Thursday, December 10, 2009

Music Library: Buck Owens, Mahalia Jackson, Mendoza Line, Merle Haggard, MST3K, Abner Jay, Bukka White, Johnny & Delores,

Buck Owens - Christmas With Buck Owens (1965).  Excellent album with almost completely original material.  True, there's a great Don Rich instrumental version of "Jingle Bells." The rest of the tracks are pretty fun, too, and Buck and the Buckaroos are cooking throughout.

Mahalia Jackson - "Silent Night Holy Night."  I have a few Mahalia Jackson gospel albums, but this is the sole Xmas track I have, taken from a mix at some point.  Not as good as her best gospel songs, unfortunately.

The Mendoza Line - "Mairie D'Ivry."  I love the Mendoza Line.  The title refers to a stop on the Paris Metro.  Never stopped to parse the lyrics, so I don't know what makes this track a Xmas song, but it's from a Xmas compilation.

Merle Haggard - "I Wish I Was Santa Claus" and "Blue Christmas."  This is not what I listen to Merle Haggard for.  Maybe the whole album is better, but these make it sound like Merle could have taken a hint from Buck Owens.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - "A Patrick Swayze Christmas."  One of the very few Christmas Carols with a fight sequence.

The non-Christmas tracks.

Abner Jay - Swaunee Water And Cocaine Blues (1967).  One-man band with banjo, harmonica, tap-tap-tap high-hat, and kick drum celebrating the lost minstrel tradition while lamenting the state of the world in the late 60s.  Abner Jay was a black Southerner who pined for the past.  You won't find a lot of those.  Both William Bowers and Brian James Barr wrote about Jay for the Oxford American music issue, but the Bowers essay should not be missed.

Johnny and Dolores - "Sockin' Soul."  An mp3 of the single from a Little Rock-based soul label.  This song is on the new OA Southern Music disc, so I'll probably delete it soon.

Bukka White - Parchman Farm Blues (recorded 1930 - 1940).  I had a bunch of Bukka White songs on different compilations, but when the OA mentioned him as a possibility, I felt embarrassed that I'd never picked up a collection of his 18 sides from the 30s.  So I did, and this is it.  White, who preferred to be called "Booker," was B.B. King's cousin, recorded by John Lomax (while serving time in Parchman, no less), covered by Bob Dylan, championed by John Fahey, which means that he was basically the Platonic ideal of blues singers from the 30s.

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