Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jimmy McGriff - Soul Song of Christmas (Silent Nite) (Jell 503)

Soul Song of Christmas

In 1959, a Newark Jukebox and 'Coin Op' named Joe Lederman started up his own label to try and plug in to the hoppin' local R&B market. Apparently originally named 'Jolt', the name was changed to 'Jell' after he discovered there was a west coast outfit with the same name. After a few releases that didn't do much, he hooked up with Philadelphia B-3 wizard Jimmy McGriff and cut a smokin' two-sided version of Ray Charles' I've Got A Woman in late 1961. Whenever WNJR played it the phones lit up, and it wasn't long before infamous record man Juggy Murray took notice across the river.

Releasing it on his Sue label in the fall of 1962, the record took off and spent 11 weeks on the Billboard charts, climbing all the way to #5 R&B, and #20 on the Hot 100. The subsequent album of the same name that Murray cut on Jimmy would produce follow-up hit All About My Girl, which narrowly missed the R&B top ten in early 1963. Jimmy was on a roll, and that December Sue issued the now legendary LP Christmas with McGriff, along with a 45 of the title track.

Within a year, however, a series of bad business decisions had essentially put Sue out of business, and McGriff was back recording with Joe Lederman. Attempting, no doubt, to capitalize on the success of the earlier Sue LP, Jell released Christmastime for the Holidays in 1964. This laid back take on Silent Night we have here was released as a single from the album, and is interesting because, except for that one flourish from the organ early on, it apparently features our man McGriff on the piano! Sleep in Heavenly Peace, my brother!

Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us here at The B Side Ranch... Ho-Ho-Ho!


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