#4 – Christmas Ain't Christmas (Without The One You Love) – The O'Jays.
Written at the early stages of their career by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, this has to be one of the most played and most
covered Soul/R&B holiday tunes of all time. The O'Jays were just coming of age nationally when they recorded this one
in 1969 on Neptune Records. Gamble and Huff formed the Philadelphia International
label soon after, re-releasing a version of the tune by The Ebonys the very next year. The O'Jays would move to the label
and go on to great success recording some of their biggest hits there over the next fifteen years.
#7 – Please Come Home For Christmas – Charles Brown. The late Charles Brown was a tremendous
R&B singer/songwriter with a career that began in the mid '40's and lasted up until his passing in early 1999. He may
be most remembered, however, for two holiday songs – Merry Christmas Baby, which he co-wrote while with
Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1947 and the all time classic Please Come Home For Christmas, originally released
on the King label in 1960. Cover versions? - You betcha, everybody from The Eagles to Johnny Adams to Toby Keith to Cee-Lo
Green, and hundreds in between.
#9 Silent Night – The Temptations. This is one six minute plus tune that a lot of radio jocks do
not mind playing at Christmas time. The Temptations had recorded shorter versions of this all time classic earlier in their
careers, however this memorable rendition of the song was included on their 1980 album Give Love At Christmas.
By this time Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin were the only original remaining members of the group. Dennis Edwards is heard
on the recording as well as the members took turns singing lead on the extended version of the song.
#12 Blue Decorations – The Embers. This one was from the legendary Beach music group's 1986 Christmas
Memories album. The Embers, both then and now, have featured a Christmas show as part of their live repertoire during
the month of December. They have also recorded and released several holiday tunes (and albums) in recent years. Their first
foray into yuletide songs, however, came just a few years after the band was formed. The group recorded a tune entitled Shimmy
Winter Wonderland as The Swinging Embers featuring Jackie Hamilton on Johnny Vincent's Ace Records in 1962.
#14 (All I Want For Christmas Is To) Lay Around An Love On You – Chick Willis. Blues veteran Chick
Willis cut this track in 1991, a holiday adaptation of an earlier mid-'80's sleeper hit for Ray Charles in the Country music
market. This seasonal version was issued on Ichiban Blues At Christmas, Volume 1 on the now defunct Atlanta
based Ichiban Records. It was a Soul/Blues label that between 1991 and 1997 issued four killer Christmas compilations of artists
such as Willis, Theodis Ealey, Francine Reed, Jimmy Dawkins, Trudy Lynn, William Bell, Kip Anderson and Nappy Brown, to name
a few. It is a collection of holiday music well worth finding and owning!
#15 Hey Santa Claus – The Moonglows. One of the most significant of the early R&B groups, The
Moonglows were organized in 1951 in Cleveland, Ohio by Harvey Fuqua. The group eventually auditioned for and were signed by
local disc jockey Alan Freed, who later arranged a contractfor them at the Chicago based Chance Records. This Fuqua written upbeat
holiday classic was released on the label in 1953. The song is a cross between R&B and Doo-Wop, utilizing a singing technique
known as 'blow harmony'. The Moonglows moved over to Chess Records the very next year. This great seasonal tune along with several others was re-released on
the label's outstanding 1989 compilation Have A Merry Chess Christmas.
#21 Christmas Time Is Here – Chairmen Of The Board. The Motor City's
loss was certainly Beach music's gain in the late '70's when General Johnson and The Chairmen of the Board moved South. General
and Mike Branch soon formed Surfside Records, which would go on to release many Chairmen hits over the years. When this song
was released in 1991, there had been relatively few holiday tunes recorded by true Beach music artists up to that point in
time. This one may have been the demarkation line for much more seasonal Beach tunes to come. Certainly the Chairmen's influence
in the business shaped what many of the bands were willing to undertake.
#27 Gee Whiz It's Christmas – Carla Thomas. The daughter of Memphis
radio deejay and singer Rufus Thomas, Carla started composing, singing and recording while still a teenager. One of the first
artists to record at the legendary Stax Studios, she had written and released Gee Whiz! (Look
At His Eyes) in 1960. The more upbeat Gee Whiz, It's Christmas, co-written with Steve
Cropper, came along in 1963. Like many of the Stax singles, this one was picked up by Atlantic Records for national distribution.
The classic holiday tune would be very difficult to cover but a few have tried over the years.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Impressions. The Impressions had been around for almost twenty years
when their jammin' rendition of the great tune was released in 1976. Curtis Mayfield had by this time gone solo – Fred
Cash and Sam Gooden still remained as original members of the group. Their days of recording hit songs at ABC-Paramount and
on Curtis' own Curtom label were behind them. This holiday single was one of the group's first releases on Cotillion Records.
The soaring instrumentation and vocals has a Disco feel to it, in keeping within the era in which it was recorded.
# 29 Christmas (The Best Time Of The Year)
– Second Nature. This long standing South Carolina based band was co-founded in the early '70's by current keyboardist
and manager Tommie James. Several years later while searching for new material, they got the idea to record a shagable Christmas
tune. Enlisting the talents of songwriter Warren Moise, he wrote and produced the song (with input from General Johnson),
which was subsequently released by the band on Surfside Records in 1982. One of the early holiday tunes in Beach music, it
is still one my all time favorites!
# 33 Santa Claus Boogie
– The Tractors. This rockin' outfit were a group of Nashville session musicians who came together in the mid '90's,
landing a contract with Arista Records. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the group's timing was perfect as Country music was
in the middle of a more modern crossover. Their holiday album, Have Yourself A Tractors
Christmas, was released in late 1995 with several jumping original yuletide tunes, including this one. Santa
Claus Is Comin' (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train) is #37 on this Top 40 list as well.
#36 Presents For Christmas – Solomon Burke. The late King of Rock
'N' Soul was an Atlantic Records mainstay by the time this great holiday tune was recorded in 1966. Solomon had recorded Christmas
Presents From Heaven in 1955 on the Apollo label but wanted to do a song with a more upbeat seasonal groove.
The release, co-written with his wife Delores, had a catchy rhythm track consistent with what was evolving in Soul music at
this period in time. It has been included on scores of Christmas compilations over the last forty-five years.
Since the mid '90's and particularly in the last ten years what we would call true Beach music
artists have stepped up their production of holiday songs to a great degree. Much of this work has been captured on several
series of compilations. Most of the songs were new recordings (either covers or originals) at the time of each compilation
release, however, a few were singles from an earlier time that were being re-released. Thanks to Different Drummer (David
Hicks), RubyJude Records (Judy Collins) and KHP Productions (Keith Houston) for their efforts in putting together these compilations
over the years. There have also been a few independent singles released by various artists along the way as well as full holiday
albums by groups like Band of Oz, Embers, Coastline and Chairmen of the Board. Since I play holiday music 24/7 during the
month of December on our Way Down South Internet show, the opportunity is there to feature as much of this music as possible.
Here are just a few of my all time favorite holiday tunes by Beach music artists, in no particular order.
Merry Christmas (I Love You) – Embers
Shaggin' Santa – Attractions
All Around The World – Terri Gore
Merry Christmas All – Poor Souls
Shakin' Santa's Sack – Fantastic Shakers
Holiday Heart – Jim Quick & Coastline
Santa, Please Bring My Baby Back – Chairmen of the Board
Love Me Like It's Christmas – Michele Becker
Boogie Santa - Rickey Godfrey & Rudy Blue Shoes
Call Me Claus – Bo Schronce
Christmas (The Best Time Of The Year) - Second Nature
Boogie Woogie Shake Shag On Christmas – Embers w/ Debbie Mac
I'm Coming Home For Christmas - Castaways
Red Suit – Molly Askins
I Hear The Bells – Rickey Godfrey & Andrea Keesee
Jingle Bell Jump - Angel
Christmas On Credit – Rhonda Silver
Captain Creedmore's Crazy Crawfish Christmas – King Tyrone
Man Down My Chimney – Casey York
It Just Ain't Christmas – Doug Manning
Rudolph – Russ Riley & The Jellyrolls
ArmWrapped In Yours
– Band Of Oz
Christmas Love – Tim Cashion
Santa's Coming In A Cadillac – Ron Moody
Santa Claus Has Got The Blues – Bill Pinkney & Drifters
Only One Night Of The Year – Craig Woolard
Christmas Letter – Sammy O' Banion
Babes In Toyland – Hip Pocket
Closed For The Season (Christmas Mix) – Billy Scott
All I Want For Christmas (Is You) – Sea Cruz
Have A Great Holiday Season This Year!
Artists, DJ’s, Club owners etc. send me your latest news for potential inclusion in Beach
Buzz at firstname.lastname@example.org.