Blues, Blues Christmas: 1925-1955

Blues, Blues Christmas: 1925-1955


Christmas and the blues might seem at first like a strange combination, given that the music of the holiday season is usually joyful, hopeful, and bright, but no other time of the year is so good at showing you what you don't have, and what you can't get, and if you have the blues at Christmas, well, it's going to be a pretty heavy dose. This generous two-disc set…  See more details below


Christmas and the blues might seem at first like a strange combination, given that the music of the holiday season is usually joyful, hopeful, and bright, but no other time of the year is so good at showing you what you don't have, and what you can't get, and if you have the blues at Christmas, well, it's going to be a pretty heavy dose. This generous two-disc set from Document Records features 52 tracks of vintage African-American Christmas-themed blues and gospel pieces (with a couple of street sermons thrown in) recorded between 1925 and 1955, ranging from down-and-out laments and jailhouse moans to surprising (and occasionally risqué) requests for what Santa can bring down the chimney. Highlights on the first disc include the opening track, the joyous "Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn," recorded in 1925 by comedian and female impersonator Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon; Harry Crafton's "Bring That Cadillac Back" (a Cadillac might not be the best gift if your girlfriend likes to ramble) from 1947; Tampa Red's amazing, ringing slide guitar tone on "Christmas and New Year's Blues" from 1936; and the bizarre, disturbing field recording of "Junior's a Jap Girl's Christmas for His Santa Claus," sung by Willie Blackwell for Alan Lomax in Arkansas in 1942. Other high points include the charming "Christmas Boogie," recorded in 1950 by piano prodigy (he was only ten years old when this recording was made) Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson and the intense, bottled-up street-corner sermon "The Wrong Way to Celebrate Xmas," recorded by Rev. Edward Clayborn in 1928. The second disc yields even more holiday gems, including the bottleneck guitar attack of Black Ace (Babe Karo Lemon Turner) on 1937's "Christmas Time Blues (Beggin' Santa Claus)"; Leroy Carr's stark and brilliant "Christmas in Jail" from 1929; a breezy, bouncing "When Jesus Was Born" by gospel harmony quartet the Sons of Heaven (who were really the Selah Jubilee Singers doing a little moonlighting -- which they did often, also recording as the Jubilators, the Southern Harmonaires, and the Larks) from 1948; and the sparse, stunning "Christmas Time Blues" by the mysterious Boll Weavil (Willie McNeil), also from 1948. A marvelous collection, Blues, Blues Christmas is a refreshing addition to the more standard holiday material that prevails during the season.

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Disc 1

  1. Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn  - Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon
  2. Christmas Morning Blues
  3. Hep Cat's Holiday
  4. Christmas Blues
  5. Junior's a Jap Girl's Christmas for His Santa Claus
  6. Papa Ain't No Santa Claus (And Mama Ain't No Christmas Tree)
  7. Trim Your Tree  - Jimmy Butler
  8. Christmas Blues
  9. Bring That Cadillac Back  - Doc Bagby
  10. Christmas Man Blues
  11. Hello Santa Claus
  12. Christmas and No Santa Claus
  13. Love for Christmas
  14. Happy New Year Darling
  15. Christmas & New Year's Blues  - Tampa Red
  16. Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby
  17. Christmas Spirit  -  Julia Lee & Her Boy Friends
  18. At the Christmas Ball
  19. How Will You Spend Christmas  - Rev. A.W. Nix
  20. Xmas Blues
  21. How I Hate to See Xmas Come Around
  22. Christmas Date Boogie  - Joe Turner
  23. Christmas Boogie  - Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson
  24. The Christmas Song
  25. Happy New Year  - Lightnin' Hopkins
  26. The Wrong Way to Celebrate Xmas  - Rev. Edward Clayborn

Disc 2

  1. Santa Claus  - Bo Carter
  2. Christmas Time Blues (Beggin' Santa Claus)  - Black Ace
  3. Happy New Year Blues  - Mary Harris
  4. Christmas Christmas Blues
  5. Happy New Year, Baby
  6. Faraway Christmas Blues  -  Little Esther & Mel Walker
  7. Christmas Morning Blues  - Sonny Boy Williamson [II]
  8. Christmas in Jail  - Leroy Carr
  9. Christmas Mornin' Blues
  10. Did You Spend Christmas Day in Jail?  - Reverend J.M. Gates
  11. Death Might Be Your Santa Claus  - Reverend J.M. Gates
  12. Happy New Year Blues
  13. New Year's Eve Blues  - Andrew "Smokey" Hogg
  14. Christmas Blues
  15. When Was Jesus Born  -  Sons of Heaven
  16. I Want a Present for Christmas  - J.B. Summers
  17. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus  -  Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra
  18. New Year's Resolution Blues  -  Roy Milton & His Solid Senders
  19. Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues  - Sonny Boy Williamson [II]
  20. Let Me Hang My Stockings in Your Christmas Tree  - Roosevelt Sykes
  21. The Santa Claus Crave
  22. Santa Claus  - Walter Davis
  23. Christmas Morning Blues  - Victoria Spivey
  24. Christmas Time Blues  - Boll Weavil
  25. Empty Stocking Blues  -  Johnny Moore's Three Blazers
  26. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus  -  Welch & His Orchestra

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Scrapper Blackwell   Guitar
Bumble Bee Slim   Vocals
Leroy Carr   Piano,Vocals
Bo Carter   Guitar,Vocals
Harry "Fats" Crafton   Guitar,Vocals
Walter Davis   Piano,Vocals
Floyd Dixon   Piano,Vocals
Georgia Tom   Piano
Blind Lemon Jefferson   Guitar,Vocals
Lonnie Johnson   Guitar
Willie Love   Piano
Amos Milburn   Piano,Vocals
Roy Milton   Drums,Vocals
Johnny Otis   Vibes
Bessie Smith   Vocals
Victoria Spivey   Vocals
Roosevelt Sykes   Piano,Vocals
Henry Townsend   Guitar
Peetie Wheatstraw   Piano
Titus Turner   Vocals
Tiny Grimes   Guitar
Eddie Heywood   Piano
Philly Joe Jones   Drums
Julia Lee   Piano,Vocals
Big Jay McNeely   Tenor Saxophone
Speckled Red   Piano
Oscar Moore   Guitar
Jack Marshall   Guitar
Red Prysock   Tenor Saxophone
Tampa Red   Guitar,Vocals
Don Wilkerson   Tenor Saxophone
Cecil Gant   Piano,Vocals
Ralph Willis   Guitar,Vocals
Butterbeans & Susie   Vocals
John Hardee   Tenor Saxophone
Chuck Barksdale   Bass
Dallas Bartley   Bass
Leard Bell   Drums
Benny Carter   Alto Saxophone
Bob Call   Piano
Harper Cosby   Banjo
Mario Delagarde   Bass
Porter Grainger   Piano
William K. "Billy" Hadnott   Bass
Will Hatcher   Mandolin
Shelton Hemphill   Clarinet
Walter Henry   Alto Saxophone,Bass Saxophone
Andrew "Smokey" Hogg   Guitar,Vocals
Lorenzo Holden   Tenor Saxophone
Camille Howard   Piano,Vocals
Elmore James   Guitar
Charley Jordan   Guitar
Kansas City Kitty & Georgia Tom   Vocals
Pete "Guitar" Lewis   Guitar
Fred Longshaw   Piano
Robert Lee McCoy   Guitar
Punch Miller   Cornet
Johnny Miller   Bass
Elzadie Robinson   Vocals
Johnny Rogers   Guitar
Peter Sanders   Washboard
Hosea Sapp   Trumpet
Henry Scott   Piano
Paul Thomas   Saxophone
Danny Turner   Alto Saxophone
Leonard Ware   Bass
George Washington   Trombone
Devonia Williams   Piano
Sonny Boy Williamson [II]   Harmonica,Vocals
Charlie Jordan   Guitar,Vocals
Mel Walker   Vocals
Sammy Benskin   Piano,Celeste
Alvin Raglin   Bass
Preacher Lee Graves   Trumpet
Doc Bagby   Piano
Gatemouth Moore   Vocals
Alden Bunn   Guitar,Group Member
Jimmy Butler   Vocals
Bertha "Chippie" Hill   Vocals
Thermon Ruth   Vocals,Group Member
Reverend J.M. Gates   Vocals
Don Johnson   Trumpet
Herman Flintall   Alto Saxophone
Arthur L. Hubbard   Trombone
Sam Lovett   Drums
J.B. Summers   Vocals
Buck Turner   Guitar,Vocals
Russell Royster   Trumpet
Mabel Scott   Vocals
Ellis Walsh   Drums
Austin Powell   Guitar
Minor W. Robinson   Drums
Bill Gaither   Guitar,Tenor Saxophone
Larry Darnell   Vocals
Willie Blackwell   Guitar,Vocals
Eddie Morgan   Piano
Geechie Smith   Trumpet
Johnny Moore Band   Guitar
Cathy Cooper   Vocals
Herbie Miles   Vocals,Guitar (Tenor)
Ernie Price   Ukulele
Felix Gross   Vocals
Rev. A.W. Nix   Vocals
Honey Hill   Piano
Frankie "Half-Pint" Jaxon & Punches Delegates of Pleasure   Accordion,Vocals,Group Member
Junius Parker   Vocals,Group Member
Jimmy Gorham   Vocals,Group Member
Lemuel Tally   Bass Saxophone,Vocals
John Anderson   Trumpet
Dave Cavanaugh   Tenor Saxophone
William "Billy" Brown   Guitar
Eddie Nicholson   Drums
Johnny Blevins   Guitar
Richard McNally   Trumpet
Johnny Brown   Guitar
Nat OToole   Saxophone
Peter Piercy   Piano
Billy Smith   Tenor Saxophone
James VonSteeler   Tenor Saxophone
Joe Willie   Guitar
Boll Weavil   Guitar,Vocals
Joe Howard   Tenor Saxophone
Calvin Vaughan   Drums
Mary Harris   Vocals

Technical Credits

Leroy Carr   Composer
Walter Davis   Composer
Lonnie Johnson   Composer
Roosevelt Sykes   Composer
Elzadie Robinson   Composer
Joe Stone   Contributor
Sonny Boy Williamson   Composer
Jimmy Witherspoon   Composer
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey   Composer
Dave Dexter   Composer
Reverend J.M. Gates   Contributor
Gary Atkinson   Producer
Joe Josea   Composer
Red Burns   Composer
Monroe Tucker   Composer
Andrew Hogg   Composer
B.K. Turner   Composer
Willie Blackwell   Composer
Unidentified Prisoner   Composer
Herbie Miles   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Cats & the Fiddle   Composer
Rev. A.W. Nix   Contributor
Doug Byers   Contributor
Rolf Beleman   Contributor
Albert Elam   Contributor
Adam Green   Contributor
Jeff Harris   Liner Notes
Kevin Witt   Graphic Design

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