Willie’s Hot Christmas continues.
In this little series within a series, we’re recreating a radio show I taped off the air while living in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late ’80s. For the back story, check out the Day 20 post.
The first part consisted of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by Jimmy Smith, an unknown jazz sax instrumental version of “The Christmas Song” and “Merry Christmas” by Lightnin’ Hopkins.
The second part had “Christmas Blues” by the Ramsey Lewis Trio, “Christmas In The City Of The Angels” by Johnny Mathis and “You’re All I Want For Christmas” by the Salsoul Orchestra with Jocelyn Brown.
We return to the old WORT-FM show, where Willie Wonder has cued up …
“What Christmas Means To Me,” Stevie Wonder, 1967, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. Originally released on Wonder’s 1967 Christmas album “Someday at Christmas.” Both out of print, but this tune is available on “The Best of Stevie Wonder: The Christmas Collection,” 2004.
A wonderfully upbeat original from one of our favorite Christmas albums, complete with a classic bit of Wonder on the harmonica as it winds to a close. It’s another Motown original, written by George Gordy, Anna Gordy Gaye and Allen Story.
“Funky Christmas,” the Whispers, 1979, from “Happy Holidays To You,” 1985. Out of print, but available digitally.
This fast-paced dance tune has a funky bass line and a big horn chart, but the best thing about it are the smooth vocals from this veteran Los Angeles R&B group. It’s an original written by Nicholas Caldwell and Willie Marshall. I finally found this record on a trip to Madison earlier this month. I was looking for something else at the time, but no complaints.
“Christmas Celebration,” B.B. King, 1960, available on “The Best of B.B. King: The Christmas Collection,” 2003. This CD is a reissue of “A Christmas Celebration of Hope,” which came out in 2001.
This is another good one. It’s a rollicking, upbeat swing blues number stuffed full of delightful guitar, piano and horns. King’s voice is in fine form, too. Whether this is the version originally released in 1960, I can’t say.
(This last cut has gone from radio to tape to CD, and then ripped, so that may explain the sound quality if you find it lacking.)
Willie’s Hot Christmas concludes tomorrow.