Christmas Records, Day 16: The King!
Elvis Presley - Elvis' Christmas Album (RCA, 1957)
Released in 1957, Elvis' festive mixture of rock 'n' croon sounds pretty tame now but back then it caused its fair share of upset, at least on the secular numbers. Presley asked Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, the hit-making songwriters behind Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog, to bring new material to the sessions. The result, Santa Claus Is Back in Town, opens the album in salacious fashion. Elvis singing, "Hang up your pretty stockings/And turn off the light/Santa Claus is comin' down your chimney tonight" is a fine addition to the canon of 50s filth wrapped up in metaphor. Surprisingly Presley's cover of White Christmas also caused controversy when composer Irving Berlin called for it to be banned on account of its "profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard". It's actually a pretty straight-up rerun of The Drifters' rendition that topped the R&B charts a few years before. For some reason Mr Berlin kept any objections to that version to himself. Personally, I tend to skip the gospel numbers that close the album but other highlights include the definitive version of Blue Christmas and the jaunty Santa, Bring My Baby Back (To Me). Elvis released his second Noel LP in the early 70s but it's not hard to see why this one remains the best-selling Christmas album of all time.
Elvis performs Blue Christmas on the 68 Comeback Special