"Merry Christmas" is a Christmas album by American pop singer Andy Williams that was released by Columbia Records in 1965. This, his second holiday LP, is focused exclusively on 20th century compositions, unlike 1963's The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which, of its 12 tracks, had six with origins predating the turn of the century. For the six consecutive holiday seasons from 1965 through 1970, Merry Christmas charted on Billboard magazine's special year-end weekly Christmas Albums sales chart. The album spent two weeks as the number one selling Christmas album during the holiday season of 1966 and one week atop that same chart in 1969.
If this is blues, it's blues in the Billie Holiday sense, not the Muddy Waters one. This is one of Nina Simone's more subdued mid-'60s LPs, putting the emphasis on her piano rather than band arrangements. It's rather slanted toward torch-blues ballads like "Strange Fruit," "Trouble in Mind," Billie Holiday's own composition "Tell Me More and More and Then Some," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Simone's then-husband, Andy Stroud, wrote "Be My Husband," an effective adaptation of a traditional blues chant. By far the most impressive track is her frantic ten-minute rendition of the traditional "Sinnerman," an explosive tour de force that dwarfs everything else on the album.
Nick Saloman of the Bevis Frond once again invites us to join him in the obscure pleasures of little-known pop, R&B, and jazz instrumental sides of the '60s and '70s with this collection. A number of the selections featured on Return of the Instro-Hipsters are so obscure that even Saloman isn't sure just who is responsible for them (though he offers some educated guesses on the artists behind such names as Sharks, Oliver Bone, and the Masked Phantom), but there are a good share of solid grooves and kicky melodies to be found here from a number of gifted little-knowns. If you went to the movies in the '70s, "Soul Thing" by Tony Newman will sound familiar, while flautist Harold McNair solos over a Dave Brubeck-influenced piano groove on "The Hipster," Jerry Allen demonstrates new uses for game calls on "Fuzzy Duck," Thunder Road's synthesized version of "Peter Gunn" beats Art of Noise's variation on the theme by more than 15 years, "The Brooke Bond Beat" by Cliff Adams may be the most swingin' tea commercial ever, and the Outer Limits serve up some tough, moody rock, appropriately titled "Black Boots".
Recorded in 1965 but not released until 1980, Et Cetera holds its own against the flurry of albums Wayne Shorter released during the mid-‘60s, a time when he was at the peak of his powers.