Merry Christmas Baby (New Vinyl Release) By Elvis Presley

February 28, 2017


Many people are unaware that Elvis Presley’s biggest selling studio album was his late 1950’s Christmas release. It also expanded his commercial appeal beyond his rock and roll teenage base as millions of adults bought the album which veered from his rock roots toward a more traditional pop sound.

Lately, there has been an increasing vinyl resurgence and while Elvis’ Christmas material has been released dozens of times and it many formats; Merry Christmas Baby is a vinyl-only release issued on red and green vinyl. So crack up those record players because Elvis is coming to town.

The music was remastered from the original tapes and modern technology gives it a clarity of sound missing from many of the previous releases. When played on the proper equipment, it provides a superior listening experience.

As Elvis’ career progressed, his albums became more haphazard and inconsistent but he never issued a poor or even an average Christmas, gospel, or sacred album. He always seemed more connected and invested with this type of material.

The 17 tracks travel from hymns such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” to the light hearted “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” to such classics as “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “White Christmas.”

“Blue Christmas” has a bit of a kick to it as it pays homage to his rock and roll roots. He captures the wistful and nostalgic nature of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” just right. He even manages to turn light-weight material such as “If Everyday Was Like Christmas” and “Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees” into acceptable holiday fare.

There is still a vast Elvis fan base that will purchase just about any new release. However, if you have never been exposed to his holiday material or want to listen to some Elvis the way it was originally intended, then Merry Christmas Baby is an album for you.

Good Luck Charm By Elvis Presley

August 6, 2014


When Elvis Presley’s “Good Luck Charm” reached number one on the Billboard Magazine pop Singles Chart, it was the seventh consecutive year he had a single reach the top of the charts, which was a record at the time. The Beatles would equal it, 1964-1970.

By 1962, Elvis had reached a transition point in his career. His military service was in the past and now he was concentrating on films. His music was moving from rock ‘n’ roll to more of a pop sound that would increasingly appear on his movie soundtracks.

Elvis entered the RCA Nashville recording studio, October 15-16, under the direction of co-producers Steve Sholes and Chet Atkins. Some of the musicians present were guitarists Jerry Kennedy & Scotty Moore, bassist Bob Moore, pianist Floyd Cramer, drummer D.J. Fontana, and sax player Boots Randolph.

“Good Luck Charm” was a mix of rock and pop that, despite all the backing musicians, kept the main focus upon Elvis’ voice. It was a simple story type song that dominated the pre-Beatles era. It was a mid-tempo tune that bubbled along and was perfect for radio play at the time as it just stayed in your mind. Background vocals were by the Jordanaires and female singer Millie Kirkham. Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires provided the duet vocals.

The song Elvis replaced was “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares of the Donna Reed Show fame. She would later co-star in three movies with him. The song would also signal a downturn in Elvis’ career. While he would continue to have hit songs, he would not have another chart topper for seven years when “Suspicious Minds” reached number one during 1969.

“Good Luck Charm” may not be Elvis’ most memorable or best single release but it was very good in its own right. Over one million Elvis fans thought it good enough to purchase the seven inch 45 back in 1962, which enabled it to become the number one song in the United States on April 21, 1962 for two weeks.

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley

June 2, 2013

There was a rumour that Elvis liked teddy bears and so thousands of fans sent him all sorts of the bears. He ended up giving them to charity. But that did not end the story of Elvis and the teddy bears.

He was working on a new movie, LOVING YOU, and one of the songs written especially for the movie and to capitalize on the teddy bear publicity was about the loveable bears. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” was released prior to the movie and became one of the biggest hits of his career topping all of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Charts.

Best Sellers In Sores Chart – 7/8/57 – 7 weeks at number one.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – 7/29/57 – 3 weeks at number one.
Billboard Top 100 – 7/15/57 – 7 weeks at number one.

While “Teddy Bear” was number one, Dick Clark’s AMERICAN BANDSTAND went national but Elvis was one of very few artists never to appear on the program.

Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley

January 10, 2013

The Rock and Roll era may have started in 1955 when “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and The Comets reached number one on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Singles Charts during 1955. Still, some very non-rock songs had reached number one such as “Lisbon Antigua” by Nelson Riddle and “Poor People Of Paris” by Les Baxter who followed each other at the top of the charts during early 1956. Enter Elvis Presley!

On November 22, 1955, RCA announced that they had bought the contact of Elvis Presley from the Sun label for the sum of $35,000 plus another $5000 for Elvis. His first recording session for the label took place January 10 and 11 in Nashville and one of the songs he recorded was “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was released as the A side of his first single for the label.

“Heartbreak Hotel” was one of the biggest hits of his career as it topped all four BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts.

Beat Sellers In Stores Chart – 4/21/56 – Eight weeks at number one.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – 5/12/56 – Three weeks at number one.
Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart – 5/5/56 – Eight weeks at number one.
Billboard Top 100 – 5/5/56 – Seven weeks at number one.

Elvis proved to be more than a successful artist who reached number one. He changed not only American music but American culture as well. “Heartbreak Hotel” was the beginning of Elvis Presley’s massive popularity.

Wear My Ring Around My Neck 45 by Elvis Presley

November 11, 2012

Elvis had had five number one singles in a row. “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” broke that string when it peaked at number two on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart during late April of 1958. It was only the second RCA label single not to reach the top of the pop charts. Oddly it did reach number one on the Rhythm & Blues Chart, which was a stretch. It also reached number three on the country chart, which was another stretch.

By 1958, Elvis was beginning to move in a more pop direction. “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” was the middle ground between rock and pop and was very catchy, which was perfect for AM radio at the time. Like many of his releases, the flip side also received quite a bit of radio play. “Dontcha Think It’s Time” reached number 15 on the pop chart.

“Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” is a very recognizable Elvis hit and has appeared on numerous compilations. Just for the record it was kept from the number one position by “Witch Doctor” by David Seville.

His Latest Flame/Little Sister 45 by Elvis Presley

April 16, 2012

“(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame” was written by the songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. It was first recorded by Del Shannon for his RUNAWAY album.

It was Elvis Presley who provided the definitive version of the song. Released during August of 1961, it reached number four on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. The flip side, “Little Sister,” also charted at number five making it a true two-sided hit single. It did better in the U.K. as it went all the way to number one.

“His Latest Flame/Little Sister” caught Elvis at a transition pint in his career. He was beginning to leave the raw rock ‘n’ roll of his early career behind and move toward a pop style.

Both songs had a little bite to them and remain two of the better songs in his vast catalogue.

Baby Let’s Play House 45 by Elvis Presley

March 11, 2012

Elvis in early Sun label rockabilly mode. “Baby Let’s Play House” received some national attention as it made it to number five on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Country Chart.

IT was another example of Elvis setting the stage for the early formation of rock ‘n’ roll, which would shortly follow. His Sun label material was some of the most influential in rock history as no one had quite done it like him before.

Such A Night 45 by Elvis Presley

December 3, 2011

During the mid-1960s Elvis Presley was still having hit singles but was not reaching the top five or top ten with the consistentcy of his 1950s and early 1960s days.

“Such A Night” was released July 24, 1964. It reached number 16 on the BILLBOASRD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. That would have been a huge hit for most artists.

It was a song with a somewhat odd beat. It had been a number two rhythm & blues hit for Clyde McPhatter back in 1954. Elvis turned it in a pop direction but it fell short of his best work.

Young Man With The Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Masters (Box Set) by Elvis Presley

September 17, 2011

So, what was Elvis doing January 3, 1956? How about July 16, or August 18, 1956? Those answers and many more are found in the new Elvis Presley five-disc, CD box set, Young Man With The Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Masters.

Elvis Presley’s material has been released in every configuration and way possible and plausible, or so I had thought. This latest set, scheduled for release September 27, concentrates on just 1956. The five hours of music and interviews, plus the accompanying literature, present an exhaustive and complete look at a year in the life of Elvis Presley.

The first disc comprises the first part of the 1956 studio recordings. Included are all the tracks from his debut album, plus non LP singles such as “Heartbreak Hotel” and “I Was The One.” The disc concludes with a number of EP tracks featuring “Blue Suede Shoes,”” My Baby Left Me,” and “Shake, Rattle And Roll.” These songs are some of the most influential in rock ‘n’ roll history and always welcome, but they have been reissued consistently during the past 50 years.

The second disc picks up where the first left off with Elvis’ complete second album. Elvis consistently released singles that were not a part of his studio albums. The biggest hit single of his career, “Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel,” topped the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart for 11 weeks and is included here. One of his other classic singles, “Love Me Tender,” is also found here. Again, the material has been available for decades, and while the sound is crystal clear due to the remastering process, it is more enjoyable than essential.

On the third disc, we are taken into Elvis’ live act during 1956. He performed a hundred or so shows during the year, so who knows what is lurking on some shelf somewhere. The first four tracks are taken from a performance at the Venus Room, Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas, May 6, 1956, and tracks 5-11 was recorded live at Robinson Memorial Auditorium, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 16, 1956. The real gem is the previously unreleased show of December 15, 1956, at the Louisiana Fairgrounds, Shreveport, Louisiana. The ten tracks present an accurate look at his early stage act. The material combines the famous, “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Hound Dog” with the somewhat forgotten, “Paralyzed” and “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again.” The sound is raw and limited by the technology of the day, but that’s the way it was back in 1956. This one is a must for Elvis fans and music historians.

The next disc, the fourth in the set, contains outtakes. It is always difficult to rate outtakes, especially those of Elvis Presley, as many were similar and some were very short. There are four tracks from his first RCA session, January 10-11, 1956, followed by the complete February 3, 1956 sessions, which give an excellent look at one of his early recording sessions. The final track is the complete Warwick Hotel Interview from March 24, which had never been issued by the RCA Label. This disc is for Elvis completists, only but there are a lot of those out there and at 77 minutes, it gives the listener a lot of material.

Disc five contains the Interviews. There are four more interviews, all of which have never been released by the RCA label, including the complete TV Guide Presents Elvis interview. The set finishes with a couple of rare Victrola Radio ads. It is one of the few times over an hour of Elvis interviews has been issued in one place.

The set comes with a variety of goodies, including an 80 page book complete with an assortment of photographs, complete information about each track, a timeline that chronicles what Elvis was doing virtually every day of 1956, five 8X10 photographs suitable for framing, five replica posters, and a replica concert stub.

As with all the recent Elvis reissues, especially the big box sets, the decision to purchase will depend upon your budget and how big a fan you are of “The King.” Young Man With The Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Masters is an interesting concept and one of the better Elvis box sets of the past decade.

Answers to the above questions are as follows. January 3, 1956 found him performing two shows at the Von Theater, Booneville, Mississippi at 6:00pm and 8:00pm to be exact. July 16, he took his parents on a trip to New Orleans. August 18 found him spending $750 at Long Beach Amusement park.

I wonder what he was doing December 30, 1957?

In The Ghetto 45 by Elvis Presley

August 22, 2011

Elvis’ release of “In The Ghetto” on May 3, 1969 completed his comeback as it became his first top ten single in The United States since 1965 and sold over a million copies. It even came with a picture sleeve.

The song was written by country singer Mac Davis, who went on to have a long and successful country career.

The lyrics tell the story of generational poverty and death. Elvis nailed the song just right and it remains one of his definitive late career performances.