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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Deck Those Halls, Part 3 (Tracks 7-9)

I'm running behind schedule this year, which is hardly unusual, but it is frustrating. Due to printer problems, I haven't even started making the discs I send to friends and family yet, and with a mere 20 days to go before Christmas, I've only written about six of the 42 tracks on my latest mix, Deck Those Halls! I'd say it's time to pick up the pace a little, right? So without further ado . . . here's the lowdown on tracks 7 through 9:

Track 9
Holiday Greetings from Tito, Marlon and Jackie Jackson
Tito, Jackie and Marlon Jackson
The story of the Jackson family is a truly extraordinary saga that contains just about every element of the human condition. Born into relatively modest surroundings, the children of Joe and Katherine Jackson have experienced unbelievable levels of success and adoration, and yet they also seem have known more than their share of hardship and adversity. I can't say I follow them all that closely, although they've certainly provided us with some great entertainment over the years. I've always felt a little sorry for Tito, Jackie and Marlon -- well, and to Rebbie and LaToya, too, of course. It mustn't have been easy to have been so completely eclipsed by your younger brother. Anyway, it was nice for them to have taken the time to send along their holiday greetings.
Same to you, gentlemen.

Track 8
Fat Daddy, by Fat Daddy (1963)
This is a wonderful old tune that I'll wager is all but unknown to most anyone who didn't grow up in Baltimore. But if you're a native of Bawlmer, the sounds of "Fat Daddy" will almost certainly tug at the heart. You see, Paul "Fat Daddy" Johnson, "the 300-pound King of Soul," was the host of The Fat Daddy Morning Show on WWIN-AM throughout most of the 1960s. His show primarily featured hits from the R&B and soul genres, but its popularity came as much from his oversized personality as it did from anything he played.

In a 2001 tribute by Frederick N. Rasmussen, the Baltimore Sun, described Johnson's style in colorful terms:
His voice and delivery have been described as "precise and sonorous" yet "high-pitched and pressurized." His outrageous monologues rolled forth with a "gospel-like fervor."
"Hear me now," he'd hiss into the mike.
 "Up from the very soul of breathing. Up from the orange crates. From the ghetto through the suburban areas comes your leader of rhythm and blues, the expected one - Fat Daddy, the soul boss with the hot sauce. Built for comfort, not for speed. Everyone loves a fat man! The Fat Daddy show is guaranteed to satisfy momma. I'm gonna go way out on a limb on this one, Baltimore. Fat poppa, show stoppa."
Ringing bells gave way to several pulses of the organ followed by the recorded voice of a young girl saying, "Lay it on me, Fat Daddy, lay it on me."
"Fat Daddy, your king, and I've got soul for you. This is for all the foxes wakin' up this morning. Here's a soul kiss for ya, mmmmmmmh! From the lips of the high priest, from the depth of a fat man's soul. ..."

Here's a taste of the Fat Daddy style from a July 1966 aircheck recording:


Back in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, the most popular radio DJs in any city had sizeable followings and were genuine celebrities in their market. Of course, in those days, each station had its own unique personality, and individual announcers typically enjoyed considerable discretion in choosing what to play on their shows. It wasn't at all unusual for announcers to record various records of their own, sometimes wearing their announcer's hat, and other times performing music of their own. Johnson recorded "Fat Daddy" in 1963, and it became an instant hit in and around Baltimore, where it was played repeatedly throughout every holiday season. In recent years it's enjoyed something of a comeback thanks to its inclusion in the John Waters collection, "A John Waters Christmas." It's a sad and yet wonderful thing to watch the styles and features you think of as ordinary and everyday gradually pass into nostalgic, and this number's pretty much done that on three or four different levels. Here's to Fat Daddy -- the song, the DJ and the recording artist. And here's to a time that will never come again.





Track 7
Holiday Greetings from the Cast of Sanford and Son, featuring Redd Foxx and LeWanda Page (1975)
Redd Foxx and LaWanda Page
Sanford and Son was a situation comedy that aired for six seasons on NBC, starting in early 1972. Based on a British comedy called Steptoe and Son, it was supposed to be NBC's answer to All in the Family. Both were adapted for television by Norman Lear; both deliberately fought prejudice with humor, and both used bigoted, narrow-minded, middle-aged men to do the job -- one black, one white, and each more like the other than either could admit.

One of the most memorable recurring characters in the show was Aunt Esther, Fred's irascible, Bible-toting sister-in-law, played by the one and only LaWanda Page. Fred and Esther were always fighting and trading insults with one another, as in the clip that appears as the seventh track on this year's mix. It comes from the very beginning of the episode "Ebenezer Sanford," which I think is the only Christmas episode of the series. The entire episode appears below. Enjoy!

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