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Open Forum: A Holiday Head-Scratcher from WHAM! (UPDATED 12/7)

with 11 comments

Here’s a Christmas conundrum that’s stumping this catalogue correspondent: are there more than two versions of WHAM!’s “Last Christmas”?

A year ago this author bought a copy of The Essential NOW That’s What I Call Christmas (UMG Recordings B0011941-02, 2008). Only this year did I open the disc and discover a mix of “Last Christmas,” WHAM!’s perennial holiday chestnut, that I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.

Most WHAM! fans can tell you that “Last Christmas” was on the opposite side of the “Everything She Wants” single during the holiday season of 1984. A version of roughly 4:27 was on the 7″ single (Epic QA-4949 (U.K.)) while the 12″ version was the “Pudding Mix” which clocked in at 6:45, with a lengthier intro and outro (Epic TA-4949 (U.K.) and later released on the U.S. LP Music from the Edge of Heaven in 1986). The version on this NOW disc, however, is 4:46 – but the differences don’t stop there. A different drum machine pattern sits in the center of the mix, and some different ad-lib vocals in the second chorus replace the second verse entirely (at which point the song jumps to the last bits of the song as heard in the Pudding Mix).

My question to you, dear reader: where does this come from? Radio stations in my area play what I’m positive is the single version; what does that make this? In an effort to further clear the air, I provide a one-minute sample of the song as heard on this CD for your listening pleasure.

Any illumination, as always, would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE (12/7): Thanks to all the commenters who contributed to solving the “Last Christmas” conundrum. Commenter AudioDile was the first of a few to note that this mix turned up on a Japanese 12″ single (Epic/Sony 123P-575, 1984). It’s listed as the “Pudding Mix,” but is obviously not. One more Christmas mystery solved, thanks to our awesome readers!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2010 at 19:54

11 Responses

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  1. After checking http://www.discogs.com, I noticed that the 1984 release of the Japanese 12″ of Last Christmas apparently is mislabeled as the Pudding Mix but is the 4:45 version you mention.

    This version was also on the Spain 7″. I’d never it before either, but it doesn’t seem to be new.

    AudioDile

    December 3, 2010 at 16:05

  2. Don’t know, Mike, but I did find this 1986 Spanish promo 45 on Discogs.com that lists the running time as 4:45:

    http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=1368373

    Brian

    December 3, 2010 at 20:55

  3. Found a couple of sites. This is from a holiday comp from 2000.
    http://music.ovi.com/in/en/pc/Product/Wham-/Last-Christmas-Single-Version-/6018946

    This says it is on an Sbme import version of If You Were There, but I’ve looked at some other sites and they have the same thing but LC is 6:48
    http://www.last.fm/music/Wham%21/The+Best+of+Wham%21%3A+If+You+Were+There

    Another holiday comp
    http://www.last.fm/music/Various+Artists/Christmas+Classics+-+Party+Around+Christmas

    So probably not what you were looking for as far as being on a Wham release. I’ve been listening to this song for over 20 years and as far as I recall that’s the first time I’ve heard that version.

    gittesjake

    December 3, 2010 at 21:41

  4. this other version is available on the US amazonmp3 site from an album called “all-star christmas.” not too hard to find…

    michael

    December 6, 2010 at 13:48

  5. Synchronicity! Paul T has just posted it on his (rather excellent) blog:

    http://goo.gl/oiIKy

    Jason

    December 9, 2010 at 14:55

  6. […] Open Forum: A Holiday Head-Scratcher from WHAM! (UPDATED 12/7) « The Second Disc Tags: christmas, Conundrum, correspondent, different drum machine, disc, Essential, everything, forum, head scratcher, holiday season, lp music, Open, open forum, perennial holiday, pudding mix, Recordings, second, song, umg recordings, version, wham […]

