Monday, 8 December 2014

ADVENT CALENDAR: Dec 8th - Solomon Burke - 'Presents For Christmas'

Last year I spent part of December listening to an old John Peel show from Christmas 1992, featuring (in the great man's own words) "the Christmas songs that Santa forgot". Here is one that struck me straight away. When I locate the mp3 disc that contains this classic Peel show (meaning that I have to access my database) I will spend another festively-flavoured evening with JP.

Red Kelly from The B Side blog has an interesting story regarding Burke... "You know, Solomon Burke was all about Christmas. In December of 1954, when he was fourteen years old, he wrote a song as a gift for the Grandmother he loved so much. As it turned out, she had bought him his first guitar for Christmas that year, and gave it to him a week early so he could sing it to her. As fate would have it, this beloved Grandmother would die the very next day. When some local Church people heard him sing at her funeral, they asked him to perform at their Christmas program the following weekend. Solomon brought the house down with his heartfelt version of The Old Ship of Zion, and was approached after the show by fabled New York record label owner Bess Berman, who signed him on the spot. Before the year was out, she would cut him singing that song he had written for his Grandmother, Christmas Presents From Heaven, and release it as Apollo 485 in early 1955. It was Solomon Burke's first record. For Christmas 1966, Atlantic would release another song Solomon had written, the rollicking Presents For Christmas, which remains one of the mainstays of those 'Soul of Christmas' type compilations you see all the time..."