EP includes two versions of the track and a B-side
Elton John has released Step Into Christmas, a three track digital EP. The set features the original single audio of “Step Into Christmas,” the B-side “Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas),” and the audio version from an extremely rare performance of the track on the Gilbert O’Sullivan Show.
The performance of “Step Into Christmas” was originally broadcast in 1973 as part of The Gilbert O’Sullivan Show. After its original broadcast, the footage was lost in the ITV archives and has only recently been unearthed. Featuring John alongside his classic band line-up of Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson (and a rare cameo from songwriting partner Bernie Taupin on percussion), it has not been seen since it was first aired in 1973.
Step Into Christmas was the first song John wrote to be a stand-alone single.
“The Christmas single is a real loon about and something we’d like to do a lot more of” Elton explained in a 1973 interview with Melody Maker. “We’ve never written a song especially tailored to be a single.”
Both “Step Into Christmas” and “Ho, Ho, Ho (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas)” were written and recorded in one day – Sunday, November 11, 1973 – at Morgan Studios in London, which was owned by drummer Barry Morgan, who played drums on 11 of John’s songs in 1970 and 1971.
“I came up with this pretty cool acoustic/electric guitar riff and we were off to the races!” says Johnstone.
The track features a number of guest musicians, including Kiki Dee and members of her band, who happened to be in the studio at the same time, drummer Roger Pope on tambourine, and producer Gus Dudgeon and engineer David Hentschel performing the ‘reindeer’ sound. Hentschel played the ARP on that part.
The single was released on November 23rd in Britain (tucked in between “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which was still on the UK Singles Chart, and early 1974’s “Candle In The Wind”), and peaked at No. 24 during a seven week run. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart in December 1973 in the US.
“Step Into Christmas” was recently issued a Silver award by the British Phonographic Industry. As of this year, it has appeared on the UK Singles Chart in six of the past ten Decembers, for a total of 27 weeks. In 2009, it was the ninth most played Christmas song in the UK and in 2017 it reached No. 19, becoming his 46th UK Top 20 hit.
A remastered version of “Step Into Christmas” closes disc three of the Deluxe version of John’s new greatest hits package, Diamonds. The track previously has appeared on the 1995 reissue of Caribou, as well as John’s To Be Continued…, Rare Masters, and Elton John’s Christmas Party compilations.