bluegrass Unlimited (p66-68).