Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

King Launched Christmas Rock With Flair.

Byline: Michael Koster For The Journal

* 1957 album was grand experiment; music remains holiday favorite

Elvis Presley was a pioneer in many ways. While not the first to record a rock 'n' roll song, he was the first to bring "white R&B" to the masses. And while he wasn't the first to record a bona fide rock 'n' roll Christmas song (Bobby Helms did "Jingle Bell Rock" before Elvis donned his Santa cap), Elvis was the first to make a rock Christmas album that would capture the popular imagination and sell millions of albums. Forty-three years later, Elvis is still the most popular Christmas rocker, and his holiday material continues to sell well.

Elvis actually recorded two full Christmas albums during his three-decade tenure at RCA, and in 1994 the label gathered them both together, along with four previously unreleased alternate takes, under the title "Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas."

Back in 1957, few rockers had tried cutting Christmas songs, and it was unclear whether there was a market for them. Smooth pop singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra seemed to own that market. Nonetheless, RCA producer Steve Sholes decorated the Radio Recorders studio in Hollywood with a Christmas tree, mock wrapped gifts and decorations to get Elvis and the assembled musicians in the mood, even though that first Christmas album was recorded in September. …

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