I can’t remember if Now That’s What I Call Music – The Christmas Album was still available in late 1989; I certainly don’t recall seeing the CD version in the shops that year. Therefore it made sense for EMI to release a revised seasonal compilation. Just like the aforementioned Now spin-off, It’s Christmas was compiled by Ashley Abram for Box Music Limited with the cover design and artwork credited to Quick On The Draw.
You will recall that The Christmas Compact Disc contained 16 tracks while the LP and cassette versions had 18. Greg Lake’s haunting childhood elegy I Believe In Father Christmas and John & Yoko’s evergreen peace anthem Happy Xmas (War Is Over) had got the chop. Happily they are both included here along with 10 other tracks from the original Now release. What do I get? Band Aid’s powerful statement of intent Do They Know It’s Christmas? and shopping centre tannoy glam stompers from Slade and Roy Wood with Wizzard. Merry Xmas Everybody and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everybody – both originally released during 1973 with no diminishing in popularity since.
More overlaps: Elton John’s underrated Step Into Christmas [later covered by The Wedding Present on their final Hit Parade 7″ of 1992]. Mud’s downbeat and introspective Lonely This Christmas. Think of Harold Steptoe sitting in the dark after a power cut. Paul McCartney’s awesome 1979 synth masterpiece Wonderful Christmastime. Schalaken The Painter on BBC 2 during the dying hours of 23 December that year. 1980’s McCartney II was one of the finest LPs of the decade. Then there’s the Chris De Burgh track for people who don’t like Chris De Burgh – the just-a-little-bit-special A Spaceman Came Travelling. Plus Jona Lewie’s enduring ode to fighting soldiers – Stop The Cavalry. And the last of the wrapping goes to oldies from The Beach Boys [Little Saint Nick] and Bing Crosby’s timeless White Christmas.
So there’s six tracks that are “new” to us. Three superseded the Now Christmas LP. Aled Jones’ Walking In The Air; The Snowman and all that. There’s Christmas #1s from Shakin’ Stevens and Cliff Richard. Merry Christmas Everybody was due to be released in 1984 but made way for Band Aid so instead became the 1985 festive gold winner. Meanwhile Mistletoe And Wine owned the charts during December 1988. We then go back to the 1950s and 1960s for Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around The Christmas [I would have preferred Mel Smith and Kim Wilde] and Nat King Cole’s soppy Christmas Song.
Finally it’s Kate Bush. December Will Be Magic Again was released as single in 1980; however we get a lovely present here in the form of the 1979 Bongo mix. It’s even more seasonal than the gorgeous original.
“December will be magic again
Take a husky to the ice
While Bing Crosby sings White Christmas
He makes you feel nice”.
And that’s all from me for 2014. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again (Bongo Mix)
Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry
Lest we forget
Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas