Wednesday, December 24, 2008

posted by Eric Luecking

Donny Hathaway: This Christmas
A Donny Hathaway Collection (Atlantic, 1990)

John Legend: Jesus, What A Wonderful Child
NBC Sounds Of The Season: The John Legend Collection (Sony, 2006)

Although the Donny track is quite well-known, it's one of those songs that just can't be overplayed. In fact, I find myself playing it year round. Sure, it has its checklist of Christmas references – fireside, trimming trees, caroling – but it never feels forced like so many non-traditional Christmas songs. The production is excellent with its uplifting horn arrangements and even that teaser fade out/fade in ending. I'm assuming it's an Arif Mardin production, although I don't have the liner notes handy. It's amazing how little information there is available on not only this song, but a more in-depth look into Hathaway's career as a whole.

On “Jesus, What A Wonderful Child,” John Legend channels his church background for a holy spirit-filled exercise. With just 88 keys at his fingers is where he really excels. This track is available on the 2006 Target-only release; if you're lucky you might still be able to catch it at Target during the holiday season. Glory Hallelujah, indeed! If you can find the EP, I highly recommend getting it as it's got other stripped renditions, including a beautiful performance of “Oh Holy Night.”

Merry Christmas and safe travels to all of you!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

posted by O.W.

Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan: A Cold Chillin' Christmas
From Winter Warnerland (Warner Bros, 1988)

SS Exclusive: O Tannenbaum
From (ssssshhhhh)

I've been laid up with grading 70+ papers so alas, I haven't had time to do up a more extensive holiday post but I've been meaning to at least put these two songs out there.

The "Cold Chillin Christmas" originally (and only) came out on a holiday album (2xLP actually) put out by Warner Bros. who distributed Marley Marl's Cold Chillin label. It's not quite "The Symphony - Holiday Edition" but three out of the entire stable isn't bad, especially with a double shot of verses from Kane when Kane was still the sickest rapper around. What I think is funny is that the sample here, Booker T and MG's "Hip Hug Her" would also become the basis for a later posse cut by Heavy D, Q-Tip and others: "Don't Curse." In any case, a nice bonus cut from the Cold Chillin stables.

As for the mystery cut - I got this LP from Cool Chris at the Groove Merchant several years back and I've been waiting to put out a "kitchen sink" mixtape of just weird/wonderful tunes from wherever. This one definitely qualifies - an unexpectedly spacey/funky version of "O Tannenbaum" (better known to Americans as the melody for "O Christmas Tree") off an album of Christmas music done by European artists. Still gonna keep this under the Santa hat for a while but I thought it was high time to finally share it with folks.

In terms of one of the all-time greatest Xmas songs though, no question, it's this. Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here" is basically a childhood's worth of nostalgia distilled into 3 minutes. Even if you heard the song for the first time, it just sounds like something you would have grown up with. The veritable definition of timeless.

Soul Sides is going to be laid up with grading and holiday/family responsibilities for the next week or so. We may not get another post until the new year and if so, thanks to all for your support and encouragement. See you in 2007.

Labels: , , ,