Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Charles Brown - Merry Christmas Baby (Teem 1008)

Merry Christmas Baby

OK folks, as you may recall, last year we did an extensive examination of the many different versions of Charles Brown's Merry Christmas, Baby. At the time I said, "...Johnny couldn't resist cutting his own version of Merry Christmas, Baby, releasing it on his obscure Teem subsidiary. I've never actually seen a copy." Well, since then I was able to score us this very VG- one on eBay (thanks, Eli!), and I figured you'd like to hear it...

Although there's no Cosimo Code on the record, we can date it as being released for Christmas 1963, which would coincide with the first Liberty release of the aforementioned Aladdin/Imperial version. Maybe Vincent thought he had a shot at the Southern juke box circuit, I don't know. In any event, it seemed odd that the publishing on the Teem 45 was now listed as Johnny's own Ace Publishing (a brazen claim even by Imbragulio standards), but now that I've heard it, I can see how he pulled it off. Song titles, as you know, cannot be copyrighted, only song lyrics - so Johnny had Brown write him a whole new version:

"Let's make Christmas merry, baby, make it last through New Year's Eve, I want to kiss and be near you until the old year leaves..."

I am right there with that!

After I wrote that whole thing up last Christmas, I found one more Charles Brown 45 that had somehow flown under the radar, Ace 775. I snagged that one for us on eBay as well and, as it turns out, it is cut from the same master as our current selection. Oddly, it is not listed in The R&B Indies, and the nearest Ace release number I can find is 674 which (according to The Code) was issued in 1966. Hmmm... I imagine Johnny Vincent pressed it up on his main imprint every Christmas, once Teem had ceased to exist. [John Broven has since postulated that the matrix number, 92772, refers to a date, as in 9/27/72. Sounds about right, I'd say!]

"I'm so happy to be near you, baby, on this lovely Christmas morn, well I know we all remember it's today that Christ was born."

Amen! Merry Christmas, Everybody!