Week 52: Let’s Eat!
Ho-ho-ho, friends! :¬)
Week 52 and the Christmas holidays are here, and to me (and most grown-ups) Christmas is more or less all about the food! (Apparently there’s supposed to be some religiousness involved as well, but when you sit there, after that 5th helping of eggnog, full of turkey, stuffing and pie, you kinda zone out and everything becomes a bit blurry.) Yep, it’s ALL about the food, keeping kids happy, strategic positioning under the mistletoe and, naturally, the MUSIC! In the afterglow of a feeding frenzy, music is the only thing that gets through to me!
I always try to find as much good non-Christmasy Christmas music as possible a couple of weeks before the holidays…I’ve long since outgrown the standard Yuletide repertoire – well, Ella Fitzgerald’s “Swinging Christmas” LP still works for me, but that’s about it…even though the “Rudy Ray Moore Christmas Album” LP is part of the decorations this year (I got a still sealed original vinyl from my favourite vinyl shop proprietor as a Christmas gift the other day) it’s a tad too lewd to be played when the kids are around. So, yeah, I stock up on suitable holiday music…like Brother Jack McDuff’s fantastic “English Country Gardens”, Paul Desmond’s late 60’s “Easy Living” or anything from Ketty Lester’s album “When A Woman Loves A Man”– it’s about getting the right mood set, the perfectly luxurious arrangements and sweet, cosy, well-known themes…making the music come across just fine even on a modest volume (or through the cacophony you call family)!
I’ve got another fine example in this category of joyful non-Christmas music perfect for the holidays: The New London Rhythm & Blues Band and their LP “Soul Cookin'” (released on Vocalion in 1969). Pretty obviously a British outfit – we’re talking about a real upbeat bunch of skilled, yet anonymous, studio musicians. The only further info I’ve found is a hunch expressed by the all-knowing soul music purist’s and Hammond B3 connaisseurs over at Funky 16 Corners – they suspect that “the undisputed king of Library music composers” Alan Hawkshaw is involved…one way or another. Of course, it’s an unconfirmed suspicion/hunch, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising – Alan was basically in on all groovy UK recordings of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Like a Christmas album, the “Soul Cookin'” LP consist of only well-known songs – but the “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” repertoire has been replaced with soul music standards like “Green Onions”, “Light My Fire” and “Soul Man”. It’s mostly funky, horn section driven instrumentals with plenty of reverb, but also includes cool vocal renditions of “Harlem Shuffle” and “Dancing In The Streets”. All in all, it’s the ideal Christmas music supplement – perfect for both your ears and your digestive system!
Just listen to this tasty snippet of The New London Rhythm & Blues Band’s bouncing version of Stevie’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”:
And now, this is where the entire staff at 4BB Weekly (Soulbrotha, Vincent, Arkane1, Lafayette and DJ LP2) wishes all our readers and listeners a very Merry Christmas! Just remember to nap between meals and to keep the sticky, sugar-rushed kids away from your vinyls, and you’ll be alright!
New London Rhythm & Blues Band – 4BB salutes you! Mad props for making our Christmas even merrier! :¬)
(Ps. And hey, don’t forget to come visit us again in time for our super special New Year’s post – we’ll make sure to kick-start your brand new year in a truly decade-turning fashion!)