The first recording of this goes back to 2007 but the seeds were sown in the 1970s. I guess everyone associates their favourite Christmas songs with a certain period in their life, so for me the early 70s ones, just as Glam Rock was in the ascendancy, are the classics. In particular Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, for its typical kitchen-sink production. Being Roy Wood, kitchen sink really applies, as in ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ – Roy at the height of his Phil Spector phase – but also that it sounds like it was recorded in a very big kitchen.
Then there was the real Phil Spector on John and Yoko’s Merry Christmas War Is Over. Phil had form in this area having produced his own Christmas album and John and Yoko weren’t shy in wanting that sound copied (and nicking the backing arrangment from his mate George Harrison’s production of Try Some Buy Some for Ronnie Spector.
So there was me in my little bedroom studio with the germ of a song wondering how I could get a big Spector sound. The words were written on a few walks and the ‘You may be in …’ bit added just to have something to sing along to, even if it made no sense. I played it live a couple of times, recorded it in Cubase and discarded the recording.
It wasn’t until years later when I was singing with Nelson Wright as The Wright Brothers that I remembered it and decided to revisit it. We added the touches that I think make it work: backing vocals, real handclaps, the glockenspiel line (Nelson’s), a beefier bass and drums and the bass sax throughout the song – played on my Roland guitar synth. All this came from listening to the Spector and Roy Wood recordings. The sax solo was also guitar synth – it gives itself away a bit during a solo, but the little bass sax interjections just merge in believably, I think.
Every year I trot it out and it never disappoints – it’s always just a little bit better than I thought it would be!