12 days of Christmas, Day 6

Tonight’s Christmas record is a testament to the Zen of record digging.

I never have a list when I look for records. But there certainly are records I’d like to have. Tonight’s record was one.

The first time I saw it, the price was beyond my budget. Then I went a couple of years without seeing it. Then I found it at a record show, reasonably priced. I got it. I’ve seen it since, but again rather pricey.

So if you, too, have been seeking this record, let’s give it a listen.

“Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs,” Charles Brown, 1961/1975.

Charles Brown was a mellow Texas cat whose gentle blues/R&B style was a big influence on the Los Angeles scene of the late ’40s and early ’50s. But his style was so gentle that he was all but left behind when R&B gave way to rock in the ’60s.

Brown was singing and playing piano with Johnny Moore’s Three Trailblazers when, in 1947, they cut “Merry Christmas Baby,” a tune that’s become a Christmas blues standard. It was written by Moore and Lou Baxter.

In 1960, Brown recorded another Christmas blues standard — “Please Come Home For Christmas” — a tune he wrote with Gene Redd. It was released on this LP a year later and made the seasonal charts for more than a decade.

How great are these songs? I have more than two dozen covers of each one. Maybe we’ll dig those another time. We’re here to dig Charles Brown.

The ones you know.

“Merry Christmas Baby”

“Please Come Home For Christmas”

The ones you don’t.

One hard blues, one nightclub blues, one roadhouse blues.

“Christmas Blues”

“Christmas With No One To Love”

“Christmas Comes But Once A Year”

All from “Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs,” Charles Brown, 1961/1975. It’s out of print.

My vinyl copy is the Gusto Records re-release of the 1961 original on King Records. It adds “Merry Christmas Baby” but drops “My Most Miserable Christmas.” Some of the tunes were re-recorded for the 1975 release. I don’t know whether these cuts were recorded in 1961 or 1975. This record also was released on CD in 1995.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

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