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Underground Christmas Album -- Various artists

By Amelia Feathers

Drop the "Underground Oldies Christmas Album" CD from ITP Records in the player for some added soulful spice to your holiday music. You can take out the Christmas tree and decorations and these songs will help you remember Christmas past as you wrap presents.

These legendary R&B artists lend their talents in an impressive lineup on this collection of Christmas songs.

The Duke of Earl Gene Chandler does a groove-laden "I'll Be Home For Christmas" -- sticks to the original yet the artist shares his unique vocal flair.

The C-Quents doo-wop filled "Merry Christmas To You Baby" is reminiscent of the street harmony groups of the 50s.

Sonny and The Sunliners sing a sentimental ballad with the sad "I Want To Come Home For Christmas." Before the teardrops fall Angie Rios let go of some Tejano-styled Yuletide merriment when she sings "Donde Esta Santa Claus."

For a quieter solemn mood, The Escorts gives "Silent Night" a fresh sound with their impeccable harmony.

Barbara Lynn's rendition of Charles Brown's other holiday classic, "Merry Christmas Baby," showcases the singer's blues-filled vocal style. Along with Lynn's stellar singing Charles Crew's, the producer's fingers dances across the piano keys with ease blending in with his own guitar playing. The guitar on this song whines similar to a child begging to open gifts before Christmas morning.

Newcomer 15-year-old Sophia Maria has a grown-up voice on the song "Who Would Imagine A King." Carl Carlton's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" brings to mind the Jackson Five's version. However, Carlton puts his unique Mamma Jamma-like soulful feeling to the cut.

The Delegation tackles the classic "The Christmas Song" with some old school soul. Ron Preyer and The Youngbloods stick close to the Emotion's rendition of "What Do the Lonely Do." Preyer's lead vocals on the song showcases some vocal acrobats as he scales the higher notes as if he was trying to touch the star of Bethlehem.

"It's Christmas Time" is a self-penned ditty by Frankie Ervin. Ervin and Shields offer a brand new song that will surely become a new Christmas classic.

Rounding out the 13-song disc is Barbara Lewis' "Frosty." Lewis gives a surprised yet welcomed ending to the children's song.

What's unique about the "Underground Christmas Album" produced by Alan Beck is hidden in some of the songs are phrases and melodies of the legendary artists' biggest top selling hits.



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