The Heavenly Christmas Records

credit: Elaine Constantine


Nothing Can Stop Saint Etienne’s love of festive fare


This time last year, it was a real treat to interview all three members of Saint Etienne for the BBC Entertainment and Arts website to coincide with a series of Christmas concerts. They’re doing, as they do every year, DJ sets at working men’s clubs around the country (Shipley on Thursday 15th, London on the 19th) but 12 months ago, there were proper gigs. The gold tinselly drapes used in those wheeltappers’ and shunters’ venues form the backdrop of their stage set. Cracknell in particular eulogised about it. The feature is here

One part that ended up on the cutting room floor was asking Bob, Pete and Sarah three Yuletide tunes – three singles and one album – of which they are fondest. As you’d expect from three popheads (Stanley’s voracious popdom as chronicled in his encyclopaedically great music book Yeah Yeah Yeah is matched by the other two), the answers were as unpredictable as they were unpretentious. At one point, Stanley rhapsodised about Leona’s One More Sleep and Elton’s Cold As Christmas.

Sarah Cracknell
I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You – Claudine Longet
It was so brilliantly French and very beautiful.

Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith
It reminds me of seeing him live in Norway where we were recording.

Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea
We still play it live every year.

Album: Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift for You
It’s so Christmassy, uplifting and fun.

Bob Stanley

Silent Night by The Rotary Connection
It’s unbelievable. It has a guitar wigout at the end, which is phenomenal.

I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day – Wizzard
Roy Wood is the single most underrated songwriter Britain has produced. And the till chiming at the beginning shows he has a sense of humour.

Song of Winter Francoise Hardy
This isn’t a Christmas song but it’s got a nice chilly feel.

Album: Elvis sings the wonderful world of Christmas
It’s his second Christmas album and contains carols. Elvis could pull those songs on his Christmas record because he meant it.

Pete Wiggs

Lonely Pup (in a Christmas Shop) – Adam Faith
That’s one from Junior Choice and my childhood. My nine year-old daughter heard it recently and her eyes lit up. She thought it was amazing.

Rockin’ Robin – The Jackson Five
It isn’t really a Christmas song but it’s the right season. Our manager Martin used to sing it as a warm-up to motivate us before we went on stage – any time of year.

Holly Leaves and Christmas Tree – Elvis Presley
It’s got that warmth to it and makes you slump into the armchair but it’s also depressing and brings tears to my eyes. It’s nice to have some pensive melancholy at Christmas. Especially when you’ve had a break-up, it’s good to have a bit of a wallow.

Album: Funky Christmas – James Brown
This is the signal in my house that Christmas has started. There’s something about the repetitive nature of funk that’s good for wrapping presents or peeling sprouts to – you can lose yourself in that.

Former editor of Smash Hits and Q, writes on music here, for the BBC Entertainment & Arts website, and others. Favourite artists include Prince, Blur, Pet Shop Boys, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Daft Punk, Joni Mitchell, John Grant, Velvet Underground, Stevie Wonder, The Blue Nile and too many others to mention.

Photo credit: Elaine Constantine