Skip to main content

Holiday Music Week: A Motown Christmas


Possibly the greatest Christmas album ever released, A Motown Christmas was a package album originally released in 1973 as a 2 LP set. At the time, the record company sought to take advantage of its deep catalog by reissuing existing recordings and creating greatest hit albums. Just about every Motown act had recorded Christmas singles and albums, so the staff working on this compilation had numerous versions of each song to choose from and they chose wisely. We hear Stevie Wonder’s soulful, yet reverent version of Ave Maria, the Jackson 5ive’s youthful Frosty the Snowman and the amazing version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by the Temptations. There were also surprising finds like One Little Christmas Tree, stripped of elaborate orchestration and sung by Stevie Wonder. The arrangements used on these versions would become THE soul arrangements used when these standards were performed, even to this day. It might not be as famous as Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You, but it was no less important.



Popular posts from this blog

The World of Soul Music Loses Its Queen

The world of soul music has lost its undisputed queen. From the moment she stepped up on the altar of her father’s church and began singing, everyone knew they were in the presence of a future legend. Despite her young age, Aretha could sing and she would attract churchgoers from all around to hear her. That she was so young was amazing, but certainly her audiences must have realized that bigger things lay ahead for her. Little Aretha taught herself how to play the piano and amazed everyone around her, including motherly figure Mahalia Jackson, who was a gospel star herself. Her father began to see that his daughter could do more with her voice than just attract people to hear about the Lord- she could use her god given gift to sing to the world.


Her father avoided the obvious record company- Motown- as he felt his daughter would get lost among all the other African-American acts signed there. Certainly Columbia Records could advance his daughter’s career; she’d be one of their few “ra…

United Artists Wants A Soundtrack

The Beatles were huge in 1964. Heck, they're still huge now. In 1964 everyone wanted a piece of them and United Artists realized it had a potential goldmine. Brian Epstein had signed a deal granting United Artists the right to make a film starring the Fab Four. A deal that granted them the right to release the movie soundtrack.




The studio didn't care about the film; it just wanted to make money off the soundtrack. With this in mind, they approved a budget of $500,000 and free reign of the project to young director Richard Lester and the boys. They just wanted a releasable film that would allow them to cash in on a soundtrack.


To everyone's surprise, United Artists received a hit album AND a classic film that has inspired every rock band film that came afterwards. The movie and the album were huge hits.

Purple Rain