Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the great Donny Hathaway singing "This Christmas," released in 1970 on Atco. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A couple more for a soul Christmas

Otis Redding's rendition of "White Christmas," was released by Stax in October of 1968, ten months after Otis' death. It's an introspective, almost melancholy version of the Isaiah Berlin classic, and is the second song covered by both Bing Crosby and Otis. ("Try a Little Tenderness" being the first.) Both recordings show Otis' genius at turning a song into his own.

And that's what James Brown does with "Please Come Home for Christmas." The last thirty seconds of this recording is James Brown going completely James Brown. The track, co-written by the great Charles Brown and Gene Redd, appears on "James Brown's Funky Christmas," a 1995 collection of seasonal tracks released in 1966, 1968, and 1970.

We wish you a fine Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And here's another

Sweet ballad from Carla Thomas: "All I Want for Christmas is You." First recorded in 1963, the recording appeared on Atlantic's "Soul Christmas," released in 1968.

Carla Thomas, "The Queen of Memphis Soul," was born in Memphis in 1942, a daughter of Rufus Thomas. Her first recording, "'Cause I Love You," was a duet with Rufus, recorded at the brand new Satellite Studios, a precursor to Stax Records. "Gee Whiz (Look at his Eyes)" was recorded soon after. Distributed by Atlantic, it became her first breakthrough hit, reaching the top ten on the pop charts and the top five on the R&B charts. The song propelled Satellite/Stax into the national spotlight.

In addition to "Gee Whiz," Carla is perhaps best known for her 1966 recording "B-A-B-Y" and her 1967 duet with Otis Redding, "Tramp."

"Soul Christmas" is a must-have for soul fans!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday favorites-- top five

We'll be posting five of our favorite holiday soul songs over the next few days.

Here's the great William Bell singing "Everyday Will be Like a Holiday," released as a single on Stax records in November, 1967. In January, 1968, it climbed to #33 on the R&B charts.

"Everyday Will be Like a Holiday" was co-written by Bell and Booker T. Jones, and produced by Booker T. at Stax Studios in Memphis. The recording features an awesome opening guitar riff written and performed by Booker T. himself. Booker T. also sings the high harmony.

"It was not really designed to be a Christmas song," claims Bell. "We wrote the song in October. Rhythmically, rather than put tambourines on it, we put bells, just shaking them for the rhythm. When the record came out they played it during the holiday season and they just adopted it as a holiday record."