….from ‘My Christmas Tree’ by The Supremes to ‘December’ by Earth, Wind and Fire…
It’s the season for Slade and Wham! to jam up the airwaves until we’ve got Christmas coming out of our ears. Why not revisit these neglected festive tracks?
THE SUPREMES “My Christmas Tree”
Merry Christmas – 1965
After they scored five consecutive US chart-toppers in 1964, Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. moved the trio, led by his protégée Diana Ross, into the lucrative cabaret circuit. Indeed,The Supremes at the Copa live album, issued on the same 1965 day as their Merry Christmas collection, easily outsold it at the time – despite the latter including “My Christmas Tree”, an original composition by Jimmy Webb, then a fledgling writer at Jobete Music, the publishing arm of Motown.
THE WHO “Christmas”
Tommy – 1969
Despite its pivotal place in the rock opera composed by Who guitarist Pete Townshend, its inclusion on a Tommy vinyl EP issued in 1970, and its memorable conceptualisation in the 1975 Ken Russell movie starring the band’s frontman, Roger Daltrey, in the title role, “Christmas” never gets any airplay. Blame “the eternal grave” lyric and the programmers who can’t get past “Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free” and “See Me, Feel Me”.
THE RESIDENTS “Santa Dog”
1972 – reissued in 1978
More conceptual artists than musicians, the San Francisco collective have consistently protected their anonymity by hiding behind the Cryptic Corporation, performing avant garde shows in a succession of disguises, and eschewing interviews. They had the gumption to send this deranged debut release – supposedly by four different bands – to Richard Nixon and Frank Zappa, one of their few reference points. The missing link between Captain Beefheart and The Simpsons, whose creator, Matt Groening, is a huge admirer. Uneasy, unsettling listening.
THE ROLLING STONES “Winter”
Goats Head Soup – 1973
“Paint It Black”, “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Gimme Shelter” have made the Stones so synonymous with the dark side that it’s hard to fathom that Mick Jagger composed this sublime ballad – complete with “Christmas trees” mention. It was recorded in Jamaica and included on the No 1 album Goats Head Soup. Keith Richards didn’t even show up for the session, leaving Mick Taylor to double-track the slide and lead guitar parts that have made it a cult classic – though “Angie” still gets all the airplay.
You can read the rest of this article in the Independent Newspaper by Pierre Perrone here
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