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Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas

December 6th, 2012 19 comments

It’s the season of Christmas mixes. We kick off with a Rhythm & Blues mix which I know the good readers of this corner of the blogosphere will dig. So will their friends ““ share the joy of R&B yule widely on Facebook, Twitter, and so on. If you open the link (as you will have to for the password), ckick on the relevant sharing button on the bottom of the page. And please don’t be shy to comment!

So, this compilation features 29 tracks which more or less (and mostly more) would be called R&B “” “Race Records”, as the labels put it without much subtlety in the 1940s and ’50s.

There are lots of great stories behind the artists here, but being pressed for time I cannot go into them. One is worth mentioning: The Marquees, the short-lived group that emanated from the Rainbows and sort of merged with Harvey Fuqua’s Moonglows. One of the Marquee members was Marvin Gaye. I have no idea whether he sang on Santa Done Gone Hip; do any readers know?

While I was preparing this mix I received the news of the death of Earl Carroll, singer with The Cadillacs, whose version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is among my favourites (and I do like the song, despite my tongue-in-cheek critique of it HERE).

And let The Youngsters’ song be a warning: Do not drink and drive! And not only because you might be caught, but because it is a dangerous and despicable thing to do.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home moonshined front and back covers. As mentioned, password in the comments.

TRACKLISTING:
1. B.B. King – Christmas Celebration (1962)
2. Mabel Scott – Boogie Woogie Santa Claus (1948)
3. The Moonglows – Hey Santa Claus (1953)
4. Charles Brown – Merry Christmas Baby (1947)
5. J. B. Summers – I Want A Present For Christmas (1949)
6. The Debonairs – Christmas Time (mid-’50s)
7. Keith Davis – Let’s Exchange Hearts For Christmas (mid-’50s)
8. The Orioles – Lonely Christmas (1949)
9. The Falcons – Can This Be Christmas (1957)
10. The Five Keys – It’s Christmas Time (1951)
11. Bubber Johnson – Let’s Make Every Day A Christmas Day (1955)
12. Nancy Wilson – That’s What I Want For Christmas (1963)
13. Bobby Nunn – Christmas Bells (1951)
14. Big Joe Turner – Christmas Date Boogie (1948)
15. Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run (1958)
16. The Hepsters – Rockin And Rollin’ With Santa Claus (1955)
17. The Drifters – I Remember Christmas (1964)
18. The Shirelles – Blue Holiday (1961)
19. Jesse Belvin – I Want You With Me At Christmas (1956)
20. Oscar McLollie with his Honey Jumpers – Dig That Crazy Santa Claus (1954)
21. Felix Gross – Love For Christmas (1949)
22. Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Merry Christmas Baby (1947)
23. Hadda Brooks – White Christmas (1950)
24. The Youngsters – Christmas In Jail (1956)
25. The Marquees – Santa Done Gone Hip (1959)
26. The Cadillacs – Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1956)
27. The Marshall Brothers – Mr Santa’s Boogie (1951)
28. The Enchanters – Mambo Santa Mambo (1957)
29. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Happy New Year (1953)

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More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doop Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

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A History of Country Vol. 9: 1957-60

May 11th, 2011 20 comments

In Volume 9 of the country history series, we look at the glory years of country, a time when the genre was at its most self-confident and profitable. It was still a vibrant genre, as this collection shows, though the crooners were already beginning to define the genre, a situation that would give rise to the outlaw movement, the protagonists of which were inspired by several of the artists on this mix.

It”s difficult to say who was the biggest star in 1950s country. The crooner likes of Eddy Arnold were immensely successful, but in terms of sales and influence, the biggest names were Left Frizzell and Webb Pierce, rival kings of honky tonk music. Pierce notched up more country #1s than any other in the 1950s, having in the late “40s gained recognition by placing girls in the frontrow of his gigs and paying them to scream at him, bobbysoxer style. Read more…

Saved! Vol. 1

April 20th, 2011 6 comments

Easter is coming, so it seems righteous to post the first in a series of great Christian music that, I hope, will lift the spirits of the believer, and make those who don”t believe wish they would, if even for the duration of a song.

This mix comprises gospel, soul, blues, funk and country, stretching from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. Some of the featured artists will be better known in other genres, some of them got their start in gospel music. Among them is Sly Stone, who as Sylvester Stewart was a child member of The Sylvester Four, a band of brothers who in 1952 released their only single. Another child star was Shirley Caesar, whose contribution here was recorded when she was 13 years old. Now in her 70s, she is still performing.

