Various Artists – The Curt Boettcher Connection

In another dimension, Curt Boettcher would have been a superstar performer and producer, spoken about the same way that Brian Wilson and Phil Spector are. In Phil Spector’ case, just his music he produced, not the mad shit and murder he was later in the press for. Anyway, I digress. Boettcher died in 1987, all but forgotten but as with artists such as Nick Drake, his work has be reassessed in the years that followed  and today he is lot more famous than he was, but he still not a well known name to the mainstream. 

He first started recording his music with his band The Goldebriars. This was his flirtation with folk rock scene that was gaining traction at the time, even though The Goldenbriars did not have a hit, they did make an appearance in the film ‘Once Upon A Coffee House’. After The Goldenbriars split up, Boettcher formed Our Productions with Steve Clark from Vee Jay records and started to produce work for other artists whilst continuing to make music of his own. He started off with Tommy Roe and his LP ‘It’s Now A Winter’s Day’  but he really stamped his new Sunshine Pop sound on a little known band from Los Angeles called The Association. They recorded ‘Along Comes Mary’ and that became a top ten US hit. They follow this up with ‘Cherish’ which was also massive hit and everything would have looked rosey. However, The Association decided to change their management and this prevented Boettcher from working with the band again. 

Boettcher was not one for resting on his laurels and formed a new band called The Ballroom. They recorded a massive amount of material but only one single was slated to be released at the time, even though it got no further than the promo stage. The recordings would not surface until the late 1990’s. One time Brian Wilson collaborator Gary Usher then bought Boettcher out of his Our Productions contract and sets him up as a staff producer at Columbia Records. Usher uses Boettcher on his Sagittarius project which yields the hit single ‘My World Fell Down’, but the follow ups and album are not successful. The recordings do well enough for Columbia to finance Boettcher’s next project, The Millennium. 

Many records are called lost classics but this is one that truly deserves that title. The album and singles are masterpieces but none sell particular well and the band folds. Usher goes on to form Together Records and brings Boettcher on board and though second Sagittarius album is released, it is like its forebear and is not a success. Boettcher continues to work within the music business but little of his output is successful. He sings backing vocals on some Elton John sessions and is the mix down engineer on Emitt Rhode’s ‘Farewell To Paradise’ album. He did produce a 10 minute disco version of the Beach Boys’s, ‘Here Comes The Night”. He continued to work but none of these records matched the heights he achieved in the 60’s. 

I looked at the works of Curt Boettcher in two Podcasts, the links of which are listed below. What this compilation covers is not only the bands that Boettcher was in in the late 60s (The Ballroom, The Millennium, Sagittarius) but some of the acts he produced (Sandy Salisbury, Michael Fennelly, Lee Mallory etc).  What you get is a masterclass in 60s Sunshine Pop that should have lead to a considerably more successful career than it actually was. 

Disc 1

  1. Prelude (Demo) – The Millennium
  2. To Claudia On Thursday (Demo) – The Millennium
  3. Would You Like To Go – The Ballroom
  4. Love’s Fatal Way – The Ballroom
  5. Forever – The Ballroom
  6. Keeper Of The Games – The Ballroom
  7. The Island – The Ballroom
  8. I’m Not Living Here – The Ballroom
  9. Sing To Me – The Millennium
  10. Magic Time – The Ballroom
  11. It’s You – The Millennium
  12. Some Sunny Day – The Millennium
  13. It’s A Sad World – The Ballroom
  14. I’ll Grow Stronger – The Ballroom
  15. A Time For Everything – The Ballroom
  16. Blight – The Millennium
  17. Song To The Magic Frog (Will You Ever Know) – Sagittarius
  18. Lead Me To Love – The Ballroom
  19. Artificial Light (Of All The Living Lies) – Sagittarius
  20. Glass – Sagittarius
  21. I’m With You – The Millennium
  22. You Turn Me Around – The Ballroom
  23. Suspended Animation – The Millennium
  24. Believe You – The Ballroom
  25. There Is Nothing More To Say – The Millennium
  26. Anthem (Begin) – The Millennium
  27. Just About The Same – The Millennium

Disc 2

  1. Come Softly – Sandy Salisbury
  2. Baby It’s Real – Curt Boettcher
  3. Measure Of A Man – The Millennium
  4. A Younger Me – The Millennium
  5. All I Really Have Is A Memory – Sandy Salisbury
  6. Our Love Is An Unwritten Song – Sandy Salisbury
  7. If Only You Knew – Curt Boettcher
  8. I Sing My Song – Dotti Holmberg
  9. It Wont’ Always Be The Same – The Millennium
  10. Dying With You – The Millennium
  11. Together In The End – The Millennium
  12. The Good Ol’ Good Times – Sandy Salisbury
  13. Dancing Dandelions – Michael Fennelly
  14. Ships – Gary Usher
  15. Cecily – Sandy Salisbury
  16. Magic Island – The Millennium
  17. Lament Of The Astral Cowboy – Curt Boettcher
  18. Share With Me – Curt Boettcher
  19. The Blue Marble – The Millennium
  20. Misty Mirage – Curt Boettcher
  21. Come On In (Ode To The Be-In) – Lee Mallory
  22. Back Where You Belong – Sandy Salisbury
  23. Bring Me On Back Home Again – Sandy Salisbury
  24. Believe You – Michele
  25. Sunshine Today – The Ballroom
  26. The Truth Is Not Real – Sagittarius
  27. Love At Last – Lee Mallory

The Works of Curt Boettcher 

Part 1 – https://www.thesquirepresents.co.uk/2016/11/

Part 2 – https://www.thesquirepresents.co.uk/podcast/episode-56-the-works-of-curt-boettcher-part-2/

The Who – The Collection Vol.4

So here is the fourth and last of my Who compilations. As I said before, I have never listened to any of the bands records after they originally split up in the mid 80s so this compilation covers the period of the last albums with Keith Moon. All of the songs on Disc 1 come from ‘The Who By Numbers’ and ‘Who Are You’, except one. That song is ‘Love Is Coming Down’ which is Pete Townshend’s demo, which as far as I know has yet to be officially released. 

Disc 2 takes in the two albums recorded with Kenny Jones as the drummer and the sound of the band changes dramatically at this point. Kenny Jones is a great drummer, but he does not play in the same way as Keith Moon (who does really) and the material that was being written at this time was very different from the hard rock, progressive sound that they had for the majority of the 70s. There are a lot more electronics in there, as well as the odd drum machine. 

This was not a happy period for the band either, with tensions in the air. Jones’ drumming style had drawn criticism from some in the band. Townshend had released a solo album in 1980 and it was felt, but Daltrey most specifically, that the songs on that were stronger than the material that was presented for the ‘Face Dances’ album. Townshend had fallen into a depression and was taking drugs as well as drinking heavily. He also felt that he was not writing material that was suitable for the band so decided to leave, essentially ending the group. 

There have been numerous reunions (one of which I saw in Hyde Park in 1996) and two new albums, but they just didn’t appeal. Sometimes bands just need to know when to stop before they become just a parody of themselves. 

Disc 1

  1. Who Are You (Lost Verse Version)
  2. New Song
  3. Success Story
  4. However Much I Booze
  5. Squeeze Box
  6. In A Hand or A  Face
  7. Slip Kid
  8. Trick of The Light
  9. 905
  10. Had Enough
  11. Dreaming From the Waist
  12. How Many Friends
  13. Love Is Coming Down (Pete Townshend Demo)
  14. Guitar & Pen
  15. No Road Romance
  16. Imagine A Man
  17. They Are All In Love
  18. Blue Red & Grey

Disc 2

  1. Daily Records
  2. Athena
  3. It’s In You
  4. Did You Steal My Money?
  5. Another Tricky Day
  6. Cache Cache
  7. The Quiet One
  8. It’s Your Turn
  9. Cooks County
  10. It’s Hard
  11. You Better You Bet
  12. One Life’s Enough
  13. Somebody Saved Me
  14. Eminence Front
  15. I’ve Known No War
  16. Cry If You Want

The cover is adapted from the US version of the bands 2002 compilation, ‘The Ultimate Collection’.

The Who – The Collection Vol.3

In the third of my Who compilations, I am looking at the period of time just after ’Tommy’ up to and including ‘Qudropheania’.  With the success of ‘Tommy’, the band became financially secure but were not keen to sit on their laurels. Having played two key festivals in Woodstock and the Isle Wight (both in 1969), the band decided to release a live album that would show how different their sound was on stage compared to the studio. ‘Live at Leeds’ is considered one of the greatest live albums of all time and some of those songs are included here as I prefer them to their studio versions. The rest of disc 1 is made up of some tracks that were written for the ‘Lifehouse Project’ with some like ‘Sister Disco’ being Pete Townshend demos. 

Disc 2 cover the ‘Quadrophenia’ sessions and so does not follow the storyline of the original album. Like Disc 2 on the previous collection, I was going with how it sounded to me as a compilation without having to worry about maintain the narrative. I used the 2011 Super Deluxe Edition of the album and took from that a number of songs that had originally been dropped from the LPs running order and some that only exist in demo form. It does not follow the story of the original album, but it still finishes with the main character of Jimmy sitting on a rock and his final fate is once again ambiguous. 

Disc 1

  1. Baba O’Riley (Instrumental Version)
  2. Heaven & Hell (Live)
  3. Eyesight To The Blind (Live)
  4. Young Man Blues (Live)
  5. Boney Marone (Live)
  6. Summertime Blues (Live)
  7. Shaking All Over (Live)
  8. Postcard (1970 Version)
  9. I Don’t Even Know Myself
  10. Sister Disco (Pete Townshend Demo)
  11. Mary (Pete Townshend Demo)
  12. Long Live Rock
  13. Love Ain’t For Keeping (New York Recording)
  14. Going Mobile
  15. Behind Blue Eyes
  16. Too Much Of Anything
  17. Greyhound Girl (Pete Townshend Demo)
  18. When I Was A Boy

This disc could not be replicated due to one ore more songs not available on Spotify.

Disc 2

  1. I Am The Sea
  2. The Real Me
  3. You Came Back (Demo)
  4. Cut My Hair
  5. Quadraphonic Four Faces (Demo)
  6. Wizardry (Demo)
  7. The Punk & The Godfather
  8. Drowned
  9. Sea & Sand (Demo)
  10. 5:15
  11. Get Inside (Demo)
  12. Joker James (Demo)
  13. I’m One (Demo)
  14. Is It In My Head?
  15. Helpless Dancer
  16. Doctor Jimmy
  17. The Rock
  18. Love Reign O’er Me

The cover is adapted from the band’s compilation ‘Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy’ which was released in 1971. 

This disc could not be replicated due to one ore more songs not available on Spotify.

The Who – The Collection Vol.2

By 1969, Pete Townshend had given up drugs and had taken an interest in the works of Meher Baba, an Indian spiritual master who gave teachings on two main subjects. The nature of the soul and advice on achieving spiritual ambitions. Taking these on board, he set out to develop these teachings in his music and wanted to expand on the idea of the rock opera that he had dipped his toe into with the songs ‘A Quick One, Whilst He’s Away’ and ‘Rael’. The resulting album was ‘Tommy’ the story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid who suffers from a psychosomatic condition that was caused by his childhood trauma of seeing his father killed by his mother’s lover. Eventually the mental block that has caused Tommy’s condition is broken and he becomes the leader of a religious movement that eventually collapses around him. 

To compile the first disc of this collection, I used the 2003 Deluxe and 2013 Super Deluxe editions of ‘Tommy’ as well as well as the 1998 reissue of ‘Odds & Sods’. Even though it mostly follows the story of Tommy as laid out on the original album, I have gone for what sounded good sonically instead of an understandable narrative. Well, what sounded sonically good to me anyway. ‘Tommy’ was the game changer for The Who and tuned them from a group on the slide to a commercial force that they have continued to be up to the current time. With such an album under your belt, how were they going to follow this up?

This is the point where we come to the ‘Lifehouse’ project. This is the great lost Who album project, and many people have looked to recreate what could have been. A search of the internet will throw up numerous websites discussing the album and there have been numerous attempts by other sites to create what ‘Lifehouse’ could have been. I decided against this as I didn’t want to limit myself with songs that were destined for that project. I therefore decided that anything recorded after ‘Tommy’ and before ‘Qudropheania’ could be included and that left me with two CDs worth of songs. The second being the first disc of Volume 3. This included demos for the songs that Townshend had written that would later be released on the ‘Lifehouse Chronicles’ box set in 2000. 

By 1972, The Who were light years away from the band that had released ‘My Generation’ eight years before. That did not mean that Townshend was not looking back on those days for inspiration. However, for the remainder of the 70s, the band would continue to re-imagine ‘Tommy’, with a version recorded with the London Symphony and a feature film. Both of these versions would include guests musicians singer taking on the roles originally sung by the band. Townshend also never quite gave up on the ‘Lifehouse’ project and would also return to it  at later points during the decade. 

Disc 1

  1. Overture
  2. Its A Boy
  3. 1921
  4. Amazing Journey
  5. Sparks
  6. Christmas
  7. Trying To Get Through
  8. Cousin Kevin Model Child
  9. Cousin Kevin
  10. The Acid Queen
  11. Underture
  12. Pinball Wizard
  13. Go To The Mirror
  14. Tommy, Can you See Me?
  15. Miss Simpson
  16. Smash The Mirror
  17. I’m Free
  18. Sensation
  19. Welcome
  20. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  21. Listening To You
  22. I Was

Disc 2

  1. Baba O’Riley
  2. Put The Money Down
  3. Naked Eye
  4. Getting In Tune (New York Recording)
  5. The Seeker
  6. Bargain
  7. Pure & Easy
  8. Time Is Passing
  9. Water
  10. Let’s See Action
  11. Relay
  12. My Wife
  13. The Song Is Over
  14. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  15. Join Together

The cover is adapted from the ‘Tommy’ EP the band rebased in 1970. 

The Who – The Collection Vol.1

The Who are one of the great British bands, having come to prominence in the mid 60 and after the odd break here and there, they have continued to release new music up until the modern day. This month, I am posting a series of Who playlists that I have put together which looks at their career from 1965 to 1968. The songs here are when they went out as The Who and I did not include any of the bands recordings when they were The High Numbers as these did not fit in with the rest of the compilation, sound wise. 

The first CD cover the band in earliest incarnation as an R&B covers band and even though the band recorded enough cover versions to fill an album, these were mostly rejected in favour of material written by guitar player Pete Townshend. Even though this early period of The Who would give rise to such classics as ‘Substitute’ and ‘My Generation’, I found when putting this together that the bands covers neatly fitted into the overall sound that they had. When I normally put compilations like this together I tend to ignore covers and stick to their original material. If I had done this with The Who, this first CD would have been a bit short. 

CD 2 focuses on their next two LPs (‘A Quick One’ and ‘The Who Sell Out’), one EP (‘Ready Steady Who), and assorted singles. Townshend continued to produce a number of classic songs during this period but as this was era of the single, when it came to recording ‘A Quick One’, he didn’t have enough material to fill the record. ‘A Quick One’ is a curious beast as it is the most democratic of all Who albums in terms of songwriting credits. Either to secure a publishing deal for each member of the band, or as part of the marketing push to promote it, each member of the band were tasked with supplying at least two songs. Daltrey only managed one, so a cover of ‘Heat Wave’ was included to fill the gap. Townshend supplied what he would later call a min-opera in the form of ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’. Made up of six songs he had not finished, the song made up a cohesive narrative of a women who’s love has been away for over a year, so she had a fling with Ivor the Engine Driver. When the original lover comes back, she reveals her transgression and all is forgiven. 

Apart from Heat Wave, the second CD shows The Who evolving away from the R&B band of the first CD and into something else. It is a bit hard to say what because in the era when everyone else seemed to be going all psychedelic, The Who did not really embrace that genre. Granted, on ‘The Who Sell Out’ there are two bonafide psych classics in ‘Armenia, City In The Sky’ and ‘I Can See For Miles’.  These two songs do not make the cut here as they did not fit into the sound of this compilation; well, to my ears anyway. ‘The Who Sell Out’ could be argued to be one of the first concept albums as it was designed to celebrate the culture of Pirate Radio, so the album was mixed with jingles and fake adverts. They recorded so much material for that album that when an expanded addition of this album was released in the mid 1990s, the compilers were able to continue the fake radio concept through out the entire CD. 

