For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday: Faith Evans, Merry Christmas Baby
Faith Evans was fresh off the success of her fourth gold-selling album, The First Lady, when her first-holiday album, A Faithful Christmas, hit stores. As is the norm with holiday releases, A Faithful Christmas is a collection of Christmas songs. It contains various traditional and modern Christmas songs, such as “White Christmas” and “Santa Baby.”
Faith and her daughter found the time to compose two new Christmas songs for the project as a gift for her fans. These songs are entitled “Happy Holidays” and “Christmas Wish.” The song I chose from the project for this week’s Slow Jam Saturday is Faith’s take on blues group Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, “Merry Christmas Baby.”
A stick-to-your-gut type of song, “Merry Christmas Baby” is a standard that vocalists such as Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ike & Tina Turner, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge have all performed. While all the artists perform the song well, I have a special memory of Faith’s version.
In 2005, as you know, I was stationed in Europe during my Air Force enlistment. While I wasn’t deployed, I had decided to spend Christmas that year across the pond instead of returning home. The local NCO club had requested my services for Christmas Eve, and since my only plans were a DVD double feature of the classics Lethal Weapon and Die Hard (yes, both are Christmas movies), I took them up on the offer.
My set consisted of the usual Christmas music, and towards the end of the night, I played “Merry Christmas Baby.” I didn’t think anything of it, but as I was packing up my equipment, an elderly couple approached me and thanked me for playing the song. They informed me that the husband was retired. During his active duty time, they were apart during the Gulf War at Christmas, and James Brown’s version helped them cope. There is nothing complicated about the lyrics of the song.
Due to no fault, someone has been separated from the one they love most for a long time. For Christmas, all the singer wants is to spend time with that person who makes them feel cherished. I loved how Faith put her foot into the song and evoked powerful soul riffs. The horns in the production are also on fire.
A Faithful Christmas rarely receives mention outside of Faith’s core fans. Nevertheless, songs like “Merry Christmas Baby” are a worthy addition to your R&B Christmas playlist.
Final Grade: B
“Merry Christmas, Baby” from A Faithful Christmas is on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
One of the most talented men in indie music, Eric Roberson, kicked off his 30th-anniversary tour last night in Pittsburgh, so for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to revisit Mr. Roberson’s third album, The Vault 1.5, which hit record stores in 2003. As Erro fans know, Roberson initially hit the scene with the lovely ballad “The Moon” while studying at Howard University. Roberson’s first record deal didn’t go as planned, but not one to just lay down, Roberson continued to build a name for himself by writing for the likes of 112 and Will Smith. Additionally, Roberson collaborated with Jill Scott, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Cam’ron.