Over the holidays, we're looking back at some classic Christmas albums taking some track by track and just digging on others.
In 1957 at the near peak of his early success, Elvis Presley did what many artists did: He made a Christmas record. The result was what would become one of the best selling Christmas albums of all time and a classic called simply Elvis' Christmas Album, of course.
It contained the now famous "Blue Christmas" as well as a number of other carols and a few gospel tunes like "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," which were recorded on the EP Peace in the Valley a few years prior. The fact that the collection includes these gospel songs makes the controversy over his version of "White Christmas" even more laughable today.
Irving Berlin who penned the song apparently considered the Elvis version to be "profane" and called every radio station in America asking them to ban it from the airwaves. Many did comply with his request. Look, this was the same guy who was only shot from the waist up on the Ed Sullivan Show because people thought his hip gyrations were obscene. It only makes sense that they would think he was desecrating a beloved Christmas song like "White Christmas."
But, it went deeper than that. Elvis' version was done in the style of the Drifters, who had recorded the song several years before. But, because it was only played on black stations and never had any substantial popularity, it was largely ignored. Elvis, on the other hand, represented a serious threat to the powers that be.
Of course, the controversy simply fueled interest in the record and propelled it to even greater success.
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Whatever the controversy, it is now a classic and considered pretty damn tame by modern standards, and the record is played incessantly throughout the holidays.
Check out previous classic Christmas album recaps:
Perry Como - The Perry Como Christmas Album Bing Crosby - White Christmas Charles Brown - Merry Christmas Baby Johnny Mathis - Merry Christmas Andy Williams - The Andy Williams Christmas Album Phil Spector - A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records Frank Sinatra - A Jolly Christmas fro Frank Sinatra The Carpenters - Christmas Portrait Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas George Winston - December Various Artists - A Very Special Christmas Mel Torme - Christmas Songs