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Pretty Paper: Willie, Elvis, Luther, John Denver, More Collect Holiday Best on “Classic Christmas Album” Releases

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Sleigh bells ring – are you listening?

Legacy Recordings certainly hopes you are, as a bounty of new holiday-themed collections is coming your way.  The first Classic Christmas Album arrived last year, a compilation of Christmas favorites from Tony Bennett (including a previously-unreleased version of “What Child is This?”).  More titles are on the horizon to make spirits bright this year, and we have details on five of them to share right now, with more news to come!  On October 2, Legacy will release newly-compiled sets from Elvis Presley, John Denver, Kenny G, Willie Nelson and Luther Vandross.  Each new collection offers 14 or more freshly-remastered tracks spanning the career of each artist, all of whom recorded multiple holiday albums, as well as contributing the odd holiday song elsewhere.

Perhaps the most-anthologized of these artists is Presley.  With faith always paramount to the singer, he recorded a holiday album early in his career, via 1957’s Elvis’ Christmas Album.  Elvis’ fourth album, it consisted of eight Christmas songs and four gospel traditionals which had previously been released on the Peace in the Valley EP.  Seven of those eight tunes (all save “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) reappear on his Classic Christmas Album.  Seven more tracks come from his second holiday long-player, 1971’s The Wonderful World of Christmas, which was itself expanded last year by Follow That Dream.  It’s rounded out by two tracks from 2008’s posthumous Christmas Duets and a 1966 single, “If Every Day Was Like Christmas.”  Presley’s Christmas repertoire has been collected in every conceivable repackaging, perhaps most notably RCA’s 1994 If Every Day Was Like Christmas, but this new compilation is a reasonable place to start one’s immersion in the King’s Christmas magic.

You’ll find John Denver, Willie Nelson, Luther Vandross and Kenny G after the jump!

Elvis recorded enough songs in the genre to be classified as a country-and-western legend himself, and he’s joined by two more country heroes.  Willie Nelson staked his claim to holiday fame in 1979 with his Christmas classic Pretty Paper. The album, his last of the 1970s, was titled after the song he wrote in his early songwriting days, subsequently recorded by Roy Orbison in 1963.  The entirety of Pretty Paper is included on Willie’s Classic Christmas Album, and it’s joined by four other tracks including the non-holiday (but certainly generous of spirit) “What a Wonderful World” and, “A Dreamer’s Holiday,” co-written by Kim Gannon (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) and Mabel Wayne.  John Denver famously proclaimed in song, “Thank God I’m a country boy!” but he could frequently be found on the pop charts, too.  His Classic Christmas Album entry samples eight tracks from his seminal 1975 Rocky Mountain Christmas plus one tune from its expanded CD edition.  In addition, two tracks have been included from Denver’s A Christmas Together, his 1979 holiday foray with Jim Henson’s Muppets, and four from his 1990 Christmas Like a Lullaby.  Denver didn’t restrict celebrating to Christmas albums, however; “Jingle Bells” was taken from 1970’s covers album Whose Garden Was This.

Legacy flashes forward to the 1990s and beyond with the final two entries in this batch, from two very different ends of the spectrum: Luther Vandross and Kenny G.  Late soul man Vandross’ entire 1995 album This is Christmas has been included on his Classic Christmas Album, along with both songs from his Every Year, Every Christmas EP plus “The Christmas Song” and a live version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G has released numerous holiday albums since 1994’s Miracles: The Holiday Album, and it’s no wonder why.  In 1997, Miracles was named by Billboard as the best-selling Christmas album of the entire Nielsen/SoundScan era which began in 1991.  By last Christmas, 2011, the multi-platinum best-seller had sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone.  In addition to five tracks from Miracles, seven tracks from its follow-up Faith have been included, two more from 2002’s Wishes and another two from 2005’s The Greatest Holiday Classics.  Kenny G’s holiday oeuvre has already been collected on 2006’s The Holiday Collection, but his Classic Christmas Album bests that compilation by six tracks.

Ready to pass the egg nog?  All six titles will be in stores on October 2 from Legacy Recordings, and can be pre-ordered below!

