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Craft Recordings Want to Spread Some Holiday Cheer With a Stax Christmas

Looking for some early holiday cheer? Craft Recordings has announced a new 12-track collection featuring Otis Redding, the Staples Sisters, and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. It’s a Stax Christmas in September.

Stax Christmas Album in Black, White or Red

Stax Records and Craft Recordings have announced the release of Stax Christmas, a new 12-track collection of holiday classics and originals from soul music’s biggest stars, including Isaac HayesBooker T. & the M.G.’s and the Staple Singers

This holiday release arrives September 29th on vinyl, CD, and digitally including hi-res digital formatsStax Christmas features a handful of rarities, including two previously unreleased recordings: a stunning rendition of the mid-century yuletide staple “Blue Christmas” by Carla Thomas, plus an alternate mix of Otis Redding’s beloved rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby,” which is available to listen to today. In addition, a White color vinyl exclusive is being offered at with exciting bundle options including new merchandise and Forever a Music Store (FAMS), a collective of independently black owned record stores throughout the U.S. will also carry an exclusive Red color vinyl edition.

Founded in 1957, Stax Records rose to become one of the most influential labels in the world, shaping the sound of soul music, placing hundreds of hits on the chartsand launching the careers of such genre-defining acts as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, the Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes. The fiercely independent Memphis label was also known for paving its own way—and the holidays were no exception. Featuring gems from the ’60s and ’70s, Stax Christmas includes reimagined classics, sultry slow jams and seasonal social commentary—all filtered through a soulful lens.

Among the highlights is a previously unreleased recording of “Blue Christmas” by one of the label’s first major stars, Carla Thomas. The song, penned by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson, was most famously recorded by Elvis Presley in 1957. But Thomas, known for hits like “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)” (1960) and “B-A-B-Y” (1966), brings her own charms to this version.

Also making its debut is an alternate mix of Otis Redding’s classic yuletide hit “Merry Christmas Baby.” Written in 1947 by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore, the R&B holiday staple has been recorded by music’s biggest names—from Chuck Berry and James Brown to Ike & Tina Turner and Bruce Springsteen. Redding’s joyful version, however, remains one of the most popular. This previously unreleased mix is available to listen to today and offers listeners a fresh perspective on the tune, as well as an opportunity to experience Redding’s creative process.

Stax Christmas Album Back Cover

For those who prefer their holidays more naughty than nice, there is a selection of seductive originals, including Isaac Hayes’ romantic “The Mistletoe and Me,” the Mack Rice-penned “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’” (performed by blues icon Albert King) and Rufus Thomas’ provocative “I’ll Be Your Santa Baby.” Thomas also makes a family-friendly appearance on “That Makes Christmas Day,” an original duet with his daughter, Carla.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Emotions lament being single for holidays with “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?,” while “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas” finds the Staple Singers reminding listeners about the real meaning of the holiday. More traditional highlights include a swinging instrumental rendition of “Winter Wonderland” from Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.’s, “White Christmas” by gospel greats the Rance Allen Group and a reflective performance of “It’s Christmas Time Again (The Christmas Song)” by the Temprees.

Where to buy: $25.98 at Amazon (Available September 29, 2023)

Related reading: A Charlie Brown Christmas Arrives on Vinyl 

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