Beatles' Rare Fan-Club Christmas Records: A Complete Guide

Band's brief, whimsical holiday discs – released from 1963 through 1969 and newly reissued – offer a glimpse into their stunning evolution

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"Another Beatles Christmas Record" (1964)

Far from viewing it as a chore, the Beatles had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of recording their first Christmas message and looked forward to a second round. "It was the boys themselves who promoted me into continuing the tradition," Barrow wrote in his memoir. "'When are we doing this year's Crimble record?' They asked me. They also wanted another script. I knew they needed my words simply as a security measure in case they dried up. In the event they made everything I wrote much funnier by their distinctively zany, Goons-style presentation."

On October 26th, the band huddled in Studio Two to record five passes through Barrow's latest message, each one veering off into its own realm of randomness. (Outtakes include a Jimmy Stewart impression, a version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" that consists solely of the item "One plastic bag," and a hummed rendition of Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly," the song that had knocked the Beatles off the top spot of the America charts for the first time in 14 weeks that spring.) It was the end of a long day that had begun at 10 o'clock that morning, as the band held the final session for their next LP, Beatles for Sale. Taping nearly 12 hours later, they could be excused for sounding slightly less energetic than they had on their prior Christmas greeting.

The production quality has greatly improved from the previous year, with the sound of marching feet giving way to the opening bars of "Jingle Bells," backed with piano, harmonica and what sounds like a piece of paper on a comb (a trick recycled during sessions for "Lovely Rita" years later). The band members make no effort to disguise the fact that they're reading a script, and the supposedly illegible handwriting becomes a running gag. "We hope you have enjoyed listening to the records as much as we have enjoyed melting them," says McCartney before they all break into peals of laughter. "No, no that's wrong. Making them!"

Lennon adopts his traditional role as the witty slinger of withering one-liners. "Don't know where we'd be without you, really," McCartney graciously tells fans. "The Army, perhaps," Lennon lobs back. After thanking fans for seeing A Hard Day's Night, Harrison reveals that their next film will be in color. "Green," Lennon helpfully adds. In addition to plugging his upcoming book, A Spaniard in the Works – "It's the usual rubbish, but it won't cost much" – he manages to sneak in a sly naughty word with "Beatle peedles," German slang for male genitalia. Its close proximity to the band's name was the source of great amusement during their club days in Hamburg.

For the fadeout, they sing a loose version of the Irish standard "Can You Wash Your Father's Shirt." This soon devolves into demented shouts of "Christmas," predating Monty Python's brainless "Gumby" character by half a decade. 

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