Like the future Sly Stone, soul pioneer Ann Cole also made a start as a member of a family band, under her birthname Cynthia Coleman with The Colemanaires.

Aretha Franklin“s secular career started slowly, with a string of unsatisfactory record in the early “60s before she broke through on Atlantic in the latter half of that decade. Before all that, in 1957 she released an album of sacred songs, Songs Of Faith, on which Yield Not To Temptation appeared.

Before Motown produced The Temptations, The Supremes and The Four Tops there were the optimistically named Gospel Stars. He Lifted Me, released in 1961, was Motown”s first gospel record (Gordy later founded the Divinity subsidiary for religious stuff), and their debut album, even more optimistically titled The Great Gospel Stars, was the label”s first ever album release. Also recorded for Motown, Marvin Gaye“s No Greater Love remained unreleased for 21 years till the 1986 cash-in of Marvin”s leftovers. Most of it was awful, but No Greater Love is just beautiful.

A couple of songs here were released by Sun Records. Alas, not much is known about Brother James Anderson. But The Prisonaires have featured here before, as the original performers of Johnny Ray”s Just Walkin” In The Rain. As their name suggests, The Prisonaires were inmates, recording while they were guests of the Tennessee correctional services (more about them in The Originals Vol. 29).

The mix ends on a funky note, with The Winston”s instrumental of Jester Hairston”s Amen, the gospel number written specifically for Sydney Poitier”s character in the film Lilies In The Field (one of the few covers recorded by The Impressions). Recorded by The Winstons in 1969 as the b-side of the Grammy-winning Color Him Father, it is said to be perhaps the most sampled record ever, specifically Gregory Coleman”s brief drum solo (at 1:23). Check out the list of some of the records that sampled the Amen break (watch the fascinating video as well).

This compilations, and those that will follow, is titled Saved!, after the track that leads the mix. Try to keep still while playing LaVerne Baker“s thumping song; if you succeed, consult a doctor because you might well be dead.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and cover artwork is included.

TRACKLISTING:
1. LaVern Baker – Saved (1961)
2. The Staple Singers – Don’t Knock (1960)
3. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
4. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
5. The Sylvester Four (with Sly Stone) – Walking In Jesus Name (1952)
6. Lightnin’ Hopkins, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry – Down By The Riverside (1965)
7. Brother James Anderson – Where Can I Go (1967)
8. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
9. The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Our Father’s Praying Ground (1970)
10. Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Turn Your Radio On (1971)
11. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1961)
12. Hank Williams – (I’m Gonna) Sing, Sing, Sing (released in 1956)
13. The Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Karl and Harty – Gospel Cannon Ball (1941)
15. Golden Gate Jubilee Quartett – Golden Gate Gospel Train (1937)
16. Barbeque Bob – When The Saints Go Marching In (1927)
17. Blind Alfred Reed – There’ll Be No Distinction There (1929)
18. Deep River Boys – I’m Tramping (1946)
19. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
20. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
21. Shirley Caesar – I’d Rather Serve Jesus (1951)
22. The Colemanaires – Out On The Ocean Sailing (1954)
23. The Prisionaires – Softly And Tenderly (1953)
24. Claude Jeter and the Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
25. Aretha Franklin – Yield Not To Temptation (1956)
26. The Gospel Stars – He Lifted Me (1961)
27. Marvin Gaye – No Greater Love (1965)
28. Rotary Connection – Amen (1967)
29. The Winstons – Amen Brother (1969)

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A History of Country Vol. 8: 1954-56

March 9th, 2011 8 comments

Some years ago, the brains at Rolling Stone grappled to identify the first ever rock & roll record. In the final face-off, they picked Elvis Presley”s debut single That”s All Right, a cover of R&B singer Arthur Crudup”s song, over Bill Haley”s Rock Around The Clock (itself a cover, though the song was actually written for the former western swing singer).

It is, of course, a fruitless mission to identify a “first” rock & roll song, because the genre is a jumble of diverse influences that convened, not always simultaneously, in an untidy evolution. One might as well seek to pinpoint the first piece of classical music or identify the inventor of the wheel. There is no single originator; there cannot be, because rock & roll is not a recipe consisting of essential ingredients. The genre has always been diffuse, subject to a broad sweep of influences. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 7: 1952-53

January 27th, 2011 11 comments

In this segment we briefly turn our focus on some of the individuals featured on this mix and the 1950/51 compilation. Pictured on the cover is the 1952 Cadillac in which Hank Williams died of heart failure on New Year”s Day 1953, aged 30 (though he always looked much older than that). His was the first of a series of young celebrity deaths that created legends for all times. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 6: Before Rock & Roll – 1950-51

January 12th, 2011 6 comments

After a hiatus of a few months we return to the history of country music. In the last narrative instalment (Volume 4) we noted the rise of female country singers; some of them will feature in this mix, which covers the years 1950-51, and its follow-up, 1952-53. In the course of the 1950s we will also review country’s contribution to rock & roll, and discuss some of the artists featured. What follows then is a brief overview of country music in the 1950s.

Country had always been a diverse genre. New forms emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Bluegrass took country back to its rural roots, with a sound based primarily on the interplay of string instruments “” banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin. The pioneer of bluegrass was Bill Monroe, a big fellow with a small mandolin, who in 1939 had formed a band called the Blue Grass Boys. The line-up kept changing, with the most consequential incarnation, in 1946/47, including the hitherto unknown Lester Flatt and Earl Sruggs, who soon would form their own band, have a massive hit with the instrumental Foggy Mountain Breakdown (revived later as a theme for the film Bonnie And Clyde), and enjoy long careers together and separately. Bluegrass has never become mainstream. Various revivals and dedicated musicianship have kept the sub-genre alive; it is possibly more popular now than it ever was, thanks to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack  and the efforts of singers such as Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 5: Post-War Years – 1947-49

October 14th, 2010 13 comments

As before, this album refers to artists and songs featured on both 1940s compilations.

The importance to country music of Ernest Tubb“s Walking The Floor Over You cannot be underestimated. It was not the first honky tonk record, nor the first to use the new-fangled electric guitar. But it was the first really big hit to use electric guitar solos, performed by Fay “˜Smitty” Smith, and is considered the breakthrough record for honky tonk music, a label that was variously used for different genres, but now usually applied in country music. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 4: War Years – 1941-46

September 30th, 2010 8 comments

By the early 1940s the crooners had begun to make their mark, with Jimmie Davies “” future Democrat governor of Louisiana “” having led the way. Many of them had toiled and crooned in the 1930s. But with a world war slowly engulfing the globe, the market wanted, and got, romance. More than that, men took their country songs with them to the army and disseminated the music among their fellow soldiers. Country music thus found new fans, and its leading singers “” Roy Acuff, Gene Autry, Red Foley, Tex Ritter, Eddy Arnold “” gained a national audience. In 1945, Arnold even beat the mighty Frank Sinatra in a favourite-singer poll among GIs stationed in Germany. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 3: Pre-war years – 1937-41

August 19th, 2010 4 comments

The second article in the history of country music covered the trends and artists of the depression and pre-war years, 1930-41. Here we”ll look at some of the songs of the era. The photo on the cover comes from a superb series of colour photos from the US in the 1930s and ’40s.

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Rock “˜n” roll grew out of R&B and various shades of country, especially rockabilly, a sub-genre that peaked in the 1950s. But what is widely regarded as the first rockabilly number dates back to 1939, Buddy Jones” Rockin” Rollin’ Mama. It”s a futile exercise to identify “the first-ever rock “˜n” roll record”, but any list of contenders must include Rockin” Rollin’ Mama. Read more…

A History of Country Vol. 2: Depression Years – 1930-36

August 12th, 2010 17 comments

The titles of posts in this series may be a bit confusing. They will refer to the timespan covered in the mixes. But this post looks at the era from about 1930 to about 1941. The next post will include the 1937-41 mix, but the text will be a sidebar to this article, also referring to 1930-41. I hope that makes sense…

Record sales collapsed dramatically with the Depression, with sales dropping from 104 million in 1927 to just 6 million in 1932. Some records still sold prodigiously, of course. Gene Autry”s That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine (released in 1931 but becoming a mega-hit a couple of years later, it is sometimes considered the first honky tonk record, a decade before that sub-genre really took hold) sold a million copies, as did Patsy Montana”s 1935 hit I Want To Be A Cowboy”s Sweetheart. Read more…