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Elvis X-mas CD On Sunday

November 22, 2010 | Music

It's an early Christmas gift from The Mail on Sunday! Next week they’re giving away a CD featuring 15 of Elvis Presley’s greatest Christmas songs free inside every paper. The tracks on Christmas Peace, including White Christmas and Silent Night, are taken from the two albums of festive music recorded by The King – and there’s also a holiday single he released in 1966. The first of those two albums, Elvis’s Christmas Album, topped the US charts on its release in 1957 – and made No 2 in the UK – rounding off an incredible two years since he exploded on to the scene internationally with Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes. It was made up of eight festive numbers – all featuring on Christmas Peace – and a handful of gospel tunes. Elvis, then 22, was just emerging from the hip-swivelling notoriety that had characterised his early years. Earlier in 1957, Frank Sinatra had attacked the new breed of rock ’n’ rollers as ‘cretinous goons’ and ‘sideburned delinquents’. And confronted with The King’s version of White Christmas, the song’s horrified author Irving Berlin launched a largely unsuccessful campaign to stop radio stations from playing it.

Listening now to Elvis’s gentle account of the song, delicately played by his regular band with the accompaniment of backing singers The Jordanaires, it is difficult to comprehend the great songwriter’s fury. At the time, Elvis had just moved into his Graceland home in Memphis, and he loved the festive period. One photo that year captured the smiling star surrounded by piles of presents, under the watchful gaze of a large stuffed panda. Out on his enormous front lawn, he had erected a giant Santa, with sleigh and reindeer and a huge neon sign conveying Elvis’s Christmas wishes to the world.

By the time he recorded his next Christmas album in 1971, entitled Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas – the best of which is also included on Christmas Peace – his days of outraging public morals were far behind him, though his love of the festive season was ­undiminished. Santa and his reindeers were once again on the front lawn of Grace­land, along with a life-size nativity scene acquired in the Sixties. They are all still erected every Christmas – enduring like the music Elvis recorded to celebrate his favourite time of year. Here is the complete listing for the Christmas Peace CD:

White Christmas (In 1957, new Elvis songs generated an automatic reaction of shock and outrage among the older generation, and this cover of Bing Crosby’s greatest hit was one of his most controversial. Composer Irving Berlin called Presley’s version ‘a profane parody’ of the original.)

Here Comes Santa Claus (For a young rebel, Elvis had quite traditional tastes, and this jaunty tune was another Forties classic, written by ‘The Singing Cowboy’, Gene Autry.)

Blue Christmas (Elvis’s version of this 1948 country lament added rock ’n’ roll touches while enshrining the song as a Christmas standard.)

Santa Claus Is Back In Town (This erupts into a storming, somewhat lascivious blues number and was Elvis’s choice to open his first festive record.)

Silent Night (Elvis is one of more than 300 artists to have recorded a version of this. Bing Crosby, the Christmas specialist, got there first, of course.)

I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Another adaptation of an old Bing Crosby hit which was the most popular request among serving American soldiers during the Second World War. Within months of releasing his own version, Elvis would be drafted.)

O Come All Ye Faithful (A grand interpretation with crashing drums, orchestra and choir, this opened Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas, his second Christmas album.)

Santa Bring My Baby Back (One of two songs commissioned for Elvis’s Christmas Album, this swinging number was penned by two Presley writers, Schroeder and ­Deme­trius. Schroe­­der later wrote It’s Now Or Never.)

O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Back in reflective mood, The King croons his way through this timeless carol in its less familiar US version.)

The First Noel (Elvis captures the sound of a church recital with this take on a devotional favourite, adorned with organ, piano and choir.)

Winter Wonderland (Back to his country and rock ’n’ roll roots, Winter Wonderland was 37 years old by the time Elvis recorded it.)

If Every day Was Like Christmas (Red West, one of Presley’s Memphis Mafia entourage, wrote this for his old high school friend. It was recorded in Nashville in 1966 and released as a single.)

On A Snowy Christmas Night (Sentimental ballad recorded, like the rest of The Wonderful World Of Christmas, in May 1971.)

The Wonderful World Of Christmas (Christmas was indeed a wonderful world for Elvis, who would shower family and friends with presents. His gifts for wife Priscilla included a horse, a pearl and diamond ring, and a toy poodle she named Honey.)

It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (A song of regretful absence closes Christmas Peace. Elvis spent many Christmases away from home, but 1971 found him at Graceland, though trouble was looming. He and Priscilla would split in February, 1972.)

Jerome wrote on November 22, 2010
Hail to the Daily Mail!!..
Tony C wrote on November 22, 2010
Yes, the Daily Mail have certainly given Elvis plenty of promotion this year. The circulation is huge when CDs or DVDs are given out.
Harvey Alexander wrote on November 22, 2010
Wonder if 'Silent Night' will have the clipped intro? Just hope none of the 'pretend' duets slip in there.
burton wrote on November 24, 2010
WHAT! no Merry Christmas Baby!
al shookup wrote on November 24, 2010
Nice picture...good mix of songs...good for you Daily Mail!
vinny wrote on November 24, 2010
Looks like i'll have to buy the mail this week then. cracking picture