‘The Who Sell Out’ also revealed a more mellow side to Townshend with the inclusion of the beautiful ‘Sunrise’ and the almost psychedelic ‘Relax’. It is also the album with the most humour, with the bands self written adverts showing a side of the band that would rarely come to the fore after this. There was even room for a mini opera in the form of ‘Real’ and the at the time unreleased ‘Glow Girl’ gave hints as to what was coming with ‘Tommy. What these two CDs highlight is how quickly the band changed their sound and how bit by bit, the pieces for what was coming next were being put into place. 

Disc 1

  1. Out In The Street
  2. Daddy Rolling Stone
  3. Leaving Here
  4. Baby Don’t You Do It (Mono Acetate Version)
  5. Lubie (Come Back Home)
  6. Just You & Me, Darling (BBC Session Saturday Club 29/05/1965)
  7. Good Lovin’ (BBC Session Saturday Club 29/05/1965)
  8. Shout & Shimmy
  9. Instant Party mix
  10. I Can’t Explain
  11. Much Too Much
  12. The Ox
  13. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Mono)
  14. My Generation (Monaural Version w/ Guitar Overdubs)
  15. Substitute (Mono)
  16. The Kids Are Alright
  17. A Legal Matter (Monaural Version w/ Guitar Overdubs)
  18. I Don’t Mind (Full Length Version)
  19. Circles
  20. Anytime You Want Me
  21. The Good’s Gone (Full Length Version)

Disc 2

  1. Run Run Run
  2. Happy Jack
  3. Boris The Spider
  4. I’m A Boy
  5. Disguises
  6. So Sad About Us
  7. Don’t Look Away
  8. I Can’t Reach You
  9. Melancholia
  10. Jaguar
  11. Tattoo
  12. Our Love Was
  13. Sunrise
  14. Relax
  15. Magic Bus
  16. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
  17. Pictures Of Lily
  18. Doctor, Doctor
  19. Call Me Lightning
  20. I’ve Been Away
  21. A Quick One, While He’s Away

The cover is adapted from a band posters used to advertise some of their earliest gigs. 

Psychedelic Pernambuco Vol.2

As I said back in May of 2021, I have a real soft spot for music that came out in the Psychedelic Years of 1966-1969, and when I first getting into ‘it’, I only thought that this sort of music was produced in the UK and USA. As I showed in that previous post, it did not take long to discover that the rest of the world wasn’t that far behind. I did cover this this topic in Episode 80 and 81 of the my podcast under the title of ‘Mundo Psych’. As I said previously, those shows only scratched the service of what there was, and so this month I present a second volume look at this genre from around the world. 

Some of these songs could be argued to be bordering on Progressive Rock, but this works well as a compilation and a genre label is pretty loose anyway.

Disc 1

  1. Bahjan – Oraçao Para Shiva – Lula Côrtes
  2. Vurulduk Ey Halkim Unutma Bizi – Selda
  3. Kimi Ha Darenanda – Tokedashita Garasubako
  4. Silver Trees – Abstract Truth
  5. 78 Rotacoes – Geraldo Azevedo
  6. Roaming – La Fachada De Piedra
  7. Keep It Cool – Speed, Glue & Shinki
  8. Tao Longe De Mim – Os Brazões
  9. Novena – Geraldo Azevedo
  10. Dunden Bugune – Baris Manco
  11. Elergy – Suck
  12. The Train – Ernan Roch Con Las Voces Frescas
  13. Los Momentos – Blops
  14. In This World – Kissing Spell
  15. Yellow Sea Days – Traffic Sound
  16. Razao De Existir – A Bolha
  17. Nasil Ne Zaman – Hardal
  18. Color Humano – Almendra
  19. Blind Bird – The Mops
  20. 1999 – Freedoms Child

Disc 2

  1. Aglarsa Anam Aglar – 3 Hur-El
  2. Suavecito – Traffic Sound
  3. Forgiveness – Monik
  4. Baby English Version) – Os Mutantes
  5. Chuvas De Verão – Caetano Veloso
  6. Glória – Tom Zé
  7. We Wish To be Listened – Illicit
  8. Qualé A Sua – Rubinho E Mauro Assumpçao
  9. Kafkasque – Freedoms Children
  10. You Know What I Mean – Justin Heathcliff
  11. Freedom Of A Mad Paper Lantern – Shinki Chen
  12. Macarrão Com Lingüiça E Pimentão – Rita Lee
  13. Sunshine Love – Rikki Llionga
  14. Cuantos Que No Tienen Y Merecen – La Congregación
  15. Tu, Yo Y Nuestro Amor – Tumulto
  16. Gonul Sabreyle Sabreyle – 3 Hur-El
  17. Canto Sin Nombre – Embrujo
  18. Tramba – Paulo Bagunca
  19. Pisándose La Cola – Blops
  20. Peace On You – Mack Sigis Porter
  21. Sunset – Jang Hyun
  22. Heartbreaker – Aguaturbia

Various Artists – A Squire Christmas

This time last year, I posted a compilation of what I would consider great Christmas records. Well, this year I’ve gone the other way and am posting a compilation of what can only be considered (at best) a collection of ‘alternative’ Christmas records. It’s not to say that all of of these records are bad, but I doubt that any of these will be appearing on a ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas Music’ anytime soon.  Some of these records are so obscure that I suspect that some of the people who have played on them don’t want to admit to that fact, or at least. The sound quality on some of these records is not as pristine as I would like, but some of these recordings are on the obscure side so it was a case of using what was at hand.

Disc 1

1.Spike Jones & his City Slickers – All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (Gardner)

Spike Jones was a popular musician and bandleader specializing in performing satirical arrangements of popular songs. Ballads and classical works receiving the Jones treatment would be punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells, and ridiculous vocals. Through the 1940s and early 1950s, the band recorded as Spike Jones and his City Slickers and toured the USA and Canada under the title ‘The Musical Depreciation Revue’. 

2. Gayla Peevey – I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas (Rox)

Gayla Peevey was a popular child singer in Oklahoma and was only ten years old when she recorded this novelty Christmas record. The record was released by Columbia Records, and was a huge hit. The Oklahoma City Zoo capitalized on the popularity of the song for a fundraiser in 1953. Kids sent in their nickels and dimes (that’s 5 & 10 cents to non Americans) as donations and helped to raise $3,000 to buy the zoo a baby hippopotamus, named Matilda. Unfortunately, Matilda died in March 1998 as she was being transferred to Walt Disney World. Gayla changed her name to Jamie Horton as a teenager, and in 1960 she recorded “My Little Marine,” which reached #84 in the US charts.

3. Kay Martin & her Body Guards – I Know What You Want for Christmas (Unknown)

In the 1950 and 1960s, adult comedy recordings became widely available and very popular. Kay Martin and Her Body Guards was one such act, consisting of the eponymous Kay Martin together with Jess Hotchkiss and Bill Elliot. From 1953 to 1963, their popular, often risqué material received top billing in Las Vegas and Reno casinos and was in demand across the southern US. Their six live recordings became popular adult ‘party’ albums, often sold at the door after the shows. Their best known recording was the 1962 Christmas album “I Know What He Wants for Christmas… but I don’t know how to wrap it!” Sometimes the record sleeve graphic would feature ex-model Martin but more often an anonymous glamorous young lady with very little clothing on. Sometimes there was an alternative R-rated “party” version with some ‘disenrobement’ (whatever that means) included. Needless to say, there is a lot of double entendre on these records. 

4. Troy Hess – Christmas on the Moon (Hess)

Troy Hess has performed since he was 2 years old, appearing with such stars as Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. His father, Bennie Hess, was a popular B-western movie actor and hillbilly singer in the 1940’s. Bennie also ran his own record label and record plating plant as well as recording many early rockabilly acts. During the 1970s and 1980s, Bennie Hess devoted most of his time to promoting his son Troy, who he billed as ‘America’s Singing Souvenir,’ and ‘the world’s youngest country and western singer.’ Troy recorded his first record at the age of four and was quite popular at state and county fairs, as Bennie fronted the band acting as emcee for the shows, and sometimes even performing magic tricks. Some of the songs young Troy Hess recorded were “You Oughta See Pickles Now,” “Troy Hess Boogie,” “Please Don’t Go Topless, Mother,” and “Christmas on the Moon.” It looks like Troy is still making music, but is not putting any of his efforts down on disc (as far as we can tell). 

