Shouting out “Merry Christmas everybody” Detroit Junior sets the central theme for this compilation just before the beat kicks in. Emery Williams, Jr., never lost his nickname Detroit Junior after the successful release of his first single, “Money tree”, under this nickname in 1960. However, in his musical career spanning more than five decades he spent only a little time in Detroit.
In fact, some say that Motown superstar Marvin Gaye actually modelled his whole act after Lee Rogers, the so-called Prince of Detroit. Unfortunately, Lee Rogers never really achieved the fame he should have. Shortly after the release of “You won’t have to wait till Xmas” in 1965, the little Detroit label D-Town Records went bankrupt.
Vocalist Gary Walker (who recorded a couple of 45s on the JIN label in Louisiana and later teamed up with the Boogie Kings) should not be mistaken for the drummer Gary Walker (that came to some commercial success in the UK in the 1960s). This Christmas tune from 1965 obviously renders homage to James Brown’s original from earlier that year which had marked nothing less than the beginning of funk music.
Like many other funk and soul artists, Vernon Garrett started from singing in local gospel groups. Together with his wife, Jewel, he recorded several singles for Kent in the 1960s. When his wife died and the label folded, he later released numerous songs as a solo artist on various local labels – one of them being this Christmas gem on Glow Hill Records.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Sidney Simien recorded a lot of less successful R&B and soul tunes on local Louisiana labels such as JIN or Goldband. Like 1967’s “Soul Christmas” they were released under the name of Rockin’ Sidney or Count (Rockin’) Sidney. More than a decade later Simien became internationally known for the million-seller “My toot toot”, the first zydeco-style song which received major airplay.
Only little is known on this track except that it is by far the funkiest version of a song that actually used to be a bluesy tune written and released by Vida Mays. The Rose Graham version was issued on Klondike Records out of Memphis, Tennessee. Klondike was a subsidiary label of Holiday Inn Records which for some time in the 1960s had been quite successful.
This is the only newer track on this compilation. Being the master of ceremony of all their shows, guitar player Binky Griptite is one of the first members of the Dap-Kings who initially only backed soul singer Sharon Jones. Having drawn the attention of Mark Ronson, the Dap-Kings also became the backing band for Amy Winehouse’s top-selling “Back to black” album and tour.
It is said that he lost his job after having described in detail the aphrodisiac effect of the music of the female soul group The Supremes while he was broadcasting.
Jimmy Reed was one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, inspiring not only black soul stars but also Elvis Presley, Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones. Reed released many successful titles on Vee-Jay Records. After the label had closed down, he recorded this Christmas song for RRG Records in 1971.
It contains segments of 18 popular songs and hit number 3 in the Billboard charts. Due to this success, “Santa and the satellite” was recorded as a seasonal follow-up.
Jimmy Jules was hired as a writer for soul star Sam Cooke who suddenly died just before they were supposed to meet in Los Angeles. After his car broke down on the way to L.A., Jimmy Jules entered into a seven-year road trip playing in bars and clubs throughout the US. He also backed R&B stars like Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding.
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