The Now That’s What I Call Music series released its first Christmas album in November 1985. 18 tracks were featured. It was released one week before Now 6 but the back sleeve [see above] did not feature the cover art for the latest volume in the main series.
Just over 60% of the selection [11 tracks] can be described as perennial seasonal favourites. These range from old-time trusty steeds – Beach Boys’ Little Saint Nick and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas – to the newer wave of festive staples like Jona Lewie’s Stop The Calvary, Chris De Burgh’s magical A Spaceman Came Travelling and Greg Lake’s I Believe In Father Christmas.
There’s glam stomp [Elton John, Slade, Roy Wood featuring Wizzard], Beatle jingles [John & Yoko’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime] and a one-off – Mike Oldfield’s spellbinding In Dulci Jublio. All 11 tracks have also featured on every subsequent Now Christmas album [2000, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013].
So what about the remaining seven tracks?
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas? Needs no introduction and also showed up on 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 instalments.
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born. An early Christmas memory for me . Has enjoyed a resurgence in the 2010s with inclusion on Now Christmas 2012 and 2013.
Wham! – Last Christmas. A massive seller with a broken-hearted message that would have been number one if it weren’t for Band Aid. Like Mr Mathis it was omitted from subsequent Christmas compilations until returning for 2012 and 2013.
Mud – Lonely This Christmas. This downbeat groover also featured on 2000, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 volumes.
That leaves three curios which have not been compiled on any subsequent Now Christmas compilation.
Gary Glitter – Another Rock’n’Roll Christmas. For obvious reasons.
Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas. This was even omitted from later pressings of the LP and cassette.
Shakin’ Stevens – Blue Christmas. Underrated.
Mike Oldfield – In Dulcio Jublio
Wham! – Last Christmas
Lest we forget
Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas
The CD release followed one year later; just in time for December 1986. It contained 16 tracks [John & Yoko and Greg Lake being omitted] and was called The Christmas Compact Disc. After the poor-selling Now 4 CD, 1985 saw no UK compilations being released on the new format. However there was a shift during the second half of 1986 with Hits 5, Now ’86 and Now 8 all getting pressed on shiny discs. EMI saw a opportunity to grow sales in the hope that people would double-dip the Christmas album. I don’t have any concrete sales figures but while it’s scarce, copies can generally be found for under £30.
Here’s the Music Week advert from November 1985. Thanks to David Hannah for sharing.
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I was about to look for this CD on Ebay then I realised every track (and 5 more) are on the It’s Christmas Time CD which came out in 1992 and which I’ve already got! This CD is also very common and cheap unlike the Now one.
Hi Richard, Thanks for commenting. The Greg Lake and Mike Oldfield tracks are not on It’s Christmas Time. I agree, it’s a lot easier to find. There’s also EMI’s It’s Christmas which has a lot of crossover – https://apopfansdream.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/its-christmas-emi-1989/
My parents owned this album and up until 2000 when they finally made the switch from vinyl to CD it was a regular in our house at christmas time.
I can’t remember how much I paid for the CD but pretty sure it was next to nothing. We’ve actually listened to it the last few years whilst opening xmas presents.
Shame they omitted the John Lennon and Greg Lake tracks. Wonder if rights issues were at play there?
My copy of the cassette has a cream/white shell but definatley remember a version with a clear see through shell. Would that maybe signify a re-release?
Not sure if it’s rights given that both tracks were subsequently included on Now’s 2000, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 Christmas compilations.
The original 1985 tape is definitely white. The clear must be a later reissue (probably 1989)
Once again many thanks for your help. I guess I must have an original version of it then.
Have also seen a copy of Now 13 with a clear shell but my copy has a black one.
Can’t help but wonder if there would have been any merit in re releasing this compilation given that Nows 1-13 have enjoyed a CD release in recent years?
Am guessing the Gary Glitter track would be missed off and possibly the Queen one but presumably there would be no issue with any of the others?
Hi Martin, umpteen Now Christmas albums have been released over the years. If they wanted to do something with this, it should be the full 18 tracks that were on the original LP – the CD only had 16. Incidentally I heard Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas in a shopping centre on Saturday 17 December 2022.
Hello again Paul. You make a very good point there that there have been multiple Now Christmas albums which probably trump this one in terms of the content. I just remember however that they released that really inferior vinyl in 2016 which bore nothing to the original. A re-release of the 1985 original would have been better.
Interesting that you actually heard the Gary Glitter track in a shopping centre. And on the same day it was reported he might be getting released from prison too. If the tabloid journalists got wind of that there would surely be uproar. I totally understand why its not compiled or played much anymore but it doesn’t change the fact it is a good track and the fact its been almost banned due to the artist who wrote it is a real disappointment for people who got used to the track being played around xmas time.
I suspect the shopping centre were playing from an old CD. It sounds like a 70s glam track despite its 1984 origins. The 2016 LP was pretty poor albeit looked nice.