5. Lou Monte – Dominick the Donkey (Monte/Allen/Saltzberg)

Lou Monte, was an Italian-American singer best known for a number of best-selling, Italian-themed novelty records which he recorded for both RCA Records and Reprise Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This song tells the tale of Santa having to use a donkey to help him deliver presents in Italy because his reindeer can’t climb hills and there was me thinking reindeer could fly. There was a campaign in 2011 to get this song to the top of the UK singles chart, but ultimately it peaked at number 3. 

6. Reece Shipley – Can Santa Miss Those Missiles (Shipley)

Reece Shipley was a well-respected Country Swing and Rockabilly songwriter and singer. In the early 1950s, Shipley performed regularly on radio programs, such as WKPT’s ‘Saturday Night Hayride.’ A wonderful example of what was being produced during the madness of the Cold War. 

7. Lillian Briggs – Rock ‘n’ Roll-y Poly Santa Claus (Allen/Arthur)

In 1956, Rockabilly Bombshell Lillian Briggs released a song for the Christmas Holiday season, called “Rock ‘n’ Roll-y Poly Santa Claus.” The song was co-written by Robert Allen, who also wrote many hit songs including “Home for the Holidays,” “Chances Are,” as well as the fight song for Auburn University in Alabama, “War Eagle.” The orchestra was under the direction of Owen B. Masingill, who also wrote arrangements and conducted for many top performers, including Duke Ellington, Perry Como and Hoagy Carmichael, and also played trombone with Gerry Mulligan.

8. Mae West – Santa, Come Up and See Me Sometime (Unknown)

Mae West was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter, and sex symbol, who was famous for her provocative double entendre laced humour. She was an outspoken crusader for free speech, and was also an early advocate of gay and transgender rights. In the 1960’s, in an attempt to keep her commercial appeal with younger generations, Mae West recorded two Rock and Roll albums, “Way Out West”, which featured covers of songs by Bob Dylan and The Beatles, and “Wild Christmas”, which featured “Santa, Come Up and See Me Sometime,” a very strange song where Mae expresses her lust for Santa (and his reindeer) by using one of her better known catchphrases.

9. Kay Martin & her Body Guards – Come on Santa, Let’s Have a Ball (Unknown)

See Disc 1, Song 3

10. Bobby Helms – Captain Santa Claus and His Reindeer Space Patrol (Unknown)

Bobby Helms was an American singer, who had hits on both the country and pop music charts in the late 1950s. Christmas 1957 saw the release of the Bobby Helms hit song “Jingle Bell Rock,” and it reappeared again on the charts four of the following five years, becoming a Christmas classic in the process. The B-Side of the single was a less popular song, called “Captain Santa Claus and His Reindeer Space Patrol.” The rocket sound effects sound like a combination of a toilet flushing and someone clearing their throat of phlegm. Nice!

11. Dora Bryan – All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle (Benton)

Dora Bryan is a British actress, with a long list of films, television shows and plays to her credit. She has a distinctive speaking voice which has become a trademark of her performances. She recorded “All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle,” in 1963. The song has the distinction of being the first record that attempted to cash-in on the success of the Beatles, and was a top 20 hit in the UK that year.

12. Debbie Dabney – I Want To Spend Christmas With Elvis (Heartbreak Noel) (Kirshner/Darin)

Out of the unholy compositional alliance of Don Kirshner and Bobby Darin comes “I Want To Spend Christmas With Elvis.” The long forgotten Debbie Dabney brays the lyric made up of Elvis Presley song titles loosely strung together around a sexually suggestive Christmas theme. This song fits in to a pop music sub-genre called the ‘cash-in record’. These occur when a musical star becomes so famous that other people (read: record companies) feel obliged to perform songs about him or her. Elvis certainly falls into this category, so we ended up with this record. Other examples include “I Want to Spend Xmas With Elvis” by Marlene Paul (which is in fact the same song, released under a different name in a vain attempt to fool the public) and “Elvis For Christmas” by Mad Milo, a Buchanan-Goodman styled novelty record. Note that these are just the Christmas-oriented Elvis cash-ins; there were plenty of others not related to the holiday, like “My Boy Elvis” by Janis Martin.

13. Little Betty Ashley and J.W. Thompson – The Christmas Dolly (Unknown)

No information has been forth coming about these ‘artists’.

14. Sheb Wooley – Santa and the Purple People Eater (Wooley)

Shelby F. “Sheb” Wooley was a musician and character actor who appeared in many Western movies – but is most famous for having written and recorded the most annoying rock and roll earworm ever, “Purple People Eater,” which in 1958 was so popular that a toy line was produced not long afterwards. Shortly after he released “Purple People Eater”, Wooley tried to further cash in on the success of his hit by releasing a string of lesser-known novelty songs, including “The Purple People Eater Plays Earth Music,” “Purple People Eater #2,” and even a song called “Skin Tight, Pin Stripped, Purple Pedal Pushers.” In 1958 he released a Christmas song called “Santa and The Purple People Eater,” about Santa’s encounter with Sputnik and an alien, however no song of his ever really captured the attention of the record buying public in the same way as the original.

15. Barbra Streisend – Jingle Bells (Pierpont)

I would have loved to have been in the recording studio when the arranger and orchestra came in ready to record this Christmas standard. I can then see Streisend coming in and saying, “We need to record this song in under two minutes because I’m late for dinner/my car is on a parking meter that is about to expire etc”. That can be the only explanation for why is it sung at 80mph. Please, just turn the damn thing off!

16. Buddy Hackett – Dear Santa Claus (Unknown)

Buddy Hackett was a legendary rubber-faced comic, actor, and entertainer. Described as a ‘comic’s comic,’ he appeared in films such as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, and “The Love Bug”, as well as numerous television appearances.

17. Kay Martin & her Body Guards – Santa’s Doing the Horizontal Twist (Unknown)

See Side A, Song 3

18. Ben Light – Christmas Balls (Balls)

Benjamin Bertram Leight had a long career, performing under the name ‘Ben Light.’ From the 1930s to the late 1950s, he made hundreds of recordings, and sold millions of records. In 1936, he recorded ‘party’ records for Hollywood Hot Shots, a low-budget record label which supplied jukebox records. While Ben accompanied on piano, an anonymous male singer did the singing. These songs, with titles like “The Guy Who Put the Dix in Dixie” and “Christmas Balls,” were considered raunchy material in their day, filled with sexual innuendo and ‘teasing’ lyrics.

19. The Beach Boys – Santa’s Beard (Wilson/Love)

The annoying child pulls the pillow out from under Santa’s shirt and pulls off his beard. The whole scenario makes ours stomachs turn, much like an undercooked Brussels sprout. When was the last time that pillow was washed for God’s sake? With Brian Wilson hitting his most migraine-inducing falsetto note as he repeats the taunt (“Not Santa! Not Santa!”), we may never enter a shopping centre again. Not one of the best Beach Boys efforts by a long shot.

20. Sonny James – Barefoot Santa Claus (James)

Sonny James is a popular American country music singer and songwriter. From 1964 to 1972, Sonny James was a dominant force in country music. He recorded 16 straight #1 singles in addition to 72 verified chart hits. James’s career No.1’s total would eventually stand at 23. In 1969, Billboard magazine named him ‘Artist of the Year.’ Back in 1966, James released this Christmas record complete with obligatory off-key children’s choir. Why is it that a chorus of children just can’t sing in tune on records? The song was co-written by Bob Tubert, who also wrote songs for Brenda Lee, Eddy Arnold and Dolly Parton. Oh well, everyone has an off day. 

21. The Go-Go’s – I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with A Dalek (Unknown)

Over the years, Doctor Who has also inspired dozens of musical tributes, such as the 1964 Christmas song “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek” by The Go-Go’s (not the Belinda Carlisle Go-Go’s, but a 1960s British pop band of whom this was the only recorded song. This band originated from Newcastle). In the song, a little girl explains that she’ll celebrate the season by kissing her favourite robot “on his chromium-plated head.” You haven’t lived until you have heard a Dalek asking for “more plum pud-ding and cus-tard.”

22. Don Ho – This Christmas (Jenkins) 

Don Ho was a popular Hawaiian musician and entertainer. His soothing and seductive baritone voice, treasury of stories and warm island personality, entertained generations of fans for over four decades. He released his Christmas album that was produced and arranged by the legendary Gordon Jenkins (who also worked with Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra). The album included this song that Jenkins wrote where Ho does his best lounge lizard impersonation.

23. Elton Britt & The Pinetoppers – Christmas in November (Unknown)

Britt was a popular country singer of the 1940s, with a yodelling style often compared to Jimmie Rodgers. He released over 600 singles and 60 albums, and is best known for “There’s A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” which was the first country song awarded a gold record for selling more than a million copies. The song was adopted as a symbol of the war effort by patriotic audiences, and President Franklin Roosevelt invited Britt to the White House in 1942 to perform the hit. “Christmas in November,” released in 1962, is a weepy story about ‘little Jevy’ who ‘won’t be with us in December,’ so they have Christmas a month early. The whole song is very sappy, but the creepiest part of the song is the fact that the father’s biggest concern seems to be what the neighbours will think.

24. Alex Houston and Elmer – Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus (Unknown)

Alex Houston has been performing for more than 50 years along with his ventriloquist dummy named Elmer, which was purchased for $50 when Alex was 8 years old. His act includes parodies of country songs with Elmer doing most of the singing. In 1972, they released an album on called “Here Comes Peter Cotton Claus,” which features a song by the same name as the first track on each side of the album. On the back cover, country singer Charley Pride is quoted as saying: ‘Alex is so talented that you leave believing there were two guys on that stage.’ and ‘I think Elmer is one of the funniest guys I ever met.’ Apparently Charley doesn’t get out much anymore.

25. Derrik Roberts – There Won’t Be Any Snow (Christmas in the Jungle) (Vance/Pockriss)

This song briefly broke in to the American Top 10 in December of 1965, falling only behind singles from The Beatles. The song is credited to the songwriting team of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, who also wrote “”Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” “Johnny Angel,” and “Catch a Falling Star.” This schmaltzy recording, by Derrik Roberts, is a sentimental pro-war message, from a soldier supposedly on the front lines in Vietnam. This song also features sound effects of gunfire and bombs, as well as jungle noises, which were added for dramatic effect. File with John Waynes’ film “The Green Berets” for misguided propaganda efforts.

26. Barry Gordon – Zoomah the Santa Claus from Mars (Unknown)

Barry Gordon is an American film and television actor who began his professional life at the age of three as a child singer and actor. In 1952, at age six, he recorded “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” which is one of the top ten best-selling Christmas records of all time. The lyrics show that kids have been annoying for a lot longer than you think. Gordon would go on to be the longest serving president of the Screen Actors Guild.

27. Earney Vandagriff & Joe Poovey – Christmas Filled With Cheer (Vandagriff)

Earney Vandagriff was one of the many country music artists influenced by Hank Williams. Joe Poovey was encouraged to become an entertainer by his father at age four. By age nine he was recording hillbilly music in a studio. His parents had encouraged him to learn the guitar and by 1953 he was fronting his own country band, the Hillbilly Boys, and playing the prestigious Big D Jamboree radio show. In 1955 Earney Vandagriff and the Big D Boys were all set to hunker down and cut a little country number called ‘Christmas Filled With Cheer‘ and they roped in young Joe Poovey to provide a recitation. The fiddle-heavy “Christmas Filled with Cheer” is pretty creepy, with Poovey talking directly to Santa Claus about how ‘my daddy’s dead [and] I hide where no one will see my tears.’ What is it with country singers and depressing Christmas songs? If fact, not just Christmas songs, every song.

28. The Happy Crickets – Christmas Is For The Family (Unknown)

After the success of Pinky & Perky and The Chipmunks, there were a large number of copycat records, which featured sped-up vocals of animal characters. These groups included The Grasshoppers, The Penguins, The Nutty Squirrels, The Happy Hamsters, The Panda Bears, Santa’s Elves, Harvey the Singing Hamster, The 3 Little Pixies and The Busy Beavers. Happy Time Records, a division of the Pickwick International Corporation released a series of records by their own knock-off version of The Chipmunks, with an album called ‘Christmas with the Happy Crickets’. The Happy Crickets is probably the worst attempt at cashing in on the singing animal phenomenon; the singing is terrible (even when sped up), and the arrangements sound like they were slapped together by a committee of drunks whilst hoping the session fee arrives soon so they can buy another crate of booze. The song “Christmas is for the Family” is definitely one of the most annoying songs I have ever heard, or ever care to hear. 

29. Red Sovine – Is There Really a Santa Claus (Unknown)

Woodrow Wilson “Red” Sovine was a country music singer associated with truck driving songs, particularly those recited as narratives set to music. The most famous example of this is his 1976 number one hit “Teddy Bear”. Almost all of Red Sovine’s songs contain one or more of the following elements: trucking, orphaned children, without one or both parents (usually big eyed boys), crippled children (maimed, blind, or just plain gimpy), dead or dying people. Sovine is also remembered for his Christmas tear-jerkers, which included “Here is Christmas” (a divorcee’s holiday lament) and “What does Christmas Look Like?” (a little blind girl asks daddy to describe the Christmas that she cannot see). Red has two equally maudlin songs on this collection. The first “Is There Really a Santa Claus?” tells the story of two children who are left motherless on Christmas Eve, and their grieving, despondent father tells them that they shouldn’t expect any toys from Santa. Later, after overhearing the kid’s prayers, he is overcome with guilt, and decides to buy them some toys at the last minute. As he hurries to the shops, he gets struck by a car, and killed in the process. The poor kids are orphaned, but none of that seems to matter because, when they wake up the next morning, they get the Christmas presents that they wished for. Well, that makes the loosing of both parents in one day alright then doesn’t it. The second is “Faith in Santa,” which is about a runaway, starving, half-naked and abused boy dying on a street side Santa’s lap. Before he dies he tells Santa that his daddy is in prison for killing his mamma’s boyfriend, mom is never around because she works in a bar and the guy they live with beats him. Someone pass the Joy Division box set because I need cheering up.

30. Captain Kangaroo – The Ballad of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol (Unknown) 

Captain Kangaroo (played by Bob Keeshan) was an American children’s television series which aired weekday mornings on CBS Television from 1955 until 1984. One of the longest-running network children’s shows of all time, Captain Kangaroo left a lasting impression on the minds and hearts of children during its 30 years on television. The show was built around life in the “Treasure House,” where the Captain (whose nickname came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, and take part in silly skits with human and puppet characters. Keeshan wrote many books and released several record albums as Captain Kangaroo. He also released a Christmas LP called “Merry, Merry Merry Christmas,” which features a frantic retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” called “The Ballad of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol.” I love how they distilled entire chapters down to one or two throwaway lines. Nice. 

Disc 2

1. ‘Wounded’ John Scott Cree – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (May/Marks)

Wounded John Scott Cree is a folk singer similar to Loudon Wainright or Richard Digance. He toured a lot in the 1970s and recorded a number of singles for the Pye label (of which this is one and not folkie in anyway) but disappeared for many years before making a comeback in recent years. This record is always on heavy rotation in Squire Towers over Christmas and the holiday season hasn’t official started until this is blasting out of the stereo.

