19 December 2012

Countdown To Christmas Party Time - Have Yourself a Psychedelic Christmas

I know what a lot of the regular readers are thinking at this point. "This is all very well, but most of us have a strong interest in sixties output. We haven't really had any Christmassy sixties offerings so far, have we?" It is to those people that I say "Bring on the biggest Christmas cracker in the world!" "Well, try these little nuggets for size..."

Band: Two and a Half
Track: Christmas Will Be Round Again
Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1967

This is an almost ridiculously chirpy piece of sixties pop from an utterly obscure group who, despite having five singles out in the sixties, have been impossible to track down or identify since.  Generally releasing tracks with a strong Simon & Garfunkel feel to them, "Christmas Will Be Round Again" deviates from that particular template to over-enthusiastically embrace Yuletide - truly, this is the noise of Christmas Eve and the excitement of the presents waiting for you in the morning (if you're about eight years old, and if you're reading this you're possibly not...)

Oddly, this was actually the Christmas B-side to the distinctly non-festive but much-fancied Two & A Half track "I Don't Need To Tell You", which was their final release before they disappeared off the face of the planet.  

Artist: The Outer Limits
Track: The Great Train Robbery
Label: Instant
Year of Release: 1968

Again, not strictly speaking a Christmas song, but this has a distinct wintery feel, chiming melodies and close harmonies as well as referencing "A cold and windy evening in December", so it's getting in by default.

"Great Train Robbery" has a distinct Bee Gees feel and asks the listeners whether they remember an audacious near-Christmas steam train hijacking from the late part of the nineteenth century - apparently five men and a woman with a shotgun were responsible, though they do add the disclaimer "so the papers say", which in these cynical "perhaps David Icke has a point" times takes on a new layer of meaning.  This is beautifully produced and shot through with mystery, constantly hinting at a bigger story but never quite disclosing the full details.  It's possible to visualise the incident as the song plays, making this an incredibly filmic single many years before such efforts became commonplace.

The Outer Limits are most famed for having Jeff Christie in their line-up, who eventually hit the big time with "Yellow River".  This is a much bigger achievement than that track, but sadly flopped, possibly due to cash-flow problems at Immediate (whom Instant were a subsidiary of) or perhaps the fact that this doesn't sound like an obvious 45.

Band: The Majority
Track: All Our Christmases
Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1968

Sometimes you can just tell that a record company has no real interest in attempting to promote a song or scheduling it properly, and is just "going through the motions" with it - this is a prime example.  Instead of taking the logical decision to release "All Our Christmases" in late November or early December, Decca decided that 12 January 1968 might make a more appropriate release date, causing the disc to predictably plunge into obscurity.

A shame, because this Bee Gees composition isn't half bad and deserved a better crack of the whip.  It's frothy and chirpy and would have made a perfect mid-table festive hit.  As things stood, Hull's Majority had already had seven singles out prior to this one, and the industry seemed to decide that their distinctly non-Christmassy goose was cooked.  This proved to be their final hurrah.

And finally... "Question of Childhood" by Adam and Dee isn't on YouTube, which would fit this list perfectly.  Nothing much I can do about that at the moment, but it might be something we have to return to at a later date.  


Anonymous said...

I'll just leave this here:

23 Daves said...

Ha! Thanks so much.

At this point I may as well add that I have no additional information on Adam and Dee, and nor (so far as I'm aware) does anyone else. Kenny Everett is rumoured to be performing on this track in some way, but there's no concrete evidence of this anywhere.

It's also not strictly speaking a Christmas song, but it sounds as if it *should* be, and for the purposes of this blog, that's enough for me.

Thanks for uploading it.

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