Tag Archives: 1950

12 days of Christmas, Day 9

In the e-mail today is a note about NPR Music’s Jingle Jams holiday mix.

They asked 10 stations to suggest 10 Christmas songs each, then put it all together into one playlist. You can stream it here.

Here are 12 of the songs, in the order they appear on the Jingle Jams playlist. The station or program suggesting the song is in parentheses.

“Let It Snow,” Leon Redbone, from “Christmas Island,” 1989. (Folk Alley)

“‘Zat You, Santa Claus” Louis Armstrong, 1953, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Hipster’s Holiday,” a 1989 CD compilation.) (WBGO, Newark, New Jersey; WDUQ, Pittsburgh)

“Last Month Of The Year” the Blind Boys of Alabama, from “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” 2003. (WXPN, Philadelphia)

“Santa Claus, Santa Claus,” James Brown, from “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” 1966. The LP is out of print but all the songs are on “The Complete James Brown Christmas,” a 2-CD set released earlier this year. (KUT, Austin, Texas)

“Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter, from “Soul Christmas,” 1968. (KUT)

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love, from “A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector,” 1963. (WXPN)

“Christmas Wrapping,” the Waitresses, 1981, from “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on the “Christmas Wrapping” EP. That also appears to be out of print, but the song is available digitally.) (KUT)

“Greensleeves,” the Vince Guaraldi Trio, from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 1965. The buy link is to a 2006 remastered CD release with extra tracks, including an alternate take on this one. (WDUQ)

“Jingle Bells,” Jimmy Smith, from “Christmas ’64,” 1964. Smith’s “Christmas Cookin’,” from the same year, is the same record but with a much cooler cover.  (WBGO)

“Must Be Santa,” Brave Combo, from “It’s Christmas, Man!” 1992. Hard to find, but available from the band or digitally. NPR’s version is from a live performance at KUT. This version is done as a polka.

“Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. (NPR suggests finding it on “Yule Be Miserable,” a 2006 CD compilation) (WDUQ)

“The 12 Days of Christmas,” Harry Belafonte, from “To Wish You A Merry Christmas,” 1962. (NPR Music staff)


Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Three under the tree, Day 18

Elvis got a little nasty yesterday, so let’s continue that theme. Tonight, we find three more nasty tunes under the tree.


“Back Door Santa,” Clarence Carter, 1968, from “Soul Christmas,” a 1991 CD reissue of the 1968 Atlantic Records album of the same name.

You can’t go wrong with our first tune. It’s about as nasty as they come. The lyrics include: “I ain’t like old St. Nick/He don’t come but once a year.” And, of course, perhaps the most suggestive “Ho, ho, ho, ho” ever recorded. This was recorded in October 1968 at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It’s Carter on guitar and vocals, backed by the Fame house band.


“Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’,” Mack Rice, 1972, from “Christmas in Soulsville,” a 2007 CD reissue of the 1982 Stax Records album “It’s Christmas Time Again.”

Not much left to the imagination on this one. Santa is chasing Mama around the kitchen after all the kids have gone to bed. Rice wrote this one. This album also has Albert King’s cover of this tune, recorded in 1974. Rice also wrote and recorded “Mustang Sally,” but he’s more widely known as a songwriter than as a singer.


“Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print, but many of the cuts turned up on “Santa Claus Blues,” a 1988 CD release on Jass Records … which also is out of print.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read earlier this year that this once was considered a naughty record. I’ve been listening to this tune for more than 20 years and never thought it to be a double entendre. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go.

Our friend Captain OT over at A Christmas Yuleblog, who is more knowledgeable than I on anything having to do with Christmas music, has written that “radio stations refused to touch it and the single went unnoticed for many years after.”

This was recorded on Oct. 26, 1950. The band includes Charlie Shavers on trumpet, Hank Jones on piano, John Collins on guitar, Roy Brown on bass and Charlie Smith on drums.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 10

Today, we’re driving across Wisconsin’s winter wonderland, heading to a wedding. My dad will be with us, and it seems appropriate to see what Christmas sounds like at Ray’s Corner.

If you’re a regular visitor around these parts, you know we occasionally stop at Ray’s Corner and borrow tunes from Dad’s collection. Ray’s Corner, of course, is the apartment where the music is loud and where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.


“Winter Wonderland,” Dean Martin, 1959, available on “Christmas With Dino,” 2006, and “Season’s Greetings from Dean Martin,” 1992.

Dad digs Dino, and I generally do, too. However, I’m not a huge fan of Dino’s many Christmas songs. This one’s a keeper, though.


“Jingle Bells,” Duke Ellington, 1962, from “Jingle Bell Jazz,” 1974. (This CD, released in 1985, combines cuts from the 1974 album “Jingle Bell Jazz” and the 1981 album “God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen.”)

This cut starts slowly, then picks up the pace when the 12-piece horn section jumps in. That, of course, is Billy Strayhorn on the piano. Recorded in New York City on June 21, 1962. (I turned 5 years old that day.)


“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, 1950, from “Santa Claus Blues,” 1988. It’s out of print, but it looks like Amazon has an mp3 available from another compilation record.

The liner notes on this cut say only that it was recorded in 1950, but I’m guessing it comes from a session on Oct. 27, 1950. I have a Hampton cut from that session on another Christmas album. That’s likely Sonny Parker on the vocals. Mind you, this was 58 years ago, and he’s singing “rock, rock, rock, Mr. Santa.” There also are terrific trumpet and sax charts on this one, along with a little taste of Hamp’s vibes.

“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” was an R&B hit for Mabel Scott in 1948. The next year, she married her pianist, Charles Brown, who had hits with “Merry Christmas Baby” in 1947 and “Please Come Home for Christmas” in 1960. Alas, they stayed together for only a short time, and Scott eventually went back to her original love, gospel music.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Another day at Ray’s Corner

Longtime readers know we occasionally stop by Ray’s Corner to listen to tunes spirited from my dad’s music collection.

So we’re back there on this Father’s Day, which this year follows Dad’s birthday by exactly one day. Dad turned 83 yesterday. He doesn’t get around too well anymore, but he’s still sharp.

Here, then, are a couple of tunes you might hear at Ray’s Corner. It’s the apartment with the loud music, and the place where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.

They’re kind of laid back. Perfect for a lazy summer Sunday.

“Night Train,” Louis Prima, from “The Wildest,” 1957.

Dad was 31, and he and Mom had probably just learned I was on the way when this album was released in January 1957. It really is the wildest! It’s mostly swing, jazz and blues, but you can see rock and roll in the distance.

“Blue Light Boogie,” 1950, Louis Jordan and Trio, from “The Best of Louis Jordan,” released on vinyl in 1977 and on CD in 1989.

Dad was 25, still a single guy, when this tune hit the charts in August 1950. He was working as the agent at the Railway Express Agency office in the depot in his hometown of Elroy, Wisconsin. He was living at home, but you can be sure he got out and heard this tune on the jukeboxes of the day.

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Filed under June 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 24

Tonight, it’s ladies night, with our three from a trio of elegant singers.


“Carol of the Bells,” Nancy Wilson, from “A Nancy Wilson Christmas,” 2001.

A classy turn by the great jazz stylist. She’s backed by New York Voices, a fine quartet, on this often challenging tune for singers.

Did you know that even though Wilson has been performing since the ’60s, this was her first Christmas album? I didn’t.

Nor did I know the proceeds from this album go to “MCG Jazz, a social enterprise supporting the youth education programs of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a nonprofit, minority-directed, arts and learning organization located in Pittsburgh,” according to her web site.

You’ll find another cut from this album, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” over at the digital download area of the Telarc Records web site.


“Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney,” Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, from “A Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print. This tune and some of the other cuts on this album are available on “Swingin’ Christmas,” an mp3 album available from Amazon.

It’s one of the great whimsical Christmas tunes, done with Miss Ella’s light touch. Recorded on Oct. 26, 1950, with an uncredited vocal group backing her. That’s Charlie Shavers on trumpet and Roy Brown on bass among the backing musicians.


