More Christmas Albums by The Supremes, Ray Charles, Booker T. & the MG’s
May the dawning of this New Year, fill your heart with new hopes, open up new horizons and bring for you promises of brighter tomorrows.
May you have a great New Year.
The Supremes – Merry Christmas
You can consider the Supremes another 1960s super group on Motown, a label that boasted it was “the sound of young America.” The Supremes always were dominated by the diva Diana Ross even at Christmas. Fans should note, however, that the fantastic “Silent Night,” a previously unreleased song, does feature Florence Ballard‘s lead vocal, a rare occasion when lady Di is not front and center. This updated version of the 1965 record includes its original 13 songs, plus 4 tunes not previously available in one set, including producer-songwriter Henry Fuqua‘s “Just a Lonely Christmas.” Merry Christmas from the Supremes is rich with original songs by Jimmy Webb (“MacArthur Park”) and includes other non traditional songs such as “Born of Mary,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Me,” and “Little Bright Star.” Together with its seasonal standards and R&B-pop arrangements, it’s pure Christmas fun.
Ray Charles – The Spirit Of Christmas
Surprisingly, this 1985 album is Ray Charles’ only Christmas album. Recorded with a sizzling band and guests that include trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Rudy Johnson, guitarist Jeff Pevar, and the Raeletts, this is (despite the wintery cover photo) a warm and soulful album of Christmas and holiday songs. Charles and his co-arrangers (James Polk, Larry Muhoberac and Bill McElhiney) stretch out across soul balladry, jazz, horn-lined swing, choral harmony, and blue country. There’s a lot of style packed into this album’s ten tracks. Concord’s reissue (the first in twelve years) adds the Ray Charles/Betty Carter duet “Baby it’s Cold Outside” to the original album, extending the running time to 47 minutes. This is a solid shot of rhythm and soul for your holiday party. (Hyperbolium)
Booker T. & The MG’S – In The Christmas Spirit
There’s no reason to believe the little drummer boy didn’t break into a danceable groove every now and again–and no cause to think that Christmas music has to be listened to from an easy chair. This legendary rhythm & blues combo spreads the spirit of the season in much the same way it did its many chart- toppers–with a greasy backbeat and a heaping helping of cool keyboards courtesy of Booker T himself. Originally issued in 1966, this disc lets the MGs strut through deftly arranged versions of Christmas standards like “Winter Wonderland” and “Silver Bells” with sass, class, and more than enough panache to keep it on your system through the New Year. (David Sprague)