2. Canned Heat & the Chipmunks – The Christmas Song (Bagsasarian)

The Chipmunks are possibly the most popular TV and musical cartoon of all time, enjoying two periods of prosperity. The ’60s era of adolescent Baby Boomers and the ’80s, when the Boomers’ children were growing up and having families of their own. The man who brought the Chipmunks to life, Ross Bagasarian worked as an actor and songwriter before experimenting with a novel technique. He would record normal vocals but would then speed up the playback on a tape machine. The process yielded the number one hit “Witch Doctor” in early 1958, and the phenomenon mushroomed later that year when his Christmas gimmick single “The Chipmunk Song”, which spent four weeks at the top of the charts. “The Alvin Show” premiered on prime-time television in 1961, with all voices supplied by Bagasarian. Chipmunk records continued to chart throughout the 60’s and 70’s, by which time Bagasarian Jr. had taken over from his late father. Canned Heat was a blues-rock/boogie band that formed in Los Angeles in 1965. The importance of the group lies not only with their blues-based music, but with their efforts to reintroduce and revive the careers of some of the great old bluesmen (e.g. John L:ee Hooker). As a band, they played at the Monterery, Woodstock and Isle of Wight music festivals. For some bizarre reason, Canned Heat were paired with their Liberty label-mates, the Chipmunks on this bizarre slice of late 60’s godawfulness. The “Chipmunk Song” wasn’t actually the same song as the Chipmunks’ similarly titled 1958 chart-topper, but it was a good-natured boogie containing ‘humorous’ dialogue between Heat singer Bob Hite and the Chipmunks. 

3. Homer & Jethro – Santa Claus, The Original Hippie (Unknown)

Homer & Jethro were an American country music duo, with a long career from the 1940s through the 1960s, specializing in comedy records and satirical versions of popular songs. I’m surprised the American’s like Christmas so much if the lyrics of this song are to be believed, Santa is just some old Commie.  

4. Bobby Sherman – Christmas Is (Make It Sweet) (Karen/Reuss)

Sporting a winning smile and fashionably shaggy hair, Bobby Sherman was a genuine teen idol during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Sherman first surfaced as a regular on ABC-TV’s mid-’60s rock spectacular ‘Shindig!’, then co-starred on the warm-hearted program ‘Here Comes the Brides’. He stormed the pop charts as a vocalist in 1969-70 with the well-produced “Little Woman,” “La La La (If I Had You),” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” and “Julie, Do Ya Love Me,” all four songs credited as million sellers on the Metromedia label. The hits stopped abruptly in 1972, and today Sherman mostly works behind the scenes in television. God knows who the children are on this record, but someone should have called child services.  

5. Ricky Segall & the Segalls – All I Want to Ask Santa (Segall)

Born in Long Island, New York, Ricky Segall began his acting career in 1973 at the age of four when he played Ricky Stevens on ‘The Partridge Family’ from 1973-1974, during the television series’ fourth and final season. By the fourth season, due to declining ratings and David Cassidy’s looming possible departure, an effort was made by the producers to breathe new life into the show, by introducing a precocious 4-year-old neighbour called ‘Ricky Stevens,’ played by Ricky Segall, to occasionally sing children’s songs. Ricky was famous for his bowl haircut and his off-key singing. In 1973, Bell Records released an album entitled “Ricky Segall and The Segalls,” with the unforgivably awful Christmas song “All I Want to Ask Santa Claus.” All of the songs on the album were written by Ricky’s father. Ricky Segall is currently a minister at a Church in San Antonio, but this will not save him. He is definitely going to hell for this record.

6. John Denver – Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas) (Danoff/Nivert)

The late Rocky Mountain troubadour sometimes introduced this song as a funny little ditty that took on more serious overtones over time. It’s hard to see what could have been funny about a seven-year-old pleading with dear old Dad to not come home completely smashed and ruin Christmas like he does every year by not passing out under the tree. It should be noted that Denver had been arrested twice for Driving under the influence of alcohol before his untimely death. 

7. Irwin the Disco Duck – Sleigh Ride (Anderson/Parish)

Irwin featured on a number of records in the late 70s, right in time for the disco boom. Looking at the sleeves to the records and noise Irwin makes, you would have thought that the Walt Disney Company would have sued the pants off of them due to him not only looking a lot like Donald Duck, but sounding like him as well. One of the voice actors used for Iwrin was Don Messick, who would later go onto voice Scrappy Doo. To err is human, to voice Scrappy Doo is unforgivable. 

8. Carolee Goodgold – Boogaloo ‘Round The Aluminium Christmas Tree (Unknown)

Carolee Goodgold is an American singer/actress/voiceover artist. She can be heard on hundreds of commercials, records, industrials and audiobooks. Some of the national campaigns for which she performed the vocals and/or voiceover include Cingular, Cheerios, Verizon, Dentyne, Downy, MCI, Jello, Tourneau, Dole, Napier, Lone Star Beer, Club Med, MGM Grand, American Express, IBM, Revlon, Unisom, among many others.

9. The Little Stinkers – I Farted on Santa’s Lap (Unknown)

The Little Stinkers is a group of kids led by Mary Beltrami, a seven year-old girl with a supposed angelic voice and a gift for comedic delivery. We beg to differ. 

10. John Bongiovi – R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Yeston/Meco)

Released on the album ‘Christmas in the Stars’ which features recordings of Star Wars-themed Christmas songs and stories about a droid factory where the robots make toys year-round for a certain ‘S. Claus’. Much of the album is sung and narrated by British actor Anthony Daniels, reprising his role as C-3PO and LucasFilm provided the genuine sound effects for R2-D2 and Chewbacca. The singer you can hear though was a young man called John Bongiovi, who in a few short years after this would become Jon Bon Jovi. At this point in his singing career, he was just sweeping the floors at his cousin’s studio before being asked to sing this bizarre ditty. Everybody has to start somewhere you know. 

11. The Sensational Little Shana Lynette – Mister Russian, Please Don’t Shoot Down Santa’s Sleigh (Unknown)

Another slice of Cold War lunacy. Thos pesky Ruskie’s are not only going to shoot down Satan so stopping those good American kids from enjoying Christmas, they no doubt plan to kidnap the Easter Bunny as well. No information has been forth coming about this ‘artist’.

12. Billy Idol – White Christmas (Berlin)

Oh dear! Believe or not, there is a whole album of Idol Christmas songs out there. Was he drink when he recorded this, or was it a present for his mother that somehow managed to get released? It is not recommended though unless you like the idea of a quite famous rock star doing an impression of a pub singer.

13. The BellRays – Rocket Ship Santa (Fate)

The BellRays are a “rock ‘n’ soul” group that was founded in the early 1990s in Riverside, California. This song was released as part of a compilation called “F*ck Christmas”. They’re nice boys really. 

14. Mojo Nixon – Christmas, Christmas (Unknown)

Mojo Nixon (born Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr) is an American musician. A part of the psychobilly movement, he is known for his boisterousness, his often scathing critiques of pop culture, his insults about contemporary celebrities, and his libertarian political views. Christmas was also on his hit list evidently.

15. Sarah Silverman – Give the Jew Girl Toys (Garman)

Sarah Silverman is an American Emmy Award nominated comedian, writer, singer, guitarist, and actress. Her satirical comedy addresses social taboos and controversial topics such as racism, sexism and religion. She often performs her act as a caricature of a Jewish-American princess, mocking bigotry and stereotypes of ethnic groups and religious denominations, by endorsing them ironically, like celebrating Christmas evidently.

16. Madonna – Santa Baby (Javits/Springer/Springer)

Madonna had been around the block far too many times even by the time this came in 1987 to get away with playing the infuriating Betty Boop-ish ingénue. When Eartha Kitt made a case for being a good, deserving girl ‘think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed’ it was mildly amusing. When Madonna trotted out the line, it was just another reason for whatever bloke she was seeing at the time (Sean Penn if memory serves) to start throwing the ornaments about.

17. Big Jim & the Goodbuddies – CB Santa (Unknown)

Before the Internet or mobile phones, there was an earlier communication fad in the 1970’s: CB radio. America was caught in a Citizen’s Band mania that painted truck drivers as counter culture heroes – highway cowboy kings who fought “Smokey Bear” at every turn (or the police if your not up with your CB jargon). Millions of people thrilled at the chance to have meaningless conversations with total strangers out on the road, complete with its own slanguage (‘Hammer down, good buddy’, ‘Bear in the air,’ etc.). In 1975, at the height of the CB mania, a band by the name of “Big Jim & The Goodbuddies” released a single called “CB Santa,” backed with “Soup of the Day.” “CB Santa” is about a trucker with a CB radio rescuing Santa from a snowbank, with a chorus that parodies “Oh Susanna.”

18. Matthewmatic – Hanukkah’s on (Unknown)

Why just have Christmas when we can have some about Hanukkah as well. You can’t say we are not inclusive here. No information has been forth coming about this ‘artist’.

