Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Last year we had two compilations of classic Christmas soul (plus one featuring newer stuff); here is a third volume. It kicks off with a spoken intro by The Jackson 5. Jermaine is crying – and the manner in which that is established always makes my smile – and he needs yuletide comforting. Wonderful stuff.
Towards the middle we get socially conscious. Stevie Wonder, still just 17 years old, hopes for no hunger and no tears, but for peace and equality of man. Then the Harlem Children’s Choir, who sound rather older than children, provides some seasonal black consciousness from the ghetto, with an inevitable riff on notions of white Christmas.
The Shurfine Singers borrow a concept from Simon & Garfunkel as they sing Silent Night as a news broadcast runs in the background, speaking of war, protest and strife. As on the Simon & Garfunkel track, the news (now at 11pm, not at 7) becomes increasingly louder to drown out the hymn of peace. Unlike the S&G version, the news cast ends with an editorialising Christmas wish.
This is followed by two examples of a genre that was fairly popular at one point: the Vietnam Christmas song. We previously encountered Change Of Pace on Covered With Soul Vol 5 covering Freda Payne’s Bring The Boys Home as the more alliterative Bring My Buddies Back; here they send a letter from Vietnam, explaining that they won’t be home this Christmas. Johnny & Jon’s Christmas In Vietnam is representative of the anger African Americans felt at the disproportionate number of young black man drafted for the war. So, where in a country song the lament of an unhappy Christmas because “there’s Vietcong all around me” might provoke defiant flag waving, this sombre Southern Soul number seethes with resigned anger.
Things soon become Christmassy again, and we come across a pre-fame Luther Vandross with his band Luther, who perform a song he wrote (two years earlier, he had co-written David Bowie’s Fascination). Vandross clearly didn’t like the two Luther LPs; he later bought the rights to them and prevented their re-release.
James Brown closes the set with the second song called Soul Christmas; needless to say, it’s not the same song as Count Sidney’s. I rather enjoy JB thanking and loving his fans (“people like you don’t grow on trees”) for their support, urging them to come to his next show. So it’s a bit ironic that the man should have died on Christmas Day…
This is the first of three Christmas sets I’ll post this year: the others will cover country music and the acoustic lot. All are timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and I’m making front and back covers for all.
1. Jackson 5 – Christmas Won’t Be The Same This Year (1970)
2. Count Sidney and his Dukes – Soul Christmas (1967)
3. Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa (1968)
4. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – New Year’s Resolution (1967)
5. Mack Rice – Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ (1972)
6. Brook Benton – You’re All I Want For Christmas (1963)
7. George Grant and the Castelles – At Christmas Time (1960)
8. The Staple Singers – The Last Month Of The Year (1962)
9. Aretha Franklin – The Christmas Song (1964)
10. The Temptations – My Christmas Tree (1970)
11. Stevie Wonder – Someday At Christmas (1967)
12. Harlem Children’s Chorus – Black Christmas (1973)
13. The Shurfine Singers – Silent Night & The 11 O’Clock News (1968)
14. Change Of Pace – Hello Darling (1971)
15. Johnny & Jon – Christmas In Viet Nam (1965)
16. Margie Joseph – Christmas Gift (1976)
17. Bill Withers – The Gift Of Giving (1972)
18. Donnie Hathaway – This Christmas (1970)
19. Luther – May Christmas Bring You Happiness (1976)
20. Smokey Robinson – A Child Is Waiting (1970)
21. Linda Lewis – Winter Wonderland (1976)
22. The Impressions – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1976)
23. The Supremes – White Christmas (1965)
24. Booker T. & The MG’s – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1966)
25. James Brown – Soulful Christmas (1968)
GET IT! (updated link. PW in comments)
Any Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Smooth Christmas (2010)
Any Christmas In Black & White
More Christmas In Black & White
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
PLUS: Rudolph, a victim of prejudice