  7. […] albums of Bob and Doug McKenzie and asks (and solves, with your help) a mystery regarding WHAM! and “Last Christmas.” 12/09: Joe returns with a Back Tracks on Johnny Mathis‘ Christmas discography. 12/11: A loving […]

  8. It’s even more complicated: There were 4 versions of “Last Christmas” officially released in 1984 or 1985:

    1. Original 7″ Version 4:27
    2. Alternate Edit 4:46
    3. Pudding Mix 6:45
    4. Pudding Mix Edit (1985 7″ Version)

    Track 1 & 2 must have been esited from the same early take. While 1 contained all the verses, 2 omitted one verse as described above. The complete first take remains unrelease as far as i know. It could of course be reconstructed using 1 and 2.

    Obviously, the band and/or the record company weren’t happy with the mix and re-recorded it. The result was the pudding mix, which quickly replaced mix 2 on later 12″ pressings in 1984. Funnily, when they flipped a and b sides in europe (Everything she wants became the a side in january 85), they used mix 1 for the 7″ and mix 2 for the 12″. for the re-release in december 1985, they edited the pudding mix to mix 4. This is the most common version known today as the single version which also appears in the video nowadays. On all later re-releases, only 3 and 4 were used.

    one question remains: Has the original 7″ (mix 1) ever appeared on a cd?

    handclaps in the intro are an easy way to distinguish the takes…

    Lenny K.

    July 9, 2012 at 17:30

    • That totally makes sense Lenny, since I went out of my way to get what I thought was the “1984” mix by getting the Everything She Wants 7″ and 12″ versions (label # 4949) it had the 1985 mix on it! (and the label said 1985 on it). I have been looking for the “1984” mix in both 7″ and 12″ versions for years. Mind you, at one point, I believe I had both those mixes on an old cassette tape someone made for me – however, the beginning of the 7″ version got recorded over, and I think the entire 12″ version got recorded over as well (I would have to look into my collection to see what condition its in). As best as I know, the “1984” mix appeared as a 7″, not sure if it appeared as a 12″, and the “1985” mix appeared as a 7″ (the one we all know) and 12″ (pudding mix, same mix as appears on “Music From the Edge of Heaven”. The “Alternate Edit” is what would be the “1984” 12″ mix, except it omits the 2nd verse and jumps in at the 2nd chorus.

      Besides the handclaps, a few other ways to distinguish the “1984” 7″ mix:

      1) The opening has George saying “ooh-oo-oo”, and oooh-oooh; the 1985 is re-recorded to a more “ah-hmm-mmm-mmm” and “aah-aaaah”.

      2) The mix sounds way more echo-y. Clearly the 1985 mix is a more polished one.

      3) the chorus after the 1st verse does not have the overdub of George singing over the chorus “You gave it away” that the 1985 version does.

      4) the chorus after the second verse does not have the overdubs of George singing what sounds like “Save me-o-o-aah” over the background “…very next day, you gave it away”, or “Special….gave you my…..heart” over the background “Face on a lover with a fire in his heart..a man undercover but you tore him apart”.

      All that said, I do not know if the “1984” 7″ mix ever appeared on a CD, or the “1984” full version (I won’t call it the pudding mix, as that is for the 1985 version) ever appeared on a CD. I can’t even find the “1984” 7″ mix on a record anymore. If anyone knows where to find it, I’d be grateful. One of the few missing songs, Xmas or otherwise, that I do not have.

      Hope this helps.

      JP

      J P

      November 27, 2013 at 14:15

      • you can find the original 7″ on the uk and netherlands/european 7″ pressings from 1984

        the longer 1984 mix with the missing 3rd verse (“alt edit”, the one released on the us now cd) is on the initial pressings of the 12″, but it was replaced by the familiar pudding mix, already in 1984. but on the b-side of the 12″ of “everything ahe wants” they used the alt edit again.

        the full unedited early mix remains completely unreleased, the 7″ early mix remains unrelease on cd.

        lenny k.

        December 10, 2013 at 07:32


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