Tag Archives: 1990

As the city shuts down …

Driving home from the hospital, where my dad is spending Christmas weekend, I watched the city start to shut down for Christmas Eve.

As 5 p.m. arrived, last-minute shoppers lingered at Shopko, their cars clustered near the entrance. Last-minute diners lingered at McDonald’s, but its sign was off. Taco Bell had gone dark. The “Open” sign was still on at Subway, but it looked like they, too, were just about out the door.

So it is on Christmas Eve, the one night of the year when, well, all is calm.

creolexmascd

Then you hear Irma Thomas’ voice piercing the quiet in the best possible way.

Nine years ago, my friend Rob in Pennsylvania called this “goosebump-inducing stuff.”

It still is.

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and not available digitally, but Amazon will rip you a copy.

Reverent yet thrilling, this version is done as a New Orleans-style dirge with some moody Hammond organ and some terrific gospel voices singing backup.

Embrace the moment, especially at Christmas.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2016, Sounds

Goosebumps for Christmas

Eight years ago, during our first Christmas season here at the blog, my friend Rob called this song “goosebump-inducing stuff.”

It still is.

creolexmascd

Reverent yet thrilling, this version is done as a New Orleans-style dirge with some moody Hammond organ and some terrific gospel voices singing backup.

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and not available digitally, but Amazon will rip you a copy.

My apologies for not posting it here for the last three years.

As always, it’s for Rob.

“A Creole Christmas” also features the great Allen Toussaint, whom we lost this year. Enjoy his swinging piano take on “White Christmas,” a song you rarely hear with a big band arrangement, or any kind of an upbeat arrangement.

Man, hard to believe this record is 25 years old now.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2015, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 23

With everything that needed getting done, yesterday seemed to summon another of the whirlwinds that so often ensue as Christmas draws near.

You just want to step out of that whirlwind and find a quiet place.

Especially now that Dec. 23 has turned to Christmas Eve.

creolexmascd

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and not available digitally, but Amazon will rip you a copy.

Reverent yet thrilling, this version is done as a New Orleans-style dirge with some moody Hammond organ and some terrific gospel voices singing backup.

Five years ago, my friend Rob called this “goosebump-inducing stuff.”

It still is.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

A smaller Christmas, Day 7

As my dad and I sat down to lunch today, he handed over his grocery list and something else. It was a clipping from yesterday’s paper.

The cover story on yesterday’s entertainment section in the paper was a guide to the year’s best music gifts. The mainbar was about the 10 best box sets. The sidebar was about the 10 best records that aren’t box sets.

The clipping Dad handed me was from the mainbar.

He’d written this note on the clipping: “Xmas for me REA.” His initials.

“This is what I want for Christmas,” he said.

After we got back to his place, and all his groceries were unloaded, I took that clipping and went directly to the record store. Dad just happens to live just a couple hundred yards from one of our indie record stores.

Thus, this.

Christmas shopping done.

I’m not worried about Dad seeing this. He doesn’t have “one of those machines.”

Given that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a New Orleans institution, how about getting today’s song from another New Orleans institution? Enjoy this rollicking piano romp from another American treasure.

creolexmascd

“White Christmas,” Allen Toussaint,” from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and not available digitally, but Amazon will rip you a copy.

I once sent all the rips from this tremendous CD to a guy. He said he once had it on cassette, but that he’d played it so much that it had become “worn out and broken.” The guy said his wife would be so thrilled to have it that he was certain they’d be parents nine months hence. I never did hear how that turned out.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

12 days of Christmas, Day 4

When I picked up the new issue of Mojo magazine last week, it came with a most unexpected little gift. There’s always a free CD, but the surprise was that it was a Christmas CD. First time for that.

Inevitably, “Mojo’s Festive Fifteen” includes a few cuts I have on other records. Chuck Berry’s version of “Run Rudolph Run.” (He didn’t write that, by the way. It just sounds like he did). The Christmas single put out last year by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

What piqued my interest was seeing Irma Thomas’ version of “Oh Holy Night.” That’s another one I’ve had for some time. But then I listened to it. Oh, it’s good enough, a fairly straightforward rendition, but it’s not the same, nowhere as good, as the version on …

“A Creole Christmas,” various artists, 1990.

Can’t believe we’ve had this for almost 20 years. One of the first Christmas records we bought on CD, it’s been one of our favorites ever since.

That it’s gone out of print — and apparently isn’t available digitally — has made it much sought after. I once sent it to a guy who said he’d worn out his cassette copy. He said his wife would be so thrilled to have it that he was certain they’d be parents nine months hence. I never heard back on that.

Recorded in New Orleans and New York, this record is Creole only in that it features almost a dozen performers with deep New Orleans roots. It’s all R&B, soul and zydeco. No matter. It’s outstanding. We share this one every year, for good reason.

“White Christmas,” Allen Toussaint.

As noted here last year, this is a rollicking piano romp, nicely complemented by the horns. All the more special now that I’ve seen Toussaint play live. He’s an American treasure.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Dr. John.

Three years ago, Mike wrote to request this one, saying “I seem to remember Dr. John’s version of this song being even more languorous than the Charles Brown version.” Dr. John, first known as pianist Mac Rebennack, is a New Orleans legend. This one, as always, is for Mike.

“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” Luther Kent.

A hymn not often heard on Christmas records, and certainly not one done as blues. Kent is something of a local institution in New Orleans.

And, of course …

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas.

Three years ago, Rob called this “goosebump-inducing stuff.” Yes. Reverent yet thrilling, it’s done as a dirge with some moody Hammond organ and some terrific gospel voices singing backup. This one, as always, is for Rob.

All from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Red, white and blue

Here’s some music for your Fourth of July party.

We have some red, some white, some blue, but no Greenwood.

Red.


“Red Hot,” Marcia Ball, from “Gatorhythms,” 1989.

Yes, she is. This is not the old rockabilly tune that was a hit for Billy Lee Riley and covered by Sleepy LaBeef. This swinging tune was written by country singer Lee Roy Parnell and Cris Moore.

White.

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale,” the Dells, from “Love is Blue,” 1969. It’s out of print. This tune is available on “The Best of the Dells,” an import CD released in 2001.

That 1969 LP from the fine Chicago group was chock full of covers, including Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey” and a medley of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

Blue.


“Blue Am I,” the Tri-Sax-Ual Soul Champs, from “Go Girl,” 1990. It’s out of print.

Two legends, both gone now, solo on this one. That’s Sil Austin on tenor sax and Snooks Eaglin on guitar. This CD brought together Austin, who played with Tiny Bradshaw back in the ’50s, with fellow R&B sax great Grady “Fats” Jackson, who played with Elmore James and LIttle Walter. They were joined by Mark Kazanoff, a fixture on the music scene in Austin, Texas, at the time. It was their only album.

And now some real American music!

“Red Rose,” the Blasters, from “Non Fiction,” 1983. Long out of print …

“Long White Cadillac,” the Blasters, from “Non Fiction,” 1983.  … it’s being reissued on CD next week.

“Blue Shadows,” the Blasters, from “Streets Of Fire” soundtrack, 1984. (Please excuse the skip about 20 seconds in.)

Ah, the Blasters. You really had to have seen them live. They were something. I don’t play their stuff too much these days. It’s all seared into my head from back then.

And now something for after all the fireworks have gone out.

“Red Roses For A Blue Lady,” Baja Marimba Band, from “Baja Marimba Band Rides Again,” 1965. It’s out of print.

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Filed under July 2010, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 34

Bootsy Collins’ “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” sampled here in Vol. 33, might not be the best Christmas record of the ’00s, but it’s pretty close when you’re thinking of Christmas records you can enjoy, cut after cut, start to finish. There aren’t many like that.

Perhaps the only ’00s records we’ve enjoyed more from start to finish are “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night” by .38 Special, from 2001, and “Let It Snow, Baby … Let It Reindeer,” by Relient K, from 2007, sampled in Vol. 32.

But that got me to thinking. What are some of the other Christmas records we’ve enjoyed from start to finish from other decades?

As I look over all the stuff from the ’90s, one record stands out. Every time I post a tune from it, someone raves about it, and rightly so.

I once sent the whole thing to a guy who said his wife would be so thrilled to have it that he was certain they’d be parents nine months hence. Too much information? I think he also said he once had it on cassette, but that it had become “worn out and broken.”

That record is “A Creole Christmas,” released in 1990 on Epic/Associated.

That title is a little misleading. Though tasty, there’s no Creole seasoning. Recorded in New Orleans and New York, this CD gathers almost a dozen performers with deep New Orleans roots. It’s all R&B, soul and zydeco, and that’s just fine. Listen for yourself.

“White Christmas,” Allen Toussaint. All the more special now that I’ve seen Toussaint play live. He’s an American treasure. This is a rollicking piano romp, nicely complemented by the horns.

“Please Come Home for Christmas,” Johnny Adams. This one will give you a good idea of how Adams crossed over from gospel in the ’50s to R&B in the ’60s. Smooth.

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas. This is for Rob, who calls this version “goosebump-inducing stuff.” Damn straight. It’s reverent but thrilling, done as a dirge with some terrific Hammond organ.

All from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. It’s out of print and hard to find.

A couple of other good long-players from the ’90s, though admittedly guilty pleasures: “Star Bright,” by Vanessa Williams, from 1996, and “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” by the Tractors, from 1995.

Tomorrow, a good one from the ’80s.

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Filed under December 2009, Sounds