From the Stacks

From the Stacks: Death Might Be Your Santa Claus

Death May Be Your Santa Claus front
Need some Christmas music but sick of that Mariah Carey song?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I hate holiday music, but the same twenty songs are really fucked out. I don’t need to hear “Jingle Bell Rock” or the barking dogs or the Chipmunks ever again. Even my beloved Bowie’s odd foray into Christmas songs is a bore at this point.

Fortunately, I never have to hear “Do They Know It’s Christmas” again, because back in 2012 the folks at Columbia/Legacy dug into the vaults for this compilation of what in their time would have been called race records. Death Might Be Your Santa Claus feels like a cool collection from a crazed 78 collector rather than a major label release. There are some familiar names here — Bessie Smith, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Carter, Butterbeans & Susie, Tampa Red — but the real fun cuts are the oddballs. Check out Victoria Spivey’s “Christmas Morning Blues,” for example:

The album’s title comes from one of several Reverend J.M. Gates sermons on the record. This is hellfire and brimstone stuff, with titles like “Did You Spend Your Christmas Day in Jail,” “Will the Coffin Be Your Santa Claus?” and “Will Hell Be Your Santa Claus,” which didn’t earn a question mark for some reason.

It’s a great collection, and the only Christmas music that has hit my turntable this year. Want your own copy? You can pick up the CD for around five bucks or a vinyl copy for 20 Christmas bones. Happy hunting.

Death May Be Your Santa Claus back

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