The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

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The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 9, 1964 (1964-11-09)
RecordedOctober 20, 1963; June 18–30, 1964
StudioCapitol Studios and United Western Recorders, Hollywood
ProducerBrian Wilson
The Beach Boys chronology
Beach Boys Concert
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
The Beach Boys Today!
The Beach Boys UK chronology
Shut Down Volume 2
The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
Beach Boys Concert
Singles from The Beach Boys' Christmas Album
  1. "The Man with All the Toys" / "Blue Christmas"
    Released: November 9, 1964

The Beach Boys' Christmas Album is the seventh studio album by the Beach Boys, released in November 1964.[1][2] it contains five original songs and seven standards on a Christmas theme. The album proved to be a long-running success during subsequent Christmas seasons, initially reaching number six in the US Billboard 200 chart in its year of release[3] and eventually going gold.[4] Music historian James Perone wrote that it is "regarded as one of the finest holiday albums of the rock era".[5]

While leader Brian Wilson produced and arranged the rock songs, he left it to Dick Reynolds (an arranger for the Four Freshmen, a group Wilson idolized) to arrange the forty-one piece orchestral backings on the traditional songs to which the Beach Boys would apply their vocals.[6] One single was released from the album, the original song "The Man with All the Toys" backed with the group's rendition of "Blue Christmas". "Little Saint Nick", a single which had already been released the previous year, was included on the album.[3]

In 1977, the Beach Boys attempted to follow the album with Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys, but it was rejected by their label. The entire Christmas Album plus selections from the Merry Christmas sessions were later assembled for the 1998 compilation Ultimate Christmas.


The album was devised as a response to Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records (1963), an album Brian had attended recording sessions for.[7] He played piano on the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" but was dismissed by Spector due to his substandard piano playing.[8] Original album cover photo by George Jerman for Capitol Photo Studio.[citation needed]


With the exception of "Little Saint Nick", sessions for the album spanned from June 18–30, 1964, one month after the All Summer Long album was completed.[1] "Christmas Day" is the first Beach Boys song to feature a lead vocal from Al Jardine.[9]

The album was released in mono and stereo; the stereo mix, prepared by engineer Chuck Britz, would be the last true stereo mix for a Beach Boys album until 1968's Friends.[original research?]

In addition to orchestral renditions of "Jingle Bells" and the original Wilson composition "Christmas Eve" which never received vocal overdubs,[10] outtakes of the All Summer Long track "Little Honda"[10] and The Beach Boys Today! single "Don't Hurt My Little Sister" were recorded in between June sessions.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[12]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic's Jason Ankeny stated: "Brian Wilson's pop genius is well suited to classic Yuletide fare, and the group delivers lush performances of standards ranging from 'Frosty the Snowman' to 'White Christmas' as well as more contemporary material like 'The Man With All the Toys' and 'Blue Christmas.'"[3]

While interviewing Wilson for a promotional radio special in 1964, Jack Wagner remarked that Wilson's decision to sing solo on a version of "Blue Christmas" could be "the start of a whole new career," to which Wilson responded "I don’t know. It could and it couldn't. I really don’t know."[6] Referring to the standards which he believed "proved that the Beach Boys' vocal power was bigger and more agile than the surf and hot rod records [and] staking a claim for wider musical terrain," author Luis Sanchez reflected: "The Beach Boys' Christmas Album music shows a quality of aesthetic selectivity that none of the group's records that came before it do, aspiring not just to assimilate one of pop's stock ideas, but also enabling Brian to make one of his biggest artistic advances."[6]

On April 6, 1982, the album was certified gold by the RIAA, selling more than 500,000 units.[4]

Ultimate Christmas[edit]

