Monday, August 3, 2015

"Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas" Fourth Fan Club Flexi

On November 25 1966, The Beatles recorded their fourth Fan Club Christmas message in the old traditional form of the English Pantomime/ Vaudeville type play or show. This recording was not done at EMI Studios but was recorded and completed at Dick James' House ( Dick James was their music publisher at the time). The producer and probably editor for this material was George Martin although the scope of his work was most likely "final say" in how the edits and the material sounded at the end.
For this fourth time, The Beatles decided to give their Fan Club something a little different and more creative. The previous Fan Club flexis consist mainly of speeches thanking their fans by the individual members or by the group and/or a singalong or traditional Christmas carols or an older song or even a current hit (i.e. "Yesterday" from the previous year).
The flexi for 1966 consists of edits with some songs and some of the Beatles humour thrown in using the short narrative form that was being used in old traditional British music hall.
The flexi starts with the theme song: "Everywhere It's Christmas" which features Paul on piano and the theme sung by each member of the group in turn. This is followed by "Orowayna" sounding like a choir - the credits stating that this is "conducted by a bearded man in glasses". This segment is narrated by Paul who is likely still on piano. Ringo narrates the next section of "A Rare Cheese" (Two Elder Scotsmen) with George commenting on (wonderful stuff, this)!. John narrates "The Feast" (The King Overindulges). So much indulgence that a doctor is called at the end of the segment. Next up is "The Loyal Toast" which is narrated by George and takes place on the HMS Tremendous. The Toast is conducted to Her Majesty by none other than Ringo !!
The fun continues with the story of "Podgy The Bear and Jasper" narrated by John with George who both play the characters and this segment explains a memory issue and how to solve it without paper - matches, candles and buns !! The next segment of the flex deals with "Felpin Mansions - Part One (Count Balder and Butler)" starring the eccentric son of Baron Landsberg, the inventor of the Rack. This segment segues into "Felpin Mansions - Part Two ( The Count and the Pianist)" whereby the request to play old tunes is accepted by Paul which segues into the next section of the flexi as "Please Don't Bring Your Bango Back". The ending fades with everyone joining in. The next segment features Mal Evans telling the Fan Club members that "Everywhere It's Christmas". The last section of the disc repeats the theme song and title track "Everywhere it's Christmas" sung by all members of the Beatles with the accompaniment of piano. The track ends with the quote "Jolly Good" and lots of clapping.
It must have been weird for the North American market to receive this gift as they would not be familiar with the form of Pantomime so they probably thought the Beatles were getting a little "out there" ...LOL !!
The front cover of the flexi disc has a design by Paul McCartney (photo above) and the back cover consists of the credits, titles, etc. My copy is the UK version. The disc is one sided and has brown lettering with the catalogue number LYN 1145. The Fan Club logo is at the top and the logo is also featured at the top of the back cover.
The flexi disc was never commercially released and only issued to the Fan Club the following month on December 16 1966. It can be found on the bootleg vinyl and CD Christmas Collections readily available as well as on the official Apple LP "The Beatles' Christmas Album" in North America and "From Then To You" as the UK version of same which were also only issued to the Fan Club members. I've added a clip: