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Merry Christmas Baby (A Brief Anthology)

Mandy Hicks

Merry Christmas Baby (A Brief Anthology)

Sure—Otis may have sang the stuffing out of it—but there's a solid case to be made for the OG's of this soulful Christmas classic. Then there's Chuck, Ray, Etta, and the 50 some odd (officially recorded) covers released over the years you gotta savor. Let's start with a quick peek behind the curtain at the origin of our favorite festive tune. Then we'll break out the nog and revel in a rundown of its most righteous renditions. (Spoiler alert—Cee Lo and Rod Stewart—your version didn't make our list.) This Christmas standard was first officially attributed to Lou Baxter. Johnny Moore, who also received credit, recorded it back in 1947...


Hold On... What? A Walk on the Wild Side with Sam & Dave

Mandy Hicks

Hold On... What? A Walk on the Wild Side with Sam & Dave

With it's iconic horn line and poppy, gospel-fueled call and response vocals, "Hold On I'm Comin'" has always been a Sam & Dave favorite. But as Isaac Hayes used to tell it, the stroke of genius that led to this breakthrough hit was a little less genius and a little more literal than previously thought. The day Isaac and his writing partner David Porter were working on the tune at Stax, Mr. Hayes was frustrated with the lack of progress the two had made. He fiddled around with the guitar while Porter was in the restroom. As his frustration boiled over he hollered to his partner to...


Driftin' On: The Electric Rise of Ben E. King

Mandy Hicks

Driftin' On: The Electric Rise of Ben E. King

When Ben E. King (born Benjamin Nelson) was a shy kid in Harlem, recently transplanted from North Carolina, he got to know his intensely vibrant new neighborhood by wandering the streets, listening to the doo-wop singers that hung out there. Mr. King says this is how he learned to communicate with his town—by getting to know not only the boys and men singing on those streets—but also the rhythm of their life, times, and song. How he went from 11-year-old Benjamin Nelson, poking around Harlem, to lead singer of the iconic group the Drifters, and eventually to one of Soul's all time greatest solo hit makers, is a whirlwind story. ...Complete with authentic...