Various Artists – Soul Christmas (1968)

FrontCover1Originally issued as an Atlantic compilation back in 1968, Soul Christmas is just what is says: a collection of songs featuring R&B legends such as Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Clarence Carter, William Bell, King Curtis, and Booker T. & the MG’s. But if you’re looking for a compilation of mostly traditional Christmas tunes, this is not the record to buy. Apart from nods to time-honored classics like “White Christmas” (gloriously reinterpreted by Redding), Booker T.’s perky “Jingle Bells,” and the R&B favorite “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (featuring sax man King Curtis at his bluesy best, along with a guitar solo by Duane Allman), the songs are all tailor-made originals that fit the style of the respective artists. Thus, Carter’s “Back Door Santa” is a hilariously salacious cut; Tex gives us a preacherlike “I’ll Make Everyday Christmas (For My Woman)”; and Thomas is at her most cute and innocent with “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas.” Redding’s version of “Merry Christmas Baby” (a hit for Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) is an obvious standout, while Bell’s “Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday” is the only bona fide charted single (albeit back in January 1968). For added value, Rhino has included three bonus tracks, including a 1978 recording by Ray Charles of “Christmas Time.” (by David Nathan)

BackCoverTracklist:
01. Clarence Carter: Back Door Santa (Carter) 2.10
02. King Curtis: The Christmas Song (feat. Duane Allman) (Tormé/Wells) 3.11
03. Otis Redding: White Christmas (feat. Booker T & The MG´s + The Memphis Horns) (Berlin) 3.09
04. Joe Tex: I’ll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman) (Tex) 3.32
05. Booker T. & The MG’s: Silver Bells (Evans/Livingstone) 2.33
06. Carla Thomas: Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas (Cropper) 2.47
07. Otis Redding: Merry Christmas Baby (feat. Booker T & The MG´s + The Memphis Horns) (Traditional) 2.34
08. Solomon Burke: Presents For Christmas )D.Burke/S.Burke) 3.13
09. Booker T. & The MG’s: Jingle Bells (Traditional) 2.238
10. William Bell: Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday (Bell) 2.40
11. King Curtis: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve (feat. Duane Allman) (Loesser) 3.45
12. Carla Thomas: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Williams) 1.45
+
13. Ray Charles: Christmas Time (Shepard) 4.31
14. Booker T. & The MG’s: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 2.35

Label*
**

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover

The Weavers – We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1952)

FrontCover1from folk to pop to gospel. The quartet sounds as though they’re having the time of their lives in this relaxed setting, perhaps knowing that the release of this beguiling collection of holiday music could only have confused and confounded the Red-baiters working against them. The singing is exuberant yet mostly elegant (especially Ronnie Gilbert’s vocalizing throughout), except on the folksy “It’s Almost Day” (which couldn’t and shouldn’t be performed elegantly), and the material is performed with warmth and dignity. The accompaniment is nicely restrained, with no more than a few horn flourishes on “One for the Little Bitty Baby.” Apparently, the group had wanted to include a couple of songs in Hebrew, but the record label rejected the idea, fearful in that less-ecumenical age that the presence of Jewish songs would offend some listeners. (by Bruce Eder)

TheWeaversPersonnel:
Ronnie Gilbert (vocals)
Lee Hays (guitar, vocals)
Fred Hellerman (guitar, bass, vocals)
Pete Seeger (mandolin, guitar, vocals)

BackCover1
Tracklist:
01. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Traditional) 2.36
02. One for The Little Bitty Baby (Brand/Campbell) 3.29
03. The Seven Blessings Of Mary (Traditional) 2.54
04. Twelve Days Of Christmas (Traditional) 2.23
05. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Traditional) 2.32
06. Poor Little Jesus (Campbell/Gilbert/Hays/Hellerman/Seeger) 2.10
07. Burgundian Carol (Brand/Campbell) 2.11
08. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional) 1.21
09. Lulloo Lullay (Campbell) 2.07
10. It’s Almost Day (Ledbetter) 1.29

*
**

Raymond Lefevre – Merry Christmas (1968)

FrontCover1Raymond Lefèvre (November 20, 1929 – June 27, 2008) was a French easy listening orchestra leader, arranger and composer.

