Christmas playlist part five: XTC and Andy Partridge

For an atheist, Andy Partridge has an impressive output of Christmas songs, though several were intended to be recorded by other artists.

XTC released two Christmas songs written by Partridge, “Thanks for Christmas” and “Countdown To Christmas Party Time.” Technically they were released as “The Three Wise Men.” “Countdown” is the B-side to “Thanks for Christmas.” It’s catchy enough, some early XTC burbly pop with synths and drum machine so early 80s it nearly hurts.

But “Thanks for Christmas” positively shimmers with good cheer and earnestness. It’s easily in my top 10 favorite Christmas tunes, and has been since I discovered the song on XTC’s Rag and Bone Buffet: Rare Cuts and Leftovers.

My Failed Christmas Career

That seemed like it for his Christmas output, what with XTC having disbanded quite some time ago. Happily, he’s been releasing “failed” songs that he wrote for other artists to cover, and this fall, Partridge released My Failed Christmas Career, Vol. 1, an EP with four Christmas tunes. (If you haven’t checked out the previous entries, My Failed Songwriting Career volumes 1 and 2, you really should!)

Andy’s daughter Holly does lead vocal duty on “Unwrap You At Christmas,” which is a nice entry in the Christmas pantheon of songs. Every song on the EP is a gem, and totally worth the price of admission.

The price of admission being you probably need to buy the CD or vinyl (or, like me, both). As far as I know, none of Partridge’s recent output (nor XTC’s final two albums) are available on any of the usual suspect streaming services.

The Monkees did cover “Unwrap You At Christmas,” on their “Christmas Party” album from 2018. Don’t know if Andy has ever cited The Monkees as an influence, but later XTC albums (and Dukes of Stratosphear) wear their 60s influence proudly. It’s kind of fun seeing it come full circle with the Monkees recording his songs. (See also the decidedly non-Christmas cut, “You Bring the Summer” which is unmistakably an Andy Partridge song.)

The “Volume 1” thing does imply there may be more Christmas tunes forthcoming. I can only hope!

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