Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christmas Time (Is Here Again) Sessions

On November 28 1967, The Beatles entered EMI Studio 3 in order to fulfill their duties to the Official Fan Club and record their Christmas flexi for the year 1967. The format of the flexi was to have various audio skits interspersed with a theme song.
The theme song was recorded first. The title being "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)". The tune has Ringo on drums, Paul on piano, George on the acoustic guitar and John on the timpani drum. The entire instrumental backing was recorded in one take with 10 repeated verses played one after the other. Once this was completed, the vocals were added to the first 09 of the verses with the entire group singing the title over and over and Ringo singled out for the line "O-U-T spells OUT" (of which the words would later be used by Paul on his 2013 solo LP "NEW" on the song "Queenie Eye").
The skits themselves were recorded in ten takes and overladen with certain sound effects and then interwoven with the new theme song. A guest on the flexi is Beatles' friend Victor Spinetti who appears in three of the Beatles' films in various capacities. Sketches include mention of the BBC, tap dancing, Beatles roadie Mal Evans makes an audio appearance. This is followed by a jingle for a product called "Wonderlust" and a television show with voices from Paul and John.
A fragment of the theme song is played, a skit with George as announcer followed by a skit containing John as a quizmaster and George as a contestant for a quiz show, the commercial jingle once again, a skit with Ringo. Once again the theme song appears underneath the voices of John and George from the quiz show with applause.George Martin thanks the "boys" for a wonderful year. John sums it all up with a Scottish seasonal verse heard over the organ (Paul?) which plays "Auld Lang Syne".
The original flexi disc was released only in mono for the Fan Club. It was mailed out on or around December 15 1967. Produced by George Martin. Catalogue number LYN 1360. It is one sided and plays at 33 and a third. The flexi lasts 6:06 minutes.
The entire mono version of the theme song only can be heard the vinyl bootleg "File Under: Beatles". A stereo mix of the theme song in full with the introduction including John's "Interplanatery remix; page four hundred and forty four!" was conducted for the release of the aborted 1984 "Sessions" LP and can be heard on LP and CD bootlegs of this title. A proposed single from the "Sessions" LP would have included a mix of both "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da/ Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" which contains about a minute of the theme song and can be found on the vinyl bootleg "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".
Finally, the theme song for this Christmas flexi was released commercially as a B-side to "Free As A Bird" in 1995 on the Apple Vinyl/CD single. The first two and a half minutes includes the theme song (in stereo) mixed in with some 1966 Christmas greetings by each individual Beatle and ending with the previously mentioned Scottish seasonal verse by John.

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