on February 11, 2004
One of the few "rock and roll" Christmas albums I can stomach, "Elvis' Christmas Album" was recorded in the heat of summer 1957 and was regarded as an act of blashphemy upon its release later in the year.
How dare this ducktailed rock and roller with his pink Cadillacs and sexually suggestive performing style...this pelvis thrusting pied piper of indecency...this...this...multi-millionaire juvenile delinquent, record "White Christmas"? Even the song's composer, Irving Berlin, was upset and asked radio stations not to play Presley's version.
There are moments on this disc when the King seems to playfully mock the sentiments of some of these songs as if to taunt his critics, but for the most part he sounds sincere and never fails to be anything but superb. He breathes startling new life into "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" and makes "I'll Be Home for Christmas" his own. "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane") is delightful, and "Santa Claus is Back in Town" is as raunchy in its way as his recording of "One Night."
The album is padded out with four sublime gospel recordings originally released on the "Peace in the Valley" EP that break the lighthearted mood a bit, but also place the focus on the season's true meaning.
This is a true classic, but Elvis fans who can't get enough of the King in yuletide mode might be advised to pick up one of the Christmas compilations (there are several) that include all of Presley's seasonal recordings.