Elvis Presley Christmas Duets

By Blogcritics / David BowlingOct 24, 2008
Elvis Presley Christmas Duets

Ah the wonders of modern technology! The RCA label has released another Elvis Presley Christmas album but rather than just repackaging some of his holiday hits, they decided to get a little creative. They gathered together a number of country music’s biggest female stars to sing duets with him. Such artists as Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Leann Rimes, Wynonna Judd, Amy Grant, Gretchen Wilson, Anne Murray, and even Olivia Newton-John lend their voices to create duets on some of Elvis’ classic Christmas songs.

The original tracks have been remastered and more instrumentation has been added to create a fuller and different sound. Some of the background vocals have been changed or at least enhanced. The results add up to not only an interesting but an excellent album.

Martina McBride doe not overwhelm Elvis on “Blue Christmas” as she's been known to do with other artists. She gives a subtle performance that matches the smoothness of his vocal. The drum track is turned up to give the song a little more punch than the original.

Carrie Underwood plays it a little too conservative on the classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” There is just not enough of her on the track.

“Here Comes Santa Claus” finds Leann Rimes giving a perky vocal that compliments Elvis well. The instrumental backing is turned down a bit in order to focus on the purity of their voices.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” is probably the strongest track on the album. This is a blues rendition that fits Wynonna Judd well. She trades vocal runs with Elvis and more than holds her own. This is the track that I played over and over again.

“Silent Night” is presented in traditional style. Sara Evans vocal is excellent but I can’t help think that she and Carrie Underwood should have traded songs.

Amy Grant joins Elvis on “White Christmas.” The vocals are excellent but the tempo is faster than the original.

“Merry Christmas Baby” is a second blues outing and another superior track. A piano and drums dominate the instrumental backing with some clear harmonica added on the break. Gretchen Wilson doesn’t really duet with Elvis but rather adds phasing that enhances his vocal.

“O Little Town Of Bethlehem” is not a duet but a threesome. Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman bring their clear harmonies to this song and create a wonderful counterpoint. The three voices give this track a fuller sound than many of the others.

Anne Murray has a lower vocal register than the other singers on the album and as such creates a different sound when she combines it with Elvis’. “Sleigh Bells” is presented in traditional up-tempo form.

The Christmas hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” finds Olivia Newton-John providing half of the duet. Her voice is not a match for Elvis, so she wisely stays in the background.

Also included are three bonus tracks of Elvis singing alone. “The First Noel,” "If I Get Home On Christmas Day," and “Winter Wonderland” have all been issued a number of times over the years. Here we find them remastered with extra instruments added. The sound is so clear that you can actually hear the intake of Elvis’ breath.

Christmas Duets presents some classic Elvis in a new and creative way. It is a good and fun holiday listen. Merry Christmas to all fans of the true king of rock ‘n’ roll!


