Blue Christmas (Dialtone)
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Dec. 22, 2000
(Dialtone)Austin's Dialtone Records offers up this slab of rough-hewn Christmas blues from such locals as James Kuykendall, the Bells of Joy, and Clarence Pierce. Richard Earl kicks things off with "I Hear Jingle Bells," a warm houserocker featuring Ray Ybarra's Yuletide guitar break, followed by Ernestine Fuller's "How I Hate to See Christmas," delivered with enough emotion to make it downright depressing. Fuller makes up for it with her "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," though, making Kris Kringle do the Stroll for about three minutes. Other standouts include Clarence Pierce's guitar instrumentals of "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells," as well as Matthew Robinson's winking "Santa Needs Some Lovin'." Naturally, the Bells of Joy's "Merry Christmas to Everyone," finds time to praise Jesus and have a good time along the way. The backing band of able Eastside players -- Pierce, bassist Barrly Manor, and Mickey Bennett on Hammond organ -- plays the grooves seamlessly, keeping the heat on each tune without ever letting 'em boil over. A tip of the Christmas chapeau to Eddie "Santa" Stout for serving up this tasty, home-cooked compilation.