Tag Archives: Staple Singers

A smaller Christmas, Day 20

Ah, yes. Where were we? Day 20.

On Thursday, we were socked by a blizzard. We got 10 inches of wet, heavy snow. So I ran the snowblower and shoveled.

The storm was all but over when I got home at midnight. It was by then, save for the sound of the plows, a silent night.

staple singers 25th day of december cd

“Silent Night,” the Staple Singers,” from “The 25 Days of Christmas,” 1962. Re-released on CD, 2007.

The familiar Christmas hymn done as a slow Delta blues number. Listen for the reverb from Pops Staples’ guitar and some  sweet Hammond organ.

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

I heard the news today

Oh, man …

Amazing Records — my local used record store — is closing in a month.

Jim is packing it up and taking it with him as he leaves our corner of Wisconsin and moves back home to northern California.

As I walked across the front of the store this afternoon, I noted the progress he’d made in clearing the boxes and stacks of LPs and 45s that usually clutter the floor. That’s when Jim dropped the news on me.

Ah, that’s why. And why there’s so much new stock in the bins.

Therein lies the mixed blessing in all of this.

For as long as I’ve been going to Amazing Records, there have been boxes and crates full of records I never got to look through. Jim hadn’t looked through them yet. OK, fair enough.

I’d go through the new arrivals and the dollar bins, then say “So, Jim, what else can I look at today?” Sometimes, he’d point to boxes on the floor under the dollar bins. Sometimes, nothing else.

Now, though, he’s going through everything, separating the wheat from the chaff and trying to sell as many records as he can before he moves. He promises there will be plenty to look through.

I still have a month. Here are a couple of tunes, a couple of covers, from the records I found today.

“Life During Wartime,” the Staple Singers, from “The Staple Singers,” 1985. It’s out of print. This Talking Heads cover didn’t do as well as “Slippery People” had a year earlier. This was the Staples’ last record as a family group.

“It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” Billy Preston, from “Everybody Likes Some Kind Of Music,” 1973. It’s out of print, save for the Japanese re-issue that’s in the buy link. This is a Bob Dylan cover, of course.

“I’ll be back,” I told Jim.

“Bring lots of money,” he said.

Oh, I’ll try, especially if I pop for that vintage King Curtis LP.


Filed under March 2010, Sounds

Three under the tree, Day 14

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.

All from “Christmas in Soulsville,” 2007. All also available on “It’s Christmas Time Again,” 1982.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2008, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 11

Over at JasonHare.com, my fellow bloggers Jason and Jefito have begun another season of Mellowmas. The weather outside is frightful, and so is their choice of music. The lads lovingly select Christmas tunes, post them and then gleefully rip them to shreds.

On Sunday, they posted Jim Nabors’ version of “O, Holy Night.”

Rob saw that and left this comment:

“For a GREAT take on this song, check out Irma Thomas’ version on a compilation called ‘A Creole Christmas.’ Goosebump-inducing stuff.”

Rob is correct.

As a reward for his insight, I promised Rob I would try to counteract the effects of Camp Mellowmas — or is that Mellowmas camp? — by offering that terrific song here tonight.

It’s one of three tunes that are reverent but thrilling.

“O Holy Night,” Irma Thomas, from “A Creole Christmas,” 1990. Out of print.

Done as a New Orleans dirge with some terrific Hammond organ.

“Ave Maria,” Stevie Wonder, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. Also out of print.

A simple piano line and Stevie’s vocal — then listen for a 45-second harmonica solo about 2 minutes in — backed by a welling, soaring choir.

“Silent Night,” the Staple Singers, from “The 25th Day of December,” 1962, re-released on CD, 2007.

Listen for the reverb from Pops Staples’ guitar and some more sweet Hammond organ. (Circle back to Vol. 8 for more from this fine album.)

Enjoy. More to come.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 8

This has been quite a remarkable year for Mavis Staples.


In April, she released “We’ll Never Turn Back,” an album full of freedom songs old and new, produced by Ry Cooder. It’s one of the best albums of the year (and will make a swell gift for someone on your list).

In September, some of her earliest work with the Staple Singers was re-released.

“The 25th Day of December,” is a 1962 Christmas gospel album simply and elegantly sung by the Staples family — Roebuck (Pops), Mavis, Yvonne and Pervis — and accompanied by Pops on guitar, Maceo Woods on the organ and Al Duncan on drums. It was recorded in two days in late July 1962 at Universal Studios in Chicago.

At the time, the Staple Singers still were a gospel and folk group. This album was the Staples’ fifth album since their debut in 1959, and just their second on Riverside Records, a jazz label. It wasn’t until 1967 that they turned to more commercial R&B and soul.

The first two of tonight’s three selections come from “The 25th Day of December.”


“Go Tell It on the Mountain.” This is the traditional African-American spiritual, with an arrangement by Pops.

“There Was a Star.” This is an original, written by Pops and William Westbrook.

Both by the Staple Singers, from “The 25th Day of December,” 1962, re-released on CD, 2007.

Here’s still another traditional tune featuring Mavis Staples.


“Born in Bethlehem,” the Blind Boys of Alabama with Mavis Staples, from “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” 2003.

This album pairs the Blind Boys, one of America’s great gospel treasures, with an eclectic mix of duet partners. Some work great, like this one, on which Jimmy Carter has the lead vocal. Others less so. It’s largely a matter of personal taste.

It’s certainly worth checking out, though. The Blind Boys’ other duet partners: Robert Randolph, George Clinton, Michael Franti, Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde, Richard Thompson, Aaron Neville, Shelby Lynne, Me’shell Ndegeocello and Les McCann.

We might circle back to this one. Until then, enjoy. More to come.


Filed under Christmas music, November 2007, Sounds