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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody

'Merry Xmas Everybody' is a 1973 song by the English rock band Slade. Written by lead vocalist and guitarist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, and produced by Chas Chandler, it was the band's sixth number-one single in the UK. It earned the UK Christmas Number One slot in December 1973, beating another Christmas-themed song, Wizzard's 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', which reached fourth place. By mid-January it was still at number one; it stayed in the UK Singles Chart well into February 1974.
Based on melodies from discarded songs written six years before, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' was Slade's best-selling single, released at the peak of their popularity, and sold over a million copies upon its first release. It is Slade's last number-one single, but by far their most successful. It has been released during every decade since 1973, and has been covered by numerous artists. In a 2007 poll, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' was voted the UK's most popular Christmas song.

The single was certified UK Platinum by BPI in December 1980.
According to the Fan Club Newsletter for January and February 1974, the album was rewarded a Silver Disc for pre-order sales, even before the single's release. Within the first week of release, the single had sold 500,000 copies.
Also, according to the same newsletter, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' was in such big demand that Polydor records had to make special arrangements to have 250,000 discs sent from Los Angeles, as well as 30,000 copies a day they were receiving from Germany.

By 1973 Slade were one of the most popular bands in Britain, having achieved two number one singles—'Cum On Feel The Noize' and 'Skweeze Me Pleeze Me'—in three months. These singles had both entered the charts straight at number one, a rare feat at the time as this was the first occurrence since The Beatles hit number one in 1969 with Get Back.

The band and their record company, Polydor, decided to produce a Christmas hit. For inspiration Slade members Noddy Holder and Jim Lea looked at previous material they had written. Lea recalled a melody and verse he came up with while showering, and Holder recalled a song he had discarded in 1967, which he had written when the band were named the N'Betweeners. It was entitled 'Buy Me a Rocking Chair', and was Holder's first solo work. Holder used the melody of this song for the chorus, and Lea's melody became the verse. After an evening out drinking, Holder worked through the night at his mother's house in Walsall to write the lyrics, which he completed in one draft. In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mail, he spoke about the song's creation:

"We'd decided to write a Christmas song and I wanted to make it reflect a British family Christmas. Economically, the country was up the creek. The miners had been on strike, along with the grave-diggers, the bakers and almost everybody else. I think people wanted something to cheer them up – and so did I. That's why I came up with the line 'Look To The Future Now It's Only Just Begun'. Once I got the line 'Does Your Granny Always Tell You That The Old Ones Are The Best', I knew I'd got a right cracker on my hands."

The song was recorded in the late summer of 1973, during Slade's east coast US tour. Despite its association with the British working class, it was actually recorded at the Record Plant in New York, where, in an adjoining studio, musician John Lennon was working on his album Mind Games. Lennon planned to use a harmonium, which Slade's producer Chas Chandler decided the song needed. 'Merry Xmas Everybody' took five days to finish, but the band disliked the first completed version. It ended up being rerecorded, with the corridor outside used to record the chorus, as it provided an appropriate echo.

Before its release, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' received about half a million advance orders. 350,000 copies were bought upon its release on 7 December 1973. On 15 December it became the third song by Slade to enter the UK Singles Chart at number one (all in 1973) and the sixth number one of their career, and became the fastest selling single in the UK. Polydor, Slade's record label, were forced to use their French pressing plant to keep up with the demand, and the song eventually went on to sell over one million copies, becoming the Christmas number one of 1973, beating another Christmas-themed song, 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' by Wizzard. 'Merry Xmas Everybody' remained number one until mid-January, and stayed in the charts for a total of nine weeks. That it remained in the charts after Christmas caused confusion for Holder, who wondered why people continued to buy it.

For the fan club newsletter in 1979, Jim Lea spoke of the b-side 'Don't Blame Me', 'Don't Blame Me' was a time-filler, I think that it was created as that. When it was used as a b-side, we didn't even know it was being used, it was chosen by the offices. We were in America recording the Christmas single, there was a rush to choose what to put on the back of it, and that track happened to be used."

No promotional video was created for the single. Bassist/co-writer Lea stated that no film was needed for the single as the band absolutely blitzed the T.V. over Christmas, appearing on shows as bizarre as 'The Lee Dawson Christmas Show'. Lea remembered that on the Tuesday that the single went straight to number one in the charts, the band were filming the 'Lift Off' TV show in Manchester. Apparently the band drove around the streets of the city to check that they were number one before arriving at the studios. When they arrived, Roy Wood's girlfriend of the time Ayshea Brough, said that the next few weeks would be interesting to see who had the Christmas number one out of Slade, Wizzard and Elton John. Slade then surprised her by saying that they were there already.

Click the lin below to download the following:
TV Performance
Single Version

1985 12 inch Extended Version
Don't Blame Me - Original B-Side

Come On Feel The Noize - 2006 Re-release B-Side


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