Stubbys House of Christmas       
 
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1.  Miss Santa Claus
2.  This Mus Be Christmas
3.  Jack Frost
4.  Ice Ice Baby
5.  My Wish
6.  Cuddle Up
7.  Sleigh Rider
8.  Wintertime
9.  Get Festive

ARTIST WEB SITE
ARTIST WEB STORE
AMAZON (US)--NOT AVAILABLE


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1.  Miss Santa Claus

2.  This Mus Be Christmas
3.  Jack Frost
4.  Ice Ice Baby
5.  My Wish
6.  Cuddle Up
7.  Sleigh Rider
8.  Wintertime
9.  Get Festive

ARTIST WEB SITE
ARTIST WEB STORE

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Si Cranstoun
The stuff I miss far outweighs the stuff I find and one reason the search always goes on is to ensure that, eventually, I catch up with really awesome confections like "Get Festive" that I missed initially.  And, seriously, I cannot recommend this CD highly enough.  I mean, WOW.  Just WOW.  I can scarcely think of fans of any genre this wouldn't appeal to.

The Dualers are/were brothers Tyber and Si Cranstoun.  Based in the UK, their father was a Ska promoter, so putting together their own Ska band seemed a natural thing to do.  The brothers scuffled and even charted a couple of tunes.  In 2010, Si embarked on a solo career to move in a more Soul/R&B direction leaving Tyber to front The Dualers.  And you can probably hear the beginnings of that split in "Get Festive".  The Dualers release is from 2007 (that's the one I bought) and I have little doubt that the 2010 release of "Get Festive" credited to Si Cranstoun is the exact same record repackaged, since it's pretty clear that this is and always was Si's album.

While Ska rhythms certainly corse through many of these tracks, Si's voice is so incredibly soulful and the arrangements so well and carefully done that "Get Festive" is far more an homage to the history of Soul music than anything else.  Comparisons to Jackie Wilson are impossible to avoid, given Si's voice, energy and moves.  He breezes easily through a multitude of retro Soul stylings, Doo Wop, early Blues, R&B, Northern Soul.  And, on the album's ballad, "Cuddle Up", you might swear at times Si's channeling Nat King Cole.  All 9 tracks were written by Si--not a cover of Bing or Mariah or Wham in sight--and most are more than worthy of being, themselves, covered often for generations to come.

If you're a Ska fan, you'll probably like this album well enough.  But if you have any affinity at all for classic Soul--especially from the 40s, 50s and 60s--you're going to L-O-V-E love this one.  And, let me tell you, this sounds extremely cool on an extremely hot July afternoon, too.  Highlights include the upbeat "Sleigh Rider", the infectious "Miss Santa Claus" and the previously mentioned "Cuddle Up".  But there's not a slacker on the program.  Two of the tracks from "Get Festive" are available domestically from Amazon MP3 for 89 cents each--"Miss Santa Claus" and "This Mus Be Christmas"--but I heartily recommend you just get the full CD.

 
 
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01. Moke - White Christmas 
02. De Staat - Let It Snow 
03. Pete Philly - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 
04. Dotan - 2000 Miles 
05. Marike Jager - Frosty The Snowman 
06. Handsome Poets - Merry Xmas Everybody 
07. Shary An - We Wish You A Merry Christmas 
08. Rigby - Christmas Time 
09. Tim Akkerman - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 
10. The Medics - Christmas Alarm 
11. The Souldiers - You've Got Balls 
12. Makebelieve - Together As One 
13. Jah 6 - Eenzame Kerst 
14. Miss Montreal - Being Alone At Christmas 
15. Giovanca - On My Way (Christmas Time) 


CLOUD 9 WEB SITE
BOL.COM
iTUNES (NL)
SPOTIFY

This is a collection of Dutch artists covering the songs of Christmas or, in some cases, offering original tunes.  If you can find it anywhere, I did like the classic rock original from the Medics, the Spectoresque Pop of Miss Montreal, the retro soul of Giovanca, and Makebelieve sounded a bit like Sister Hazel to me (and I like Sister Hazel).  Marike Jager's "Frosty The Snowman" was also not without its charm.  I'd be a lot more excited about this release if there were anywhere you could find it other than Spotify (I'm not a fan).  This would be a great record to have in hard copy.  But as a Spotify thing, I find it hard to care.  Maybe by next Christmas, this will find it's way to iTunes domestic.  Speaking of which, while I haven't checked each of the artists here, Giovanca's "On My Way (Christmas Time)" was her 2010 Christmas single and, as such you can find that one at iTunes (domestic) or Amazon mp3 (domestic).  And I highly recommend that track
 
 
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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.
 

    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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