The shops have already decked the halls ready for the upcoming Yule festivities and if you’re looking for some special music to make your Noel go with a swing here’s a couple of new albums that offer something decidedly different to the normal Christmas chestnuts (whether roasting on an open fire or not!)

First up there’s the annual Christmas album from dependable German soul label, TRAMP RECORDS. ‘SANTA’S FUNK & SOUL CHRISTMAS PARTY VOLUME 3’ is like nothing you’ve heard before (unless, of course, you have the first two volumes!). The 15 tracker is stuffed with soul and funk Christmas songs from obscure and unknown artists like Sam Sweetsinger Bell, The Funk Machine, Rudi and The Rain Dearz, Velle Scott and Carole (good Christmas name?) Ford. Carole’s contribution is the sweet ‘Christmas Letters’ and it stands out simply because it’s so different to much of the rest – hard, sparse funk like ‘Sock It To ‘Em Santa’.

Other exceptions to the funk fare are the obvious disco of ‘Disco Claus’ from The Bionic I and the Northern flavoured ‘Dear Santa’ from Syng McGowan and the Fanettes. The other oddity on the set is a bizarre instrumental from The Individuals called ‘Holiday For Drums’…. the kind of sound that was popular in the early days of Northern.

1barbDifferent again is a Christmas jazz organ album from BARBARA DENNERLEIN. Entitled ‘CHRISTMAS SOUL’ this is a 13 tracker of largely well-known seasonal songs like ‘Let It Snow’, ‘Sleigh Ride’, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘The Christmas Song’. But with acclaimed Italian producer Nicola Conte at the controls and with Barbara’s Hammond B3 dexterity there’s something quite appealing to proceedings… yes, a flavour of classic soul-jazz!

Jazziest tune on offer is Miles Davis’ ‘Blue Christmas’. The album features two versions –an instrumental and a vocal featuring MOBO winner Zara McFarlane. Zara’ also on hand for stylish readings of ‘Christmas Time’ and ‘Christmas Song’. The album’s out on November 13th on MPS Records.