(Music For) The Head Ballet is a podcast hosted by Paul Abbott, celebrating the art of the novelty record in all its many and varied forms. Amongst the often disregarded discs Paul and his guests have given a spin to are Camouflage by Stan Ridgway, the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack and Anyone Can Fall In Love by Anita Dobson, and on this edition you can hear me chatting to Paul about I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek by The Go-Go’s, a 1964 single written and recorded in a rush to cash in on the wave of ‘Dalekmania’ that greeted The Daleks’ debut appearance in Doctor Who.
Released in a bid to corner the Christmas pop charts at the height of The Daleks’ popularity – it didn’t – I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek is a record that’s at best been treated as little more than a punchline, but contrary to popular belief was actually a serious attempt at scoring a hit, written and produced by one of the pop industry’s top talents of the time with the active involvement of notoriously picky Dalek creator Terry Nation. It’s a fairly straightforward pop record for the day, and actually quite good in its own peculiar space-age way, but it also an easy target for anyone who doesn’t really know that much about anything that isn’t directly related to Doctor Who and in all honesty may not even have heard it in the first place. Not that they like anyone else making jokes about Doctor Who, of course.
As well as talking about the background to I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek itself and the fascinating story of cash-in merchants extraordinaire Oriole Records, we also take a look at who The Go-Go’s were and what little is known about them now, what was on the conspicuously more credible and musically robust b-side, who and what else was vying for space in the record racks as Christmas approach in 1964, whether Daleks can hold guitars, and why the single was actually a little more ‘official’ than most observers seem to assume. We also find excuses to mention a festive-tinged bit of cash register-slamming by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and the small matter of Adam Faith battling the Loch Ness Monster.
You can download (Music For) The Head Ballet: I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek By The Go-Go’s here or listen to it below. ME-RRY CHRIST-MAS.
Meanwhile, if you’re curious about the little-heard b-side Big Boss Man, here it is!
You can follow (Music For) The Head Ballet on Twitter at @HeadBalletPod.
Buy A Book!
You can find a lot more of my thoughts on Doctor Who in the sixties and The Daleks in particular in my book Can’t Help Thinking About Me, a collection of columns and features with a personal twist. Can’t Help Thinking About Me is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Alternately, if you’re just feeling generous, you can buy me a coffee here. It’s doubtful that they would have played Big Boss Man in the hip hangout coffee bars at the time, but you never know.
You can listen to me on another edition of (Music For) The Head Ballet, this time talking about early George Martin production Ringing On The Engine Bell by Bernard Cribbins, here.
Paul has appeared as a guest on my nostalgia podcast Looks Unfamiliar talking about The Compleat Beatles, Zeeb And The Martians, Crab E. Crab, Rock Lords: Narlies, the Commodore Plus/4 and The Late Night Funster Show here, and the Christmas Special of The Peter Serafinowicz Show here, and stood in as host to chat to me about California Fever, Galloping Galaxies!, Bad Ronald, In-Flight Entertainment, The Chronicles Of Narmo by Caitlin Moran, Pirate Radio Four, The Collings And Herrin Podcast and What’s That Noise? here and Karen Gillan’s horror short The Hoarding here.
If you’re more interested in Doctor Who-related chat, you can listen to me talking to Emma Burnell and Steve Fielding about representations of politics and politicians in Doctor Who on The Zeitgeist Tapes here.
Season’s Gratings, a more detailed look at the story behind I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek, is in issue 559 of Doctor Who Magazine which you can get directly from the magazine’s website here.
Black And White Christmas is a feature with an accompanying playlist looking at some of my favourite little-known Christmas records from the sixties, including I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek and a bit of seasonal cynicism from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; you can find it here.
Special thanks to The Space Museum for the upgraded (i.e. less battered) image of the picture sleeve – you can find their excellent online Doctor Who scrapbook here.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.