Over 60 years ago Elvis Presley released the album Elvis’ Christmas Album. The second Christmas album to be featured in an article on this blog.
Elvis’ Christmas Album
Elvis’ Christmas Album is the fourth studio album by Elvis Presley. It was released on October 15th, 1957. It’s the first Elvis album that contains Christmas songs. The album was re-released in varying configurations at multiple times and has been sold over 15 million times.
The original release contained eight Christmas songs, supplemented with four gospels, which had been released earlier on the EP Peace In The Valley (March 1957). Side B of the album contains traditional Christmas carols, that are performed in a traditional way as well. Reverential and not exciting. But, Side A is a different story. The opening song is phenomenal: Santa Claus Is Back In Town rocks and swings hugely. The rest of side A is great. Elvis sings with a conviction that lacks on side B.
At the time the album was released, the performance of White Christmas created a stir. After composer Irving Berlin heard Presley’s version of his song, he was disgusted by it. He thought it was vulgar and not respectful (to the original intention). He ordered his employees to call radio stations all across the US, demanding that the song was not played on the radio. Most of the radio stations ignored the request, but in Canada the song (and other songs off the album) were not broadcast.
Elvis’ version of White Christmas was not his arrangement. In 1954/1955 The Drifters had a hit with the song in the same version. The big difference being that it was a hit just on the R&B singles charts and, consequently, was only played on black radio stations. Irving Berlin was not protesting then…
Thirty year ago I bought the Christmas album, the Camden release. The release contained 8 songs from the original Elvis’ Christmas Album complemented with the 1966 single If Every Day Was Like Christmas and the 1970 B-side Mama Liked The Roses.
The original 1957 release contains the following songs:
- Santa Claus Is Back In Town
- White Christmas
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- I’ll Be Home For Christmas
- Blue Christmas
- Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
- O Little Town Of Bethlehem
- Silent Night
- (There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
- I Believe
- Take My Hand, Precious Lord
- It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)
The Camden LP release I bought contains the first 8 songs of the original release, complemented with If Every Day Was Like Christmas en Mama Liked The Roses (which is not a Christmas song).
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas
On October 20th, 1971, Elvis released his second Christmas album: Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas. A lot less interesting and exciting as its 1957 predecessor. However, it does contain the most beautiful Christmas song Elvis recorded: Merry Christmas Baby. A phenomenally good song, that has also been played by the likes of Bruce Springsteen. Fabulous song.
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- The First Noel
- On A Snowy Christmas Night
- Winter Wonderland
- The Wonderful World Of Christmas
- It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
- I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
- If I Get Home On Christmas Day
- Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees
- Merry Christmas Baby
- Silver Bells
- Blue Christmas (part of later re-releases, coming from the 1968 Comeback Special recordings)
A (year) 2000 release that combined all the Christmas recordings done by Elvis in one compilation, including Mama Liked The Roses.
I don’t play this music on a daily basis, but Elvis did contribute three great songs to the holiday tradition: Santa Claus Is Back In Town, Blue Christmas and Merry Christmas Baby.
What do you think of Elvis’ Christmas songs? Let me know!