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.
Wasn’t sure what I was going to choose for Day 19 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, but then in the car today, I heard this amazing Synthpop take on a Christmas carol that dates back to 1857 – “We Three Kings” by Book Of Love.
“We Three Kings” was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. 130 years before Book Of Love’s version. If the name John Henry Hopkins, Jr. doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry – it didn’t for me either. At the time he wrote “We Three Kings” in 1857, Mr. Hopkins was a rector of the Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (about 180 miles NW of Philadelphia, where Book Of Love was formed), and he wrote it for a Christmas pageant in New York City. It wasn’t first published until 1862 or 1863. But, since then, it has remained as one of the more popular Xmas carols.
Book Of Love’s version appears on YULESVILLE, the 1987 Warner Bros. precursor to 1988’s WINTER WARNERLAND promotional holiday double album. YULESVILLE, like its WINTER WARNERLAND counterpart, represented many different genres across a number of different Warner labels, like Sire Records.
YULESVILLE featured holiday offerings from artists like The Ramones, Los Lobos, Aztec Camera, The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” and Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas,” as well as a wealth of holiday ID’s from Madonna, Joey Ramone, Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, 54.40, Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.
You can also find Book Of Love’s cool version of “We Three Kings” on their compilation, MMXVI: THE 30th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, released on Sire / Rhino in June 2016.
If you love Book Of Love as much as I do, or if you are just learning about them and you love the popular Xmas carol they covered, do yourself a favor and check this out. It also doesn’t hurt that they are actually sending you Season’s Greetings by way of “We Three Kings”…