Today’s three under the tree come from a record I picked up after Christmas last year. Turns out, the place I bought it was the only place you could buy it — one of those exclusive marketing deals that don’t really seem to be in the spirit of the season.
But I am glad to have “Christmas in Soulsville,” a compilation of ’60s and ’70s soul and R&B Christmas tunes from the Stax Records family.
It’s a reissue of “It’s Christmas Time Again,” which was released in 1982. Randall over at Hip Christmas has an excellent review of this record.
The only difference between the two is that “Christmas in Soulsville” has three extra cuts — alternate takes of “Merry Christmas, Baby” by Otis Redding and “Winter Wonderland” by Booker T. and the MG’s and the previously unreleased “That Makes Christmas Day” by Rufus and Carla Thomas.
Today’s tunes are not those three cuts, however. We have three that you can get on either record. So sit back and enjoy …
“Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas,” the Staple Singers, 1970.
Knowing the Staples’ penchant for gospel-infused music, I’ve long wondered whether “Merry” shouldn’t be “Mary.” But after checking the lyrics, it works either way. (This cut is not on “The 25th Day of December,” the Staples’ classic Christmas record from 1962.)
“Please Come Home For Christmas,” Little Johnny Taylor, 1966.
This version of Charles Brown’s classic is a slow blues, with Taylor’s plaintive, gospel-trained voice pleading all the way through. For the record, Little Johnny Taylor is not Johnnie Taylor.
“What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas?” the Emotions, 1973.
This is a downbeat slice of Chicago soul from the Hutchinson sisters — Sheila and Wanda — and Teresa Davis.
The third cut is a request from Dave, who has been reading my stuff on the Web for more years than either of us wish to concede. Dave says: “If you haven’t heard it, you’ll enjoy it once you do.” Dave should know. He blogs about music and radio over at Dave Willie Radio.