By Cricket's Frog Blog/ Cricket Moss,
December 21, 2009
Christmas is almost close enough to touch! Hopefully, the holiday spirit has found its way into your heart by now. So many people I know have said they just “can’t get into it” this year. I feel sorry for them.
For me, music plays a big role in super-charging the Christmas spirit. How can you not sing along when you hear Burl Ives singing “Holly Jolly Christmas,” or tap your fingers when Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” comes on the radio? And doesn’t everyone get chills when they hear Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”? I like to say it isn’t officially Christmas until I play “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer” by Joe Diffie on Froggy, but I guess you can’t really lump that little gem into the same category.
An other classic holiday tune for many Americans is Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.” Last year, the song got new life when it was re-recorded for the “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets” CD. The lucky lady who got to sing with the King? Martina McBride. Not only did she get to duet with Elvis, but she starred in a video with him, too! How was this possible?
First, footage was taken from Presley’s 1968 “comeback” special. Amazingly, this is the only known video of Elvis performing a Christmas song! Conveniently, there was an open space between Elvis and guitarist Scotty Moore onstage, where Martina could be spliced in. Producer George Flanigen scoured the original Elvis special for appropriate shots of the King, and pieced bits and pieces of video footage together. Martina filmed her parts in front of a “green screen.” The end result was effective, creepy even. They really seem to be looking at each other when they’re singing! All in all, Flanigen says, it took about four weeks to make the video.
Enjoy Martina McBride’s death-defying duet with the late, great King here today!
With the way some of the UK fans blasted these country ladies as non-talent hillbillies, its no wonder it is blocked. They are talented singers and Carrie is one of the biggest record sellers in the US. They deserved better treatment even if you heard of them. Remember Elvis was labeled a hillbilly also. Glad to see it doing well.
Having bought this cd last year and listened to it numerous times, I can confirm that none of the US country singers sing in tune or coan apparently singing in the same key for more than 5 seconds - without exception, their voices are very poor. Olivia doesn't sound too good either - her best singing days are long gone. That isn't to say you can't still enjoy the songs as some are ok (eg Blue Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus) but many simply dreadful. The concept was good, the execution terrible.
Got this CD last year for free and it's still in plastic, what I heard on the internet was MORE than enough. Gladly this video is blocked in the Netherlands too (somehow that makes me wonder how it arrived on this site :-))
Well Steve_V country music is seen as a bit of a joke novelty type music in the UK so to see Elvis lumped together with a bunch of people we've never heard of who are described as Country music stars is a bit of a turn off. I understand that country music is huge in the states but here it rarely gets a mention. I know people will argue otherwise but i don't see any country in Elvis at all and any songs that he sings that are described as country i just don't see. Of course Country music would have played a big part of Elvis's youth when growing up but did he ever sound like a country singer?. Thankfully to me, no.
Andy - Elvis was considered nothing BUT a country singer in the 70's and had his only really high chart showings on the country music charts after Burning Love. It may have been different in the UK but in the states he was played mostly on country stations (pop stations abandoned him) so the duets with country ladies is only natural. I would have preferred other singers myself but it is what it is. This CD is getting airplay again this Christmas on all radio staions so it is a good thing. The added instrumental backings bring new life to the songs despite some of the ladies hogging the spotlight. And yes country is big in the US. It accounts for most of the US CD sales yearly.
Hi dgirl - agree about the 70's but i think that was more to do with the fact that country charts was the only place that would play Elvis. Was Elvis aiming to be a country singer in the 70's? I doubt it, he'd just abandoned rock so there was nowhere else to go.
I'm one of the worst offenders at being negative towards country music and the whole Christmas Duets album--except the 3 tracks with just Elvis (The First Noel is especially great). And I am from New Orleans, down south. I consider Country and Rap similarly--one caters to the lowest common denominator of white folks and one of black folks. This is, of course, a massive over-simplification and stereotype, but as a shallow stereotype, it's kinda true. Heavy Metal is another one I hate. (Wow, I am full of hate! Happy Holidays everybody!)
The fact is, this duets album really truly did suck. And as much as I am not a fan of these twangy country ladies, I don't think a "pop" version would fair much better. An Elvis duet with Bono, Prince or Springsteen is probably not going to work either (and I love Springsteen and Prince). The two Frank Sinatra cds that came out in the 80s or early 90s with duets was pretty decent. The Duet of "Unforgettable" with Nat and Natalie Cole was good. Elvis and Lisa Marie on "Don't Cry Daddy" was good ("In The Ghetto" was not)... these things are so hit or miss. They put out a CD of duets with Dean Martin after he died to and really only one ("Baby O" with Paris Bennett--who I have never even heard of) was any good.
I think the best bet for attempting the duet thing with Elvis (if they have to) might be to get some other folks from beyond the grave. After Sinatra died, and Nat King Cole was long dead, they created a very good duet of The Christmas Song with both of them. I could imagine a decent duet of Elvis and Dean Martin, and they have lots of songs in common. Would it be a hit? No. With critics maybe. I really think the duet thing just won't work with Elvis. I am still a believer in remixes (theoretically) and a huge fan or recording the backing tracks, as on the old Guitar Man album from 1980 or on those 3 tracks on this Christmas cd. I think you can use the duet possibility sparingly.
Get a well respected music critic to make some smart choices for a cd of Elvis music that is lesser known but really great songs, work on modernizing the backing tracks, re-recording, adding strings or whatever is needed to make it sound fresh and throw one duet on it as a bonus.
If you dont know that much of Elvis musis has country roots then i dont know if your hearing what im hearing,but you have to be,one of Elvis best albums of the 70's was a album called of all things Elvis Country! I myself dont like many of the artists on this collection, im no carrie underwood fan and i find the inclusion of anything gretchen wilson sings to be a joke,the concept made sence the final holds no interest for me! Much of country music today is either absurb songs with extra twang added or pop music is disguise!
Hey i like country - always have, I love elvis when he's doing country too. On the whole the Christmas duets is ok but no i haven't heard of these ladies (except for olivia), maybe a country duets would have made more sense with a few male country singers in there like Garth Brooks. as it is unless you read the booklet its hard to tell one femal voice from another on the duets Cd(except for olivia - bless her). I love the remixed Christmas Elvis soloo tracks at the end - very christmassy. oh, merry christmas folks!
I've lived in the South all my life, and have never heard anybody refer to Elvis as a "country singer" In the 50's nor in 70's. Its almost laughable to say he was. and I've followed him since the "Dorsy Brothers Shows" Remember, he is the King of ' Rock and Roll' . Btw, a lot of todays Country music sounds pretty close to Pop music...for whatever that's worth. Nuff said!