Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Christmas Collection' and 'X-Mas in Jail'

Tired of hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” or “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” yet? It doesn’t take me too long to tire of hearing the holiday favorites that radio seems to continuously pump out starting in early November.
That’s one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoy some solid blues to get me in the Christmas mood.
My favorite holiday blues CD is 1992’s “Christmas Collection” by Alligator Records. It starts strong with a rockin’ “Merry, Merry Christmas” by the late, great Koko Taylor. You certainly won’t hear the folksy “Christmas Time in the Country” by Kenny Neal on commercial radio. There are a few traditional tunes on the CD – such as Elvin Bishop’s “The Little Drummer Boy” and Charlie Musselwhite’s “Silent Night” – but they have their own unique spins on the tunes. Other artists featured on the recording include Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Katie Webster, William Clarke, Tinsley Ellis, Charles Brown, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, and Gatemouth Brown.
Alligator’s other holiday release is 2003’s “Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas,” featuring, among many others, Carey Bell, Shemekia Copeland, Cephus & Wiggins, The Holmes Brothers, and Marcia Ball.
For a gritty Detroit take on the holiday, check out the Howling Diablos’ 2008 EP release “X-Mas in Jail” on indie label Funky D Records. Tino and the boys deliver their unique funky takes on “Back Door Santa” and “Another Christmas Story (Ten Below Zero),” as well as two versions of the title track, a studio “felony mix” and a raucous live recording.
When you’re done listening, you’ll know what it’s like to be “locked down in Jackson, spending Christmas in jail.”
What’s your favorite Christmas blues recording?

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