'Tis the season to be soulful: This Friday, September 29, Craft Recordings and Stax Records will celebrate the holidays with the CD, LP, and digital release of A Stax Christmas. This festive 12-track compilation features songs by the label's most beloved artists including two previously unreleased tracks from Carla Thomas and Otis Redding.
The venerable Memphis label has had a long association with the music of Christmas. House band Booker T. and The MG's 1966 album In the Christmas Spirit is a holiday perennial, and the group appeared alongside other Stax and Atlantic artists on the latter label's 1968 collection Soul Christmas. Various singles celebrated Christmas year after year, and a steady stream of compilations including 1982's It's Christmas Time Again and 2007's Christmas in Soulsville have likewise continued the tradition.
Stax Christmas features a handful of Christmas standards including Booker T. and The MG's "Winter Wonderland," The Rance Allen Group's "White Christmas," and The Temprees' "The Christmas Song," but the majority of the songs are Stax originals including The Staple Singers' "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas" (penned by Deanie Parker), The Emotions' 'What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas" (from the songwriting team of Homer Banks and Carl Hampton), Albert King's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" (written by Mack Rice), and Isaac Hayes' own "The Mistletoe and Me." Rufus Thomas turns up the naughtiness quotient on "I'll Be Your Santa Baby" but is in a sweeter vein when teaming with his daughter Carla Thomas for "That Makes Christmas Day."
A couple of previously unreleased tracks add further luster. Carla's "Blue Christmas" premieres here, with the coquettish singer ("B-A-B-Y," "Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)") making the torrid ballad best-known in Elvis Presley's rendition her own. A previously unreleased mix of Otis Redding's recording of Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore's "Merry Christmas, Baby" also makes its debut.
The collection arrives on CD, standard vinyl, digitally, and in a Stax webstore-exclusive white vinyl pressing. In addition, Forever A Music Store (FAMS), a collective of black-owned independent record stores, will carry a red vinyl pressing. Look for them all this Friday, September 29, at the links below!
Various Artists, A Stax Christmas (Stax/Craft, 2023)
- Merry Christmas Baby (Alternate Mix) - Otis Redding (previously unreleased)
- Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas - The Staple Singers (Stax single STA-0084, 1972)
- Winter Wonderland (Take 2) - Booker T. & The MG's (from Christmas in Soulsville, Stax CD STXCD-30515, 2007)
- Blue Christmas - Carla Thomas (previously unreleased)
- The Mistletoe And Me - Isaac Hayes (Enterprise single ENA-9006, 1969)
- Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin' - Albert King (Stax single STX-3225, 1974)
- I'll Be Your Santa Baby - Rufus Thomas (Stax single STA-0187, 1973)
- Season's Greetings - Cix Bits (Enterprise single ENA-9087, 1973)
- White Christmas - The Rance Allen Group (Truth single TRA-3218, 1974)
- It's Christmas Time Again (The Christmas Song) - The Temprees (from It's Christmas Time Again, Stax LP MPS-8519, 1982)
- What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? - The Emotions (Volt single VOA-4104, 1973)
- That Makes Christmas Day - Rufus & Carla Thomas (Stax single STA-0187, 1973)