19. "Merry Christmas Baby," Otis Reddingb-side of "White Christmas," Atco 6631
Highest chart position: #9 US R&B (1968)
Recorded February 8, 1967, Memphis, TN
Charles Brown first scored with this, considered by many to be the ultimate blues Christmas song, so it only makes sense that Otis, rawest of the Sixties soul singers, should be the one to cover it best. However, Redding's raw emotions weren't all tortured, and this is that rarity in the blues genre: a genuinely happy song. So there's also a great bit of joy here; Brown sounded sated and smooth, but Otis sounds like he wants to testify about what a great holiday he's been having (and, more to the point, the wonderfully generous girl in his life), literally laughing about all her, um, "presents."