Advent Calendar 2021 – Day 18 🎉

I don’t know about you, but December really seems to be flying by for me – and I spend most of my days doing nothing! Only a week until the big day or, to put it another way, only another week until the idiot allegedly running this country realises that he should already have put us into another lockdown, and does it at the last minute (not official, just my prediction). Yesterday, I promised you a bumper edition today, with five songs. I have always tried to choose songs which weren’t chart successes as part of my mix, although the occasional hit does pop up – quite often in a cover version, though.

Given my fondness for the music of the Sixties and Seventies I thought I’d go the reverse way today: all five of these were UK chart hits in the Seventies, which for me was the time when everyone seemed to be jumping on the Christmas bandwagon. But rest assured, there are some good songs here, which probably gives you a clue that there will be no Cliff Richard in this, nor will Paul McCartney, Elton John or Shakin’ Stevens be appearing. The fun thing for me about these is that most of the five will no doubt be familiar to British readers, but none of them made even the slightest dent in the American charts. So, American friends, prepare to be entertained by our Christmas hits.

First up is one that I still like, especially for the occasionally bewildered expressions on some of the children’s faces in this:

Actually, there’s a lot I like about this one. Wizzard were a glam rock band, started by Roy Wood after he left The Move and had a short spell with the earliest incarnation of ELO. This was released in 1973, and spent four weeks at a peak position of #4 over the Christmas/New Year period. It still sounds fresh to me today!

Changing pace slightly with this next one. Close your eyes and this could be Elvis:

Mud were another of our glam rock bands, as you may have surmised from that video. This was their second UK #1 (after the brilliant Tiger Feet), and it was at the top for four weeks over Christmas/New Year 1974/5. They were a band that always played it for a lot of laughs along the way, and this was a superb pastiche of Elvis’ later recordings. Funnily enough, if you look for this song on YouTube you will find a video described as Elvis singing this, which has over 16m views. The underlying blurb does make it clear that the record is by Mud, but it seems a lot of people have been suckered in!

My third song today is one of the two which I have played before. This is a clip from Kenny Everett’s New Year Show for 1979/80, so they have changed the lyrics slightly, but it is still great. The options for showing you the original version included a very fuzzy video or one which included a DJ later unmasked as a pervert who preyed on young children. This seemed by far the best one to go with:

The Greedies were a kind of unofficial supergroup, comprising members of Thin Lizzy and The Sex Pistols. They played gigs in pubs and clubs around London, and apparently had a whale of a time doing it. This was a Christmas 1979 chart hit here, peaking at #28. Phil Lynott makes this one for me – he was such a consummate performer, and I was lucky enough to see Thin Lizzy in their early days. They were superb but, sadly, he became yet another in the annals of rock music to be taken far too young by his addictions.

My next one is the other I’ve shared before:

Mike Oldfield released this as a single in 1975: an instrumental version of a traditional carol, played in his own unique fashion. It spent the two weeks before Christmas at #22, went up to #21 the week of the New Year, and then rocketed up to #4 in early January, a position it also held for two weeks. Weird, eh?

My final song for today is one which, for British readers, has been one of the iconic sounds of Christmas ever since it was first released in 1973:

Slade were another of our glam rock bands, and that song really has become so much a part of our Christmas listening. For us, Christmas begins when Noddy Holder grabs hold of the mic stand and yells “It’s Christmas!” at us! This song blasted its way straight into the UK chart at #1 on 9 December 1973, the first in a five week run at the top. It sold over 1m copies that time round, and has since featured many times in the December charts. Since downloads were added to the charts in 2007 it has been on an unbroken annual run. The band were too busy at the time to make a video for it, so the clip I’m showing is from Top Of The Pops. They did finally get around to releasing an official video for it – last week! It’s an animation, and it is fun, but I think I still prefer seeing the real band. If you’d like to see it you can find it here.

That’s about all for today, and my mega selection of songs from 1970s UK Christmases. There were many others, of course, some of which I have already shared (Greg Lake on Day 1, for example, as well as John Lennon and Jethro Tull). But many of the others were so dire that I wouldn’t go near them, either then or now.

Looking at our current chart, some of these have made yet another reappearance: Wizzard are at #22, Slade at #30, and Mud are at #65. Quite a few of the ones I won’t go near are also there too, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be posting them. Like, ever! A couple of other re-releases which I will be sharing are in this week’s chart, so stick around…

Just time for an image of the day before I go:

See you again tomorrow for this year’s final Sunday selection of variations on Christmas Carols 🪅