Today I went in search of my Christmas music collection. It took a little digging, a little rearranging, and I probably needed a torch and a pith helmet, but ultimately the prize was mine. I had my Christmas music.
The Beatles themselves recorded a Christmas song–“Christmas Time Is Here Again,” released originally on one of their official fan club Christmas albums, and released in a fuller version on 1995’s “Free as a Bird” single. There’s been talk for years about an official wide release of the Beatles’ fan club Christmas albums, but nothing’s ever come of it. And while their competitors the Beach Boys released a full Christmas album the Beatles never did. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine what the Beatles might have done if they had done a Christmas album, not when a tribute band steps into the breach to imagine for us what a Beatles Christmas album could have been.
A few years ago I picked up two albums by a Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four. They released two CDs of Christmas songs done in with a Beatles-vibe. Imagine “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to the beat of “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Joy to the World” as “Please Please Me,” “What Child is This” as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Silent Night” as “Norwegian Wood,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as “Help!” And the work of a genuine Beatle–Ringo’s “Dear Santa” from his I Wanna Be Santa Claus album–is redone in the style of “Oh, Darling!” complete with the growling Paul vocal. Believe it or not, these reworkings of familiar Christmas standards into Beatle-like melodies works.
There’s another album in this vibe, Beatmas by a group called Rubber Band. It’s a little older, done in the late ’90s, and they cover some of the same songs, sometimes using different Beatles songs as their template, like “Rudolph” as “Taxman” or “Silent Night” as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Perhaps the oddest choice on Beatmas is a cover of George Michael’s “Last Christmas” done in the style of the Beatles’ cover of “Please Mr. Postman”–their take on the song works, but “Last Christmas” isn’t exactly a Christmas song you expect to hear.
These albums, though novelties, give listeners some insight into what the Beatles might have done with a Christmas album. If you want a Beatles’ Christmas these albums are definitely worth running down.