Saturday, September 09, 2023

Review Greatest Christmas Songs

Released by the German ZYX record label are a CD Limited Edition LP titled ‘Greatest Christmas Songs’. Although the sun is shining brightly, and I used to play Italo disco releases from this label with temperatures this high some 30 years ago, I now found myself playing the Christmas carols loudly!
The design of this seasonal LP really suits the Christmas theme. Looking at the promotional SUN picture with the Christmas decorations, the name Bing Crosby crossed my mind. It doesn't get more like Christmas than that! 

On the back a more modern design with the lightbulbs or Christmas balls we know from the more recent releases like ‘Elvis Presley - The Classic Christmas Album’. 
To top it off, the music is pressed on green colored vinyl. It is nice and flat, even if it didn’t feel like 180 Gr. vinyl, it played smoothly throughout the album. The occasional click from the static, playing this new LP straight out of the paper sleeve, added to the authentic sound of an original Elvis album.  
Bothe the CD and vinyl edition contain 14 Christmas classics, well 7 actually as 5 songs are Gospel classics and the 2 bonus songs are pop songs. The album contains the 12 songs from Elvis’ original 1957 Christmas album, but in a different sequence, mixing-up the original secular Christmas songs and carols from side A and the Gospel numbers from the B side. 
Listening to these sincere performances, I can’t understand what the fuss was about when 'Elvis' Christmas Album' was released some 66 years ago; there isn’t a bad performance on this album. Compared to what Elvis did with Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s All Right’, he approached Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ sincerely and with respect.
But the highlights remain the "new" Leiber and Stoller classic ‘Santa Claus Is Back in Town’, just listen to Elvis and the band’s full-throated rendition, which we also hear on the classic ‘Blue Christmas’ with those recognizable backing vocals by Millie Kirkham. 
With the new pop-like Schroeder / Demetrius composition ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)’ Elvis gave his young fans something new and familiar sounding too. And the song still stands strong today. 

Like on more of his early albums, Elvis was very involved in the recording of the songs, perhaps as it allowed him to record some songs from the musical genre closest to his heart; Gospel music. The fact that he personally arranged ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ underlines his dedication on these recordings even more.
That leaves the two bonus songs; ‘That’s When Your Heartaches Begin’ and ‘I Beg of You’. Odd choices for a Christmas album, especially when there are so many more suitable alternatives available. The first one kind-of fits the Christmas theme, but Elvis didn’t sing ‘I Beg of You’ under the mistletoe …
The album looks authentic, with an entertaining and diverse Christmas listening experience ... and two "odd-balls" dangling in the Christmas three. But let's be honest, you can't really go wrong revisiting Elvis’ original ‘Christmas Album’. 

For me this new album nicely fits in the Christmas tradition of buying a “new” Elvis Christmas album (almost) each year. And for those who prefer the originals, those two LPs will be re-issued on vinyl by Sony Legacy in October 2023.

The album is available from the >>> ZYX website and Amazon.