Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Christmas is all about kings.

We portray magi as kings, listen to carols from Kings and, heck, are even celebrating the birth of the king of kings, yet somehow, I don't know how, we always seem to overlook Elvis.

Hey - Elvis is 83% elvish.

Even the cover above, which was released on LP in 1971 and then snapped-up by myself on CD in 1999, was arguably aiming to catch my eye on the basis of its Xmas theme, rather than the king of rock'n'roll who sings on it. If you zoom-in on the snowman and santa images (bottom-left and bottom-right respectively) you can just about make out two early attempts at elfing the monochrome Pelvis, but that's about it.

It's a far cry from my old cassette copy of this from 1977:

That's really going to the opposite extreme isn't it? I mean they could have at least put the star of Bethlehem behind him or something.

Anyhow, this remains the only tape of Christmas songs that I've ever owned, and as such is a pretty mellow collection of predominantly slow numbers. Not much of a singalong then.

After opening with a couple of crooned traditional carols - O Come, All Ye Faithful and The First Noël - the bulk of the album contains songs about the festival itself, but with an unmistakable Presley angle. Titles like Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees, It Won't Seem Like Christmas (Without You) and Merry Christmas Baby should give you a broad idea of the sort of rocky rhythm and blues we're talking here. The inclusion of the Imperials Quartet on most tracks also expands the Elvis atmosphere nicely.

One curious mutation on the cassette release is the transposition of tracks 6 and 7. It's most likely just to even out the durations of each side of the tape, however I'd like to suppose that someone at RCA also realised that I'll Be Home On Christmas Day ran a little oddly straight before the similarly titled track 8 If I Get Home On Christmas Day. (which itself ought to come earlier chronologically!)

Either way it's a very short album - barely 36 minutes - so imagine my delight when today I realised that my CD copy contains two unheralded bonus tracks!

If Every Day Was Like Christmas is a slow gentle lament about how the goodwill of the season might as well continue all year round. That this track is omitted from the cassette, but illustrated bottom-left on the LP/CD artwork, suggests one possible reason for replacing the cover picture.

That's then followed by an alternate more country version of I'll Be Home On Christmas Day. This is quite a minimal production, really enabling the sheer beauty of the guy's voice to warble through over everything.

The one track which sums the whole album up though would have to be the third one - On A Snowy Christmas Night. This is a bit gospel in its lyrics, lazy in its tempo, and quite shamelessly northern hemisphere in its outlook:

"Mother Nature wears a bridal gown,
For the world is dressed in white,
There's a silent glow that fills the earth,
On a snowy Christmas night."

Yes, when it really snows, the whole planet gets covered.

In fact, the only offering more explicit on this subject is my favourite number on here, the immediately following Winter Wonderland, written by the entertainingly named Dick Smith. Following the Parson Brown version of the lyrics, it's somewhat more upbeat, features no references to Christmas, and best of all slows right down for an outstanding Presley close.

"Ah said a walkin'…

… In a winter…

… Won. Der. Laaaaaaaaand!!!"


Lawdy! Merreh Chris'mas, y'all.

(available on multiple media with various different track-listings here)


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