Music: Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’

I got a letter today, just about noon
she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be home soon”

black santaAs you may know, 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 tremdous book by Rob Bowman.

For this holiday season, I decided to reprise some songs from the Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles box sets I have. But I had forgotten that there are THREE box sets of nine CDs each. I only bought the first two. So the third set is new to me, and possibly to you.

Volume 3: 1972-1975

What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas – The Emotions; OK, you don’t hear a lot of sad Christmas songs that make the playlist

Season’s Greetings – Cix Bits; totally unfamiliar with this group

Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Albert King; what it says

Volume 2: 1968-1971

Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas – Staple Singers; a downer, social justice song – no airplay for you

Black Christmas – Emotions; the trio returns with a song that won’t make most seasonal playlists

The Mistletoe And Me – Isaac Hayes; I contend that this is a GREAT Christmas song, which I’ve never heard on the radio

Volume 1: 1959-1968

Jingle Bells – Booker T. and the M.G.’s; this actually got to #20 on the Xmas charts in 1966, a special designation that Billboard has had on and off. Of the songs listed here, it’s probably the one you’ve most likely heard in December

Winter Snow – Booker T. and the M.G.’s; I love, LOVE this song. Yes, it is melancholy, but it’s an instrumental

Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday – William Bell; this song, written by Bell and Booker T. Jones, actually made #33 on the R&B charts in 1968. Not strictly a holiday song, it would be a fine addition to a playlist

Everyday will be like a holiday
When my baby, when my baby comes home

Now she’s been gone
for such a long time
ever since she’s been gone,
she been on my mind

I got a letter today,
just about noon
she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be home soon”

Music, September 1971: widely un-bought

Stax had to “promote a white rock record through a black promotion and distribution system.”

“Not all the fresh music made in 1971 made an impact in that year. Some of it didn’t come out until years later the people who made it had made it had moved on, had become different people, or died.” That’s the first sentence in the September chapter of Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth.

The Modern Lovers included future Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and leader Jonathan Richman, who is considered by some to be the ‘godfather of punk rock.”

Roxy Music was primarily wanted to be perceived as an art project, as most of the members, including Bryan Ferry, were students. Likewise, David Byrne was meeting up with Chris Frantz at the Phode Island School of Design and thinking about a band called the Artistics; Byrne and Franz would, of course, also help create Talking Heads.

Kraftwerk was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1969. Their second album had “more in common with the workshopping approach to improvised theater than the performance-oriented approach of traditional rock.”

When the critics suggest who ought to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they often mention this band, certainly not for its commercial success, but its influence. The Wikipedia notes: “Kraftwerk’s musical style and image can be heard and seen in 1980s synthpop groups such as Gary Numan, Ultravox, John Foxx, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Human League, Depeche Mode, Visage, and Soft Cell.”

Alex Chilton had experience some success with a band called the Box Tops, but the experience left him drained. He and some mates ended up starting a band called Big Star. Their album, #1 Record, released in 1972, did nothing, maybe because it was released on the soul label Stax, which had just bought itself out “of a distribution deal with Columbia” [Records] and therefore had to “promote a white rock record through a black promotion and distribution system.”

The records of the Velvet Underground and Big Star, “like those of of the Stooges, MC5 and Nick Drake, were widely available and widely un-bought.” But those artists inspired music that eventually topped the charts.

Listen to

George Jackson – Bob Dylan here or here

Motel Blues – Loudon Wainwright III here or here

Hospital – Modern Lovers here or here

Andy Warhol – David Bowie here or here

Life Is a Carnival – the Band here or here