Originally released as a stand-alone single in 1973, Merry Xmas Everybody has become an integral part of the festive season, indeed, as much as tinsel and mistletoe. Written by vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, it provided Slade with their sixth (and final) number one, it has stood the test of time very well, and just like its catchy melody, returns to the charts almost every year.
This being Slade, ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ wasn’t going to be any ordinary Christmas single, and in a move that was typical of their career, it wasn’t your prototypical Slade song. More melodic, and with their boot boy brand of glam rock toned down a tad, there was no doubt that this was going to be a hit, but its success took all by surprise (including the record company who had to import copies from America and Germany to keep up with demand). Opening with descending scales, ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ works precisely because it marries an upbeat tune with slightly whimsical lyrics and inserts a Beatles-esque mid-section. It encapsulates that whole Christmas experience in three stomping minutes and is one of the few seasonal songs that doesn’t sound convoluted or fake, has stood the test of time and will make regular chart appearances until the Earth is swallowed by the Sun.
Second track on this EP is a raucous version of ‘Let’s Dance’ and finds the band on more familiar territory. It’s easy to hear why Slade were a big influence on Oi! bands such as the 4-Skins and the Crack (the former covering several Slade songs) and ‘Let’s Dance’ is very much in that vein, and while it’s been covered by a multitude of artists (Ramones/Quo), this version is the definitive, and finds Noddy Holder and Dave Hill letting fly with their six strings. When I first saw ‘Okey Cokey’ on the track list, I must admit that I was filled with trepidation, but as this is Slade, they layer it with power chords and rock it up to the max and blow my reservations out the water. Likewise, Noddy’s famous raspy voice brings a terrace chant to ‘Auld Lang Syne/You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and the band put a nice sting in the tail, and you get the feeling that this wouldn’t sound out of place closing a rowdy Slade gig.
Pressed on lovely snowflake marble vinyl, ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ has never sounded better…but remember; Slade are for life, not just for Christmas!
- ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ is released via BMG on 25th November 2022.
- Dave Hill Slade
- Merry Xmas Everybody
- Let’s Dance
- Okey Cokey
- Auld Lang Syne/You’ll Never Walk Alone