19. Suzannah – Mom and Daddy, Please Don’t Steal For Me This Christmas (Unknown)

Make do with nothing for Christmas due to a lack of cash. God forbid, we can’t have that so let’s go and steal the kids some Christmas presents. That’s really buying into the spirit of the season ins’t it. No information has been forth coming about this ‘artist’.

20. Jeff Foxworthy – Redneck 12 Days of Christmas (Foxworthy/Wilson)

Jeff Foxworthy is an American stand-up comedian, actor and game show host who in 1993, he released ‘You Might Be a Redneck If…’ which started the “You Might Be a Redneck” fad, topped the comedy album charts, and sold more than three million copies. Foxworthy has made a successful career out of bingo a one trick pony. Well done him.

21. Wesley Willis – Merry Christmas (Willis)

Wesley Willis was perhaps the most prolific and the best-known outsider musician. His formula was simple: a kicking synth beat under a spoken verse, trailed by the song title yelped four times in a chorus. The formula worked so well that Willis composed thousands of songs in the same exact pattern. A diagnosed schizophrenic, he gained a sizeable cult following in the 1990s after releasing over 50 CDs (almost always containing 30 songs) of unique but simple music. The emphasis was always on his stream-of-consciousness lyrics full of bizarre, excited, and often obscene rants about crime, fast food, cultural trends, bus routes, violent confrontations with superheroes, commands for his ‘demons’ to engage in bestiality, and praise for his favourite actors, friends (both platonic and romantic), politicians, and hip-hop and rock artists. 

22. Spın̈al Tap – Christmas with the Devil (Tufnel/St. Hubbins)

Spın̈al Tap is a semi-fictional heavy metal band, the subject of the 1984 rockumentary/mockumentary film ‘This Is Spın̈al Tap’. The band members are portrayed by Michael McKean (as David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel) and Harry Shearer (as Derek Smalls). They first appeared in a 1978 ABC comedy special, ‘The TV Show’. The same trio of actors would be reunited as the American folk music revival band The Folksmen in the 2003 mockumentary ‘A Mighty Wind’. The film was accompanied by a soundtrack album of the same name. In the years since the film was made the actors who portrayed the band members have played concerts and released music under the Spinal Tap name, blurring the line between parody and reality.

23. Cashing in on Christmas – Bad News (Dennis)

Bad News are another spoof rock band, created for the Channel 4 television series ‘The Comic Strip Presents…’. Its members are Vim Fuego (aka Alan Metcalfe), vocals and lead guitar (played by Adrian Edmondson who also wrote the episode); Den Dennis, rhythm guitar (Nigel Planer); Colin Grigson, bass (Rik Mayall); and Spider Webb, drums (Peter Richardson). The episode, ‘Bad News Tour’, took the form of a fly-on-the-wall rockumentary, in which the incompetent band is followed travelling to a gig in Grantham by an almost equally inept documentary crew. Coincidentally, it was in production at the same time as the similar film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’, which was released the following year to much greater acclaim.

24. Shelley Duvall – Dear Santa Claus (Kipner/Ross)

Shelley Duvall is an award-winning American film and television actress who began her career in the 1970’s appearing in the movies of Robert Altman. She has also appeared in movies by Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. In 1991 she released a Christmas music collection called “Hello, I’m Shelley Duvall…Merry Christmas.” This music is so bad it was hard to choose a single song as being the worst of the bunch, but we decided on “Dear Santa Claus” as being representative of the rest of the songs, which are to be frank, hideous. We should have known what was coming after her vocal chops were on full display in the Robert Altman Popeye movie.

25. Carrie Fisher – The Life Day Song (Williams/Welch/Welch)

In May 1978, the Star Wars phenomenon was at its height, and someone at 20th Century Fox suggested to Lucasfilm that they cash in on/allow the creation of a Star Wars themed holiday special (delete as appropriate). George Lucas initially liked the idea, and sat down with the show’s producers and penned a basic story outline for the television special. It is Life Day, a holiday that is celebrated on Chewbacca’s home planet Kashyyyk (This being ‘A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away’ there can’t be a Christmas). What followed was two of the most excruciating hours of TV ever broadcast (except for the Boba Fest cartoon segment, that is actually quite good.). The real ‘highlight’ came near the end of the show when Carrie Fisher gives a short speech on the meaning of Life Day and sang a song in celebration, “The Life Day Song”, sung to the tune of the Star Wars theme. The Holiday Special was only ever broadcast once but has been widely bootlegged down the years. Lucas famously said that ‘If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.’ When interviewed many years later Carrie Fisher pretended not to know what the journalist was talking about when the subject of the Holiday Special was mentioned. No one likes to be reminded of bad work, especially when they might have made it might have been made under the influence of some sort of illegal substance (allegedly).

26. Red Sovine – Faith In Santa

See Side A, Song 29. 

27. Newsong – The Christmas Shoes (Ahlstrom/Carswell)

Dear Lord, where do we start with this offering from Christian band Newsong? There is something terribly disturbing about the thought of a little boy buying his Mum new shoes for her trip to Heaven because ‘I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.’ which almost implies that Jesus Christ has a foot fetish. The production is so sugary sweet that you can feel your teeth rot away as you listen to it. There’s no telling how many people this song has killed from diabetic shock. 

The front cover is adapted from a record put out under Stephen Colbert’s name. Even though the cover is very cheesy, the record itself contains serious muso’s such as Elvis Costello and Willie nelson joining the Colbert. Sorry Stephen, but the cover had the exact aesthetic I was looking for and it was too good not to use.

Jimi Hendrix – The Collection Vol.2

After Hendrix finished recording ‘Electric Ladyland’, Hendrix would only release one more album before his untimely death. That album was to fulfil a contract he signed before he made it big and was called ‘Band of Gypsys’. It was a live album of live songs Hendrix had not released before and was seen by Hendrix himself as not up to the standard he had set for himself. ‘Band of Gypsys’ is not a bad album, with ‘Machine Gun’ being seen as an artistic triumph but it does pale in comparison with what came before. With his outstanding contract problems seemingly out of the way, Hendrix went back to finishing off the album he had been working on since he finished ‘Electric Ladyland’.

Hendrix spent much of time between the end of the ‘Electric Ladyland’ session until his death in and out of the studio. With the amount of studio material that has seen the light of day over the years, it is surprising the Hendrix had any time to play live, eat or it would seem breath. He was even putting together his own stood called Electric Lady because he had run up massive bills from the amount of time he had spent block booking other studios to record as much as he possible could. This second compilation focuses on the period of time Hendrix was recording his fourth album but there is still room for some tunes from the years when the Experience was a going concern. This just goes to show that Hendrix had amassed an amazing amount of material and it is a tragedy that he never got to finish it. Enjoy! 

Disc 1

  1. And The Gods Made Love – Electric Ladyland
  2. Who Knows – Band Of Gypsys
  3. Mannish Boy – Blues
  4. Little Miss Lover – Axis: Bold Of Love
  5. Highway Chile – Single B-Side
  6. Message To Love (Alt Version) – West Coast Seattle Boy
  7. Somewhere – People, Hell & Angels
  8. Dolly Dagger – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  9. Stepping Stone – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  10. Look Over Yonder – South Saturn Delta
  11. Hey Baby/In From The Storm (Live) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)
  12. Shame, Shame, Shame – West Coast Seattle Boy
  13. Everlasting First – West Coast Seattle Boy
  14. Suddenly November Morning – West Coast Seattle Boy
  15. Machine Gun – Band Of Gypsys
  16. (Have You Ever Been To) Electric Ladyland – Electric Ladyland

Disc 2

  1. Valleys Of Neptune – Valleys Of Neptune
  2. Astro Man – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  3. Izabella – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  4. Gypsy Eyes – Electric Ladyland
  5. Freedom – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  6. Room Full Of Mirrors – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  7. Rock Me Baby (Live) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)
  8. Let Me Love You – People, Hell & Angels
  9. Here He Comes (Lover Man) – South Saturn Delta
  10. Night Bird Flying – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  11. Drifter’s Escape (Alt Take) – South Saturn Delta
  12. Power Of Soul (Alt Take) – South Saturn Delta
  13. Bleeding Heart – Blues
  14. It’s Too Bad – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)
  15. Drifting – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  16. Love Or Confusion – Are You Experienced
  17. Belly Button Window – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun

Like Volume 1, the front cover was an image I came across back in the dim distant past so I’m afraid I will not be able to credit the person who made it.

