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No Xmas For John Quays

Written by:

  • Mark E Smith

Initial release:

  • Live at the Witch Trials, Step Forward Records LP: SFLP1


  • 16th March 1979 

Subsequent releases:
  • Live at the Witch Trials, IRS Records.LP: IRS SP-003; 17th September 1979 (US edition of album)
  • Live at the Witch Trials, IRS Records.LP:SFAL1; Cassette: SFLPC1; CD: SFLPCD1; 1989
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint. CD: COGVP103CD; January 1997 
  • Psykick Dancehall, Eagle  EEECD010; 7th August 2000
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Turning Point (Italy) LP: TPM02208 August 2002;
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint.CD: COGVP138CD;  11th November 2002
  • It's The New Thing The Step Forward Years!, Castle/Sanctuary CMQCD697; 31 March 2003
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Castle/Sanctuary CD: CMQDD847; 26th January 2004  
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Earmark (Italy)  EAR40035LP; 5th July 2004
  • The Fall Box Set 1976-2007 - Castle CMXBX1558, September 2007
  • Live at The Witch Trials, Sanctuary BMGRM066LP; 21 August 2015 (vinyl)

Officially released live recordings:

  • Totale’s Turns (It’s Now or Never), Base Records (Italy) ROUGH 10 Y5 LP; 1980
  • Totale’s Turns (It’s Now or Never), Base Records/Go International (Italy) GI LP 10; 1980
  • Totale's Turns, Dojo Records, DOJOCD83 CD; 21 November 1992
  • Totale's Turns,Castle, CLACD391 CD; 8 November 1993
  • Smile...It's The Best Of, Castle Communications  CCSCD823 CD; March 1998 (version as on Totale's Turns; details above)
  • Totale's Turns, Castle/Essential, ESMCD638 CD; 27 June 1998
  • Liverpool 78, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP118 CD; 4 June 2001 (recorded at Mr. Pickwick's, Liverpool, 22 August 1978)
  • Liverpool 78 (coupled with In A Hole), Cog Sinister/Voiceprint  VP241019 CD; 6 October 2003 (details as above)
  • Totale's Turns, Castle, CMRCD882 CD; 15 March 2004
  • Live From The Vaults – Alter Banhof, Hof, Germany  Hip Priest/Voiceprint HIPP010CD; 21 November 2005 (recorded at Alter Bahnhof, Hof, Germany, 22 May 1981)
  • Live From the Vaults - Retford 1979, Hip Priest/Voiceprint HIPP007CD ; 15 August 2005 (recorded at the Porterhouse, Retford,16 November 1979)
  • Wise Ol' Man, Cherry Red CD and LP (recorded 28 November 2014 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds)
  • Totale's Turns (It's Now or Never), Westworld LETV490 LP; 3 March 2017
Radio Session:
  • The Peel Sessions EP, Strange Fruit SFPS028; June 1987 (recorded 27 November 1978, broadcast 6 December 1978)
  • Words of Expectation – BBC Sessions, Castle/Sanctuary CMED96; 26 May 2003 (details as above)
  • Live at the Witch Trials, Castle/Sanctuary CD: CMQDD847; 26th January 2004  (details as above)
  • The Complete Peel Sessions 1978 - 2004, Castle/Sanctuary CMXBX982; 25 April 2005 (details as above)

Group on initial recording:

  • Mark E Smith - vocals; Martin Bramah - guitar: Yvonne Pawlett - keyboards; Marc Riley - guitar; Karl Burns - drums
First played at:
  • 9 May 1979 Music Hall, Aberdeen
Last played at:
  • 28 November 2014 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Number of known performances:
  • 26
A powerful anti-drug track featuring some of MES's best lyrics and a song which, though good on the Live at the Witch Trials album, is even better on the Peel session and in various live versions, many of which allowed MES to show off his very best random keyboard flourishes. The version on Totale`s Turns features some of Smith's angriest mid-song rants, 'Come on, get the fucking guts in it.'; 'Fucking put the monitors up f'Chrissake.';'Will you fucking get it together instead of just showing off?"
Conjecture as to who John Quays was (or if he existed at all) has always surrounded this track, The following is one view (http://entertainmentafrica.mobi/music/view/artist/1904) "In early April 1978 Una Baines left The Fall. This was in part due to her relationship with Jonnie Brown, who allegedly was a heroin addict. Brown still thinks 'No Xmas For John Quays' is about him, but also due to band differences. He and Baines struck up a relationship and when Brown left Baines followed soon after." According to Dave Simpson in his book The Fallen, John Quays may have been a real person, as a friend of his told him that he knew him as someone who used to hang around the group.
After many years without being played in gigs the song was revived once in 1997 then on a few occasions later on, not coincidentally perhaps, around Christmas time.
MES, in an interview  from VSIGN #2 fanzine, Stevenage, Herts., UK circa early 1980 (full interview here: http://www.visi.com/fall/news/010930.html#vsign): " I think I've got an advantage over musicians in that I know nothing about music & suspect I'm tone deaf. I have a plastic 4-string gtr. which I do a lot of writing on (eg.'NO XMAS') So simplicity doesn't embarrass me. Sometimes it's hard (esp. on old fingers) sometime it ain't!!!!!!"

From The Big Midweek (Steve Hanley and Olivia Pierkarski, Route, 2014):

"...a really simple two-note bass line."
Some lyrical references in the song: Frankie Lymon was an American rock and roll/rhythm and blues singer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Lymon.
The Idle Race were a 1960s/1970s British pop group featuring Jeff Lynne: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Idle_Race. 555 is a popular brand of cigarettes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Express_555
Lyrical analysis of the song on The Annotated Fall website: http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/no-x-mas-for-john-quays.html
Gigs played at:
  1. 9 May 1979 Music Hall, Aberdeen
  2. 12 November 1979 Preston Polytechnic 
  3. 16 November 1979 Porterhouse,  Retford
  4. 18 November 1979  Marquee, London
  5. 3 December 1979 The Club, Cambridge, Massachusetts 
  6. 18 March 1980 Birmingham University 
  7. 21 March 1980 Electric Ballroom, London 
  8. 13 June 1980 Effenaar, Eindhoven, The Netherlands 
  9. 18 June 1980 ICA, The Mall, London 
  10. 17 May 1981 Vera, Groningen, The Netherlands 
  11. 19 May 1981 Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany 
  12. 20 May 1981 Jovel Cinema, Munster, Germany 
  13. 23 May 1981 SO36, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany 
  14. 25 May 1981 Bonn, West Germany
  15. 31 May 1981 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 
  16. 11 June 1981 Spit, Boston, Massachusetts 
  17. 23 June 1981 Jimmy's, New Orleans, Louisiana 
  18. 7 July 1981 Myron's Ballroom, Los Angeles, California 
  19. 8 July 1981 Keystone, Palo Alto, California 
  20. 10 July 1981 Keystone, Berkeley, California 
  21. 16 July 1981 Tut's, Chicago, Illinois 
  22. 21 August 1982 Main Street, Auckland, New Zealand 
  23. 22 December 1999 Witchwood, Ashton
  24. 30 November 2007 The Galtymore, Cricklewood, London http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNtmqNMiwEU&feature=related
  25. 29 November 2008 Picturedrome, Holmfirth
  26. 28 November 2014 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds