It was December 1971 when Rolling Stone magazine highlighted Booker T. & The M.G.’s holiday album.
Yes, the Southern and Memphis soul band recorded “In the Christmas Spirit” in 1966, but it took the music magazine five years to catch up with the brilliance of this instrumental album on the Stax/Atlantic label.
Rolling Stone wrote: “This record seems to prophesy their recent tendency to play roller-rink music, yet perhaps because the songs themselves lend well to such a style, the group is able to retain much of the dynamics and musicianship that made Stax (and the MG’s) synonymous with the finest in soul music during the middle years of the Sixties. Beginning with “Jingle Bells” and ending with a down-home version of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
Booker T. & The M.G.’s were the house band for Stax, and any Southern soul music lover can tell you that without that band Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding would not have created some of their most famous, and timeless, songs.
“In the Christmas Spirit” should be an essential part of any holiday record collection. From the slow groove of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” to the hypnotic funk of “Silver Bells” and the super-sexy “Merry Christmas Baby,” Booker T. & The M.G.’s created a holiday masterpiece that should not be forgotten. The band’s organ-heavy “Blue Christmas” makes you forget that Elvis made the song famous because Booker T. & The M.G.’s put their own spin on the song.
You should make this album your soundtrack for any party or family gathering. We highly recommend you cue it up on Spotify when you are cooking with Bootsie’s famous Hot As Funk barbecue sauce on your turkey.
In fact, this album is so superb, you don’t have to listen to it only at Christmas. It’s perfect for any time you want to chillax with a martini by the fire and regenerate your soul with some funky, slow grooves on a cold winter night.
Listen to the album here: