The Blues This Christmas a reprint by Richard Ludmerer
I always look forward to the holiday season as a time when I can break out my Christmas albums. This is a ritual that began years ago when my wife and I were first dating. She wanted to listen to some Christmas music and I began to collect music from a diverse assortment of artists including Johnny Mathias, Ricky Van Shelton and Merle Haggard. My own musical preferences lead me to gradually include Christmas Blues compilations.
Sometimes Christmas is a wonderful “Joy” and other times it can be awfully lonely. These Blues compilations, especially those on the Alligator and Bullseye labels, always made me feel better. They also served as an introduction to many Blues artists whom I had never heard before. The songs are sometimes traditional but my own favorites are mostly original compositions from Blues masters such as Charles Brown, BB King, and Etta James; and the Christmas albums by these artists are today, still among my favorites. Whether the music is “silly” or sentimental; it seemed that my wife and I shared more of the holiday spirit by listening to this music. The music, at this time of the year, also reminds me to celebrate our differences and be thankful to be able to share this Joyous holiday with others. I wish a Merry Christmas to those soldiers in the military who protect us, and to those lovers of the Blues whom share my sentiments. In no particular order:
The Alligator Records Christmas Collection – Alligator Records 1992 – Opening with Koko Taylor, forever the “Queen of the Blues”, she knocks me out on “Merry, Merry Christmas”. She is surely missed. Also included are songs by Kenny Neal, Katie Webster, William Clarke, “Gatemouth” Brown and others.
Bullseye Blues Christmas – Bullseye Blues 1995 – On the second track Charles Brown sings a medley of “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Please Come Home For Christmas”. This track recorded in 1963 features Bill Doggett on organ. Lowell Fulson sings on “Lonesome Christmas”. Others.
Charles Brown’s Cool Christmas Blues – Bullseye Blues 1993 – The best of Charles Brown’s two Christmas albums.
Etta James: 12 Songs of Christmas – Sony Records 2005 – A traditional Christmas album. No one does it better than Etta.
Roomful of Blues: Roomful of Christmas – Bullseye Blues 1997 – Sugar Ray Norcia bringing you a Christmas, backed by the best “little big” band.
Alligator Records Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas – Alligator Records 2003 – Included are Carey Bell, Shemekia Copeland, Cephas & Wiggins, Saffire, Coco Montoya and many more. It’s another great collection.
The Best of BB King: Christmas Collection 20th Century Masters – MCA Records 2003 – The King of The Blues at his Christmas best.
Charles Brown Please Come Home For Christmas – King Records 1963/1995 – Twelve of the 16 tracks were originally recorded in 1963.
Austin Rhythm & Blues Christmas – Sony Records 2001 – Featuring songs by The Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson; Angeli Strehli; and a killer version of Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Lou Ann Barton. Others.
Dixieland Christmas – A Green Hill Instrumental Classic 1996 – This is a joyous all instrumental album, featuring Jack Jezzro and Sam Levine.
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