Soul Christmas! “Christmas doesn’t get more soulful than this collection of tunes.” That’s the truth.
‘Tis not the season to get into the murky distribution arrangement Atlantic Records had with Stax. But the deal did create a dynamite roster. Carla Thomas, William Bell, and of course, Booker T, who we heard last week, were from the Stax side.
Billboard magazine had Christmas singles charts from 1963 to 1972, and from 1983 to 1985. There was a Christmas albums chart periodically as well. These will be listed as Xmas.
Soul Christmas reached #13 Xmas in 1968, and #8 Xmas in both 1969 and 1970. The CD version, with three additional tracks, reached #89 RB in 1994. There are several variations on this collection. But I’m limiting it this week to the original release as represented on the album cover.
Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter, #4 Xmas in 1968. He was born blind in Montgomery, Alabama in 1936, His big hit was Slip Away (#2 RB, #6 pop in 1968)
The Christmas Song – King Curtis, with Duane Allman on guitar. Saxophonist Curtis Ousley, born in 1934 in Fort Worth, TX. Murdered in 1971. Known for Soul Twist, #1 RB for two weeks, #17 pop in 1962.
White Christmas – Otis Redding, #12 Xmas in 1968. Born in Dawson, GA in 1941. Died in a plane crash on 10 Dec 1967. He has the first posthumous #1 pop song. Sitting On The Dock of the Bay, #1 pop for four weeks, #1 for three weeks RB in 1968.
Silver Bells – Booker T. and The MG’s. Booker T. Jones was born in 1944 in Memphis, TN. Green Onions went #1 for four weeks RB, #3 pop in 1962.
Gee Whiz It’s Christmas – Carla Thomas (Thomas, Steve Cropper, Vinny Trauth/trumpeter) #23 on the Christmas charts in 1963. Her B-A-B-Y was #3 RB, #14 pop in 1966.
Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding, #9 Xmas in 1968
Presents For Christmas – Solomon Burke. Born in Philadelphia, probably in 1940, d. 2010). Got To Get You Off My Mind was #1 for three weeks RB, but only #22 pop.
Jingle Bells – Booker T. and The MG’s, #20 Xmas in 1966
Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday – William Bell (Bell, Booker T. Jones), #33 RB in 1968. Born in 1939 in Memphis. Prolific songwriter.
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve – King Curtis