Pretty much everything from the 1950s isn’t worth remembering, which is why TV Cream has little to do with it. The same goes for 1950s Christmas number ones which, rather spectacularly, nobody seems to remember at all. Ever.
Indeed, discussion of seminal festive chart-toppers tends to begin in 1973 with Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody, wisely omitting the number one of 12 months previously (Long Haired Lover From Liverpool) but cruelly overlooking that of 1971 (Ernie The Fastest Milkman In The West), 1970 (I Hear You Knocking) and, yes, Two Little Boys in 1969.
The Beatles had four Xmas number ones which nobody has beaten – hooray – and all of them are, quite rightly, superb.
However when you spool all the way back to that grisly decade that seemed to consist entirely of woman opening brand new refrigerators, old men with handkerchiefs on their head on Blackpool pier, hotel signs reading NO COLOUREDS and jivers standing by hissing coffee machines, there’s not even a Rolf or a Benny for solace.
1956 has to hold the record for the most out-and-out miserable Christmas number one: Walking In The Rain by Johnny Ray. A decent enough song, sure, but not really in keeping with the season.
Harry Belafonte’s Mary’s Boy Child (1957) and Dickie Valentine’s Christmas Alphabet (1955) are, respectively, just a touch too sacred and slapdash (“and ‘A’ is for the angels who make up the Christmas list” – since when?).
It’s Only Make Believe by Conway Twitty (1958) is a dirge while What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? by Emile Ford and the Checkmates (1959) sounds like it’s being sung into a giant plughole.
That just leaves tonsil-troubling crooners Frankie Laine (Answer Me in 1953) and Al Martino (Here In My Heart in 1952), plus ivory-tickling Winifred Atwell with Let’s Have Another Party in 1954. This five minute and 19 second marathon party medley comprised plinky out-of-tune* piano renditions of (deep breath):
Another Little Drink
Bye Bye Blackbird
Honeysuckle And The Bee
I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight
Lily Of Laguna
Sheik Of Araby
Somebody Stole My Gal
When The Red Red Robin
…but not a Christmas carol to be seen! For shame! At least the robin got a look in.
Roll on Sir Cliff…
*Why did all 1950s pianos sound like this? Were professional tuners on the ration book, like eggs and preserves?