Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Merry Crimble: The Beatles' Fan Club Christmas Records
As if giving the world “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Please Please Me," “Twist and Shout,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, “Yesterday,” “Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out,” Rubber Soul, Revolver, “Paperback Writer/Rain,” “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever,” Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, “A Day in the Life,” Yellow Submarine, The White Album, “Hey Jude/Revolution,” Let it Be and Abbey Road weren’t enough, each Christmas from 1963 to their demise in 1969, the Beatles also gave their fan club members a tasty slice of British comedy and daft surrealism.
The Beatles’ Christmas Records are one of the few things in the Fab catalog that have remained completely unreleased. It’s actually surprising, since together they clock in at a tidy 43:42 and would make a surefire Christmas best seller. But it’s a moot point - the Rock Turtleneck black market connections have come through again.
These seven greetings are a fascinating slice of the Beatles’s off-the-cuff genius and chemistry. And if you’re a Beatlemaniac it’s a thrill to hear something for the first time. It’s also interesting to see how these records (and their artwork) reflect where they were musically and spiritually at the time in their official LPs and 45s. So download ‘em all, burn a CD, whip up some egg nog and some cups of tea and call your Fab Friends.
mp3: 1963. The Fabs seem as surprised by their exploding popularity as everyone else. Dig Ringo’s impromptu version of “Good King Wenceslas.”
mp3:1964. At the height of Beatlemania, John promises his forthcoming book of poems and drawings "will be the usual rubbish but it won’t cost much.”
mp3: 1965. In the year of the Butcher cover, the Fabs also do a hilarious hatchet job on “Yesterday.”
mp3: 1966. “Meanwhile, high in the Swiss Alps, two elderly scotchmen munch on a rare cheese,” says Ringo and it only gets weirder from there. Looks like someone’s been dropping some acid.
mp3: 1967. This one contains “Christmas Time is Here Again,” which was released in edited form on the CD single of “Free as a Bird” with the Beatles Anthology project in 1996.
mp3: 1968. A yuletide White Album, with an acoustic Xmas ditty from Paul, sound collage from John and snippets of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Helter Skelter” and even a cameo from Tiny Tim.
mp3: 1969. The end is near. At this point they can’t even keep Yoko off the Christmas record.
From all of us at Rock Turtleneck, Merry Crimble and Happy Goo Year!