When was it recorded? Nov. 28, 1967
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 15, 1967 on “Christmas Time is Here Again!”
Who wrote it? Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
To quote Wikipedia, “‘Christmas Time (Is Here Again)’ is a Christmas song recorded by the Beatles for their 1967 fan club Christmas record.” Long story short – every year the Beatles sent members of their fan club records of Christmas skits and songs. These were, until recently, never officially released on any of their other compilation albums. I didn’t even know about them until last year, but I suppose I’m a young’un in the Beatles fandom. Giving it back over to Wikipedia…
“An elaborate production, ‘Christmas Time is Here Again!’ was developed around the concept of several groups auditioning for a BBC radio show. The title song serves as a refrain throughout the record. The Beatles portray a multitude of characters including game show contestants, aspiring musicians (“Plenty of Jam Jars”, by the Ravellers), and actors in a radio drama (“Theatre Hour”).” — Wikipedia, “Christmas Time (is Here Again)”
To conclude John reads an original free verse poem, “When Christmas Time Is Over,” while “Auld Lang Syne” plays in the background. It’s all very… interesting. This video has lyrics in the description, which I found incredibly helpful for deciphering some of the dialogue.
You can tell this one was recorded during their psychedelia days.
“Christmas Time” was going to be included on a compilation called “Sessions” (kind of predecessor to “Anthology”) but that got canned. Then the Anthology series picked up in full swing, and in association with that, some of the demos John recorded before his assassination were released. “Christmas Time” appeared as the B-side to the single version of “Free As a Bird” in December 1995; however, that released was clipped in half, going from six minutes to three minutes in length.
I think the clipped version is plodding — by cutting out the dialogue they wind up repeating the exact same phrase ad nauseum. I don’t know what it says about my sense of humor, but I thought the skits were hilarious. I only wish I were reviewing this song closer to December (though we have enough snow on the ground yet to feel like it).