I marked a couple of Christmases past at the old blog by posting a video of one of my favorite holiday songs — a tune I can’t recall ever hearing on the radio in the States, even though it was a massive hit across the pond.
Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” was the U.K. Number One hit at Christmas 1973, and remained there well into the following January. That’s a tribute to how infectious it is — and how unlikely it was, coming from a band best known for a thuggish, vaguely threatening glam-stomp sound.
(The glam genre is sorely underrepresented in the holiday canon. We have Christmas raps, and upbeat Christmas rockers, and cuddly teen-idol Christmas ballads. But how many Christmas chestnuts are there that make you want to stomp your boots, wave your scarf and pound lager? All too few, I’d say.)
I believe the band has since re-recorded the song (never a good move) and there are a couple of videos from a couple different vintages on YouTube.
None of them top the original clip of the band lip-synching its hit on “Top of the Pops” in 1973.
The styles of the time make them look like absolute clowns. Lead guitarist Dave Hill, in particular, sports what might be the worst hairstyle any man has ever worn.
And yet, there is a radiant joy in their performance. Lead singer Noddy Holder — a working-class lad from the Black Country like his bandmates — looks like he can’t believe his good fortune to be leading the entire country in a holiday singalong. And his imitation of the rheumatic granny doing the Twist is priceless.
(Holder, I suspect, was Birmingham’s answer to Alice Cooper — a performer whose gravelly voice and threatening demeanor masked the soul of a born entertainer, or even a ham.)
Here, then, another visit to the best Christmas song of the rock era. May the fairies keep you sober for the day.