ol 55

 (I Want A) Rockin’ Christmas (J Manzie/G A Baker) – Ol’ 55 1976

Sydney’s Ol’ 55 were a good-time Sydney rock n’ roll band, similar to such American doo wop nostalgia acts as the Sha Na Nas and Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids, who combined great harmonies, clever theatrics, and a keen sense of pop dynamics in a genuine if at times parodic homage, of the early rockers and doo wop artists of the 50’s and 60’s. The band were created/managed by Glenn A. Baker (“The Rock Brain of the Universe”) and exuded a “Happy Days” vibe with frontman Frankie J Holden (real name Peter Bryan) doing an old bodgie impersonation, Wilbur Wilde on sax, guitarist “Rockpile” Jones, bassist Jim Manzie, guitarist Patrick “Meatballs” Drummond, and drummer Geoff “Drainpipe” Plummer (sadly deceased in 2006).ol 55 2Frankie J. took his name from a famous Holden car of the 50’s and the band’s name was inspired by a Tom Waits song, they enjoyed hits with On The Prowl, Looking For An Echo, and rounded out 1976 with their biggest hit (I Want A) Rockin’ Christmas, written by Glenn A Baker and Jim Manzie.

This is one of the best rock songs about Christmas, and it was recorded in the Trafalgar Studios in Sydney with producer Charles “The Song Doctor “ Fisher ( Savage Garden, Air Supply, Hoodoo Gurus, Gyan) with a great arrangement, layered instrumentation and multi-part harmonies, that were evocative of the work of Phil Spector on his classic 1963 album A Christmas Gift For You From Phillies Records.phil spectorWhile the song is about a couple who are separated at Christmas, it is very upbeat musically, with yuletide bells and whistles in the mix, and harmony inserts which include excerpts from Silent Night, Oh Hallelujah, and Deck The Halls, it soared to #1 locally and stayed there for several weeks after Christmas, the B-side was a cover of the Beach Boys seasonal hit  Little Saint Nick.ol 55 3

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