The Beatles Christmas Records

Once a year, I pull out my green vinyl bootleg LP of “The Beatles Complete Christmas Collection: 1963-1969”. No doubt some of you have it in one form or another. I got my copy at Undeground Records back in '71…the record is scratchy as hell, but the ghosts of Beatles past/passed still come in through the crackles and pops.

For those who haven’t heard these recordings, well…you’ve missed out. These are wonderful tracks, reminding me of how much I love The Beatles and their music. Is there a band today that does this kind of thing? If not, there should be. When you listen to these fan-club treats, you can clearly hear their music evolve–along with their relationships with each other. Someone has posted a few on youtube, including my favorite, from 1966:

I’ve had these recordings since the ‘70s. I still have the first bootleg I found of them. It’s a terrible pressing on Contraband Music, with the pirate logo on the labels. Since then, I’ve managed to get them in the best possible quality, transferred from mint original flexidiscs. I also have them in six other iterations. They’re popular collectors’ items.

Maybe someday, after we’re all passed on, Apple will release The Beatles Christmas Album. Or, knowing them, not.

As John said in the closing message, “Take…bugs.”

I’ve never heard of this stuff before. What is the context of this? Was it supposed to be part of a special or something?

They produced short Christmas records for their “official” fan club up until 1969. They goof off in the studio, singing carols and doing off-the-wall skits. As I said before, it’s wonderful stuff. You can’t help but smile and be a little sad at the same time when you hear them.

Oh, goodie! I get to tell the story. I don’t get to talk about it with many people.

Every year, from 1963-1969, The Beatles would record a special flexidisc containing a special Christmas message from the group to the Official Beatles Fan Club. The earliest ones were heavily edited down from longer sessions of chat, where they’d thank everybody for everything and wish Christmas greetings, sing bits of carols and other songs, and clown around. By the 1966 disc, “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas” they had put considerable time, effort and production values into their recordings, which were very funny and clever. 1967’s disc had its own otherwise unreleased song, “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” and was full of skits and lunacy.

The 1968 disc features George Harrison with Tiny Tim, who sings a verse or two of “Nowhere Man.” The 1969 disc is disjointed and not particularly jolly. Both of these years’ discs were recorded separately, and edited together by British disc jockey Kenny Everett, who was highly regarded by the group.

They were originally made on Lyntone flexidiscs, such as you’d find in a magazine. In 1970, Apple Records compiled these recordings onto “The Beatles Christmas Album” and released it only to the fan club. It has been endlessly pirated and issued by dozens of pirate and bootleg labels. Eventually, pristine recordings, and even outtakes from a couple of the sessions, were located, and promptly bootlegged.

They’re an interesting curio from a far-flung corner of The Beatles’ story. You wouldn’t listen to it often, but I swear you’d quote some of the lines from time to time.

Like that?

“Who’ll remember the buns, Podgy?”

“We both will.”

When my wife and I have hot dogs or hamburgers, we buy “buns, podgy.” It’s a part of our language.