Catalog Number: CPL1-4395
Recorded: 1957-1971 | Nashville, Hollywood
Ranked: #15 in Pastimescape’s 50 Greatest Elvis Albums of All Time
Other than listening to the radio, Christmas music at my family’s house as I was growing up consisted of this 1982 record album and Merry Christmas From Elvis (1987, cassette tape). Though my family also had a decades-old copy of Elvis’ Christmas Album, that record was not often played in my childhood due to being in poor condition.
Memories Of Christmas is a perfectly named album for me, because it indeed fills me with nostalgia for many special Christmases in the 1980s. My brother recently gave me the album, along with the rest of his Elvis records, and this marks the first time I have played Memories Of Christmas on vinyl in over 20 years.Side A
- O Come, All Ye Faithful (1971)
This previously unreleased version is a splice between the master (Take 1) and Take 2. It actually proves to be better than either take alone, making it my “go to” version of the song by Elvis. Fantastic performance and a perfect opener to the album. Sound quality on the record itself is excellent.
- Silver Bells (1971)
Another stellar Christmas performance, first heard on Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas (1971). I love the acoustic guitar here.
- I’ll Be Home on Christmas Day (1971)
Here it is, the highlight of the album–the previously unreleased re-recording of “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day.” Attempted in June 1971, this is a bluesier take on the Michael Jarrett song than the May 1971 version that became the official master on The Wonderful World Of Christmas. For my money, this is Elvis at his best.
- Blue Christmas (1957)
It is apparently unlawful for RCA to release an Elvis Christmas compilation without this worn-out tune, featuring the grating background vocals of Millie Kirkham. I would have preferred the use of a live version from 1968. In fact, what would have been at the time the previously unreleased June 27 6 PM Show performance captured for the ELVIS special would have been perfect.
- Santa Claus Is Back in Town (1957)
Side A finishes up in style with the greatest Elvis Christmas song of all, the down and dirty “Santa Claus Is Back In Town,” arguably the only real competition against “Reconsider Baby” (1960) as his finest blues performance.
- Merry Christmas Baby (1971)
Speaking of bluesy Elvis Christmas songs, here is another fine entry. This is the previously unreleased extended version of “Merry Christmas Baby,” over two minutes longer than the album master (Wonderful World Of Christmas) and nearly five minutes longer than the single version. As a kid, I loved hearing Elvis ad-lib, “Gave me a diamond ring for Christmas; now I’m putting it through Al’s mike.” Unfortunately, there are a couple of pops/crackles on the record on this song, but nothing too distracting. Side A had no noise at all! Like the 1969 live versions of “Suspicious Minds,” “Merry Christmas Baby” just goes on forever. In both cases, a very, very good thing.
- If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
This is the previously unreleased “undubbed” version of the master. The piano is beautiful here, and I believe more prominent than on the CD version I have of this performance. There is a “raw” sound to this version, but it makes for a very beautiful and effective performance.
- Christmas Message from Elvis/Silent Night (1967/1957)
The opening message was recorded for Season’s Greetings From Elvis, his 1967 Christmas special that aired on radio stations across the United States. My only gripe here is that the message originally flowed into “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1957). The compilation producers decided to splice “Silent Night” on instead. I am assuming it is because they wanted to “bookend” the album with traditional religious songs. You can actually hear “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” begin during Elvis’ message before the segue into “Silent Night.” Unfortunately, this has never been corrected on subsequent releases of the message. The label has even released “Silent Night” on at least one Christmas compilation since then that did not contain the message, yet had the beginning of the song chopped off due to apparently using this version. Sloppy. I knew and recognized none of this when I first heard this album back in the 1980s. I loved hearing the message from Elvis, and I must admit, I still find it pretty cool today. Overall, this record sounds incredible, with the only extraneous noise being those two pops on “Merry Christmas Baby.”
With that in mind, I’d like to wish you and your family a Christmas full of joy and peace.
Thank you to my brother for giving me the Elvis records that inspired this series of posts.