“This Christmas,” Patti LaBelle, from “Blues and Soul Christmas,” a 1997 compilation on MCA.

It’s another cover of the modern classic by Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinner. I’m guessing this version is from her 1990 Christmas album, also entitled “This Christmas.”

Enjoy. More to come, but Christmas draws near.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 18

Tonight, a bit of a jazz vibe for our three under the tree.

Our first cut is the first cut off that Christmas tape I recorded off the radio in Madison, Wisconsin, 20 or so years ago. (For more of those tunes, circle back to Vol. 7 and Vol. 13.) I came across it quite by accident the other night. The most pleasant surprise of the season so far.

It’s also the first cut from “Christmas Cookin’,” the 1964 Christmas album from Jimmy Smith, the master of the Hammond B-3 organ in a jazz setting. On this tune, his cool Hammond undercuts some big, brassy orchestration. From the liner notes:

“Jimmy Smith presents music for a modern Christmas. The arrangements are as new as tomorrow’s sports car; the songs included are as traditional as the tinseled tree. …

“This fine album will last long after the shining lights and the yuletide tree have been put away. It is not only a seasonal album, designed for listening when the holiday time is at its height, but a definitive collection of familiar material treated in a highly original manner. Music that will stand up any time.”

Indeed, it has. I’ve enjoyed this for years without knowing who did it.


“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” Jimmy Smith, from “Christmas Cookin’,” 1964.

Our second cut brings vibes, and good vibes, from the great Lionel Hampton. This is from another album I seemingly have had forever, a compilation of jazz and blues from the ’30s to the ’50s. If you are a regular visitor to AM, Then FM, this is one that could have come from Ray’s Corner. It was recorded on Oct. 27, 1950. In addition to Hampton on the vibes, this one features Milt Buckner on piano and Sonny Parker on vocals.


“Merry Christmas Baby,” Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, 1950, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. Out of print. Stash, in this instance, is the name of the label — Stash Records out of Brooklyn, New York. (Nice cover, eh?)


Some, but not all, of the tunes on “The Stash Christmas Album” also can be found on “Santa Claus Blues,” a CD released in 1988 on Jass Records. Also out of print, though.

Our third cut is from “An Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas,” another album I seemingly have had forever.

The Kaz Jazz Quartet is a side project of Austin, Texas, sax player Mark Kazanoff, who plays on lots of Texas and New Orleans blues and R&B albums. He’s the sax player for Marcia Ball, the long, tall R&B pianist and singer who’s one of our faves. The jazz quartet has been together since 1985, so this must have been one of its first cuts.


“The Christmas Song,” the Kaz Jazz Quartet, from “An Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas,” 1986.

Enjoy. More to come.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds

A call from Ray’s Corner

This is how the call went Tuesday morning. Honest.

“Jeff? This is Dad. Did the TV seem loud to you when you stopped over last night?”

“No, about the same as always.”

“Well, you know what? I’ve gone deaf in my right ear!”

Then Dad proceeded to explain, in his typically detailed fashion, how he came to realize this. Suffice it to say he was noodling around with his hearing aid, trying to figure out why it was wasn’t working, when he found it worked just fine in his left ear. And not at all in his right ear.

If you are a regular visitor, you know Dad is 82. He lives in the apartment with the loud music. Part of that is being a fan. Part of that is his hearing.

The TV and the stereo have always been loud in our family, for as long as I can remember. Almost everyone has some kind of hearing loss. Grandma did. Grandpa did. Dad does. I do.

Now that Dad has figured out his plight, perhaps he’ll be able to dial down the volume just a tad. If so, perhaps he’ll enjoy this mellow blues tune, which comes from his collection.


“Blue Light Boogie,” Louis Jordan and Trio, 1950, from “The Best of Louis Jordan,” a 1989 CD release.

This was the last of Jordan’s 18 No. 1 R&B hits, debuting on Aug. 5, 1950, and spending seven weeks at No. 1.

Hope you have enjoyed our latest visit to Ray’s Corner, the apartment with the loud music (and now you know why), where the martinis are still made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away.

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Filed under November 2007, Sounds