Beginning in 1963, the Beatles recorded an annual Christmas record for their fans, but they never released an entire album of Christmas songs, nor did any other Liverpool or British Invasion group. With Merry Merseybeat Christmas, Frank Lee Sprague makes up for lost time with a cornucopia of self-penned, harmony-filled gems. From start to finish, the album brims with shimmering melodies and richly textured singing, a heartfelt tribute to both Christmas and the well-loved Merseybeat sound, a style Frank mastered on his popular, widely acclaimed albums, Merseybeat and Cavern.
Creative inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes striking with the lightning speed of a southbound express train. That’s what happened to Frank Lee Sprague when song after song came to him until, incredibly, within only one day he had composed a stocking-full of Christmas songs.
Merry Merseybeat Christmas begins with “She Gave Me Loneliness for Christmas,” a lament for lost love. The song features a haunting melody threaded with mournful harmonica. But we don’t stay in that groove for long. With the mid-tempo title song, “Merry Merseybeat Christmas,” Frank sings that “love is still the word,” and we hear in his music a paean to both Christmas and the music he cherishes.
Imagine the Beatles on stage for hours and hours at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany. It’s Christmas and they miss home and family. “Rock on, lads,” roars John, launching into Frank’s “Christmas Time,” bringing yuletide cheer and high spirits to lonely fans and fellow Beatles alike.
As is true with any Frank Lee Sprague album, Merry Merseybeat Christmas includes a generous helping of beautiful ballads. There’s the upbeat,” My Love Will Grow,” with its winsome melody and surprising key changes. “Fall in Love on Christmas” is a moving, spiritual commentary about love in a special time of year. Picture a young Brian Wilson sitting in with Tottenham’s Dave Clark Five and listen to the wistful and yearning, “Don’t Cry on Christmas.”
Merry Merseybeat Christmas ebbs and flows with the grace of a symphony, eventually reaching its zenith with three remarkable songs. “Peace on Earth” is a stunning Lennonesque rocker, warning us against war and hate while telling the story of Christ’s birth, in homage to “peace on earth, good will to men.” Spiritual and tender, “The Third Day” infuses an ethereal glow to its unusual and highly effective vocal arrangement. The song reminds us that there is far greater meaning to Christmas than tinsel, ornaments and colorful packages. No Frank Lee Sprague album would be complete without a top 40 hit sound melody, and “Christmas Carol” fills the bill. The memorable guitar line, the warm, Beatles ‘65 sound, and the sunny lyrics send us home feeling we’ve truly had a Merry Merseybeat Christmas.
Known for his unparalleled ability to synthesize authentic rock ‘n’ roll styles into his own West Texas imprint, Frank Lee Sprague’s work has wowed reviewers in Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many other magazines and newspapers. He has appeared on CBS nationwide television and National Public Radio, and performed live around the world, including several successful tours of Japan. Over the last few years, this charismatic songwriter and musician has recorded and released the critically acclaimed albums, Merseybeat, Cavern, and Fulton Avenue, while also revered by fans for his long-time work as leader of the fabulous rock ‘n’ roll duo, the Sprague Brothers.