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Booker T. & The MG'sBoth individually and collectively, Booker T. & The MG's (read more) were the heart and soul of Stax Records - writing, arranging, playing, or producing a huge percentage of the rhythm & blues released on Stax, Atco, and Atlantic during the 60's, including Atco's landmark collection, Soul Christmas (1968). When MG's cut their own holiday album, In The Christmas Spirit (1966), they struck the perfect balance between easy listening and soul. While the group's trademark southern stew is in abundance, their gentle instrumental interpretation of twelve seasonal favorites never runs afoul of good taste. The MG's jocular "Jingle Bells," funky "Winter Wonderland," and playful "Silver Bells" - each prominently featuring Booker T. Jones' organ - are definite highlights, but Steve Cropper's guitar workout on "Merry Christmas Baby" is not to be missed. The MG's were just too cool for school, and listening to their fresh treatment of these old standards is like a refreshing breeze during a hot, sticky Memphis heat wave.

In The Christmas Spirit was originally issued with a different cover, which was replaced the following year with one pictured above. This cover was used on the Rhino CD reissue (1991), but Sundazed restored the original jacket when they reissued the LP in 2000. Friday Music reissued it on CD again in 2014, this time using the seond cover.

By the way, Booker T. & The MG's recorded one other holiday song, an instrumental written by Isaac Hayes and featuring him on piano. Called "Winter Snow," it was released as the b-side of Stax's 1967 single of "Silver Bells," but it is not included on the Christmas Spirit reissues. To my knowledge, the song is only available on the gargantuan-but-indispensible Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 boxed set (1991). In 1969, Isaac Hayes cut a vocal version of "Winter Snow" as the b-side to his single "The Mistletoe And Me;" both of Hayes' songs are included on the Stax compilation, It's Christmas Time Again (1982). [top of page]

Albums Albums

SongsSongs

  • Jingle Bells
  • Merry Christmas Baby
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • Silver Bells
  • Winter Wonderland

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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