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Ghosts of Christmas Music Past

By Mr Grumpy - Mon 26th Dec 2011

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to start me feeling nostalgic at Christmas it’s the music.

For me, the glory days of Christmas music was the 1982 – 1987 era.

This period came after the guff that Slade, Wizard, Wings and Mud trotted out every year, but before the 90’s when Christmas music was either dominated by the likes of Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder or the Teletubbies.

Worse still, around the year 2002 BC (Before Cowell) , manufactured wannabe popstars began to churn their Christmas Number 1’s that almost always had nothing to do with Christmas at all.

For me the most memorable Christmas for music had to be 1984. And, sad as I am, I can remember almost every single chart entry in the Top 20.

Why ? – Because, as everyone between the ages of 35 and 45 will be able to confirm, most Sunday afternoons were spent crouched on your Bedroom floor with a couple of C60 tapes, with one finger hovering over the ‘Play’ button of your cassette recorder and one hovering over the ‘Pause’ button, ready to edit out the unnecessary waffle as Bruno Brooks did the weekly countdown to that week’s number 1.

The tapes would be played back ad nauseum during the week (more often than not on my generic walkman as I cycled my BMX home) and there was always an HB pencil somewhere close to hand to use in emergencies to de-snag the tape.

(Try explaining that to an 18 year old today and they would doubtlessly shake their heads in piteous wonder)

Normally I’m not one for lists in a blog, but I think I will break this rule on this occasion :

1 Band Aid : Do They Know It's Christmas?

2 Wham! : Last Christmas / Everything She Wants (Just for the hair if nothing else)

3 Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus : We All Stand Together

4 Madonna : Like A Virgin (Virgin : Mary : Christmas, oh the irony )

5 Toy Dolls : Nellie The Elephant

6 Frankie Goes To Hollywood : The Power Of Love

7 Ray Parker Jr : Ghostbusters

8 Paul Young : Everything Must Change

9 Tears For Fears : Shout

10 Gary Glitter : Another Rock And Roll Christmas

11 Foreigner : I Want To Know What Love Is

12 Nik Kershaw : The Riddle

13 Kool & The Gang : Fresh

14 Black Lace : Do The Conga

15 Murray Head : One Night In Bangkok

16 Eurythmics : Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

17 Thompson Twins : Lay Your Hands On Me (who then disappeared forever, following Bob Geldof’s threatening to ruin them after they tried to charge a fee for their appearance on Band Aid)

18 Shakin' Stevens : Teardrops(who generously held his Xmas single ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ back a year so not to compete with Band Aid)

19 Jim Diamond : I Should Have Known Better

20 Alvin Stardust : I Won't Run Away (...why on earth ?)

The first thing I noticed when revisiting the list (aside from the few turnips in there) was the concentration of timeless classics, and also how many of the tracks actually had some kind of connection with Christmas – unlike most of the music in later year.

Fortunately, this was McCartney’s last attempt at a Christmas hit single after the atrocious offering he churned out with Wings and that ‘Pipes of Peace’... he did redeem himself with the three consecutive Christmas Number 1’s he had with the Beatles in the 60’s though.

But for me the all time classic has to be ‘Fairytale of New York’. I find it an eternal irony that someone like Kirsty McColl would be outlived by anyone – least of all Shane McGowan.

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