Monday, December 20, 2004

Maxwell's Christmas 2004

Happy Holidays Y'all!
Monday December 20th I'll be stuffing Christmas cheer down Maxwell's Chimney for their annual Christmas party. As long as someone is standing, dancing or reaching for another drink I'll keep cueing up the gifts. As always I'll be navigating the many genres of the musical map including enough Christmas music to melt the heart of any Ol' Scroogie-woogie. The party seems to be a closed affair so this one is only going out to a few of ya. Hope you can make it but if you can't please be merry and be well for this Holiday season.

- pat.

1039 Washington Street
Hoboken New Jersey
(201) 653-1703

The 45s:
Kenny Burrell - "The Little Drummer Boy" b/w "Silent Night" (Cadet cat. 5555 (15233/43))
Two gloriously soulful Jazz takes on Christmas classics. The Little Drummer boy is a Soul Jazz burst of the best kind. Les McCann style piano and horns play in the back while Burrell grooves in his oft imitated style. Christmas should always feel this good.

Louis Armstrong and the Commanders - ""Zat You, Santa Claus?" b/w "Cool Yule" (Decca cat. 9-28943 (45-85419/20))
"Cool Yule" rolls along with a merry gallop. Armstrong's voice sounds like he drank shrapnel for breakfast and spit out chimes. "So dig, Santa comes on big!" "'Zat You...?" is a bit more theatrical with a drum and bass sound up front like a nice bit of early rock. Here Armstrong combines a spooky melody with his great uncertain shaky vocal yet throughout he tries to convince himself all the knocking is just Santa hanging stockings. Unfortunately I fear Loius' crib may have been Nicked and it wasn't by no Saint. Classic.

Babs Gonzales - "The Hippie Santa Claus" (Expubidence Records Presents cat. Exp. 011)
Babs "Hippie Santa Claus" is a high tale of a Santa I think most of us can back; this Jolly Ol' Soul rolls up in a red Cadillac. This Saint Nick is dressed to the nines. "Red on red shirt with a green mink tie..." He comes bearing gifts for one and all. "Perfume number 5 for Moms and for Pops my new book on Jive." "Methadone, Speed and dash of real good smoke is all the young cats need." "Have a real Crazy Christmas and don't get knocked out!" The B-Side of this fabulous slab of holiday cheer is backed with Babs' "The Junkies (The Anti Drug Song)."

Bill Cosby - "Merry Christmas Mama - Vocal and Instrumental" (Capitol cat. 4523)
Like his amazing LP on Partee/Stax The Cos struts slow and sexy like Isaac Hayes as South Park's Chef. Sinewy sax grooves in and out of the strings and you know he is playing secret Santa with his lady. I recently watched Mario Van Peebles "Baadasssss!" and I never new the Jell-O pudding man saved the day when money ran out during the filming of "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song."

Reindeer Runners - "Pull My Sled" (Soul Fire cat. SFX 001-B)
The fine folks at Soul Fire handed these out a few years ago. Snippets of Christmas wishes, roosters and wolves pop in and out over this flute driven instrumental. Sloppy and drunk for the holidays.

Bill Withers
Few assembly line workers probably sound like Withers. Thank god someone took him off site and brought his gift to us. Withers voice is so touching. "Gift..." is a slow passionate ode to the spirit of Christmas and the feeling one gets from giving over a simple quartet backing. "Let Us Love" is a bit more funky and is less a Christmas song than a plea for peace and hope. If your lucky someone will give you a Bill Wither's record for Christmas.

Poppa Hop and His Orchestra - "Merry Christmas, Darling" (Ivory Records cat. L-134)
Have an Electric Blues Christmas baby. Basically a take on Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas, Baby" but with a very electric feel. His guitar stabs in and out of the song reminding you that Hop Wilson was one mean player. this is the B-Side of the incredible "Be Careful With The Blues"

Clarence Carter - "Back Door Santa" (Atlantic cat. 45-2576 )A-15366 SP))
This could be one of my top 5 favorite Christmas songs. Regardless of the amazing Run-DMC sample Carter's "Ho, Ho, Hos" are just down right sinister as hell. How can you beat a line like, "I ain't like old Saint Nick he don't come but once a year." For me this is as close as you get to a perfect raw soul song.

