Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Christmas 1969

The final Christmas flexi recorded by The Beatles for the their Fan Club was released in the UK on December 19 1969. The official title of the flexi is: "The Beatles Seventh Christmas Record" and the sub-title being "Happy Christmas 1969". The catalogue number for this particular release is LYN 1970/71.

The flexi was released once again in a cardboard sleeve (no newsletter once again) with a front cover design photograph credited to Ringo Starr under his proper name Richard Starkey and shows a blurry, psychedelic style photo with yellow, orange and green. The back cover of the release is credted to Ringo's son Zak under hi s propr name Zak Starkey and is a hand drawing of various people of various sizes along with a tree and leaves. A little kid's drawing, if you wish. Also on the back of the cover is the Beatles Fan Club logo, the sub-title "Happy Christmas 1969" in a pinkish colour, the "not for public sale" disclaimer underneath in a box, the Beatles Fan Club address and finally the record speed "33 and 1/3". The cover was manufacted by West Brothers Printers of London.

Like the previous flexi, the label writings are etched directly onto the flexi with the Fan Club logo at the top and above the playhole, the record speed and "Play first this side, then turn over for part 2" below it. On the right hand side of the playhole is the "not for sale" disclaimer. Underneath the playhole is the title: "The Beatles Seventh Christmas Record", under that the fact that The Beatles record exclusively for the Apple label distributed by EMI Records and Lyntone Recordings, side numbers followed by the catalogue number. This is a two sided flexi due to the length of the message(s).

For the second time, this flexi was recorded in various locations by the individual members of the group. By late 1969, the Beatles were basically a non-working group. John and Yoko recorded their message in Ascot, Paul recorded his at his home in St. John Wood on Cavendish Ave., George recorded his message at Apple in London on Savile Row and Ringo recorded his message in Weybridge, Surrey. The entire project was edited and "produced" and credited to Maurice Cole (which is Kenny Everett's real name) who also did the same for the previous year's recording. The recording dates and editing dates are unknown to me.

In the USA, the Beatles' Fan Club used the same cardboard cover as their UK counterparts. In fact, the covers were imported from the UK to use for the American versions. The flexi's, however are quite different.

The flexi's have the label etched directly onto the flexi like the UK version. The label features a drawing of the Beatles' faces (as they looked in 1969) for the top half of the label. The bottom half of the label has the following text: "H-2455", "1969 Side One 33 1/3". The disclaimer is underneath and finally the bottom perimeter print reads: "Product of Americom Corp. NYC. Made in USA".

The tracklisting for this recording is as follows: Side one contains "Happy Christmas (Ringo)", "John and Yoko Talking", "Wonderful Christmas (George)", "Ringo Talking", "Link: The End", "John and Yoo Talking some more", "This is to Wish You All a Merry, Merry Christmas (Paul)", "Paul Talking", "This is to Wish You All a Merry, Merry Christmas (Reprise - Paul)". Side two contains: "John and Yoko Talking even more", "Happy Christmas (John/Yoko)", "Happy Christmas/Magic Christian (Ringo)", "Ringo Talking", "John and Yoko Talking".

It's interesting to note that the entire flexi recording lasts over seven minutes and a half with most of the messages by John and Yoko. In fact, this flexi is basically a John and Yoko recording as Paul's message is less than a minute and a half, Ringo contributes less than a minute of chat and George graces us with his voice for only twenty seconds.

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