Born on November 20, 1929 in Calais, France, Raymond Lefèvre is best known for his 1968 theme “Soul Coaxing (Ame Caline)”, which became an international hit. He also wrote soundtracks for movies with Louis de Funès like La Soupe Aux Choux (1981) or the series of legendary Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez. During the late 1950s and early 1960s he accompanied Dalida on most of her recordings (Bambino, Por Favor, Tu peux tout faire de moi, Quand on n’a que l’amour), amongst many others. He started his musical career in 1956 on the Barclay Records label.

He was accepted at the Paris Conservatory at 17 years old. During the early 1950s he played the piano for the Franck Pourcel orchestra. In 1953 he played the piano at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. He started his musical career in 1956 on the Barclay label and recorded his debut album in the same year.

He worked in the French television programs Musicorama (1950s) and Palmarés des Chansons (1965, 1966, 1967) accompanying famous artists as Dalida, Claude Francois, Richard Anthony, with his own orchestra.

His recording of “The Day the Rains Came” was a best seller in the United States in 1958. The song “Ame Caline” (Soul Coaxin’) became an international hit in 1968 and “La La La (He Gives Me Love)” was a minor hit in 1968 in Canada and the United States. In 1969 his recording of “La Reine de Saba” (Queen of Sheba) became a big hit in Japan. Between 1972 and the early 2000s (decade), he made successful tours in Japan.

He often worked on the soundtracks of Louis de Funès movies.

Lefèvre conducted entries four times at the Eurovision Song Contest, three times for Monaco (in 1961, 1962, and 1963 ) and once for Luxembourg (in 1970) (by wikipedia)

And this is his one and only Christmas album from 1968 … and this is a very beautiful one .. listen and enjoy the magic of Raymond LeFevre´s sound … very unique !

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover

Personnel:
Raymond LeFevre and his Orchestra

BackCover1

Tracklist:
01. Silver Bells (Livingston/Evans) 2.13
02. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.10
03. Jingle Bells (Traditional) 2.21
04. Little Father Christmas (Vincy/Martinet) 2.42
05. O Tannenbaum (Traditional) 1.55
06. Angels We Have Heard On High (Glria in excelsis deo) (Traditional) 2.13
07. Silent Night /Gruber) 2.56
08. O Holy Night (Traditional) 4.10
09. He Is Born The Child Of God (Traditional) 2.38
10. Three Angels Came That Night (Holmes) 2.49
11. O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) 2.44LabelB1*
**

Johnny Cash – The Christmas Spirit (1963)

FrontCover1Johnny Cash was a musical phenomenon and an American icon with his legendary musical career starting in the 50’s at Sun Records. His plethora of hit recordings led to a major move to Columbia Records, and the late legend charted recordings in all the major formats like country, rock , pop, folk, and gospel genres, sharing his legendary vocal, guitar and songwriting persona for millions of fans worldwide. With 1963’s The Christmas Spirit Lp, Johnny Cash teams up with producer Don Law (Ray Price) and created one of the most revered holiday and inspirational hit albums of all time. The album features Johnny’s stellar interpretations of both popular and religious favorites like the definitive hit version of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, the Tex Ritter favorite Here Was A Man, June Carter Cash’s Christmas As I Knew It, plus more traditional fare like Blue Christmas and The Little Drummer Boy. His impressive readings of inspirational favorites like Silent Night, Holy Night, plus Johnny’s own The Christmas Spirit and Who Kept The Sheep, truly made the The Christmas Spirit LP a groundbreaking effort for this sorely missed legend. (by fridaymusic.com)

JohnnyCash1979Johnny Cash in a Christmas show, 1979

Personnel:
Maybelle Carter (autoharp)
Johnny Cash (vocals, guitar)
Jack Clement (guitar)
Marshall Grant (bass)
Buddy Harman (drums)
W.S. Holland (drums)
Bob Johnson (flute)
Anita Kerr (organ)
Grady Martin (guitar)
Luther Perkins (guitar)
Bill Pursell (keyboards)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (keyboards)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. The Christmas Spirit (Cash) 5.02
02. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day (Longfellow(Calkin) 2.31
03. Blue Christmas (Hayes/Johnson) 2.25
04. The Gifts They Gave (Cash) 3.34
05. Here Was A Man (Bond/Ritter) 2.44
06. Christmas As I Knew It (Howard/Carter) 3.40
07. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 3.30
08. The Little Drummer Boy (Simeone/Onarati/Davis) 2.35
09. Ringing The Bells For Jim (Howard/Carter) 2.48
10. We Are The Shepherds (Cash) 3.13
11. Who Kept The Sheep (Carter/Cash) 1.58
12. The Ballad Of The Harp Weaver (Millay) 4.20

AlternateFrontCoverAlternate frontcover

*
**

Pete Seeger – Traditional Christmas Carols (1967)

FrontCover1In 1967, Pete Seeger expanded upon the material he had recorded for the earlier seasonal collection The Nativity (Folkways FTS35001) to create Traditional Christmas Carols. Accompanying himself on either banjo or guitar, he sang several familiar songs, including “What Child Is This?,” “The First Noël,” and “Twelve Gates To The City,” as well as more obscure ones. This would have been an ideal album for the singer to record before a live audience that might have sung along and livened up the proceedings; in the studio, with his correct but austere performances, it suggests a relatively bleak Christmas season. (by William Ruhlmann)

Long a seasonal favorite, this collection of 13 charming Christmas carols from French, English, Italian, and African American traditions captures the Christmas spirit with wonderful universality. These international holiday favorites include Twelve Gates to the City, Mary Had a Baby, and The First Noel. “A real alternative to the wall of strings or the overly sweet sound of many Christmas collections.” (by Dirty Line)

TakenFromTheBookletTaken from the booklet

Personnel:
Pete Seeger (vocals, banjo, guitar)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. ’twas On A Night Like This 3.30
02. Mary Had A Baby 2.46
03. Glory To That Newborn King 2.37
04. What Child Is This? 1.49
05. Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow 1.40
06. Carol Of The Beasts 2.06
07. Carol Of The Beasts – Instrumental 1.48
08. The First Noel 5.44
09. Behold That Star 2.18
10. Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming 2.00
11. Masters In This Hall 1.37
12. Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming – Instrumental 0.57
13. Twelve Gates To The City 3.26

All songs: Tradtional

LabelB1*
**

Marshall Tucker Band – Carolina Christmas (2005)

FrontCover1So it’s come to this: a Marshall Tucker Christmas album. The first urge is to dismiss this as another attempt to cash in on the holiday record market, but right from the onset of the opener, “White Christmas,” it becomes evident that this is an album a long time in the making, reassembling bandmembers from incarnations spanning over three decades. The performances are inspired but relaxed, much like their earliest releases, and there are moments when their signature hard rock sound can easily wipe away the notions that this is a Christmas record if it weren’t for the timeless melodies and lyrics. Much of this album (like Marshall Tucker’s career) is a bold move, especially as there are very few Southern rock Christmas records available. A nice alternative to the ho-hum various-artists holiday compilations and ideal for those looking for their holiday records to have a little hot sauce thrown in the mix. (by Rob Theakston)

Inlay1Personnel:
Barry “B.B. Queen” Borden (drums, percussion, vocals)
Pat Ellwood (bass)
Doug Gray (vocals, percussion)
Chris Hicks (guitar, vocals)
David Muse (saxophone, flute, harmonica, keyboards)
Stuart Swanlund (guitar, slide-guitar, vocals)
+
Clay Cook (guitar, vocals)
Jerry Eubanks (saxophone)
Brianna Foister (background vocals)
Jaci Foister (background vocals)
Keith Glenn (bells, shaker)
Dale Gray (background vocals)
Renee Gray (background vocals)
Robert Gray (background vocals)
W.L. Guthrie (mandolin)
Wynelle Hicks (background vocals)
Paul Hornsby (keyboards)
Steve Keeter (keyboards)
Alan Kerr (percussion)
Gabrielle Gray Leopard (vocals)
George McCorkle (guitar)
Buddy Strong (guitar, shaker)
Alan “Red” Walden (background vocals)
Christian Walden (background vocals)

Booklet03ATracklist:
01. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.48
02. Christmas in Carolina (Hicks) 4.22
03. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Gannon/Kent/Ram) 2.33
04. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martin) 3.17
05. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Cahn/Styne) 1.12
06. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 4.24
07. Snowfall In Georgia (Clark) 3.54
08. My Christmas In Custody (Borden) 2.41
09. Jingle Bells (Traditional) 2.14
10. Merry Christmas Baby (Baxter/Brown) 3.43
11. Leave the Christmas Lights On (Geiger/McCorkle) 3.02
12. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Traditional) 3.28

CD1*
**

James Brown – Sings Merry Christmas (1966)

FrontCover1James Brown would have turned 81 this year. The Godfather of Soul died on december 25, Christmas Day in 2006.

James Brown’s passing on Christmas is remarkable, considering his affinity for Christmas and the popularity of his Christmas albums.

Brown recorded three Christmas-themed albums: James Brown Sings Christmas Songs (1966), A Soulful Christmas (1968) and Hey America (1970).

And this is his first Christmas album from 1966 …

SingleLabelA+B…..There were three singles released late in 1966, possibly all in December …

…..Between the second and third single is the most likely time for the release of the album LP THE JAMES BROWN CHRISTMAS ALBUM King Records K1010 (mono) and KS1010 (stereo) (US) 12/66. Not only was this album pressed several times with minor variations to the jacket but the same songs were assembled in a different order and released again in 1967(?) under the title JAMES BROWN AND HIS FAMOUS FLAMES SING CHRISTMAS SONGS.

…..The two versions of “THE CHRISTMAS SONG” and the other three covers on side B seem to be the last of the non-originals. (by lgcmusic02.blogspot)

JamesBrownPersonnel:
James Brown (vocals)
+
The Famous Flames
+
lot of strings

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year (Brown/Jones) 6.30
02. Sweet Little Baby Boy (Part 1) (Brown/Jones) 2.40
03. Sweet Little Baby Boy (Part 2) (Brown/Jones) 2.35
04. Merry Christmas, I Love You (Brown/Jones) 2.30
05. Signs Of Christmas (Brown/Jones) 4.38
06. The Christmas Song (Version 2) (Tormé/Wells) 2.45
07. Merry Christmas Baby (Baxter/Moore) 3.54
08. The Christmas Song (Version 1) (Tormé/Wells) 2.40
09. Please Come Home For Christmas (Brown/Redd) 3.20
10. This Is My Lonely Christmas (Part 1) (Brown/Redd) 3.00
11. This Is My Lonely Christmas (Part 2) (Brown/Redd) 4.45
12. Christmas In Heaven (Ward) 2.53

LabelA1*
**

Dave Brubeck – A Dave Brubeck Christmas (1996)

FrontCover1A Dave Brubeck Christmas is a jazz album by Dave Brubeck, released in 1996 on Telarc Jazz Tone #83410.[3] It is a recording of solo piano pieces which were recorded at Ambient Recording Studio in Stamford, Connecticut on June 6th and 8th, 1996

Dave Brubeck covers a host of favorite carols on this solo outing. His chime-like “Joy to the World” and striding “Winter Wonderland” are treasures. His festive opening version of “Jingle Bells” contrasts with the weary version signaling the end of an evening’s festivities; anyone who has ever worked a holiday party will relate to it. His originals include the delightful “Run, Run, Run to Bethlehem” and the meditative “To Us Is Given.” This is a Christmas CD worth repeated hearings. (by Ken Dryden)

Dave BrubeckPersonnel:
Dave Brubeck (piano)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Homecoming Jingle Bells (Pierpont) 3.20
02. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 3.38
03. Joy To The World (Mason) 2.53
04. Away In A Manger (Traditional) 5.03
05. Winter Wonderland (Smith/Bernard) 4.19
06. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Redner/Brooks) 5,34
07. What Child Is This? (Greensleeves) (Traditional) 3.27
08. To Us Is Given (Brubeck) 3.23
09. O Tannenbaum (Traditional) 3.35
10. Silent Night (Gruber) 4.53
11. Cantos Para Pedir Las Posadas (Traditional) 3.59
12. Run, Run, Run To Bethlehem (Brubeck) 3.48
13. Farewell Jingle Bells (Pierpont)
14. The Christmas Song (Torme/Wells) 4.28

CD1*
**

MerryChristmas

The Mexicali Brass – Christmas With The Mexicali Brass (1964)

FrontCover1The Mexicali brass was one of the many (and also nameless) studio groups that recorded for cheap budget labels in the mid 60’s that were made to cash in on the Tijuana Brass’s success.

