Posted: December 17th, 2009
Of all the conversations I had with my then-fiancé, the most important one in my mind involved Christmas. We were raised in two different faiths, though neither of us are particularly religious as adults. But I had to be sure. Religion I can get by without, but the tradition of dead trees in the house and songs about reindeer–that’s important.
“Sure,” he said, “we can have a Hanukkah bush.”
“You’re not getting it. It’s a Christmas tree,” I replied. “And the music, I have to listen to the music.”
Fortunately my powers of persuasion are strong, and so every year we get our tree from the Boy Scouts up the street and put on the Vince Guaraldi or the Bing Crosby or the Frank Sinatra Christmas records until we can’t take it anymore. Last year’s discovery of the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s Christmas album infused some fresh music, but the cheese-ridden holiday selection remains appalling. No, I do NOT want to hear Andrea Bocelli or Christina Aguilera sing holiday classics. And don’t get me started on the “Very Special Christmas” series.
So when the good people at Strut sent along In the Christmas Groove: Stone Cold Soul From Santa’s Basement, I was cautiously optimistic at best. Compilations, especially of the holiday variety, often fall into the trap of including at least one weird or outrageous track, almost as if the producer wants to prove his credibility–”look at this crazy shit I found that you didn’t!” Would Christmas Groove be filled with obnoxious, brassy pseudo-funky versions of “Jingle Bells”? Is there such a thing as a good, soulful, holiday album?
Yes Musthear, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as soul, drum beats, and bass grooves exist. And so this disc is going into heavy holiday rotation. How could it not, with songs like “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul” and “Getting Down for Xmas”? (Both, incidentally, are even better than their titles suggest.) No weird-ass novelty songs; no celebrity nonsense. Just solid grooves to get you through the season.
Previews and more are at http://www.inthechristmasgroove.com
- J.D. McDonald – Boogaloo Santa Claus
- Jimmy Reed – Christmas Present Blues
- Electric Jungle – Funky Funky Christmas
- Funk Machine – Soul Santa
- Milly & Silly – Getting Down For Xmas
- The Harlem Children’s Chorus – Black Christmas
- Isaac Clarke – Santa Claus Is Coming To town
- Captain Elmo McKenzie & The Roosters – Home On Christmas Day
- Soul Saints Orchestra – Santa’s Got A Bag of Soul
- Zebra – Christmas Morning
- Harvey Averne Band – Let’s Get It Together This Christmas
- Jimmy Jules – The New Year
- The Black On White Affair – Auld Lang Syne