14 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If you’re not already familiar with the great roster of artists on the Chicago-based independent blues label Alligator Records, this 1992 collection of their then-notables is a perfect place to start. Koko Taylor kicks off the festivities singing “Merry, Merry Christmas” with her smoky sultry voice wailing into the choruses under a grinding church organ and some amplifier tube-burning guitar leads. Kenny Neal’s throaty croon follows some honking harmonica blasts on the timeless “Christmas Time in the Country” and then Lil’ Ed & The Blue Imperials spike the punch with an upbeat foot-stomper and guitars that lean hard and heavy on the bottleneck-slide licks. Charles Brown puts his slick West Coast piano-boogie imprint (and sings smoother than eggnog) on the shoe-shuffling strut of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Lonnie Brooks cooks up a spicy rocker with “Christmas on the Bayou,” a swampy chooglin’ number that would make Creedence Clearwater Revival proud. If they handed out a prize for the best reworking of a classic carol, it would have to go to Elvin Bishop for his Hendrix-inspired instrumental version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

If you’re not already familiar with the great roster of artists on the Chicago-based independent blues label Alligator Records, this 1992 collection of their then-notables is a perfect place to start. Koko Taylor kicks off the festivities singing “Merry, Merry Christmas” with her smoky sultry voice wailing into the choruses under a grinding church organ and some amplifier tube-burning guitar leads. Kenny Neal’s throaty croon follows some honking harmonica blasts on the timeless “Christmas Time in the Country” and then Lil’ Ed & The Blue Imperials spike the punch with an upbeat foot-stomper and guitars that lean hard and heavy on the bottleneck-slide licks. Charles Brown puts his slick West Coast piano-boogie imprint (and sings smoother than eggnog) on the shoe-shuffling strut of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Lonnie Brooks cooks up a spicy rocker with “Christmas on the Bayou,” a swampy chooglin’ number that would make Creedence Clearwater Revival proud. If they handed out a prize for the best reworking of a classic carol, it would have to go to Elvin Bishop for his Hendrix-inspired instrumental version of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

TITLE TIME
4:29
4:34
2:54
2:58
4:32
3:23
3:12
5:13
4:46
2:57
2:52
3:32
3:12
2:44

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