Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Beatles Christmas Album

On December 18 1970 (the same day the UK "From Then To You" Beatles Fan Club issued thier Christmas flexi compilation), the Beatles Fan Club in the USA also released an LP containing a compilation of all the Christmas messages previously sent to Fan Club members. Entitled "The Beatles Christmas Album", this LP was not sold in stores but issed to Fan Club members through the mail in a single envelope !! The catalogue number for this LP is Apple SBC 100.

The LP was released in a cardboard cover with paper slicks (fakes have posterboard construction). The front cover is one of the prettiest of all Beatles LPs (in my honest opinion). The front has a series of 25 cubes against a dark blue background. Within the cubes are black and white photos of the Beatles individual and as a group. The first row of cubes (left to right) features photos of John from 1966, 67, 68, 69 and 1970. The sides and tops of the cubes reflect the various other photos within the row. The second row of cubes features photos of Paul in the same time frame. The third row of cubes features photos of George in the same time frame. The fourth row of cubes features photos of Ringo in the same time frame. Finally, the fifth row features group photos from 1966, 67, 68 and 1969 with the very last cube showing the LP title (due to the fact that there are no photos of the entire group together from 1970).

The back cover features the LP title taking over most of the cover "The Beatles" written in black with white border and "Christmas Album" written completely in white. At the top left of the back cover, six black and white miniature flexi cardboard covers from the UK are shown. If you were a member of the American Fan Club in the day, you probably would not have recognized four of the mini covers as they were never released in this format in the USA. The only two covers that the Fan Club would have recognized is the second row right cover ( being released in the UK for the 1967 message but issued to US Fan Club members in 1968) as well as the last two right (both released for the UK and US Fan Club members in 1969).

Underneath the "Christmas" part of the back cover there are the words: "The Beatles Fan Club" written in uppercase in black, "Copyright 1970" in upper and lower case underneath the above. The tracklisting for the LP is written for both sides with the address of the Fan Club written underneath the tracklisting on the back cover. Finally, the LP design is credited to "GROK IT!" and the photo creations are credited to Robert Bauman. "Not For Sale" and the catalogue number is written at he bottom left of the back ocver as well as the "all rights" print. The spine of the LP carries the LP title as well as the catalogue number.

Both sides of the LP carry the Apple label with a whole Apple on side one and a half Apple on side two. There is perimeter print on side one only which reads: "Mfd. By Apple Records, Inc.". The title for the LP is on side one above the playhole. The catalogue number and "side 1" are to the right of the playhole. The tracklisting and the "all rights" paragraph is written on four lines under the tracklisting. The title for the LP is on side two above the playhole and to the left. All information on the label is placed in the same position as on side 1. The trail-off area of the vinyl record contain the initials "sf" as well as the "Bell Sound" logo and a hand written triangle and line which indicates that this particular release was only pressed at the Capitol Winchester plant.

The tracklisting for this compilation is as follows: Side 1 :"Dec. 1963", "Dec. 1964" (which was the first time that American Fan Club members would have heard this message as the message released by the Fan Club in 1964 was actually the recording from the previous year), "Dec. 1965" (another new message and first release for the American Fan Club members as the Beatles (USA) Ltd. did not release the Christmas message for 1965", "Dec. 1966". Side 2: "Dec. 1967", "Dec. 1968" and "Dec. 1969".

There are a lot of fakes vs. real out there for this LP as it is fairly rare and quite in demand. The fake covers are made of white posterboard and the artwork is one piece printed directly onto the posterboard. Real covers are constructed of cardboard and the addition of paper slicks with the front cover wrapped around to the back and the seam can be seen on the back cover. The Apple labels on the vinyl should be sharp and clear. The indentation of the ring around the playhole should be five-eights of an inch away. Any ring indentation larger than that is a fake. Any coloured vinyl is fake.

Things to remember: Not all covers of fake copies have blurry print. This is why it is important to check the cover construction. Some fakes also contain the "Bell Sound" logo in the trail off area. This is why it is important to check the indentation ring.

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