Happy Holidays! Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.
It’s Day 8 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, and we’re heading up to The Great White North for the act responsible for today’s “xmas song of the day.” No, it’s Bob & Doug McKenzie, but rest assured we’ll get to their “Twelve Days Of Christmas” when we get a little closer to the actual twelve days of Xmas.
The Canadian act I’m referring to here is a band called 54.40 (also known as 54-40), named after the Fifty-Four Forty or Fight! slogan that came about during the Oregon boundary dispute in the 18th Century, which, if successful, would have expanded the Oregon Territory into the lower half of British Columbia (up to the parallel 54°40′ north).
The band 54.40 (hailing out of Vancouver, British Columbia, but sounding like they could have come from Athens, GA) has been around since 1981, and prolly their most famous song, “I Go Blind” (from their self-titled second album) was actually a radio hit for Hootie & The Blow-Me Fish in 1996, 10 years after the release of the superior original.
In 1988, when the Warner Bros. group of labels (including Sire Records, Reprise Records, Slash Records and more) was putting together a promotional double album for that Xmas, 54.40 was recruited, along with the likes of R.E.M., Ofra Haza, Daniel Lanois, Los Lobos, actress and singer Julie Brown, Throwing Muses, Lou Reed and Pee-Wee Herman, for songs covering many genres and Xmas IDs that radio stations could play at their leisure during the holiday season.
The end result was WINTER WARNERLAND, featuring a healthy dose of 37 songs and Xmas IDs on the double album set (replete with red and green vinyl albums). WINTER WARNERLAND was presented to radio stations, record stores, music journalists, recording artist managers and producers as a holiday gift for Xmas 1988. And what a gift it is.
It took me years to find a vinyl copy (my dear friend Spindle has had one for almost as long as I’ve known him), and I finally found a copy on CD. It’s on the way for this Xmas; kind of a gift to myself. 54.40’s lovely “2000 Years Of Love” is a gift too. If you’re not familiar with it, or 54.40, I encourage you to check the song (and the band) out…