Frank Sinatra – Christmas Songs & Elvis Presley – Christmas Duets
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We wish you and your families Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year 2013. Peace and Blessings!
I have always loved listening to Frank Sinatra’s earliest recordings, which define the legendary icon of a singer’s voice as pristine, affectionate and charismatic. The Christmas songs in this compilation “Christmas Songs by Sinatra” which was produced by Didier Deutsch in 1994 were recorded between 1948 and 1950 under Columbia Records.
With Axel Stordahl’s expertise in arranging and orchestration, and Frank Sinatra’s exceptional vocal flair and the backing of Jeff Alexander Orchestra, The Mitchell Boys Choir, The Swanson Quartet and The Bobby Tucker Singers, this Christmas CD is one collection that will never disappoint its listeners. Each Christmas carol is rendered in a very conventional manner and most of the tracks are previously unreleased and alternate takes, which includes “Silent Night,” “White Christmas,” “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” and “Jingle Bells,” to mention but a few. The inclusion of Franz Schubert’s classical composition “Ave Maria,” and “The Lord’s Prayer” made it even more deserving to be in any music lover’s collection of Christmas music.
The Christmas season’s celebrations would not be as memorable as ever without the meaningful Christmas carols sung by Frank Sinatra most especially “Christmas Dreaming.” This compilation is a little short of forty-five minutes, but it is a delightful listen and it surely evokes an old-fashioned Christmas. I merrily recommend it together with a newly-released compilation CD from Frank Sinatra Enterprises, “Christmas Memories.”
1 White Christmas 3:31
2 Silent Night, Holy Night 3:18
3 Adestes Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)2:39
4 Jingle Bells 2:38
5 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 2:36
6 Christmas Dreaming 3:00
7 It Came Upon The Midnight Clear3:34
8 O Little Town Of Bethlehem 3:06
9 Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town 2:35
10 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!2:38
11 Introduction (Spoken) 0:58
12 Medley 5:18
12a O Little Town Of Bethlehem
12b Joy To The World
12c White Christmas
13 Ave Maria 3:32
14 Winter Wonderland 2:06
15 The Lord’s Prayer 3:33
Ah the wonders of modern technology! The RCA label has released another Elvis Presley Christmas album but rather than just repackaging some of his holiday hits, they decided to get a little creative. They gathered together a number of country music’s biggest female stars to sing duets with him. Such artists as Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Leann Rimes, Wynonna Judd, Amy Grant, Gretchen Wilson, Anne Murray, and even Olivia Newton-John lend their voices to create duets on some of Elvis’ classic Christmas songs.
The original tracks have been remastered and more instrumentation has been added to create a fuller and different sound. Some of the background vocals have been changed or at least enhanced. The results add up to not only an interesting but an excellent album.
Martina McBride doe not overwhelm Elvis on “Blue Christmas” as she’s been known to do with other artists. She gives a subtle performance that matches the smoothness of his vocal. The drum track is turned up to give the song a little more punch than the original. Carrie Underwood plays it a little too conservative on the classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” There is just not enough of her on the track. “Here Comes Santa Claus” finds Leann Rimes giving a perky vocal that compliments Elvis well. The instrumental backing is turned down a bit in order to focus on the purity of their voices. “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” is probably the strongest track on the album. This is a blues rendition that fits Wynonna Judd well. She trades vocal runs with Elvis and more than holds her own. This is the track that I played over and over again. “Silent Night” is presented in traditional style. Sara Evans vocal is excellent but I can’t help think that she and Carrie Underwood should have traded songs.
1 Blue Christmas – Duet with Martina McBride 2:31
2 I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Duet with Carrie Underwood 3:37
3 Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) – Duet with Leann Rimes 1:58
4 Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Duet with Wynonna Judd 2:26
5 Silent Night – Duet with Sara Evans 2:25
6 White Christmas – Duet with – Amy Grant 2:25
7 Merry Christmas Baby -Duet with Gretchen Wilson 8:07
8 O Little Town Of Bethlehem – Duet with Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman 2:39
9 Silver Bells Vocals – Duet with Anne Murray 2:27
10 O Come All Ye Faithful – Duet with Olivia Newton-John 2:52
11 The First Noel 2:14
12 If I Get Home On Christmas Day 2:56
13 Winter Wonderland 2:25
Amy Grant joins Elvis on “White Christmas.” The vocals are excellent but the tempo is faster than the original. “Merry Christmas Baby” is a second blues outing and another superior track. A piano and drums dominate the instrumental backing with some clear harmonica added on the break. Gretchen Wilson doesn’t really duet with Elvis but rather adds phasing that enhances his vocal.
“O Little Town Of Bethlehem” is not a duet but a threesome. Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman bring their clear harmonies to this song and create a wonderful counterpoint. The three voices give this track a fuller sound than many of the others. Anne Murray has a lower vocal register than the other singers on the album and as such creates a different sound when she combines it with Elvis’. “Sleigh Bells” is presented in traditional up-tempo form. The Christmas hymn, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” finds Olivia Newton-John providing half of the duet. Her voice is not a match for Elvis, so she wisely stays in the background.
Also included are three bonus tracks of Elvis singing alone. “The First Noel,” “If I Get Home On Christmas Day,” and “Winter Wonderland” have all been issued a number of times over the years. Here we find them remastered with extra instruments added. The sound is so clear that you can actually hear the intake of Elvis’ breath. Christmas Duets presents some classic Elvis in a new and creative way. It is a good and fun holiday listen.
Merry Christmas to all fans of the true king of rock ‘n’ roll!