Released in 1998, Ultimate Christmas is a compilation containing all of the twelve tracks from the original Christmas LP in stereo. Many bonus tracks were added, including the 1974 single "Child of Winter" and several previously unreleased tracks from the aborted 1977 album Merry Christmas from the Beach Boys.[9]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Little Saint Nick"Brian Wilson/Mike LoveMike Love1:59
2."The Man with All the Toys"B. Wilson/LoveBrian Wilson/Love1:32
3."Santa's Beard"B. Wilson/LoveLove1:59
4."Merry Christmas, Baby"B. WilsonLove2:22
5."Christmas Day"B. WilsonAl Jardine1:35
6."Frosty the Snowman"Steve Nelson/Jack RollinsB. Wilson1:54
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."We Three Kings of Orient Are"John Henry HopkinsLove/B. Wilson4:03
2."Blue Christmas"Billy Hayes/Jay W. JohnsonB. Wilson3:09
3."Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"J. Fred Coots/Haven GillespieB. Wilson/Love2:20
4."White Christmas"Irving BerlinB. Wilson2:29
5."I'll Be Home for Christmas"Kim Gannon/Walter Kent/Buck RamB. Wilson2:44
6."Auld Lang Syne"Trad. arr. B. Wilsongroup, Dennis Wilson (spoken word)1:19


The Beach Boys in 1964

The Beach Boys

Session musicians and production staff

Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Barrett with arrangements by Dick Reynolds.

  • Robert Barene  – violin
  • Arnold Belnick  – violin
  • Harry Bluestone  – violin
  • George "Red" Callender  – tuba
  • Frankie Capp  – drums
  • Gene Cipriano  – woodwind
  • Eugene DiNovi  – piano
  • David Duke  – french horn
  • Jesse Ehrlich  – cello
  • Virgil Evans  – trumpet
  • Jimmy Getzoff  – violin
  • Billy Green  – woodwind
  • Urbie Green  – trombone
  • Clifford Hils  – upright bass
  • Bones Howe  – percussion
  • Robert Jung  – woodwind
  • Armand Kaproff  – cello
  • Raymond Kelley  – cello
  • Bernard Kundell  – violin
  • William Kurasch  – violin
  • Henry Laubach  – trumpet
  • Alfred Lustgarten  – violin
  • Arthur Maebe  – french horn
  • Lew McCreary  – trombone
  • Oliver Mitchell  – trumpet
  • Richard Nash  – trombone
  • Richard Perissi  – french horn
  • Al Porcino  – trumpet
  • Dorothy Ramsen  – harp
  • Lou Raderman  – violin
  • Karl Rossner  – cello
  • Henry Roth  – violin
  • Joseph Saxon  – cello
  • Wilbur Schwartz  – woodwind
  • Frederick Seykora  – cello
  • Paul Shure  – violin
  • Marshall Sosson  – violin
  • Darrel Terwilliger  – violin
  • Al Viola  – electric guitar



Year Chart Position
1964 US Billboard 200 6[3]


Year Single Chart Position
1964 "The Man with All the Toys" US Billboard Hot 100 3[3]


  1. ^ a b c Doe, Andrew Grayham. "GIGS64". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  2. ^ Badman, Keith. The Beach Boys. The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band: On Stage and in the Studio Backbeat Books, San Francisco, California, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-818-4 p. 72
  3. ^ a b c d e f Allmusic review
  4. ^ a b Doe, Andrew. "RIAA". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  5. ^ James E Perone (10 Nov 2015). ABC-CLIO. p. 42 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ a b c Sanchez, Luis (2014). The Beach Boys' Smile. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-1-62356-956-3.
  7. ^ Sanchez 2014.
  8. ^ Sharp, Ken (January 2006). "Christmas with Brian Wilson". Record Collector. United Kingdom: 72–76.
  9. ^ a b Elliot, Brad (1998). Ultimate Christmas (Digital Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records.
  10. ^ a b Boyd, Alan; Linette, Mark; Slowinski, Craig (2014). Keep an Eye On Summer 1964 (Digital Liner). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. Mirror
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-19-531373-4.
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 46. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.