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Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 2, 2008report abuse
Well as I won the CD I am lucky to have received that one today (Thank you Editors!). It sort of completes my collection. My first run was not so enthousiastically. Some parts it is hard to hear Elvis while the much higher woman voice is sharply dominant. Will listen to it again (twice) in the car, while alone. In any case it has brought new focus on The King, that may lead to new appreciation and understanding of his contribution to music! And there are people who like it all the way! Mission accomplished.
Brian Chatters (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 26, 2008report abuse
Jerry, there is a link to "RCA" from the Sony/BMG UK website.
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 26, 2008report abuse
I wasn't aware that there still was an RCA brand.
Brian Chatters (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 25, 2008report abuse
PS Just visited the Sony BMG UK website - Christmas Duets is not even listed on their official site! Further, Elvis isn't listed as an RCA artist! What's going on?
Brian Chatters (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 25, 2008report abuse
I got my copy from HMV online yesterday. What a great album! The nonsense with the UK promotion (or lack of) continues! Why isn't the album available in the chain stores like Tesco, Asda, etc? A TV advert would really make sales take off but I can't see that happening. It seems that Sony/BMG really don't care about Elvis anymore. It a bit of a joke when "Connie's Christmas Album" is outselling Elvis (for non UK readers, Connie Talbot is 2008's answer to Shirley Temple - YUK!!!!).
Viva Las Chris! (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 24, 2008report abuse
In the UK - RCA where are you! No chart entry is directly because of your incompetence. Thsu should be a massive hit with its wonderful songs and novelty of the King's amazing duets. This is another lost opportunity. Why?
Devon (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 21, 2008report abuse
Im not sure where all of the people are from who might be reading this but here in Michigan this C.D. is one hot selling C.D. I got mine the day it came out but they can not keep them in the stores here. Looks like the King is on his way to makeing history agine, can you say Million seller.
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 17, 2008report abuse
As pointed out, the "Promotion" of the "Christmas duets-CD" starts this week, with a "Music video" for "Blue Christmas", going out, to TV, and the internet. And, alot of the retail stores, are putting the CD on sale for $9.99. Expect a big "surge" in sales from now until Christmas.
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 15, 2008report abuse
The marketing campaign kicks off in the U.S. on Monday.
Viva Las Chris! (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 14, 2008report abuse
A Marketing Disater - RCA do not seem to care that the best selling artist of all time has this amazing, innovative, CD released with a whimper. No advertising - no marketing ! Do they want a hit or not?
And how about a single Blue Christmas - surely someone in RCA sees beyond an office door?
Elvis Rimes (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 13, 2008report abuse
I agree with Natha. I really struggled to find it in the shops in the UK, although it is widely available online. Maybe there will be a big push nearer to Xmas?
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 12, 2008report abuse
Just got my copy from Amazon today. its not a travesty like the remix of Baby Lets Play House. At least it is only marketed for Christmas and beats another tired old compilation. No harm done at all.
sitdown68 (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 10, 2008report abuse
I am very happy to read these comments here, as I am one of the provoters for this great project. I will purchase my copy close to Christmas I guess. Although I am strummin' "Blue Christmas" on my old guitar whenever I feel like to do so;-) It is one of the best projects of the year so far.
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 9, 2008report abuse
I showed my wife the nice cover on this site and decided to buy it just for the collection. But it was not on sales in the regular (big!) shops down town where I live. So how will this ever be a top selling CD for the King?
Elvis Rimes (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 9, 2008report abuse
I was really sceptical about this release as I have always thought the 50s xmas tracks to be nigh on perfect. What comes across on this cd is just how in awe the other performers are to the king - it is a litle manufactured to be honest BUT it is a polished and very desirable product. The First Noel is just breathtaking, the piano really compliments Elvis' vocals. A great release, well done BMG.
Kev (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 7, 2008report abuse
I received my copy of this today, played it straight away and really enjoyed it. I'm not terribly keen on Silent Night as a song and this version was the only track that I could have done without but this is only a very small personal point. Overall the duets are excellent and the new backing tracks are fantastic, although not surprising considering some Nashville's finest are involved. Anyone who doubts this release should give it a chance - are this tracks better than the originals, no - are they different and enjoyable, double yes. For me this is a new way of listening to very familiar Christmas songs by Elvis and I really hope that it's a success and that the planned duets CD of non-Christmas songs goes ahead next year. Although, please make sure that the duet partners are genuine Elvis fans (Jon Bon Jovi and Cher spring to mind).
Orion (profilecontact) wrote on Nov 2, 2008report abuse
"Ah the wonders of modern technology!" is the way that David begins his Blog on this CD. I must admit I was very skeptical about this release, but I find it very enjoyable. Perhaps it's because I'm reside in the US that I am familiar with all of the country artists that are "dueting" with Elvis - not an easy task with the vocal runs that Elvis employed. My only complaint is that since Elvis' vocal on the 70's cuts was on a separate channel they should have cut out the shouts of "wake up Put" etc. during the jam on "Merry Christmas, Baby" - by doing so it would have improved an already great recording. It would have made it more enjoyable. That's my only complaint. The new version of "The First Noel" is amazing !!! It will leave you speechless - the piano and vocals by Elvis are breathtaking, and worth the price of the CD alone.
Devon (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 29, 2008report abuse
I own every recording Elvis ever did, so i would like to think i know a little about his music. i would tell anyone who knows about Elvis, buy this C.D. you will find it very well done, it brings Elvis into the limelight of 2008. Very well done enjoy and merryxmas baby. T.C.B
bajo (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 27, 2008report abuse
Haven't got it yet! But, of the three 70's tracks at the end, I wish they had chosen three others!
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 27, 2008report abuse
Nice cover
Rev. Gerhard (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 26, 2008report abuse
Yes. A little excursion into the wildness could give a new input to the Elvisworld. But of course the originals are unique and unapproachable. Would be a tragedy if they think they should denaturalize his entire Oeuvre (work) in that way.
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 26, 2008report abuse
I'm 58. I've heard the originals since day 1. They won't be forgotten. This gives the originals a new, fresh sound. Are they better? That's a matter of personal opinion. I will say that overall I enjoy this album and its fresher sound. If this album helps young people discover Elvis' music (Christmas or otherwise) GREAT!
Rev. Gerhard (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 25, 2008report abuse
The most important thing is, that we don't forget the originals. But perhaps one person or another will discover them by this loop way.
Dan (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 24, 2008report abuse
The more is listen, the better it gets. However, the best track on the disc is the remastered "First Noel". I can just picture Elvis standing in front of an orchestra, singing his heart out.. Fantastic. Listen to it loud!

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