The 25th of the 12th
The Mike Sammes Singers
Fontana TFE 17065
1958

Side 1:
1. The Twenty-fifth of the Twelfth – 2:55
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – 2:59

Side 2:
3. Christmas Chopsticks – 2:45
4. White Christmas – 3:06

The Tale of the Tune

The Christmas music of the Mike Sammes Singers has been some of my favorite Christmas music since I was a kid and their album White Christmas was one of the few pieces of holiday vinyl we had in our household. So when I started diving deeper into collecting Christmas music I was interested to see what else Sammes and his crew had produced.

One of the first things that I discovered was a YouTube video with their version of “Christmas Chopsticks”. I actually grabbed the audio from that video and included it on the 2008 ADVENTure in Carols.

Then, back in 2012, I discovered a copy of this very EP on Ebay. Unfortunately, I lost the bidding. Fortunately, the person who won it was a fellow collector and member of the FaLaLaLaLa forums who sent me the record as a gift! Imagine my delight! At that point, I didn’t really know the title song, but I was in for a treat when I finally received the record and recorded the tunes to digital.

“The 25th of the 12th” is a clever little tune. On the back of this record, Mike Sammes calls it the “catchiest Christmas tune for a good many years” which he discovered as he was planning this EP. As far as I knew there were no other versions of the song in all the years since this release in 1958. And then…

Flash forward to 2021 and what appears in the soundtrack to the series The Queen’s Gambit but a recording of the tune that is not this one by Sammes…! It shows up on streaming sites credited to Bill Compton (though the same recording is credited elsewhere to Bill Crompton & Fred Jackson & Leslie Johnston & Norman Joseph Walter Murrels & Robert M Jordan. Have a listen:

This sounds like it could be a recording contemporary to the Sammes version. The singing, instrumentation, etc. definitely sounds late 50s/early 60s. But I can’t find any more info about it. If you find anything or know anything, please drop a comment below.

Doing some digging, I found the original copyright record. According to the U.S. Copyright Office Catalog of Copyright Entries, the song is attributed to Bill Crompton (not Compton) and Les Johnston (Cavendish Music Co. Ltd.) in 1958. Given that this Sammes record has a release date of 1958 (and there’s evidence that it was played by the BBC that year), that means it was a brand new track when Sammes recorded it.

I feel like this tune is just crying out for some new covers, so if you’re an artist or band looking for unfamiliar Christmas material, this is your chance…

I shared the title track on this year’s King of Jingaling Fling, and I shared the rest of it to members of the forums (if you really love Christmas music, it’s the place to be…). But I figured that this has hidden in obscurity for too long and really should be heard by the wider public. Plus, you get Sammes and company’s versions of “Christmas Chopsticks”, “White Christmas”, and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

The King of Jingaling

Download

(The download includes two different versions of the EP; the original recording in mono (for historical and archival purposes) and an artificially stereo-ized version by me. I think it gives the recording more space and breath, which I prefer.)