The following B-sides are known from this era:
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Date: Thu, 24 Dec 87 11:23 PST
Subject: 'December will be magic again' Xmas message
[with special punctuation to emphasize the dialogue form. --WIE]
"December will be magic again. Take a Husky to the ice while Bing Crosby sings 'White Christmas' -- he makes you feel nice. December will be magic again...Old Saint Nicholas up the chimney, just popping up in my memory...Dropping down in my parachute (the white city, she looks so beautiful!), up on the black-soot-icicled roofs...Oh! And see how I fall, see how I fall, like the snow, come to cover the lovers (Don't you wake them up!), come to sparkle the dark up, come to cover the muck up with just a touch of make-up (with a little luck). See how I fall...
"December will be magic again. Light up the candlelights to conjure Mr. Wilde into the silent night. (Ooh! It's quiet inside, here in Oscar's mind!) December will be magic again. Don't miss the brightest star, kiss under mistletoe...I want to hear you laugh --Don't let the mystery go now! "December will be magic again..."
Season's greetings from IED. Remember, even if you didn't get any presents at all this Christmas, you've still got Kate.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 90 22:49 PST
Subject: The December CD
IED has finally got hold of a copy of EMI's It's Christmas CD, which includes Kate's December Will Be Magic Again, available for the first time on compact disk.
The earlier reports were indeed correct: this is not the well known version of the song which Kate released as a single in 1980 (with the b-side Warm and Soothing ). Rather, it is an alternate recording which Kate made approximately one year earlier.
The version heard on the new CD was recorded in 1979, and was formerly known to the public only through a "hastily filmed" video performance given by Kate on a BBC music special hosted by Abba and called The Winter Snowtime Special. That programme aired on December 21, 1979. The recording was ready in time for a video airing, but not in time for a Christmas-single release that year. In fact, it very nearly wasn't ready the next Christmas, either, because by that time Kate had decided it needed a completely different treatment with a heavy rock beat.
The CD version is the second of three arrangements of the song--the first, featuring Kate on piano with Kevin McAlea on electric piano, was heard on Kate's own Christmas special, Kate, which aired one week after the Snowtime version (December 28, '79), but which was probably taped sometime during the preceding autumn. (The contrast in style is not limited to the musical arrangements: Kate's two nearly contemporaneous video performances are very different: on Snowtime she moves and projects extravagantly during every note, really pushing the song's theme of childhood wonder. On her own television special, however, her manner is much more subdued--perhaps a result of the natural constraint imposed by simultaneous singing and piano-playing.
Anyway, here, completely without warning or explanation, is a brilliant CD transfer of the Winter Snowtime version of December, complete with that inimitable combination of Moog synthesizers and Christmas bongo drums. What's most interesting to IED, hearing the recording for the first time in high-quality audio, is the discovery that the "bongos" version is actually a fully realized, even ambitious production, rich with parallel melodies, multiple backing vocals, subtle reverbs, sleigh-bells and surprising counter-rhythms.
This CD is well worth the money. Even the additional presence of Christmas singles by "Slade", "Shakin' Stevens", "Aled Jones" and others cannot dim the sparkle of this rare Bushohistorical treasure. Recommended.
-- Andrew Marvick
"Don't let the mystery go now."
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 93 14:45:41 EDT
From: Andrew B Marvick <abm4@columbia.EDU>
Subject: December is a Lond Way Off...
There was an enquiry about a version of "December Will Be Magic Again" described as the one from the Xmas Special. In fact, there are two entirely different versions of "December..." that could be described as the "Xmas Special" version. "Kate" was the actual title of a 48-minute TV show (aired shortly before Xmas '79 and thus frequently called the "Xmas Special", though it was taped in October '79), and on this show Kate performed a version of the song at the piano, accompanied by Kevin McAlea (?) at the electric piano. About the same time an Abba Xmas special appeared on UKTV, and this is the show on which Kate performed the "bongos" version. The latter, as Sakari says, is available on a legitimate EMI compilation CD. The former was never released, and can only be heard (on vinyl, CD, cassette, video) in dubs from the TV show. Neither of these versions, of course, is like the official EMI single release, which is available as part of the "This Woman's Work" box set.
-- Andrew Marvick (IED)
From: "Forward, Jonathan" <JForward@SITGBSD1.TELECOM.com.au>
Date: Wed, 07 Dec 94 12:46:00 AES
Subject: December Will Be ...
A little something I noticed while watching Kate performing "December Will Be Magic Again" on the Love-Hounds tape: she sings "Come to carpet the lovers" in that version, whereas everywhere else I've come across only "Come to cover the lovers". Why the difference? And why the different tune? When was the inferior D, D, up an octave & F replaced by the much better D, C,F, D, B flat, F?
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 13:36:34 -0400
Subject: DWBMA - versions
> On a compilation CD of Christmas songs the name of which escapes me at the moment, appears Kate's December Will Be Magic Again. However, it is a very different arrangement to the 7" single version. Why is there another version of the song on this compilation and why did Kate record two versions. I have never seen mention of the two arrangements anywhere...
They have been discussed in this forum several times, and there is some talk of their differences in The Garden and in Homeground issues past. The name of the CD is "It's Christmas!". It was an EMI release. Only the first edition of the CD contains the rare "alternative" version of the track you mention. The "mistake" was discovered eventually, and the word is that more recent editions of the CD feature the familiar single-mix of the song.
The alternative version actually predates the single version. It was recorded by Kate for a video performance (isn't it included in the Love-Hounds Collection?) from 1979 called "Abba's Winter Snowtime Special". It's sometimes referred to as the "bongos" version. There is a still earlier version of "December...", featuring Kate at the piano, from "Kate", the so-called Christmas special (taped in October 1979).
-- Andrew Marvick (IED)
There are no entries for "The Empty Bullring" (Breathing), "Ran Tan Waltz" (Babooshka) or "Passing Through Air" (Army Dreamers) in this section. Information on "Passing through Air" can be found in Phoenix.
On to Collaborations
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996