The 10 Best Blues Christmas Albums

The best blues albums to hear Christmas music

The often dour nature of the blues, with its focus on realism and quest for authenticity, doesn't always make for happy holiday music. As such, blues music as a genre doesn't tend to cash in on Christmas as frequently (or as boldly) as, say, country music or early rock 'n' roll artists. Still, a number of fine Christmas collections are available for those who enjoy a "blues Christmas," and the following albums are among the best of the blues, providing no little seasonal joy, even in a blues context.

of 10

'Alligator Records Christmas Collection' (Alligator Records)

Charlie Musselwhite
Matt Roberts/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This 1992 CD from Alligator Records features a little something of every shade of blues. Artists contributing include legends like Charlie Musselwhite, Lonnie Brooks, and Son Seals as well as relative young 'uns like Kenny Neal, Tinsley Ellis, and William Clarke. Fourteen festive tracks in all, and you haven't lived until you hear Koko Taylor belt out "Merry, Merry Christmas."

of 10

'Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas' (Sony Music)

A more contemporary collection of holiday tunes than most of these compilations, this one includes performances from the solid musical citizens of Austin, Texas. The album features blues, roots-rock, and Americana artists like the Fabulous Thunderbirds ("Merry Christmas Darling" and "Winter Wonderland") and Lou Ann Barton ("Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and "Please Come Home For Christmas"), as well as Charlie Sexton and Angela Strehli, headlined by Willie Nelson's classic take on "Blue Christmas."

of 10

'Best Of B.B. King: The Christmas Collection' (MCA Records/Universal)

This 2003 collection is actually a budget-priced reissue of the 2001 B.B. King album A Christmas Celebration Of Hope, so if you have that one, don't spring for this one, no matter the discount price. Either way, it's a decent collection of holiday blues tunes from the king of blues guitar, with fine performances of chestnuts like "Merry Christmas, Baby" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as well as a new King composition, the spry instrumental "Christmas Love."

of 10

'Best Of The Blues: The Christmas Collection' (Hip-O Records/Universal)

This cheapo entry in Universal's "20th Century Masters" series includes often-anthologized songs from Koko Taylor ("Merry, Merry Christmas") and Charles Brown ("Please Come Home For Christmas") alongside harder-to-find holiday tunes like "Santa Claus" by Sonny Boy Williamson, as well as tracks from William Clarke, Eddie Campbell, and Jimmy McCracklin. A dozen songs in all, at a budget price; still, if you find a copy of Blue Yule (listed below), I'd opt for it instead.

of 10

'Blue Yule: Christmas Blues and R&B Classics' (Rhino Records)

This is probably the hippest blues-oriented Christmas album that you'll find, including rare tracks from legends like Lightnin' Hopkins ("Happy New Year") and John Lee Hooker ("Blues For Christmas"), as well as the usual soulful holiday fare from folks like Charles Brown, Jimmy McCracklin, and Eddie Campbell. Plus, artists like Canned Heat, Roy Milton, Detroit Junior, and Louis Jordan (his last recording, 1968's "Santa Claus, Santa Claus") that don't show up on holiday compilations all that often.

of 10

Canned Heat's 'Christmas Album' (Fuel 2000 Records)

America's favorite boogie-rock kings, Canned Heat, recorded their first Christmas song with the novelty band the Chipmunks back in 1968. "Christmas Boogie" received a little airplay back in the day and it's revisited here, along with another classic Canned Heat holiday gem, "Christmas Blues." It is included here in the original version, along with a newer performance with guest Dr. John and yet a third with guitarist Eric Clapton and blues harpist John Popper. The rest is pure churn-and-burn boogie with the happiest of holiday intents.

of 10

'Genuine Houserockin' Christmas' (Alligator Records)

Alligator Records put out a slew of "houserockin'" compilations during the late-1980s and '90s to attract new fans to the blues, but this 2003 CD celebrates the holidays with a diverse sixteen-song collection of blues, soul, and zydeco music (including many new songs). Among the artists bringing musical cheer are the ever-reliable Koko Taylor, Alligator label mainstay Lonnie Brooks, phenomenal singers Marcia Ball and Shemekia Copeland, and guitar slingers Coco Montoya and Michael Burks. Roomful of Blues asks the important question, "Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get The Blues?"

of 10

'Merry Blue Christmas' (Varese Sarabande)

A solid collection of bluesy holiday tunes led off by the Charles Brown standard "Please Come Home For Christmas" and including performances by Lightnin' Hopkins ("Christmas Blues"), Big Joe Williams ("Christmas Blues"), Lowell Fulson, Big Joe Turner, and Johnny Winter. Some duplication with other Christmas comps, but you can't go wrong with four Charles Brown songs.

of 10

'Santa's Got Mojo' (Electro-Fi Records)

You can't get any hipper for the holidays than this red-hot collection, featuring a unique line-up of Christmas blues by Mark Hummel ("Thank You, Santa Claus") and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith ("One Day Till Christmas"), as well as Snooky Pryor, Alabama Red, Curley Bridges, and Chris Whitley, among others.

of 10

'Stony Plain Christmas Blues' (Stony Plain Records)

Call it the blues if you want, but this is a joyous collection of holiday music from talented folks like Duke Robillard ("Dukes Christmas"), Billy Boy Arnold ("Christmas Time"), Jimmy Witherspoon (with Robillard on "Christmas Blues"), Roscoe Gordon, Big Dave McLean, and Long John Baldry. Fourteen tunes in the blues, soul, roots-rock, and country vein, guaranteed to brighten your Christmas morning.

  • Sad Christmas

    10 Sad Christmas Songs That Will Bring a Tear to Your Eye

  • boy hugging Teddy Bear in front of Christmas tree

    Deck the Halls with These Holiday Tunes for Kids

  • Top Christmas songs illustration

    The Top 100 Christmas Songs

  • B.B. King's One Kind Favor

    Best Blues Albums of the Aughts of the 21st Century

  • Phil Spector's classic LP

    The Top 10 Classic Pop Christmas Albums

  • Big Brother and the Holding Company: “Cheap Thrills” album

    The 1960s: When Blues Became Huge

  • Mariah Carey at Beacon Theatre

    The 15 Most Amazing Christmas Albums of All Time

  • Brownie McGhee On Stage

    12 Best Blues Albums for Music Fans New to the Genre

  • Annie Lennox - A Christmas Cornucopia

    Essential Classic Rock Christmas Albums

  • Sound of Christmas

    5 Best Jazz Christmas Albums of All Time

  • Muddy Waters At Legends

    Chicago: Sweet Home to a Certain Blues Style

  • 25th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

    Winners of the 2014 Blues Music Awards

  • Pentatonix That's Christmas To Me

    10 Great New Christmas Songs For 2014

  • Johnny Winter's True To The Blues

    Johnny Winter's True To The Blues Box Set Review

  • Big Bill Broonzy's Trouble In Mind

    Chicago Blues: The Best Songs of the Genre

  • '60s R&B Quintet 'Jackson 5'

    These 10 Great R&B Christmas Songs Will Light Up Your Holidays