Gotta Find My Baby!

July 12, 2022

Elvis' Christmas Album (EP/LP - RCA, 1957)

Title:
Elvis' Christmas Album
Label:
RCA Victor [LOC 1035]
Format:
LP
Number of tracks:
12
Running time:
30:00
Type of album:
Studio
Linked to:
Official discography
Year:
1957
Recorded:
January 12 - September 7, 1957
Released:
October 15, 1957
Singles:
Santa Claus is Back in Town/Blue Christmas (Oct. 26, 1965)


Elvis' Christmas Album is the third studio album for RCA, the ninth in his career and the first of two Christmas albums by Elvis Presley, the other being "Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas", from 1971.


In January 1957, Elvis recorded his first Gospel tracks in his career. They were released in April of the same year on an EP entitled "Peace In the Valley", to test the public's reaction to a possible record containing only religious songs. The success of the release made RCA realize that there was a lot of earning potential in the idea and, why not, in the claim that Elvis should have his own Christmas album, as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra had been doing annually for some time.

So the project was put on the agenda and Elvis began working with the label on an album that would redefine the spirit of Christmas releases. As for the Gospel LP, the idea was put on the back burner to facilitate Elvis' schedule, which also included soundtrack recordings and filming. With the Colonel's marketing ploy, sending his pupil to the army in Germany in 1958, he was only able to fulfill his dream on his return in 1960, releasing his first Gospel album, "His Hand In Mine".

In September 1957 Elvis began recording the original eight tracks for his Christmas LP. In yet another audience test, RCA released the "Elvis Sings Christmas Songs" EP later that month, which featured four different tracks from the work. "Santa Claus is Back in Town" received so many positive reviews that it was promoted to the LP's opening track; "Blue Christmas" was also quite successful, which placed it as a kind of "hits closing" on the record. So RCA thought of releasing the LP with the title "Elvis' Christmas Album" and combining it with a gift worthy of the fans' adoration.

On October 15, 1957, a deluxe limited edition hit stores with a booklet-shaped cover, which featured promotional photos of Elvis in his third film, "Jailhouse Rock". More rare than this cover/booklet is the golden sticker pasted on it, which had a space to write the names of who was giving the LP as a gift and who would receive it. Even rarer than these two are the cover with gold writing on the spine, and the vinyls printed in red and blue. Owning the original record (printed in black) with the sticker intact and the golden writing is every collector's dream; even more if both come with the LP in a different color than the original.

By the end of 1957, that edition had sold out and the album had sold over 3 million copies, having also spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Elvis' rendition of Bing Crosby's perennial hit "White Christmas", which had appeared on the Christmas charts annually since its release in 1942 (and would not leave them until 1963), became the center of controversy over the album's release, culminating in the song's composer, Irving Berlin, calling for the song and the entire Elvis album to be banned from radio play. After hearing Presley's version, Berlin saw it as an "unholy parody of his cherished reverential standard" and ordered his staff to call every radio station in the United States.

While most radio stations ignored the request, at least one disc jockey was fired for playing a song from the album. Only Canada, which had recently hosted Elvis' show, fully complied with Berlin's request, with all radio stations refusing to publicize the work.

The controversy was, ironically, fueled by Elvis' performance in a style that mirrored the version recorded by The Drifters in 1954, which was very successful and entered the R&B Top 10 on the 1954/55 singles chart. Unlike Elvis' recording, theirs did not attract any backlash or opposition from Irving Berlin. Part of the reason for this is that the Drifters' version was only released on black radio stations, which whites would never listen to, preventing the official version of Berlin and Crosby from being overshadowed.

The unexpected success - even though RCA knew the album would be a hit - created incredible demand for the LP. In 1959, the public desperately asked for the album to return to stores. The label complied, albeit without the photo album, and sales were again excellent. Orders continued in the following years and the album was continuously reprinted until 1965, but Elvis and RCA needed to focus on their other releases.

But in 1964, with The Beatles dominating the charts, the label saw the demand for "Blue Christmas" as a chance to try to outdo them. That wasn't the case, but the single, which also featured "Wooden Heart", another highly requested track, sold like crazy. The following year, when The Beatles were still on the rise and Dean Martin had beaten them with "Everybody Loves Somebody," RCA pulled out their secret weapon and re-released the single, this time with another hit from the 1957 Christmas LP, "Santa Claus is Back in Town".

It's no secret that Elvis was down from 1965 to 1968, due to the terrible movies he was being forced to make. But when he managed to get into a studio to record something serious, in 1966, he created the tracks for "How Great Thou Art", his second Gospel album, released in 1967, and some other songs that would only come to the public as extras on his soundtrack records. But "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", written by Red West, received a single in November of that year and sold well, showing that there was still demand for something Christmasy from Elvis.

In 1969, after the renditions of "Santa Claus is Back in Town" and "Blue Christmas" were well received by audiences during recordings for the '68 Comeback Special, the curiosity of RCA and the now responsible for the secondary releases of Elvis, Lamar Fike, were awakened.

Working with Fike, RCA re-released the 1957 album under their budget label, RCA Camden, in November 1970. This version eliminated the four Gospel tracks and added "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", along with the 1970 hit "Mama Liked the Roses", originating from the acclaimed 1969 Memphis sessions. In the mid-1970s, RCA leased the rights to some of their Camden albums to another budget label, Pickwick Records, which re-released the record in 1975 with a new cover and rearranged tracks; the following year Camden reissued the album on cassette under the title "Blue Christsmas".

New releases followed from time to time from 1985 until 2006, with no tracks having changed since the RCA Camden re-release. In 1992, the box set "The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters" featured the songs re-arranged as on the original release for the first time since 1958.

In addition, in 2010 a DVD was released with some songs from the album and live versions of them. In 2014, FTD released a CD that featured the original album complete with remastered audio and rarities from the relatively unreleased recording sessions for fans. In 2016 the LP was officially re-released by RCA for the first time since 1958.


According to the latest certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Elvis' Christmas Album has sold at least 13 million copies in the United States and another 2 million copies worldwide. With that, this is Elvis' first record to achieve Diamond certification by the RIAA, and it's also the best-selling Christmas album of all time.
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RECORDING SESSIONS

Date:
January 12 - September 7, 1957 (original); June 10, 1966 and January 21, 1969 (re-releases)

Studio:
Radio Recorders Studio 1
RCA Studio B
American Sound Studio

Location:
Hollywood, Califórnia
Nashville, Tennessee (1966)
Memphis, Tennessee (1969)

Musicians:
January 1957
Voice: Elvis Presley
Guitar: Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore
Bass: Bill Black
Drums: DJ Fontana
Piano: Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, Elvis Presley, Dudley Brooks
Backing Vocals: The Jordanaires

Producer:
Steve Sholes
Sound / recording engineer:
Thorne Nogar

September 1957
Voice: Elvis Presley
Vocals (track): Red West
Guitar: Scotty Moore, Chip Young, Harold Bradley, Peter Drake
Bass: Bob Moore
Drums: DJ Fontana, Murray 'Buddy' Harman
Piano: David Briggs
Organ: Henry Slaughter
Timpany: Murray 'Buddy' Harman
Bongos: Murray 'Buddy' Harman
Saxophone: Rufus Long
Backing Vocals: The Jordanaires, Millie Kirkham

Producer:
Steve Sholes
Sound engineer:
Thorne Nogar

June 1966
Voice: Elvis Presley
Guitar: Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore
Bass: Bill Black
Drums: DJ Fontana
Piano: Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, Elvis Presley, Dudley Brooks
Backing Vocals: The Jordanaires, The Imperials, Millie Kirkham, June Page, Dolores Edgin

Producer:
Felton Jarvis
Sound engineer:
Jim Malloy

January 1969
Voice: Elvis Presley
Guitar: Reggie Young, John Hughey, Elvis Presley
Bass: Tommy Cogbill, Mike Leech
Drums: Gene Chrisman
Piano: Bobby Wood
Organ: Bobby Emmons
Harmonica: Ed Kollis (Don't Cry Daddy)
Backing Vocals: Elvis Presley (Mama Liked The Roses, Don't Cry Daddy)

Producer:
Felton Jarvis, Chips Moman
Sound engineer:
Al Pachucki
Technician:
Roy Shockley


JANUARY 12, 1957
                             I Believe H2WB 0253-09
                             Tell Me Why H2WB 0254-05
                             Got A Lot O' Livin' To Do! (Record Version) H2WB 0255-09
                             All Shook Up H2WB 0256-10

JANUARY 13, 1957
                             Mean Woman Blues (Record Version) H2WB 0257-14
                             (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me) H2WB 0258-09
                             I Beg Of You (Alternate Master) H2WB 0259-12
                             That's When Your Heartaches Begin H2WB 0260-SP
                             Take My Hand, Precious Lord H2WB 0261-14

JANUARY 19, 1957
                             It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) H2WB 0282-13
                             Blueberry Hill H2WB 0283-09
                             Have I Told You Lately That I Love You H2WB 0284-15
                             Is It So Strange H2WB 0285-12
                             Is It So Strange (Backup Vocal Overdub / Repair) H2WB 0285

SEPTEMBER 5, 1957
                             Treat Me Nice H2PB 5523-15
                             My Wish Came True (Tryout) H2PB 5524-NA
                             Blue Christmas H2PB 5525-03

SEPTEMBER 6, 1957
                             My Wish Came True H2PB 5524-28
                             White Christmas H2PB 5526-09
                             Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) H2PB  5527-02
                             Silent Night H2PB 5528-09
                             Don't H2PB 5529-07

SEPTEMBER 7, 1957
                             Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem H2PB 5530-04
                             Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) H2PB 5531-09
                             Santa Claus Is Back In town H2PB 5532-07
                             I'll Be Home For Christmas H2PB 5533-15

JUNE 10, 1966
                             Indescribably Blue (Track) -NA
                             I'll Remember You (Track) -NA
                             If Every Day Was Like Christmas (Track) -NA

JANUARY 21, 1969
                            Hey Jude XPA5 1157-07
                            My Little Friend (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1153-NA
                            Inherit The Wind (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1151-NA
                            Mama Liked The Roses (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
                            Mama Liked The Roses (Harmony Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1152-NA
                            Wearin' That Loved On Look (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1145-NA
                            You'll Think Of Me (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1146-NA
                            This Is The Story (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1143-NA
                            In The Ghetto (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1154-NA
                            I'm Movin' On (Vocal Replacement) XPA5 1147-NA
                            Long Black Limousine (Vocal Repair) XPA5 1142-NA
                            Don't Cry Daddy (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
                            Don't Cry Daddy (Harmony Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1149-NA
                            Poor Man's Gold (Vocal Overdub) XPA5 1150-01
                            From A Jack To A King XPA5 1158-05

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SESSION LOGS






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ASSOCIATED LP, SINGLES AND EPS

PEACE IN THE VALLEY (EP)

April 11, 1957

1. (There'll Be) Peace In the Valley (For Me)
2. It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)
3. I Believe
4. Take My Hand, Precious Lord


ELVIS SINGS CHRISTMAS SONGS (EP)

September 29, 1957

1. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
2. Blue Christmas
3. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas

ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM (LP)

October 15, 1957

1. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
2. White Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Blue Christmas
6. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
7. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
8. Silent Night
9. (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
10. I Believe
11. Take My Hand, Precious Lord
12. It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)

ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM (LP)

September 25, 1959

1. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
2. White Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Blue Christmas
6. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
7. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
8. Silent Night
9. (There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)
10. I Believe
11. Take My Hand, Precious Lord
12. It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)


CHRISTMAS WITH ELVIS (EP)

October 13, 1959

1. White Christmas
2. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
3. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
4. Silent Night


BLUE CHRISTMAS (SINGLE)

November 3, 1964

1. Blue Christmas
2. Wooden Heart



SANTA CLAUS IS BACK IN TOWN (SINGLE)

October 26, 1965

1. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
2. Blue Christmas



IF EVERY DAY WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS (SINGLE)

November 15, 1966

1. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
2. How Would You Like to Be

ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM
(LP, RCA CAMDEN)

November 20, 1970

1. Blue Christmas
2. Silent Night
3. White Christmas
4. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
5. I'll Be Home For Christmas
6. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
7. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
8. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
9. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
10. Mama Liked the Roses



ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM
(LP, PICKWOOD RECORDS)

December 1975

1. Blue Christmas
2. Silent Night
3. White Christmas
4. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
5. I'll Be Home For Christmas
6. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
7. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
8. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
9. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
10. Mama Liked the Roses


ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM
(AKA BLUE CHRISTMAS)
(LP / K7, RCA / RCA CAMDEN)

December 1976

1. Blue Christmas
2. Silent Night
3. White Christmas
4. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
5. I'll Be Home For Christmas
6. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
7. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
8. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
9. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
10. Mama Liked the Roses





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FTD'S VERSION

Title:
Elvis' Christmas Album
Label:
FTD [FTD 139] [506020 975079]
Format:
CD
Number of tracks:
24
Running time:
79:15
Type of album:
Studio
Linked to:
FTD discography
Year:
1957
Recorded:
January 12 - September 7, 1957
Released:
December 2014
Singles:
---


Unlike "Jailhouse Rock", a release that FTD managed to split into two double CDs despite the sparse material, "Elvis' Christmas Album" was not so lucky. The label had few Gospel and Christmas options to work with, preferring to focus on other songs from the time of the original LP recording and an interesting alternate takes or two.

With that, a single CD was created with the remastered album, three tracks from sessions from the time that would only be released years later and 9 alternative takes - 5 of "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)" and 4 of "It is No Secret (What God Can Do)". The CD contains the following tracks:

ORIGINAL LP
1. Santa Claus is Back in Town
2. White Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Blue Christmas
6. Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me)
7. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
8. Silent Night
9. (There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)
10. I Believe
11. Take My Hand, Precious Lord
12. It is No Secret (What God Can Do)
BONUS MASTERS
13. My Wish Came True
14. Treat Me Nice
15. Don't
BINAURAL SESSIONS
16. Peace in the Valley (Take 1)
17. Peace in the Valley (Takes 2, 3)
18. Peace in the Valley (Take 4)
19. Peace in the Valley (Takes 5*, 6*, 7)
20. Peace in the Valley (Takes 8*, 9 - Master)
21. It is No Secret (Takes 1, 2, 3)
22. It is No Secret (Takes 4*, 5)
23. It is No Secret (Takes 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*)
24. It is No Secret (Take 13 -  Master)
*previously unreleased takes

To close the album, FTD created a booklet with 20 pages of information about the record and the events that surrounded it, as the complete transcription of one of the most negative reviews of the time of the work, where the author classified it as "ridiculous and pathetic". There are also a variety of Jailhouse Rock photos and LP covers from various countries, including the very rare one from New Zealand.

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STEREO REISSUE

Title:
Elvis His First Christmas Album Now in Stereo
Label:
The Good Music [CDGM20203]
Format:
CD
Number of tracks:
20
Running time:
54:00
Type of album:
Studio
Linked to:
Unofficial discography
Year:
2020
Recorded:
September 1, 1956 - February 1, 1958
Released:
September 22, 2020
Singles:
---

For the first time since 1957, the iconic record reaches fans in stereo via The Good Music label in a semi-official release.

With a license acquired from Sony, the product was reworked so that the new version reflects with the highest quality possible the feeling of listening to the album in stereo, although it is not 100% real. Still, the listening experience is infinitely better than RCA's attempts at electronic stereo. As a bonus, the label made available some tracks also in stereo from the period 1956-59. The CD contains the tracks:

ORIGINAL ALBUM
1. Santa Claus is Back in Town
2. White Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
5. Blue Christmas
6. Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me)
7. Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
8. Silent Night
9. (There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)
10. I Believe
11. Take My Hand, Precious Lord
12. It is No Secret (What God Can Do)
BONUS MASTERS
13. Love Me
14. Lonesome Cowboy
15. I Need You So
16. Loving You
17. Playing For Keeps
18. True Love
19. My Wish Came True
20. Old Shep
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