Monday, December 10, 2007

Wonderful Beatmas

The impact the Beatles had on music has been immeasurable. I am really surprised their contribution to the Christmas music scene, however, was rather limited to a handful of flexi discs (which I won't even dare to post here--sorry--I've seen the files removed from other sites so fast I am not even going to try). "Christmas Time Is Here Again" is about it, folks. Of course, there's Paul's "Wonderful Christmas" that is, by all rights, a great song. I can see why it's often featured in many play lists this time of year.

But you're not going to find either song here today.

Instead, I am focusing on songs that are Beatlesque in feel, coming from bands inspired by the Beatles, or just have a FAB kind of sound to them.

First up is XTC. While they didn't really start out as a Beatlesque band, their albums such as Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons had a decidedly Beatles influence to them that is undeniable. They released a Christmas song in the UK as "The Three Wise Men." Maybe it's the over exposure to Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas," but I always found myself partial to this Beatlesque Christmas tune over McCartney's song. Sorry, Paul. Nothing personal.

XTC-Thanks For Christmas

Next up is a track from Neil Innes. He is best known for his work in Monty Python, but you also may know him from the movie, The Rutles: All You Need is Cash. The Rutles was a Beatles spoof mockumentary, and the Rutles also released two albums of Beatlesque music. As a solo artist, Neil Innes released a Christmas single in 1984. The influence of the Beatles is clearly evident in this track.

Neil Innes-Dear Father Christmas

Chris Stamey is the founder of the band The dB's. I can't say I've listened to a lot of their music, but Chris had a Christmas song that was included in the New Wave Xmas collection (long out of print, and going for a mint in some areas on the Web.) It has that whole Beatles nod/Wonderful Christmas kind of feel to it, so I had to include it.

Chris Stamey Group-Christmas Time

Finally, there was a group called Rubber Band that is a Swedish Beatles tribute band. They released a CD in 1996 and it's a quite fun take on what Christmas music might have sounded like if the Beatles chose to do more Christmas music than what they did. Often--well, not often but all the freaking time--people will credit these songs to the Beatles when posting the songs online. Not here, folks. I strive for more accuracy here. It's the Rubber Band. I wish it was the Fab Four, but it's great stuff nonetheless.

Rubber Band-Last Christmas


stubbysfears said...

Why you shouldn't be surprised at the lack of Beatles Christmas output.

I'm not sure how old you are. If you're in your late thirties, for example, you're too young and if you're in your late fifties, you're too old. Too old or too young to remember the impact the Kennedy Assassination had on Christmas music. Kennedy was shot in November 63, just about the time Phil Spector was readying his Holiday Opus.

Spector's album tanked. Nobody was in the mood to rock and roll to Christmas music with Kennedy taken the way he was. It put an absolute pall over the season and the music that, with little exception, remained for ten years.

Sure, occasionally artists would take the shot. For the most part, their efforts tanked, too. I'm fairly certain that the only Christmas songs that were charting during that time were White Christmas and the Chipmunks. Maybe the Beach Boys got some airplay here and there, but it just wasn't done. It was marketing death.

So the fan club records were probably the band's idea, a way to give a treat to the fans who lived for them without sending the record execs into appoplectic shock.

In those times, would a Beatles Christmas album have sold? We'll never know. But having grown up in those years, I can tell you it would have been a far more open question than you might imagine. In the 6o's, I'd even say the odds were solidly against them in this country.

The Tone King said...

Very interesting! You are right...I am too young!!!

Anonymous said...

I love your sit but I have a minor correction: Rubber Band isn't a Swedish band but a Danish one. Check out their website at

CU dewdz