Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beatles Christmas Record

Between the years 1963 and 1969, The Beatles started a Christmas tradition of sending the members of their Fan Club a special recording of Christmas messages as a gift (as long as you were paid up with your Fan Club subscription !). The recordings were usually voice messages at first, but as the years progressed more and more music was used in the recordings. The Christmas messages were the brain child of Tony Barrow (the Beatles' publicist at the time) who thought that these messages would appease the Fan Club members as a "thank you" to their loyalty.

The first Christmas message recording was mailed out in the UK only to Fan Club members on either December 06 or December 09 1963. The title of the disc was "The Beatles Christmas Record". This issue was released as a flexi disc and manufactured by Lyntone recordings. The catalogue number is LYN 492. It is a one-sided flexi.

The flexi was housed in a yellow paper sleeve which folded out and included the "National Newsletter". The front of the sleeve has the four Beatle faces in each corner along with the words: "Sincere Good Wishes for Christmas and the New Year from (in script) John, Paul, George, Ringo". The UK Fan Club logo is at the bottom. The "National Newsletter" is enclosed within the gatefold along with the logo at the top and an insert that reads "Here's your free copy of The Beatles Christmas Record" - as well as the 33 1/3 instructional speed for your turntable. The back cover features two photos: the top photo features the Beatles with the Fan Club secretaries Bettina Rose and Anne Collingham while the bottom photo shows the Beatles meeting the Queen Mother at the Royal Variety Show on November 04 1963.

The flexi is black with a white and blue label that shows the Fan club logo at the top, the flexi speed, the disclaimer "Not for sale. Issued free of charge to Fan Club members in December 1963". Another disclaimer: "The Beatles record exclusively for the Parlophone label". At the bottom is the words "Lyntone Recordings" and the catalogue number. Lastly there is perimeter print around the label which reads: "Unauthorized Public performance, broadcasting and copying of this record prohibited. Made in Great Britain. All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved.

The Christmas message was recorded at EMI studio two on October 17 1963 between 07:00 and 10:00 PM (number of takes unknown). Although they were provided a script, some improvisation was also conducted during the message. The tracklisting breaks down as follows: "Good King Wenceslas/ John Talking/ Paul Talking/ Good King Wenceslas (John)/ Ringo Talking/ Good King Wenceslas (Ringo)/ George Talking/ Good King Wenceslas (George)/ Rudloph the Red Nosed Ringo." All flexi discs are mono.

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