Recording and mixing "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)"

Tuesday, November 28, 1967 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Christmas Time Is Here Again! 7" Single.
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

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On this day, The Beatles embarked on a nine-hour recording session, lasting from 6 pm to 2:45 am, dedicated to the creation of their fifth fan club Christmas record. The record featured a song titled “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” which was credited to Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey.

The basic track of “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” with a duration of 6 minutes and 37 seconds, was captured in a single take. Paul McCartney played the piano, George Harrison strummed an acoustic guitar, Ringo Starr provided the drumming, and John Lennon played the timpani. The four Beatles then contributed double-tracked vocals to the recording, joined by producer George Martin and actor Victor Spinetti, who had recently participated in the filming of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour.”

Subsequently, the band engaged in the recording of 10 takes of speech and sketches, embellished with sound effects. These included parodies of radio and television broadcasts, a tap dancing duet performed by Ringo Starr and Victor Spinetti, spoken contributions by Mal Evans and George Martin, a brief rendition of “Plenty Of Jam Jars” by The Ravellers, and a humorous advertisement for the fantastical product called “Wonderlust.” The recording concluded with John Lennon delivering a whimsical poem over an organ rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”

Following the completion of the recording, the song was mixed in mono. Four separate mixes were produced, consisting of take 1 (music) and takes 2, 6, and 10 (speech). The various parts were then edited together the following day.

This recording session marked the last time The Beatles recorded together in 1967, as well as their final collaborative effort on a Christmas fan club disc in the studio. In subsequent years, namely 1968 and 1969, the band members recorded their contributions individually, which were later edited together in the final product.

In 1995, a 3’03” mix of the “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” song was released on the single “Free As A Bird“. Towards the end of this version, somewhat incongruously, some Christmas Beatle greetings from 1966 were included.

From 1963 to 1969 the Beatles gave members of their official fan club a special gift at Christmas: a record unavailable elsewhere. The 1967 disc was titled Christmas Time (Is Here Again) and extracts from a song of that name were scattered among the sketches. Issued here for the first time is an uninterrupted recording of the number. Superimposed near the end are some spoken-word seasonal greetings, taped in 1966, followed by a John Lennon pastiche.

From the liner notes of “Free As A Bird

The Christmas disc was not recorded until the evening of Tuesday November 28, a few days before Ringo went to Rome for “Candy” filming. John brought along the handwritten script he and the others had worked out earlier the same day. The first job was to record the theme song before going on to the bits of dialogue.

John got hold of a pair of tympani drums and put his coat across the top to muffle the sound. Paul sat down at the piano, George got his guitar ready and Ringo set up his own drum kit because Mal had nipped off down the road to take a mate for a pint!

Everyone joined in to sing the chorus — not just four Beatles but everyone who happened to be around including producer George Martin and actor Victor Spinetti who had dropped in for a chat!

Now it isn’t usual to have dance routines on a record but The Beatles decided it would be a nice touch. Instead of using a sound-effects record Ringo and Victor gave us all a “live performance” tap display specially for the recording!

After all the “talking” bits had been put on tape Paul and George had to leave but John stayed on to supervise the job of piecing together all the recorded bits. That took them until nearly three in the morning — with John deciding at the last moment to add the Poetic Scotsman sequence (George Martin playing “Auld Lang Syne” on the organ behind him) as a bonus for all North O’ The Border Beatle People!!!

The colourful sleeve for “CHRISTMAS TIME (IS HERE AGAIN)” was designed by John, Julian and Ringo the following afternoon at John’s house. Julian got stuck in with his oil-painting set to produce the bright colours for the back while John and Ringo cut up dozens of ancient photographs for the front. If you count ’em up you’ll find about 161 people on the front of the sleeve — plus one or two unfortunate folk who lost their heads! Where did all those pictures come from? No, they’re NOT family album snaps of 19th century Lennon relatives! They were taken from the bundle of very old photo albums John has amongst his incredible collection of antique-type books.

Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968
Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968

Last updated on June 10, 2023

Songs recorded


Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

Written by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison

Recording • SI of sound effects onto edit / remix


Christmas Time (Is Here Again)

Written by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing of takes 1 (music), 2, 6 and 10 (text)


Musicians on "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)"

Paul McCartney:
Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tap dancing, Vocals
John Lennon:
Timpani, Vocals
George Harrison:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Mal Evans:
Spoken words
Victor Spinetti:
Vocals, Tap dancing

Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Richard Lush:
Second Engineer

Going further

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

Shop on Amazon

The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967)

The third book of this critically - acclaimed series, nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) award for Excellence In Historical Recorded Sound, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967)" captures the band's most innovative era in its entirety. From the first take to the final remix, discover the making of the greatest recordings of all time. Through extensive, fully-documented research, these books fill an important gap left by all other Beatles books published to date and provide a unique view into the recordings of the world's most successful pop music act.

Shop on Amazon

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


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