“the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period” – Neal Umphred, All Music Guide
Santa Claus Is Back in Town
Here Comes Santa Claus
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me
Little Town of Bethlehem
There'll Be Peace in the Valley for Me
Take My Hand Precious Lord
It Is No Secret What God Can Do
Sales (in millions):
1 4 --
Peace in the Valley EP * (4/57) #25 US
Santa, Bring Back My Baby to Me (11/15/57) #7 UK
Santa Claus Is Back in Town (11/15/57) #41 UK
Blue Christmas (12/3/64) #11 UK, #55 CW, sales: 1 million
* All four songs on the Peace in the Valley EP (“There’ll Be Peace in the Valley for Me,” “It Is No Secret What God Can Do,” “I Believe,” and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”) are on the Christmas Album.
Notes: The 1994 release If Every Day Was Like Christmas features all the cuts from Elvis’ Christmas Album and the 1971 album The Wonderful World of Christmas as well as the 1966 title cut.
The tracks listed above are also available on the box set The King of Rock and Roll: The ‘50s Masters.
Elvis’ Christmas Album
This is “the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period, it stands with A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector as the very best of its genre.” NU It was Elvis Presley’s fourth album overall and first of two Christmas albums, “the other being Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas, released in the early 1970s. As of 2007, Elvis' Christmas Album is the top-selling holiday release of all time with 9 million in sales, according to the RIAA.” WK
The album has been reissued in many formats, but the original combined eight “seasonal standards and popular Christmas classics” NU with the four gospel cuts that comprised the Peace in the Valley EP, which was released in March 1957. The latter “included two spirituals by innovator Thomas A. Dorsey, Peace in the Valley and Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” WK
Meanwhile, the secular recordings included “outstanding versions of Blue Christmas and covers The Drifters’ arrangement of White Christmas.” NU Interestingly, while the Drifters’ version had been a top 10 R&B hit, it “attracted virtually no adverse reaction,” WK largely because “most mainstream stations did not take interest in The Drifters' version back then.” WK However, “after hearing Presley’s version of his song, which [composer Irving] Berlin saw as a ‘profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard’, he ordered his staff in New York to telephone radio stations across the US, demanding the song be discontinued from radio play. While most US radio stations ignored Berlin’s request, at least one disc jockey was fired for playing a song from the album, and most Canadian stations refused to play the album.” WK
Most of the songs were “performed in a more traditional manner appropriate to the solemnity of Christmas, although Elvis’ innate sense of occasion shone through on his left-of-centre reading of Ernest Tubb’s 1949 hit, Blue Christmas.” WK In addition, two new songs “were commissioned. One was Santa Bring My Baby Back (to Me) and the other (selected by Elvis to open the album), was a blues-based rock and roll number, Santa Claus Is Back In Town, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. This writer/producer team was responsible for some of 1950s rhythm and blues and rock and roll’s most finely-honed satire in their work with The Coasters, as well as penning ‘Hound Dog’ for Willie Mae Thornton and providing Elvis with some of his biggest hits, including ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Don’t.’” WK “Elvis had asked the pair to come up with another Christmas song during sessions for the album; within a few minutes, they had the song written and ready for recording.” WK “This slyly risqué number is given a full-throated treatment by Elvis who, aided by the gritty ensemble playing from his band, was determined to ensure that this Christmas album would not be easily ignored.” WK
“The original Elvis’ Christmas Album was out of print by the late 1960s. Interest in the album prompted RCA to re-release it in an altered version…in 1970. This version eliminated the four gospel tracks from Peace in the Valley, and added the 1966 holiday single ‘If Every Day Was Like Christmas,’ along with the 1970 non-seasonal b-side ‘Mama Liked The Roses,’ issued as the flip to Elvis' top ten single ‘The Wonder of You.’” WK The album would be released multiple times with various covers and track listings, most notably in 1975, 1977, and 1985. “The original 1957 version on CD has recently gone out of print, but all of the tracks are available on other compilations of Presley’s Christmas recordings, Christmas Peace from 2003, and Elvis Christmas from 2006. All the album’s songs are also included in the 1992 boxed set The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50s Masters.” WK