Howdy folks, I hope the holiday season is treating you well. I’ve been listening to the new FTD version of Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas for the last couple of days. The 2-CD set arrived here Wednesday night, just in time for Christmas. Promised Land also arrived, but I’m saving that one until after Christmas. Something to cure those post-Christmas blues.
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas is proving to be one of my all-time favorite FTD releases. For one thing, I love “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day,” written by Michael Jarrett – who also wrote “I’m Leavin’.” In fact, you could almost subtitle this release “The Making Of ‘I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day'” because it contains a plethora of takes of both versions of the song. I prefer the blusey “remake” version that unfortunately was not issued until after Elvis’ death. It should have been a single back then.
This album gives that real “behind-the-scenes with Elvis in the studio” feel that I enjoy. Alternate takes of “Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees” are also highlights.
The previously unreleased take 2 of “O Come All Ye Faithful” is incredible, nice to hear without all of the overdubs. The ending of that take was spliced with the master take 1 for 1982’s Memories Of Christmas. Unfortunately, that spliced version is not included here, though there is plenty of space for it. It would have been nice to have that in upgraded sound.
The original album master tracks sound pristine. It is great to finally upgrade from the circa-1994 versions I have been playing all these years. Though recorded 40 years ago, close your eyes and it is not too hard to imagine Elvis is in the room with you, the sound of his vocals is so clear.
Alas, what’s Christmas without a couple of disappointments? The unedited version of “Merry Christmas Baby” fades between the undubbed and dubbed versions of the song, making for a very poor listening experience on the track I was expecting to be the highlight of this release. Elvis talking and rehearsing just before the jam begins almost makes up for it, though.
Also notably absent is the single version of “Merry Christmas Baby.” Why not include it when there is space available?
Finally, was it really necessary to close out the Christmas album with a track where Elvis drops an F-bomb? I’m not suggesting FTD should have edited the outtake of “Winter Wonderland” or even left it off. To use it as the last track of the album, though? Really?
Despite a couple of disappointments, the expanded Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas is a fabulous re-release of what is probably my favorite Christmas album. It will make Christmas 2011 one to remember!