Studio E: Volume 1 - Elvis Christmas Album
Elvis' Christmas Album was the fourth studio album and first Christmas album Elvis recorded on RCA Victor, LOC -1035, a deluxe limited edition, released in October 1957, and recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It has been reissued in numerous different formats since its first release. It spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart.
According to the latest certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Elvis' Christmas Album has shipped at least 13 million copies in the United States (3 million of the original 1957 RCA Victor release, plus 10 million total copies of a "budget" edition first issued on RCA Camden in 1970 and then leased to Pickwick Records in 1975). It is the first Elvis title to attain Diamond certification by the RIAA, and is also the best-selling Christmas/holiday album of all time in the United States. The album has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
We look at each song and compare them to the original and other artists for those that were non-Elvis original recordings.
The first song on Side "A" was "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" written in 1957 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and first recorded by Elvis. The song has become a rock and roll Christmas standard.
"White Christmas" is a 1942 Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. The version sung by Bing Crosby is the world's best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide. The version most often heard today during the Christmas season is a 1947 re-recorded version. The 1942 master was damaged due to frequent use. Crosby re-recorded the track on March 19, 1947, accompanied again by the Trotter Orchestra and the Darby Singers, with every effort made to reproduce the original recording session. The re-recording is recognizable by the addition of flutes and celesta in the beginning. Irving Berlin objected vociferously to Elvis’ interpretation of his song, which was in fact modeled directly on the Drifters’ inspired version. As a result, many stations pulled airplay not just of the song but of the entire album, but the record still sold 200,000 copies. Below is the Bing Crosby version along with Elvis' version.
"Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)" is a Christmas song originally written and performed by Gene Autry, with music composed by Oakley Haldeman. Autry's original version was a top-10 hit on the pop and country charts; the song would go on to be covered many times in the subsequent decades.
Autry got the idea for the song after riding his horse in the 1946 Santa Claus Lane Parade (now the Hollywood Christmas Parade) in Los Angeles, during which crowds of spectators chanted, "Here comes Santa Claus". Below is the Gene Autry version and an acetate version performed by Elvis.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a Christmas song recorded by Bing Crosby on October 4, 1943 with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca Records. Elvis recorded his version on September 7, 1957. Below is the original acetate version that was recorded with echo.
"Blue Christmas" was written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948. Although recorded by Elvis in 1957 for this album the track was not released as a single until 1964, when it reached the top of the Billboard special Christmas Singles chart. Elvis also performed the song during his return television (comeback) special "Elvis".
"Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)" written by Aaron Schroeder and Claude Demetrius was originally recorded by Elvis and is the ending track from side "A" of the album.
Side "B" starts with the classic "O Little Town of Bethlehem" a popular Christmas carol with the text written by Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He was inspired by visiting the village of Bethlehem in the Sanjak of Jerusalem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Elvis provided the arrangement for his version on this album.
"Silent Night" was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr. The song has been recorded by a large number of singers from every music genre. The version sung by Bing Crosby is the third best-selling single of all-time. Elvis original recording of the song has a piano intro that in later releases was overdubbed by Elvis wishing fans a Merry Christmas. Below are the two versions.
The next four gospel tracks were added from the extended play (EP) "Peace In the Valley" that was released in April of 1957. This religious EP may have been prompted directly by public response to Elvis’ performance of the song in his third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in January, but it was his long-standing commitment to both himself and his mother to record religious music that bolstered his resolve. Those watching his third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, on January 6 of that year, were requested to send emergency aid for some 250,000 refugees fleeing Hungary after the late October 1956 double invasion of that country by the then Soviet Union, the song, which in addition Elvis dedicated to the refugees as the show's finale and to a television audience estimated at 50 million, yielded over the next 11 months contributions amounting to US$6 million, or the equivalent of US$49.5 in 2017 dollars.
"I Believe" is a popular song written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman in 1953. The song was commissioned and introduced by Jane Froman on her television show, and became the first hit song ever introduced on TV. Froman, troubled by the uprising of the Korean War in 1952 so soon after World War II, asked Drake, Graham, Shirl and Stillman to compose a song that would offer hope and faith to the populace. Below is the Jane Froman television version along with Elvis' rendition.
"Take My Hand, Precious Lord" was written by the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey. He wrote this number following the deaths of his first wife and baby daughter in 1932. The song was originally recorded by Heavenly Gospel Singers on February 16, 1937. Below is the Heavenly Gospel Singers rendition as well as Elvis' version.
It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) is a Southern Gospel song composed by Stuart Hamblen in the 1950. Stuart Hamblen was a western film star and the leader of a C&W band before his conversion to Christianity. He then went on to write and record several gospel numbers, of which this is undoubtedly the most well known (another of his numbers recorded by Elvis is "Known Only To Him").
Information and audio provided for educational purposes only. Check out ShopElvis.com to purchase the Elvis Christmas Album and other Elvis recordings.