The musical content of the LP yields no sufficient answer to my questions. Nowhere does the album even mention the model’s name. But, I can say that The Mexicali Brass bring a new level of excitement to our traditionally bland and vapid understanding of Christmas music. Believe it or not, this album is pretty spectacular. It definitely beats Kenny Rogers Christmas under the table (but, then again, so does a bottle of whiskey).

Certain songs like Jingle Bells and Come All Ye Faithful are instantly recognizable, highlighted with only a slight twinge of Mexican swing. However, Deck the Halls, and Joy to the World, are notably harder to pick up on. The chords are stretched, the beat is sped up and the brass dances around the melody almost to the point of obscurity, then promptly catches back up with it. All of the songs have a very 60s swing appeal with Mexican brass overtones; it makes the music forgive me sound sexy.

Yeah, sexy Christmas music. This sexual appeal into traditional Christmas carols no doubt upset our grandparents, but this type of perversion is everything I want to celebrate by reviewing obscure Christmas albums. I can’t help but be reminded of Stephen Colbert’s Mexican counterpart, Esteban Colberto, who has made a few appearances on The Colbert Report. He would, I assume, absolutely love this. It’s funky, swingy and sexy, and it makes me want to grow a mustache.

I don’t know how to salsa by any means, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be attempting just that toward the end of my eggnog laced Christmas party this year. The songs are readily available online, so if you’re in the mood to listen to some Christmas music this season that isn’t sung by the Rat Pack or Trans-Siberian Orchestra (I just dry heaved a little), then I urge you to find a copy of Christmas with the Mexicali Brass. (by Tyler Branson)

BackCover1Personnel:
unknown

AlternateFront+BackCoverAlternate front + back cover

Tracklist:
01. Jingle Bells 3.40
02. L O’ Little Town Of Bethlehem 2.12
03. The First Noel 2.46
04. Hark The Herald Angels Sing 2.13
05. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 207
06. White Christmas 3.03
07. O’ Come All Ye Faithful 3.25
08. Deck The Halls 3.09
09. Joy To The World 2.44
10. Silent Night 2.57

LabelA1*
**

 

Chet Atkins – Christmas With Chet Atkins (1961)

FrontCover1One of the most underrated holiday platters of all-time, Christmas with Chet Atkins shows the father of country-rock guitar performing 16 holiday standards in his own incomparable style. Although the uptempo stuff such as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Winter Wonderland” are excellent readings, it’s in the slower-paced selections that Atkins really shines. His version of “Silver Bells” is, quite simply, one of the best versions of the standard ever, and possibly one of Atkins’ most arresting performances of all-time. Also excellent is the medley of “The Coventry Carol” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.” Overall, criminally underrated, this disc should be rated up there with such fodder as Charlie Brown Christmas. Gorgeous. (by Matthew Greenwald)

In other words:
I have loved Christmas with Chet Atkins since I was a kid- it has been a part of my christmas celebrations since the early 60s( the record was released in 1961). Imagine my delight in finding it on CD.The thing of it is, it’s not the same record. There are a number of differences between the CD and vinyl version; the songs “Little drummer boy”, “Silent Night” and “White Christmas” are alternate takes-not bad, just different. There is a noticeable “flutter” on “Jingle Bell Rock” and a few other tracks which makes me wonder whether the original master recording has been compromised in some way. This might also explain the use of alternate takes. Having said all that, Christmas with Chet Atkins is a woefully underrated record that continues to delight me over forty years after it was recorded. (Dan Penwarn)

AlternateFrontCoverAlternateFrontCover

Personnel:
Chet Atikuns (guitar)
+
a bunch of unknown studio musicians

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Jingle Bell Rock (Boothe/Beal) 1.47
02. Winter Wonderland (Smith/Bernard) 2.42
03. Jolly Old St. Nicholas (Traditional) 2.11
04. White Christmas (Berlin) 2.18
05. Blue Christmas (Hayes/Johnson) 2.50
06. Jingle Bells (Traditional) 1.47
07. Silver Bells (Livingston/Evans) 2.05
08. Little Drummer Boy (Noel/Pelosi) 2.25
09. The Coventry Carol + God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 3.23
10. The First Noel (Traditional) 1.42
11. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn) 1.58
12. O’ Come All Ye Faithful (Traditional) 2.15
13. Deck The Halls (Traditional) 1.10
14. Silent Night (Gruber) 1.58

LabelB1*
**

ChristmasPic