Elvis Presley’s “Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas” Reviewed
There is a terrific review of album # 46, Elvis Presley’s Elvis SIngs The World Of Christmas here, it’s on my very favorite Elvis website, the astonishingly complete Elvis Australia. For the facts I use on these Presley review, I research on Wikipedia and Elvis Australia,and that’s about it. That’s nearly all they are good for, EA might consolidate ideas about the albums you already have, Wikipedia won’t, but for unadorned facts, you can try either. The Sings Christmas review opens with this bon mot: “Maybe it was the great big decorated Christmas tree that was placed in the middle of RCA’s Studio B that got Elvis in the right mood for the session. Maybe Lamar Fike dressed up as Santa Claus did the trick. Whatever the reason Elvis seems to be having a good time from the start.” Lamar was a member in good standing of the Memphis Mafia. and during two nights in May 1971 (the album was released on October, he joined Elvis, producer Felton Jarvis, and Presley’s band, to record Elvis follow up to his 1957 Elvis Christmas Album.
Sort of obviously, it isn’t quite as good, there is no “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)” though there is “Merry Christmas, Baby” to put the taste of pussy right in your mouth, and the move from the opening, gloriously sacred, “Come All Ye Faithful” and for an additional ten songs, Elvis is filled with the spirit on some terrific hymns, like a choir boy of your dreams, some country pop, some secular romancing the Christmas, and some childlike glee.
Sure, this is a genre exercise, and sure the songs needed to be better but from the get go, the two traditional carols that open the album, Presley has you under his charm, and a coupla songs later, “Winter Wonderland” is pure American Yuletide whateverisms.: it’s like walking through Macy’s except that guitar solo while low key is appreciated and the growl at the end makes you wonder what Presley plans to do once he stops walking. Where the album falters a little is in the mainstream 71 pop moves, the title track is abysmal, “the wonderful world of Christmas was made for the young and the old” isn’t quite Bob Dylan. This orchestrated treacle is saved only by, you guessed it, Presley’s singing… and the church bells which are a pleasant surprise. Side Two opens with the best new song on the album, “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day” -a nice little heartbreaker, with Presley trying to get home for Christmas, by train of course. The next song, “If I Get Home On Christmas Day” is a touch more hopeful. Of course if you’ve seen that Presley in DC movie, you’ll remember he was hightailing it to the capital with neither money nor credit cards, just his royal Elvisness, for Christmas day.
That’s the problem with the album, the current songs suck quite a bit. They are all the same, “The Wonderful World Of Christmas”, “It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)”, “Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees” -they really aren’t good songs. The latter was co-written by Judas Red West (you know: “Elvis What Happened”). and proves it. The songs are truth in advertising, it is a vision of Elvis Christmas moods, and “Merry Christmas Baby” is beyond great, a sleazy strippy come on underneath your mistletoe. Indeed, it is so great it throws you for a loop, everything else sounds a little whatever. How can you go from that to “Silver Bells” and why would you anyway? I’m guessing you know “Merry Christmas Baby” so let me recommend “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day”. It isn’t a lost Elvis classic, true, but even so, it is Elvis really being Elvis.
The album was a hit, going gold, and now is multi-platinum.