Christmas Duets

Elvis Presley

RCA, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Ah, the wonders of modern technology! The RCA label has decided to release 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 Elvis on tape. 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 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 does not overwhelm Elvis on “Blue Christmas” as she was capable of doing. 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” -- plus there is just not enough of her on the track.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“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 paired 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.

Amy Grant joins Elvis on “White Christmas.” The vocals are excellent but the tempo is faster than the original.

“Merry Christmas Baby” is another blues outing and a second superior song. Piano and drums dominate the instrumental track with some clear harmonica added on the break.  Gretchen Wilson doesn’t really duet with Elvis but rather, she adds vocal 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 women 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 and manages to get by.

Also included are three bonus tracks featuring 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 as he breathes.

Christmas Duets presents some classic Elvis in a new and creative way, and it’s a good holiday listen. Merry Christmas to all fans of the true king of rock ‘n’ roll!  

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.