The Second Disc

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Reissue Theory: The Beatles at Christmas

with 6 comments

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. With one day before Christmas, the discussion turns to a long-lost Yuletide treasure still unreleased on CD – the release of which would be…Fab.

One of the most common complaints about the hype about The Beatles on iTunes was the lack of vault material beyond the Washington, D.C. concert on film. Live at the Hollywood Bowl, any of the U.S. albums – countless ways to package the stuff digitally past what was reissued last year.

Perhaps the most appropriate thing from the vault to reflect on, in the twilight of another Christmas season, are the seven flexi-discs Beatles Fan Club members in the U.K. received each December. The short bits of holiday greetings, skits, jokes and the odd tune from John, Paul, George and Ringo were a nice treat for British fan club members (but not American ones until around 1966 or so), but have never made a full, official, Apple-sanctioned appearance on CD.

That’s not to say they’ve never been released by Apple themselves. In 1970, after the band broke up earlier in the year, the label released a full LP of all the material from the seven original discs (it was called The Beatles Christmas Album in the U.S. and From Then to You in the U.K.). While it’s an official release, it was not a high-quality one, being sourced from the original flexi-discs and not the master tapes. An edit of “Christmas Time is Here Again,” an original from the 1967 disc, was to be included on a 1985 Beatles outtakes compilation called Sessions, but it was scrapped by EMI. (The song appeared as a B-side to the “Free As a Bird” single, one of the “new” tracks from The Beatles Anthology (1995).) Part of the 1963 single was included as bonus content on The Beatles Rock Band video game.

Maybe next Christmas, boys? (Not that they’re impossible to find on the Internet.) Here’s the track list after the jump.

The Beatles, The Beatles Christmas Album / From Then to You (originally released as Apple LYN-2154 (U.K.)/SBC-100 (U.S.), 1970)

  1. The Beatles’ Christmas Record (originally released as Lyntone LYN-492, 1963)
  2. Another Beatles Christmas Record (originally released as Lyntone LYN-757, 1964)
  3. The Beatles’ Third Christmas Record (originally released as Lyntone LYN-948, 1965)
  4. The Beatles’ Fourth Christmas Record – Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas (originally released as Lyntone LYN-1145, 1966)
  5. Christmas Time is Here Again! (originally released as Lyntone LYN-1360, 1967)
  6. The Beatles’ 1968 Christmas Record (originally released as Lyntone LYN-492, 1968)
  7. The Beatles’ Seventh Christmas Record (originally released as Lyntone LYN-1743/4, 1969)

Merry Beatlemas!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 14:44

6 Responses

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  1. […] Home Alone score and Hip-o Select’s The Complete James Brown Christmas and pondered why The Beatles’ Christmas flexi-discs still haven’t found a home on […]

  2. I thought all of the Christmas flexis were included on the Rock Band game but I don’t have the game (or care about it because I don’t have a system) so I’m not entirely sure.

    On that note, I still think it’s lame that they were only included as unlockable content in a video game that the large majority of fans probably passed on. Clearly Apple is at the very least ok with having the material out there…wouldn’t it have made so much sense to include it as a bonus disc in the stereo or mono box set?


    December 24, 2010 at 16:36

  3. I have no idea why this album has never been made available. I would think it would be a(nother) cash cow for the band. Even a download-only option would be a nice gift for the fans. If I ever get to meet Paul or Ringo, it’s the first question I’ll ask.

    By the way, my write-up can be found here:

    Happy Chrimble!


    December 25, 2010 at 07:19

    • Really, the FIRST question you’d ask either of them?

      Although I don’t know if it would be my first question, I’d sure like to know why they won’t release Let It Be on DVD/Blu, AND why the Yellow Submarine DVD was pulled off the market (before I got around to buying it, dammit!). I consider those more important releases.

      Still, the Christmas album should be released. As should the Shea Stadium concert, as should “Carnival Of Light,” and lots of other stuff.


      January 2, 2011 at 23:28

  4. I subscribed to a magazine called Goldmine which specializes in music collecting. A large part of the magazine is dedicated to advertisements from various music dealers. Several years ago I found someone selling cd copies of those Beatles Christmas messages. I don’t think that was a legal copy but, if the record companies refuse to release content then people should be able to get them by any means necessary. I have rarely listened to them but I am still glad I have them. They will only interest serious Beatles fans and collectors.

    What I found most interesting about them is that since they were yearly releases you could get a feeling about how the guys were changing. From the happy “one-for-all, all-for-one” comaraderie of the early days to the “I don’t need the other guys to make music” White Album days, you could gauge how their attitude shifted through the years.

    Bill B

    December 27, 2010 at 09:38

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