From the first time you hear Noddy Holder of Slade shouting out “It’s Christmas” shortly after Hallowe’en, you know exactly what the soundtrack to your festive season will be.
Whether it is Wizzard wishing it could be Christmas every day or Chris Rea stuck on the same motorway again and again, every year sounds like the last, with only the latest X Factor winner to offer any real variety.
But Christmas should be a time of joy, not despair which is why we teamed up with Alastair Brodie, owner of Dundee’s legendary record store Groucho’s, to give you a special Christmas treat.
For our 12 Days of Christmas vinyl countdown, Alastair, popularly known as Breeks, will offer up an alternative selection of the best Christmas songs.
Breeks invited us into his home where he played a dozen Christmas crackers on his amazing collection of vintage record players and jukeboxes.
From Louis Armstrong to Merle Haggard, Alastair’s choices will entertain, dazzle and delight.
We start today with Nat King Cole’s The Happiest Little Christmas Tree from 1959 played on a 1953 Plus-a-Gram model M.P.A. with Bush radio.
We’ll be posting a new video of Breeks’ choices every day leading up to Christmas, with a special bonus track on the big day itself.Day 2:Frank Sinatra / Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1963) played on aPerth Radio Ltd. radiogram (mid-50s) Day 3: Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker / Jingle Bell Rock (1962) played on a Dansette Major Deluxe 21 (1961) Day 4:Adam Faith / Lonely Pup (in a Christmas Shop) (1960) played on an Indian HMV battery-operated portable (late 50s) Day 5:The Drifters / White Christmas (1963) played on aDansette Tempo (1962) Day 6:Leon Redbone with Dr. John / Frosty the Snowman (1989) played on aMettoy Playcraft Music Maker (1973) Day 7:Merle Haggard / Bobby Wants a Puppy Dog for Christmas (1973) played on a Dansette Bermuda (1963) Day 8:Louis Armstrong / Here is My Heart for Christmas (1970) played on a Rock Ola Music Vendor jukebox (1958)Day 9: Charles Brown / Merry Christmas Baby (1956) played on a Dansette Conquest Auto (1959).Day 10: The Ventures / Sleigh Ride (1965) played on a Bal-Ami G80 jukebox (1956)Day 11: Diplomat Orchestra / Jingle Bells played on an HMV model 511 gramophone (1927)Day 12: Elvis Presley / Blue Christmas (1957) played on a Rock Ola Tempo 2 (1960)Bonus track: Ella Fitzgerald / The Christmas Song (1959) played on a Ferguson radiogram (1957).’The right machine for the right record’As a vinyl connoisseur, Breeks is delighted that records are making a comeback, with sales rising to an 18-year high in 2014.
He said: “You have to pick the right machine for the right record. There’s no point playing modern vinyl on an old mono turntable it will sound best on technology available at the time the record was made.
“A lot of record stores got rid of their vinyl but because we are independent we kept them. There seems to be a generation that missed out on vinyl but now we get a lot of teenagers coming in and seeming to turn their backs on downloads.”
Alastair has run Groucho’s since it opened in 1976 and owns dozens of turntables and several jukebokes and so has vast musical knowledge. But even he unearthed a few surprises while compiling his 12 Days of Christmas countdown.
“I didn’t go too obscure. Some Christmas songs are a bit strange people might want to track down Spike Milligan’s version of Silent Night for proof but when I price records at home if I see something I’ve never heard I’ll have a listen, which is how I found Merle Haggard’s Bobby Wants a Puppy Dog for Christmas,” he said.
Country songs have a reputation for dealing in death, divorce and misery but for Alastair the song is an undiscovered treasure.
“I listened to it and thought someone would die somewhere but no, it’s just a nice Christmas song.”
Visit www.thecourier.co.uk every day to follow Alastair’s 12 Days of Christmas.