Let’s turn down the lights and turn up the R+B. What is essentially a rap number gets the smoove treatment by Jamie Foxx. It’s slow, sensual, and essential for the giving mood. “Christmas List” here may take an odd turn to percussion, but it spotlights the home and hearth, y’all. Fulla love.
Load me up with soulful rock!
Just to keep the beat, let’s tip the panama to doo wop as a precursor to rock. No better way than to acknowledge The Hepsters “Rockin’ and Rollin’ with Santa Claus.” It’s a gas.
More doo wop? At your service! Barry and the Highlights twist us into rock inevitability with “Xmas Bell Rock.” My oh my.
The white version would be Jon Cobert relying on brass for his R+B in his “Rockin’ Soul Christmas.” White folks do have soul, it just costs more.
Maybe it’s just me, but i hear Kashief Lindo’s reggae and i hear R+B. Try “Rockin’ Christmas” and tell me what you think.
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns from 1962 deliver “Rock ‘n’ Roll Santa Claus” on time with postage due. It’s R+B! (and maybe a touch of garage disonance)–
Rock don’t roll all at once. While we’ve been noticing some rhythm creeping into easy listening, by 1957 the doo wop and R&B and swing and jazz and honky tonk and blues has fused closer and closer into Alan Freed’s so-called “rock and roll.”
This is the year of “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms. In this iteration, it’s sooo country.
True street corner doo wop still sounds like La Fets & Kitty singing “Christmas Letter.” It’s da blooze with a harmony hard-beat chaser. Awww.
New Jersey white guys harmonizing lead us to the boy band early rock. The Cameos make a pretty merry-go-round of music with their “Merry Christmas.”
Detroit doo wop sounds like”Can This be Christmas?” asked by The Falcons. Killer sax. Familiar bass beat. Yeah, we’ve got this.
Melvin and Johnny take a page out of Fats Domino’s book with this tinkly, twinkly “It’s Christmas Time Again.”
If you were an R&B fan in N’Awlins in the ’50s you hadda be a Fats Domino man. But a few early rockers dug more the swirlin’ stylin’s of Jimmy Beasley who remains so unrecognized today he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page (except he does–in German). I suggest you check out his 1957 album Jimmy’s House Party. Until then, enjoy “Christmas is Here Again.”
Now most of 1950 U.S. culture is whiter than white. The Oscar winner is “All About Eve.” The big B’way hit is “Guys and Dolls.” We do flirt with ‘others’ in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. Overall white might seems uncontested as urban sprawl spawns the suburbs. Did you know this year debuts ‘Silver Bells’ (Bing Crosby and Carol Richards)? ‘As the shoppers rush home with their treasures.’ Caucasian says what?
But 1950 is not a snowstorm of whitiness. Sugar Ray has boxing day sewn up. Althea Gibson becomes the first person of color to compete in U.S. tennis championships. The Supreme Court begins striking down segregation laws. And a U.N. mediator, Ralph Bunche, becomes the first black allowed to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
You know, the ’50s is the crucibicular birthing of rock ‘n’ roll, so let’s follow that forbidden beat from its wild ethnic backrooms through the honkey tonks and into the juke boxes of our young, rebellious delinquencies. Bend an ear towards Mickey Champion and the Nic Nacs: “Gonna Have a Merry Xmas.” What you kids listenin’ at?