Various – Jolly Old Soul
For those of you who enjoy a more traditional holiday soundtrack, look no further than the Starbucks collection, Jolly Old Soul. This one might be the bargain of the bunch – you can find used copies for under ten bucks shipped and it is loaded with classic soul and doo-wop recordings spanning from 1949 to 1972.
It starts out with a wonderful old school arrangement of “White Christmas” performed by The Drifters. Otis belts out “Merry Christmas Baby.” Carla Thomas reworks her smash hit “Gee Whiz” into “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” and it’s so good that it doesn’t even matter that it’s a blatant cash grab by the label.
This is a Rhino release, so the quality is a given, with most of the tracks curated form the Warner or Atlantic collections. I like the diversity of this disc, too. While the set starts out with the three heavy hitters I just mentioned, it also goes on to include works by the likes of Donnie Hathaway, William Bell, and The Orioles.
King Curtis blows a smooth sax version of “The Christmas Song,” joining Booker T’s organ powered “Silver Bells” as the only instrumental versions here. The Cadillacs rock their way through a swinging doo-wop rendition of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” with a killer saxophone bridge. Solomon Burke’s sweet “Presents For Christmas” is an all-inclusive fantasy where no one goes without.
The horn-riff that opens Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa” would go on to propel Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas In Hollis” less than 20 years later. The Marcels want to get you out of your seat with “Merry Twist-Mas” and The Heartbeats look to extend the holiday season “After New Year’s Eve.”
This is a can’t-miss collection that was only out for a couple of years, if I remember correctly, around a decade or so ago. I got one or two of them at Starbucks back when they still pimped music to go with your $7 latte. There are still a bunch floating around out there if you’re so inclined, whether you seek it out or stumble across it the next time you’re hunting in the local thrift shop.
Thank you for reading!
Tune in for tomorrow for the next installment in the 12 Days Of xMas Music.
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Until next time, keep those discs spinning. Merry Christmas and all the rest…