Sunday, August 14, 2011

Christmas Time (Is Here Again) - The Beatles Fifth Christmas Record

The Beatles Fifth (in the UK) Christmas flexi was released by the Official Fan Club on or about December 15 1967. This was once again manufactured by Lyntone and the catalogue number for this release is LYN 1360. Once again this flexi contained skits and pantomimes rather than the earlier vocal "messages" from previous years.

The UK release came once again with a cardboard cover and included a paper National Newsletter. The cardboard cover had the front designed by John Lennon and Ringo Starr and it features a collage of sorts with sunflowers and various antique type portraits of people. There is no writings on the front cardboard cover. The back of the cover is designed by Julian Lennon and features one of his drawings on the left side of the cover and the text information is to the right side. The text features the Fan Club logo, the title of the recording, the record speed (33 1/3) and "starring The Original Beatles". Credits are given to Victor Spinetti (who sang on the title song) and Mal Evans. A credit is also given to producer George Martin. The cover design credit is given, the disclaimer and finally the Fan Club address is at the bottom of the back cover.

The National Newsletter somewhat describes the contents of the recordings as well as the voices used for it. It also describes the tone-arm pressure of your turntable (haha) and it promotes "The Beatles Monthly" book. It is signed by Freda Kelly - Fan Club Secratary. The back of the newsletter features a caricature of the Beatles by Bob Gibson (the same guy who did the "Magical Mystery" drawings). It shows Paul as Santa, George as a Jack-In-A-Box, Ringo as a little drummer boy and John as a Teddy Bear. Mr. Gibson also added a Walrus at the bottom right hand corner.

The label for the flexi features a white background with red lettering. The Beatles Fan Club logo is at the top, the record speed (33 1/3) is at the left hand side of the playhole, the "not for sale" print is at the right hand side and below is the title, the blurb "The Beatles record exclusively for the Parlophone label" and finally the catalogue number is at the bottom.

This particular flexi was released as one sided. The whole recording lasting slightly a few seconds over six minutes. The tracklisting is as follows: "Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (Intro John, all singing)", The Boys arrive At BBC House (BBC Wise One/ Victor Spinetti)", "An Audition (John)", "Tap Dancing (Ringo/Victor Spinetti)", "Are You 13 Amp (Mal Evans)", "Get One of Those For Your Trousers (John)", "Sir Gerald" (Paul/John)", "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)", "Onto The Next Round and Intro (George)", "Plenty of Jam Jars", "Quiz Show (John/ George)", "Get One of Those For Your Trousers", "Theatre Hour (Ringo)", "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)", "They'd Like To Thank You (George Martin/All)", "When Christmas Time is O'er (George Martin/ Paul/ John)".

In the United States, the recording was also released to the Fan Club. Beatles (USA) Ltd. sent a large square postcard to it's members with one side vinyl coated ( as is the case with the previous year ) (see previous post). On one side of the postcard is the "Beatles Bulletin" which discusses the Christmas recording (mentioning the special guests) as well as discussing the newest Beatles project: "Magical Mystery Tour" and the Beatles appearence on "Our World". The bulletin is signed by Francis Firius and Sue Clark. The right side of the postcard features the blurb "Third Class Mail" and room for the postage and member's address.

The other side of the postcard carries the recording and has a large center type "Label" which is similar to the previous year's design with "Season's Greetings" in script and "From The Beatles" in upper case underneath the script. The year of issue is not on the label in contrast with the previous year's release. The record speed (33 1/3 rpm) and disclaimer are below the playhole.

The recording of the 1967 Christmas flexi was conducted on Tuesday November 28 1967 at EMI studio Three between 6 PM and 2:45 AM. It was produced by George Martin and engineered by Geoff Emerick and Richard Lush. The title song was recorded first in one take with Paul on Piano, George on acoustic, Ringo on drums and John on tympani. The vocals are credited to all four Beatles, Victor Spinetti and George Martin. The song is written by all four Beatles. After this take, the skit performances were recording between one to ten takes. The whole project was also mixed for mono at this same evening session.

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