Jimi Hendrix – The Collection Vol.1

My first experience (no pun intended) of Hendrix was on a K-Tel compilation album called ‘British Gold’. The track listing for that album included ‘Hey Joe’, and a look in the Squire archive in the late 80s when I was expanding my musical pallet contained some of the Track Records sampler albums that went by the name of ‘Backtrack’ as well as the ‘Smash Hits’ compilation. Not much to go on but this was about to change. 

My interest in Hendrix was really awakened when someone brought in a cassette into school of the ‘Radio One’ album. What an album this was seeing as it was a compilation of songs Hendrix had recorded for the BBC. With an eye catching cover of the great man himself wielding a Fender Stratocaster guitar, the music contained within was different, electrifying and nothing like anything in the charts at the time it came out in 1988. This seemed to be the album everyone bought and I duel bought mine. A bargain as well at only £5 for a double LP. This album received a lot of plays on the turntable and was great it that this only included what could be argued to be the best version of songs that he seemed to only play at the BBC like Drivin’ South. Compare this to the ‘BBC Sessions’ album released ten years later and you’ll see what I mean. The later album might be more comprehensive, but in my opinion ‘Radio One’ is the definitive album of the two. 

After ‘Radio One’ has wetted the appetite, I bought all of the records not already in the archive that Hendrix with or without the Experience released in his lifetime. Every album had mind blowing  songs on them, but the icing on the cake was playing through ‘Electric Ladyland’ for the first time. Was this a rock album, or an R&B one? But then again, was it psychedelic or blues, or a melting pot taking all of Hendrix’s influences and blasting them out of the speakers to attack your senses. Who cares, it is a classic album and contains one of the greatest cover version of all time in Hendrix’s interpretation of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’.

Most of the recordings contained on this compilation are taken from the releases of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with only a couple taken from later sessions because the majority of the post ‘Electric Ladyland’ material does not fit in with these earlier recordings sonically for me. Enjoy!

Disc 1

  1. Foxy Lady – Are You Experienced
  2. Manic Depression – Are You Experienced
  3. Fire – Are You Experienced
  4. Killing Floor – BBC Sessions
  5. Red House – Are You Experienced
  6. Can You See Me – Are You Experienced
  7. Hey Joe – Single A-Side
  8. Purple Haze – Single A-Side
  9. 51st Anniversary – Single B-Side
  10. (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man – BBC Sessions
  11. Wait Until Tomorrow – Axis: Bold As Love
  12. Ain’t No Telling – Axis: Bold As Love
  13. Castles Made Of Sand – Axis: Bold As Love
  14. Hear My Train Comin’ (Acoustic) – Blues
  15. Catfish Blues – BBC Sessions
  16. Driving South (4:49 min version) – BBC Sessions
  17. You Got Me Floatin’ – Axis: Bold As Love
  18. Stone Free – Single B-Side
  19. Crosstown Traffic – Electric Ladyland
  20. Voodoo Chile – Electric Ladyland

Disc 2

  1. Rainy Day, Dream Away – Electric Ladyland
  2. 1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be) – Electric Ladyland
  3. Moon, Turn The Tides…Gently Gently Away – Electric Ladyland
  4. The Wind Cries Mary – Single A-Side
  5. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp – Electric Ladyland
  6. Still Raining, Still Dreaming – Electric Ladyland
  7. House Burning Down – Electric Ladyland
  8. All Along The Watchtower – Electric Ladyland
  9. Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) Electric Ladyland
  10. Ezy Ryder – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  11. Spanish Castle Magic – Axis: Bold As Love
  12. Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) – Electric Ladyland
  13. Long Hot Summer Night – Electric Ladyland
  14. Angel – First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
  15. One Rainy Wish – Axis: Bold Of Love
  16. Little Wing – Axis: Bold As Love
  17. Hear My Train A Comin’ – BBC Sessions
  18. Bold As Love – Axis: Bold As Love

The front cover was an image I came across back in the dim distant past so I’m afraid I will not be able to credit the person who made it. 

Normally when it comes to music produced from 1966-68, I tend to go for the mono mix as this is what the majority of artists thought of as the playback system that was dominant at the time. However, to my ears, Hendrix sounds weird in mono (if you are lucky enough to hear in that way) so I have gone with stereo mixes for the majority of the songs on this playlist. I think that the only mono records here are from the single mixes. 

Various Artists – Under The Influence Vol.4

Here on the forth volume of my Under The Influence Series, the theme is Northern Soul. Time to relive the glory nights of the Twisted Wheel, Golden Torch, Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino. 

Disc 1

  1. Hold On To My Baby – The Cavaliers
  2. Barefootin’ – Robert Parker 
  3. In Orbit – Joy Lovejoy
  4. I’m Satisfied  With You – The Furys
  5. Baby Reconsider – Leon Haywood
  6. Cracking Up Over You – Roy Hamilton
  7. Right Track – Billy Butler
  8. Back Street – Edwin Starr
  9. I Spy (For The F.B.I.) – Jamo Thomas & His Party Brothers Orchestra
  10. The Blowing Up My Mind – The Exciters
  11. I Need Your Love – The Dynamics
  12. I’ll Always Love You – The Spinners
  13. Better Use Your Head – Little Anthony & The Imperials
  14. I Really Love You – The Tomangoes
  15. Slippin’ Around With You – Art Freeman
  16. The Same Old Song – The Olympics
  17. Quick Change Artist – The Soul Twins
  18. If It’s All The Same To You Babe – Luther Ingram
  19. I Gotta Find Me Somebody – Luther Ingram
  20. Lay This Burden Down – Mary Love
  21. Dance Dance Dance – The Casualeers
  22. Thumb A Ride – Earl Right Orchestra
  23. What Would I Do – The Tymes
  24. You get Your Kicks – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
  25. You Just Don’t Know – Chubby Checker
  26. Dr. Love – Bobby Sheen
  27. Somebody, Somewhere, Needs You – Darryl Banks
  28. Ain’t No More Room – The Kittens
  29. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid – Ketty Lester
  30. Face Up To The Truth – Doris Troy
  31. Gonna Gove You All The Love I’ve Got – Kimmy Ruffin

A playlist for this complication could not be produced due to one or more songs not being available on Spotify.

Disc 2

  1. My Mama Told Me – Barbara Carr
  2. Loving You – The Starlets
  3. Talkin’ Dreamin’ Boastin’ – Sugar Pue DeSanto
  4. Love Reputation – Denise LaSalle
  5. Such A Pretty Thing – Gene Chandler
  6. Sweeter Than The Day Before – The Valentinos
  7. Too Late – Larry Williams & Johnny Watson
  8. This Love Starved Heart Of Mine (It’s Killing Me) – Marvin Gaye
  9. What Good Am I Without You – Darrow Fletcher
  10. Sure Is A Lot Woman – The Isley Brothers
  11. Let’s Wade In The Water – Marlena Shaw
  12. A Mighty Good Lover – The Vashionettes
  13. If You Ever Get Your Hands – Gladys Knight & The Pips
  14. Ain’t No Sun (Since You Gone) – The Dynamics
  15. Crying In The Night – The Monitors
  16. Baby Come Home To Me – Shorty Long
  17. Show Me The Way – J. J. Barnes
  18. The Girl’s Got It – Billy Preston
  19. Come Go With Me – Gloria Jones
  20. I’m Gone – Eddie Parker
  21. Well Keep On Rolling – Brenda Holloway
  22. Keep On Climbing – The Magnificent Men
  23. Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes) – Major Lance
  24. True Love – Alex Patto
  25. Hold On – The Radiants
  26. I’m Grateful – The Four Tops
  27. All I Do Is Think About You – Tammi Terrell
  28. What more Could A Boy Ask For – The Spinners
  29. Don’;t Stop – The Originals
  30. I’ll Never Stop Loving You – Carla Thomas

A playlist for this complication could not be produced due to one or more songs not being available on Spotify.