Three under the tree, Vol. 39

Hope you enjoyed the intermission.

Tonight’s three under the tree also are for cool cats. They’re from a guy who was a pretty cool cat himself.

I came to know Lou Rawls from the TV variety shows I watched with my dad in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He hit the charts later in the ’70s, did Budweiser commercials and long hosted the United Negro College Fund telethons. He seemed to be a guy from my dad’s generation.

What I came to learn much later was that Lou Rawls was about as cool as it got. He started out in gospel (with Sam Cooke, no less) and opened for the Beatles at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field in 1966. When he teamed with Capitol Records producer David Axelrod in the mid-’60s, well … man … what a time that was. His 1966 live album — Live! — is terrific.

So dig the sophistication, the cool, of Lou Rawls in these three Christmas tunes from 1967.

“Good Time Christmas” is a little slice of R&B, as gritty as Lou gets. There are some nice horns and drums on this one.

“Christmas Is” starts out with a swinging big-band arrangement, then has Lou channeling Santa Claus midway through before wrapping up with some smooth nightclub cheer. This Percy Faith tune never sounded so good.

“Christmas Will Really Be Christmas” is Lou’s way of saying “We’ll have peace someday, people.”

All from “Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho!,” Lou Rawls, 1967. It’s out of print. It was produced by Axelrod, with the arrangements by H.B. Barnum.

(Apologies for the scant notes. I borrowed this CD from the library a few years ago, and there’s not much information about it on the Web.)

2 Comments

Filed under December 2009, Sounds

2 responses to “Three under the tree, Vol. 39

  1. Patrick

    Sweet christmas tunes from Mr. Rawls. Thanks and happy ho-ho to you!

  2. One of my favorite singers, Bill Champlin, cites Lou Rawls as his main vocal influence. I love Rawls voice. Thanks for sharing these!

    Do you know whether or not Al Kooper ever released any Christmas material? I’ve been on an Al Kooper kick lately. I’ve got a review of his Easy Does It album stuck in my head just waiting to be written.

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