Currently Digging: The Beatles Christmas Singles

This past week, Aquarium Drunkard really put me in the holiday spirit and posted all the incredibly rare singles from the Beatles Christmas Singles Club.  The Fab Four would release a new 7-inch every year exclusively to their fan club members, from 1963 to 1969.  The early ones were usually the group ad-libbing with good humor, as well as thanking their fans for a successful year and wishing them a happy holidays and new year.  They show the group in their early years as a rowdy, close-knit young bunch of boys having a good time fulfilling a contractual obligation.

As the years progressed, the singles’ content, as well as the cover art, predictably changed, along with the music, mood, and imagery of the 60’s.  Album art, in correlation with the Beatles conventional, non-holiday records, transformed from photos of the four members in their mop tops to aesthetic collages and abstract photography.  The sound of the singles, too, reflected the alterations in their packaging – the content changed from witty, collaborative banter to more avant-garde soundscapes, similar to “Revolution 9.”  The projects became less collaborative, with the final 1969 single completely different from the first; it feature snippets of songs from Paul, spoken bits from George and Ringo (separately), and dialogue from John and Yoko recorded at their home.

While a lifelong Beatles fan shouldn’t be surprised at the change in content, album art, and collaborative spirit in the Christmas singles over the band’s short career (as it is in line with the general scene and spirit of the time, not to mention the well-documented history of this group), this collection of MP3s is a fascinating listen for Beatles complete-ists and rock music historians.  Go grab them for yourself.

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