In 1966 – possibly my favorite pop music year ever – Booker T. and the M.G.’s put out a holiday album.
The group was an “American instrumental R and B/funk band that was influential in shaping the sound of Southern soul and Memphis soul.” True, that. The members in 1966 were Booker T. Jones (organ, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar), Al Jackson Jr. (drums), and Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass).
Stax Records was the great record label out of Memphis, TN. Motown may have been “The Sound of Young America,” But Stax was “Soulsville U.S.A.”, the title of a tremendous book by Rob Bowman.
“In the 1960s, as members of the house band of Stax Records, they played on hundreds of recordings by artists including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, and Albert King. They also released instrumental records under their own name, including the 1962 hit single ‘Green Onions.'”
In the Christmas Spirit was their fourth album.
Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont). Periodically, Billboard had Christmas charts. This song, released as a single, got to #20 in 1966. This track also appeared on a 1968 compilation called Soul Christmas.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie)
Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard, Dick Smith) B-side of Jingle Bells.
White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells)
Silver Bells (Ray Evans, Jay Livingston). Released as a 1967 season single. Also on Soul Christmas.
Merry Christmas Baby (Lou Baxter, Johnny Moore)
Blue Christmas (Bill Hayes, Jay Johnson)
Sweet Little Jesus Boy (Bob MacGimsey)
Silent Night (Franz Xaver Gruber, Joseph Mohr)
We Three Kings We Three Kings (John Henry Hopkins, Jr.)
We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Traditional)
The B-side of the Silver Bells single was the non-album track, Winter Snow (Isaac Hayes), a song I love dearly.