The Harvey Averne Band - "Let's Get It Together This Christmas" b/w "Christmas Song - Special Effects by Scottie Dog" (Fania cat. 551)
The always groovy Harvey Averne brings us two very cool Christmas songs. "Let's..." is closer to a SalSoul groove than a traditional Fania one but I'm not complaining. I don't know why but I always think "Let's Get It Together This Christmas" would sound great on Sesame Street. Mel Torme's wonderful "Christmas Song" benefits most form the Averne touch. Gentle vibes and a puppy bark lead us into the song before the string and horn section gently glide over sleigh bells. The organ grooving in the background is the only thing that can foreshadow the jump to a downright funky Go-Go. The Go-Go groove makes a second appearance and the song and suddenly the song fades out way too soon. Give me another 2-3 minutes; I want to hear the session tape for this. At least let us break a sweat. Still this is a favorite.

Dancer Prancer and Nervous The Singing Reindeer - "The Happy Reindeer" (Capitol Records cat. 4300 (45-32232/3))
This silly song is very Chipmunks but something about the music accompaniment makes it easier to take. The reindeer sound like the Lollipop Guild on helium.

Gene Autry and The Pinafores with Orchestral Acc. (featuring Pascal Marks on vocal) - "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" b/w "If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas" (Columbia cat. 6-375) My brother loves this Christmas record more than anyone I know. Christmas music was a HUGE deal in my house. To this day my Dad tries to find a new interesting Christmas record (and saddly now CD) each year.

Bobby Helms - "Captain Santa Claus (And His Reindeer Space Patrol)" (Decca cat. 30513 (103,578))
Best known for the much covered "Jingle Bell Rock" which graces the A-Side of this ditty; "Captain Santa Claus" is just plain fascinating. The 1950's obsession with space brings us yet another rocket adventure with a twist. Apparently Santa's sleigh is need of repair so why not have the elves build him a Rocket Powered one. So does this mean they killed the reindeer? Isn't it the reindeer that lift old tons-a-fun and his packages? By-the-way the sound of the rocket is made by Helms trying to hock up a loogie. Precious.

The Lazy Cowgirls - "Sock it To Me Santa" (Bomp! cat. 137)
One of America's greatest bands can tackle any tune and Bob Seger's "Sock It To Me Santa" is no exception. The Cowgirl's tear it a new one and even quote James Brown in the process. This is another tune I can listen regardless of season. Long Live Rock!

The Kinks - "Father Christmas" (Arista cat. AS 0296)
The Kinks catalog is a near perfect one. The Kinks continued to be great long after the rest of the British Invasion disappeared. In 1977 the Kinks embraced punks ethics and recorded one of the best original Rock-N-Roll Christmas tunes. "Father Christmas give us your money!"

Spinal Tap - "Christmas With The Devil" (Enigma cat.E-1143)

Some LPs:
Jimmy McGriff - Christmas With McGriff (Mistletoe Records cat. MLP-1205)
Bobby Timmons - Holiday Soul (Prestige cat. 7414)
Don Paterson - Holiday Soul (Prestige cat. 7415)
The Moog Machine - Christmas Becomes Electric (Columbia cat. CS 9959)
James Brown and The Famous Flames Sing Christmas Songs (King cat. 1010)
James Brown - A Soulful Christmas (King cat. KS 1040)
Christmas Time With The Harlem Children's Chorus (Commonwealth United Records Inc. cat. CU-6003)
Dr. John Band with Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns - 'twas The Night Before Christmas (Ace Records cat. LP 1027)

Recent gets:
Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys - "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" b/w "Coal Loadin' Johnny" (Columbia cat. 4-42606 (ZSP 58193/92)) (Columbia sleeve)
Dickie Goodman - "Energy Crisis '74" b/w "Ruthie's Theme" (Rainy Wednesday Records cat. RW 206)
Ollie & The Nightingales - "I Got A Sure Thing" b/w "Girl, You Have My Heart Singing" (Stax 45-245 (STX-13746/7 SP))
The Playmates with Hugo Peretti & His Orch. - "Beep Beep" b/w "Your Love" (Roulette cat. R-4115 (13173-E/13170)) (Roulette sleeve)
The Olympics - "Western Movies" b/w "Well!" (Demon - The Highest in Fi cat. FF-1508 (45-DE-015/6))
Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Get Down" b/w "A Very Extraordinary Sort of Girl" (MAM cat.. 45-3629 XDR 53005/6))
The Ventures - "El Cumbanchero" b/w "Skip to M' Limbo" (Dolton Records cat. No. 68)
The Rolling Stones - "Let's Spend The Night Together" b/w "Ruby Tuesday" (London cat. 45 LON 904 (DR 39595/6)) (London sleeve)
The Royal Guardsman - "Snoopy's Christmas" b/w "It Kinda Looks Like Christmas" (Laurie Records Inc. cat. LR 3416 UK4M-0740/82))
Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters with Vic Schoen And His Orchestra - "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" b/w "Jingle Bells" (Decca cat. Album no. 9-65 record No. 9-23281 this is obviously from a box set)

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