Ep 208 – XTC “Thanks for Christmas” (w/ Ken Kessler)

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Gerry D

What’s up, dudes? Remember the Brit-pop group XTC? Well, in 1983 they released a Christmas single under the pseudonym The Three Wise Men in order to test out a new producer, David Lord. Ken Kessler from Sounds of Christmas joins me to talk all about “Thanks for Christmas” and its B-side “Countdown to Christmas Party Time!”


The single had a few in jokes in the liner notes too! The writing is credited to Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, the traditional Western names for the Magi. Credit was given to producer The Good Lord as well.

The 1983 Press Release tried to play up the mystery as well:

Three Wise Men turn up on Virgin, not Mary, but Records

‘On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree …

Yes, Virgin enters into the festive spirit with this seasonal offering, ‘Thanks for Christmas’ by The Three Wise Men. The song was penned by well-known writing team Kaspar/Melchior/Balthazar, the Far East’s answer to Holland/Dozier/Holland. Production was by The Three Wise Men and the Good Lord himself. (released Nov 21st Virgin VS642)

Not surprisingly, the release hits the decks shrouded in mystery, intrigue and much speculation. The ‘What’s On In Bethlehem’-style sleeve may well proclaim ‘The Three Wise Men’, but this non-de-plume cunningly conceals the identity of one of Virgin’s top pop groups! Not that we’re telling you which band. Could it be Culture Club, Human League, Heaven 17, China Crisis or even Slapp Happy? Over to you! Just good clean Virgin fun to keep you guessing right into the New Year. It’s certainly countdown to Christmas party time. Cheers!

Pseudonyms? Check. Modulations? A bunch. Adding a B-side just so the album doesn’t warp? Definitely! So head to your local record store, pop on some headphones, and listen to this episode all about XTC “Thanks for Christmas!”

Sounds of Christmas
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