*FRESH FOR 2018*
Christmas, in some respects the graveyard of good music, but also a time honoured tradition for Funk, Soul, Reggae & Ska artists to release festive singles and albums. The quality of seasonal tunes can be a mixed bag, but there are a fair few treats in the selection box, here are a few for your consideration, (there’s more than 5 + 1 now, but y’know it’s a time for indulgence!)
Khruangbin – Christmas Time Is Here (2018)
Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa (1968)
The more famous version of this track is the Run DMC hit from 1987, Christmas In Hollis, which samples this funk stomper from 1968 (which also features in the seminal 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Jingle All The Way”, just don’t ask why the writer knows that!).
Eek A Mouse – Christmas A Come (1981)
Christmas Ska & Reggae has a pretty grand tradition, as the various Trojan Christmas Box Sets will testify. Most of the greats have taken a pass at festive tunes, The Wailers, Horace Andy, The Ethiopians, to name just 3. A brief shout out should also go to the Jamie Bostron remix of Johnny Clarke’s version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (which got a run out at the Christmas Reggae Social). However the grand master of all of these is probably Eek A Mouse showing how to do it in 1981.
LCD Soundsystem – Christmas Will Break Your Heart (2015)
Or as one wag in the YouTube comments puts it “Christmas I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”. James Murphy brings heartbreak to the festive season better than most, nuff respect:
James Brown – Soulful Christmas (1968)
The funk & soul festive tradition burns bright, the Phil Spector Christmas Album must warrant a mention, Ramsey Lewis and Booker T & The MG’s also contributed to the genre. But of course the Godfather Of Soul did a raft of Christmas music, perhaps most famously with Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto , but this one is a (christmas) cracker.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects (2013)
Spooling forward 45 years, the still sadly missed Sharon Jones put out a Christmas Album in the grand tradition in 2013. This is the killer cut, and it stands proud next to the Godfather of Soul:
Run The Jewels – A Christmas F*cking Miracle (2013)
There’s also a strong tradition in hip hop, most notably right at the get go, with Christmas Rappin’ by Kurtis Blow in 1979. Other examples include Eazy-E & Ghostface Killah, and in 2017 Children Of Zeus. For a genuinely great and thought provoking track, RTJ are where it’s at (it is, of course, quite sweary):
Room For One More
There were a few in the running for the bonus track, in particular popular amongst the ear bleeding fraternity DJNoNo tearing up Mariah Carey or Spor Decking The Halls, the Toasters take on Christmas Ska is also plenty of fun. A shout out should also go to The Waitresses stone cold classic, and brand new Santa based sexy-tech business from Confidence Man. But who doesn’t enjoy some lovely harmonies at this time of year, and props to Skutch for pointing us towards Bad Religion – White Christmas (2013) which has plenty of those.
Bless ups for Christmas from the Funkdub crew.