Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas in heaven with James, Donny & Otis

Since freshman year in college there has been only one legitimate soundtrack to Christmas: James Brown's Funky Christmas. Every year around this time I dig out this CD and throw it on the ipod of boombox for all holiday functions. For someone who doesn't really like holiday music this compilation is superb. James Brown cranked out Christmas singles throughout his career but it sounds like most of these songs came from the late sixties and early seventies, arguably his best era. Most of the songs are great, but the two I have picked for you here are my favorites.

Download: Christmas Is Love
I remember rediscovering this song just last year as I was running last-minute errands before getting on my flight to Portland, not knowing that within 24 hours The Godfather would be passing from this world. I love the arrangement. How big and bold it is with dramatic horns and crashing symbols. Like some of the best Christmas songs it's celebratory and over the top.

Download: Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
This tune is just pure James Brown. Nobody else could (or would) record a song so boldly pro-ghetto at this time and have it come off as just as classy as a rerecording of any olde Christmas standard.

Download: Merry Christmas, Baby
Recently I picked up this "Soul Christmas" album from Atlantic records which might just rival the James Brown album for all-time best Christmas album. I know everyone's heard it already, but this Otis Redding classic just can't be beat for modern Christmas classic.

Download: This Christmas
Donny Hathaway's Christmas classic is another modern Christmas classic that has made the cut to get on nearly every Christmas playlist and for good reason too!

By the end of the week I'll have some Brazilian Christmas tunes headin' your way . . . "Jingle Black" anyone?

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