Christmas In The 60′s
And now presenting the first in Tim Worthington‘s “Christmas In The…” mix series, running from the sixties to more or less the present day and guaranteed to bring memories, good and long-suppressed, flooding back when you hear them. Unless you haven’t heard them before, in which case I should just shut my face up and suggest that you start right now with Christmas in the 1960′s…
And hit the jump for Tim‘s complete rundown of the tracks, noises, songs and clips used within…
The aim with this one was to try and capture a sense of how ‘different’ the run-up to Christmas was in the sixties, with the emphasis on actual literal physical shopping days, TV and radio shutting down overnight (and indeed people still considering radio as big an entertainment draw as television), and the way that spectacles such as department store Santas and Christmas Lights being officially ‘switched on’ seemed to be a much bigger deal than they have ever really been since.
Everything seems to have been a bit more bustling and condensed, which is hard to put across in music alone. To this end, it starts with a bit of a 1968 Pathe News piece on Glasgow’s Christmas Lights, which the reporter thought were superior to London’s display that year. Then there’s some music and narration from God Rest You Merry, an early sixties BBC Home Service production featuring Andrew Cruickshank (Doctor Cameron from Doctor Finlay’s Casebook) reading Bible passages over The Saint Martin Singers, which just goes to show how closely entertainment and religion were still intermingled in those days.
Then it’s on to the first record, The Vince Guaraldi Trio‘s take on Hark The Herald Angels Sing from their jazzed up score to A Charlie Brown Christmas, with a couple of bits of dialogue from the Boris Karloff-narrated How The Grinch Stole Christmas and David Frost‘s seasonal special Frost Over Christmas over the top.
More TV spinoff material follows with Yulesville, an in-character song about meeting Santa by Ed ‘Kookie’ Byrnes, the jive-talking car park attendant from hip detective show 77 Sunset Strip. The Ronettes‘ take on Sleigh Ride from Phil Spector‘s legendary A Christmas Gift For You album follows, with a bit of Kenneth Horne‘s surprisingly post-modern introduction to the Christmas Special of bawdy radio comedy Round The Horne.
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop‘s John Baker hits a few cash registers to the tune of O Come All Ye Faithful for the slightly sarky Christmas Commercial, and over the top is an argument about the correct rendering of Basil Brush‘s tail from Something For The Children, a BBC documentary about how they merchandised their own children’s shows. Amazing to think that something that would get right up Rupert Murdoch‘s nose and have people calling for an end to the license fee nowadays was considered a bit of harmless Christmas Eve entertainment back then.
The most peculiar cash-in record of all time, The Go-Go‘s I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek (apparently written by someone who had never even seen a Dalek), leads in to a clip from The Feast Of Steven, the even more peculiar Christmas Day panto episode of Doctor Who from 1965 (which is absolute gibberish but still better than last year’s effort).
Forgotten sixties girl group Wild Honey offer up a funky tribute to recently-assassinated politicians in Christmas Angels, while Jack Warner, TV’s Dixon Of Dock Green, introduces a mini-episode of The Likely Lads from the BBC’s one-time multi-show institution Christmas Night With The Stars. Then there’s a hefty chunk from the Christmas Special of The Craig Torso Show, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band‘s parody of the recently-launched Radio 1.
The Anita Kerr Singers tell the story of The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle, while over on Tracy Island, Gerry Anderson‘s puppets are having yet another heartwarming seasonal adventure in the company of a suspiciously healthy-looking ‘ill’ youngster in the Thunderbirds episode Give Or Take A Million.
The Beach Boys sing in praise of Little Saint Nick, with an alarmingly ahead-of-its-time bit of amusement about short-stay BBC Director Generals from the Christmas Special of Goodies/Python prefiguring radio show I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, and a trailer for the notoriously so-bad-it’s-good movie Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. Unhinged garage band The Sonics get in on the act with Santa Claus, underneath The Monkees discussing Peter‘s poor track record in present-buying from their Christmas Special.
Then it’s The Vince Guaraldi Trio again, with instrumental A Charlie Brown Christmas selection Skating, and some hefty chunks of dialogue taken from the Hancock’s Half Hour special Hancock’s Happy Christmas, a bit more from The Craig Torso Christmas Show, and an extract from A Charlie Brown Christmas itself.
Then it’s into a Light Entertainment segue with Marty Feldman‘s dour A Joyous Time Of Year (worth it for the line about Christmas Cracker jokes being “as funny as King Lear”), Andy Williams doing a bizarrely rewritten version of The Twelve Days Of Christmas in one of his all-star multicoloured TV spectaculars (which, erm, UK viewers only got to see in black and white), Rolf Harris singing about Christmas in Australia in Six White Boomers, and Dean Martin‘s wry The Christmas Blues.
Equally wry singer-songwriter Jake Thackray chimes in with Joseph, a song in honour of the forgotten man of the Christmas story, followed by Dudley Moore leading the Private Eye staff through a terrifying rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas (from the 1964 Christmas giveaway single I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus), a brief bit of the Joe 90 Christmas episode The Unorthodox Shepherd (which is actually better than the other Supermarionation Christmas episodes, despite the show proper generally being duller), a slightly less brief bit from The Beatles‘ 1964 Fan Club Christmas record, and to finish, a clip from the Pathe News item ‘Christmas Greetings From Space’ (no, really), and a final bit of Bonzos. See you in the seventies!