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Oct 03

DICKIE VALENTINE – “Christmas Alphabet”

Popular7 comments • 3,270 views

#40, 16th December 1955

Normal service is swiftly resumed with this seasonal trifle, an acrostic on C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S sung with perfect insincerity by Dickie Valentine and one whose lyrics tread precisely in the snowy footsteps of previous Xmas songwriters – with one fell exception, “S is for old Santa who makes every child his pet“. Like a malfunctioning electric reindeer in a shop centre display, this desperate rhyme for ‘alphabet’ betrays the shoddiness of the whole.

I was a lucky child and enjoyed Christmas every year – the family didn’t fight, the build-up was genuinely thrilling, and on the day a secular jollity invariably prevailed. So I find it hard to be too harsh to Christmas songs, even Christmas songs as lazy and trite as this. One consequence of loving Christmas, though, is that I was exposed to tape after tape of Christmas tunes – carols, rockin’ hits and oldies alike. Tellingly, “Christmas Alphabet” was not among them.

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Comments

  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 17 Aug 2008 #

    A no.1 that only spent 7 weeks on the chart – four decades ahead of its time, kinda. Dickie’s take on Mr Sandman from the Xmas before is far less clunky. His unforced schmoovness, with a slight glint of music hall cheek, makes him one of the best UK Pre Rock stars.

    Also Dickie died young in a car crash – though, tellingly, when he died 41 didn’t seem as young as it would now (meaning if B Gillespie, J Cocker, T Yorke etc died tomoro they would be mourned like B Jones, J Hendrix et al).

    Quite odd this never makes it onto Now! Xmas! type comps. There are far worse.

  2. 2
    DJ Punctum on 18 Aug 2008 #

    I’m sure I said this in the other DV entry but his car crash was the inspiration for Crash by his Shepperton next door neighbour JG Ballard. Apparently he was going at 150 mph at the time.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 18 Aug 2008 #

    That’s quite astonishing, DJP. It must have been one of those comments that got swallowed by technology. Doing 150 mph on winding Welsh lanes, driving from gig to gig – JG could have called the book My Bloody Valentine.

    Sorry, that was rather poor wasn’t it?

  4. 4
    DJ Punctum on 18 Aug 2008 #

    Oh I’ve heard worse; when I was at school in the seventies it was noticeable how all the Dickie Valentine gags turned into Marc Bolan gags…

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 18 Aug 2008 #

    I had no idea his death had any impact at the time, I’d never heard of him til I got my first Guinness book. My friend Pete’s mum then pointed out she loved him, and sang us Finger Of Suspicion. We upset her by laughing, callous youths that we were.

  6. 6
    DJ Punctum on 18 Aug 2008 #

    Oh yes, it was front page news at the time; he was obviously well past his commercial peak – since otherwise the poor bugger wouldn’t have had to race from nightclub to nightclub in order to make a living – but was still loved by a certain demographic (though I guess, as with Alma Cogan, the memory didn’t last). If he’d died now, approaching eighty, he’d have got as much attention as poor Lita Roza.

  7. 7
    Eli on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Yes, he “died young”, but he wasn’t exactly James Dean. Still, it is nice to know his death was well-known at the time, despite it being fifteen years since he had a hit record…

    Anyway, I think your critique of Dickie’s record was unncessarily harsh, Tom. For a large generation, it’s a reminder of simpler, cosier times. It even sounds delightfully festive nowadays, in a traditional Bing Crosby-type way.

    Given the right song, Dickie was a really good ‘entertainer’. Other times, I must admit, I find him a suitable alternative to Nytol.

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