Stubbys House of Christmas       
 
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1.  Engler synger høyt i sky/Hør den englesang så skjønn/Glory Praise
2.  Når klokkene slår
3.  Fields of Grace
4.  Behold This Child
5.  En krybbe vat vuggen (Away In A Manger)
6.  Little Lord Jesus
7.  Get Ready
8.  Praise the Good Lord
9.  Marias guttenbarn (Mary's Boy Child)
10. Det kimer nå til julefest
11. Sweet Dreams (with Steiner Albrigtsen)

ARTIST SITE
PLATEKOMPANIET
CDON
AMAZON MP3 (US)

Trine Rein was born in San Francisco but her mother and she moved to Norway when Trine was only about a year old.  Following a series of cover bands, when she was in her teens and early twenties, and a stint with the hip hop group WIP, Trine signed with EMI and struck it big as a solo artist.  Her 1993 debut, "Finders Keepers", not only sold a staggering 200,000 units in Norway (which translates to one out of every four households there) but more than twice that many in Japan.  Several years and hits later, Trine decided she needed to catch her breath.  She moved back to the states and took a break from music.  In 2004, rested and ready, Trine moved back to Norway and began her comeback.  2010 saw the release of yet another stunning album, "Seeds Of Joy".

"Julegaven" is a diverse and impressive set.  I've been looking forward to this release since June.  I was waiting to post here for some song samples.  Amazon (US) obliged and Trine Rein's Christmas album is available as a digital download there.  When she's not singing in Norwegian, there's nothing foreign about Trine's sound.  On "Julegaven", she alternates not just languages, but also sounds.  Some of the tracks have a rural sound and instrumentation and those are interesting.  But Trine really reaches me when she goes to her Soul and Gospel side.  Based on the 30 second clips, I can't wait to hear "Fields of Grace", "Get Ready" and "Praise The Good Lord" in their entirety.  Just a few more days now.

In the meantime, the single from the album is already out.  So feel free to indulge in "Når klokkene slår", which is a pretty straight pop vocal--American Idol-ish even--albeit in Norwegian.  The online dictionaries weren't much help on the translation either.  Something about bells, I think.
 
 
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1.  Christmas Day - DETROIT JUNIOR
2.  You Won't Have To Wait Till Xmas - LEE ROGERS
3.  Santa's Got A Brand New Bag - GARY WALKER
4.  Merry Christmas Baby - VERNON GARRETT
5.  Christmas Groove - VERNON GARRETT
6.  Soul Christmas (vocal) - COUNT SIDNEY
7.  Soul Christmas (inst.) - COUNT SIDNEY
8.  Black Christmas - ROSE GRAHAM
9.  Stone Soul Christmas - BINKY GRIPTITE
10. Holiday Baby - FAT DADDY
11. Christmas Present Blues - JIMMY REED
12. Xmas Done Got Funky - JIMMY JULES

TRAMP RECORDS
AMAZON DE (Germany)
LIGHT IN THE ATTIC (just in case)
AMAZON MP3 (US)

Every year, there's that one Christmas compilation that makes a holiday platter seeker like me absolutely drool.  Gotta have it, gotta have it, gotta have it; but you don't understand, I neeeeeeeeed it.  This year's dribble-inducing disc is "Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party" from Germany's fine Tramp label--specialists in soul.

Unlike a lot of hack labels across the Atlantic, all of Tramp's reissue material is legally licensed and their compilations are released with great attention to quality, complete with informative liner notes and label scans.   Not just living in the past, Tramp has a stunning stable of current groups and artists who also got the funk.

Tramp is stepping to the Christmas plate this year with a full buffet of solid, scrumptious soul and fabulous funk--much of which has criminally yet to see the digital light of day.  On "Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party", you'll find such previously obscure holiday soul sides as Vernon Garrett's rare seasonal single with Sir Stan & The Counts (both sides), Count Sidney's somewhat less rare (but never been on CD) "Soul Christmas" 45 (vocal and instrumental versions), Rose Graham's elusive "Black Christmas", and a track from Jimmy Jules' ultra rare Christmas LP (and not the track released a couple of years back on "In The Christmas Groove").  Of more recent vintage is Binky Griptite's brilliant 2006 Dap-Tone vinyl single, "Stone Soul Christmas".  Even the tracks here that have previously appeared on CD are uncommon and uncommonly good--tracks like "Santa's Got A Brand New Bag" by Gary Walker and Detroit Junior's raucous Blues rave "Christmas Day".

Gracing any CD, such a line-up would be amazing, but the fact that Tramp is also issuing this collection on vinyl propels this release into the stratosphere.  The vinyl LP features a gatefold cover (just like the old days), scans of and liner notes on all the singles included, and it's limited to only 500 copies.

Perhaps the best news of all is that Tramp began this project with a list of more than 50 rare grooves from the 60s and 70s that have fallen through the cracks and languished in obscurity.  Major labels have refused to part with the rights for a few of those rare gems, but that suggests there are still enough treasures to fill up a second volume and then some.

Why oh why does it have to be a German label?  That's likely to make "Santa's Funk & Soul Christmas Party" nearly impossible to come by in this country and/or prohibitively expensive.  Gotta have it, gotta have it, gotta have it; but you don't understand, I neeeeeeeeeed it.  I'm hoping that perhaps Light In The Attic will take on North American distribution for the album as this is right up their alley.  If not, at least the music itself will be available through Amazon mp3.  The digital version arrives on November 21.  The hard copies will be released in Germany on November 28.
 
 
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1.  Great Day In December
2.  Christmas Heart Beat
3.  O Come All Ye Faithful
4.  Carol Of The Bells
5.  Go Tell It On The Mountain
6.  The First Noel
7.  Christmas Means Love
8.  People Get Ready
9.  God Spoke To Me
10. Are You Sure
11. You Must Have That True Religion
12. When They Ring Them Golden Bells
13. I'll Be Home For Christmas
14. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
15. Geborgen, geliebt und gesegnet
                                  
ARTIST SITE                                       16. Silent Night
                        PURCHASE FROM ARTIST                            17. If The Sun Isn't Shining In Your Window

Long a fan and singer of American roots music--gospel, jazz, blues and folk--Zurich's Christina Jaccard is known in her home country and in Germany as "The lady with the black sound".  The Swiss Miss has been singing and recording in the milieu since the mid-80s, beginning as a featured performer with Ric Bogart's Orchestra.  Her 2008 album, "Blues In The Night" was considered something of a breakthrough, achieving significant international distribution and critical praise.  For the last 3 or 4 years, Christina has toured in the latter parts of the year with a Christmas show and, finally, she's put the music to disc.  "Christmas Heartbeat" leans heavily on Gospel, which reflects the nature of her 2009 Christmas tour, when Christina was accompanied by Tommie Harris, an American Blues and Gospel singer currently living in Germany.  Sometimes, Christina can sound too much like a standard night club singer.  Just often enough, however, she hits it just right.  You can judge for yourself with the song samples Christina has up on her web site.

The Swiss Franc is roughly equivalent to the American dollar these days, so this album will run you around $30 at the moment (plus postage).

 

    International

    When it's Christmas, it's Christmas all over the world. And I've long been fascinated by the holiday songs of faraway lands--so different and new and yet somehow so familiar.  

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