John Denver, The Classic Christmas Album (RCA/Legacy 88725 43775 2 8, 2012)

  1. A Baby Just Like You
  2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
  3. White Christmas
  4. Christmas For Cowboys
  5. Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)
  6. Blue Christmas
  7. Noel: Christmas Eve 1913
  8. Medley: Alfie, The Christmas Tree/Carol For A Christmas Tree/It’s In Everyone Of Us
  9. Coventry Carol
  10. What Child Is This?
  11. Christmas Like A Lullaby
  12. The Marvelous Toy
  13. O Holy Night
  14. Aspenglow
  15. Jingle Bells
  16. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Tracks 1-2, 4-5, 9-10, 13-14 from Rocky Mountain Christmas, RCA, 1975
Track 3 from Rocky Mountain Christmas (Expanded Edition), RCA CD, 2005
Tracks 6, 11-12 & 16 from Christmas Like a Lullaby, Windstar CD, 199
Tracks 7-8 from John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, RCA, 1979
Track 15 from Whose Garden Was This, RCA, 1970

Kenny G, The Classic Christmas Album (Arista/Legacy 88725 41311 2 0, 2012)

  1. Winter Wonderland
  2. White Christmas
  3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  4. Silent Night
  5. Silver Bells
  6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
  7. The First Noel
  8. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  9. Sleigh Ride
  10. The Christmas Song
  11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  12. Joy To The World
  13. Do You Hear What I Hear?
  14. My Favorite Things
  15. Jingle Bells
  16. Auld Lang Syne

Tracks 1-5 from Miracles: The Holiday Album, Arista, 1994
Tracks 6-11, 16 from Faith: A Holiday Album, Arista, 1999
Tracks 12-13 from Wishes: A Holiday Album, Arista, 2002
Tracks 14-15 from The Greatest Holiday Classics, Arista, 2005

Willie Nelson, The Classic Christmas Album (Columbia/Legacy 88725 44531 2 3, 2012)

  1. A Dreamer’s Holiday
  2. White Christmas
  3. Here Comes Santa Claus
  4. Jingle Bells
  5. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. Winter Wonderland
  7. Frosty The Snowman
  8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  9. Pretty Paper
  10. Blue Christmas
  11. Christmas Blues
  12. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  13. Away In A Manger
  14. Joy To The World
  15. What A Wonderful World
  16. Silent Night, Holy Night

Track 1 from Without a Song, Columbia, 1983
Tracks 2-12, 16 from Pretty Paper, Columbia, 1979
Tracks 13-14 possibly from Christmas with Willie Nelson, Unison CD, 1994
Track 15 from What a Wonderful World, Columbia, 1988

Elvis Presley, The Classic Christmas Album (RCA/Legacy 88725 45538 2 3, 2012)

  1. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (with Carrie Underwood)
  2. Blue Christmas (with Martina McBride)
  3. Winter Wonderland
  4. The First Noel
  5. The Wonderful World Of Christmas
  6. Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees
  7. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  8. Merry Christmas Baby
  9. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
  10. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
  11. White Christmas
  12. Silent Night
  13. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
  14. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  15. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
  16. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
  17. Blue Christmas

Tracks 1-2 from Christmas Duets, RCA, 2008
Tracks 3-9 from Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas, RCA, 1971
Track 10 from RCA single 47-8950, 1966
Tracks 11-17 from Elvis’ Christmas Album, RCA, 1957

Luther Vandross, The Classic Christmas Album (Epic/Legacy 88691 96832 2 6, 2012)

  1. The Christmas Song
  2. My Favorite Things
  3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  4. The Mistletoe Jam (Everybody Kiss Somebody)
  5. With A Christmas Heart
  6. I Listen To The Bells (Duet with Darlene Love)
  7. A Kiss For Christmas
  8. Every Year, Every Christmas
  9. This Is Christmas
  10. Please Come Home For Christmas
  11. O Come All Ye Faithful
  12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Live)
  13. May Christmas Bring You Happiness
  14. At Christmas Time

Track 1 from A Very Special Christmas 2, A&M CD 31454 0003 2, 1992
Tracks 2-11 from This is Christmas, Epic CD 481312 2, 1995
Track 12 TBD
Tracks 13-14 from Every Year, Every Christmas, Epic CD ESK 7395, 1995

All discographical information to the best of our knowledge only.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2012 at 13:16

5 Responses

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  1. There’s a couple of rare versions of Elvis’ “Merry Christmas Baby” that sure would have been nice instead of the same old same old. One – an unedited, extra long version – has appeared on CD once, I think. The other – a single edit with additional instrumentation – has never appeared on CD, to my knowledge.

    Randy Anthony

    September 13, 2012 at 13:26

    • Some of the Elvis hardcore fans were up in arms about this version of “Merry Christmas Baby” not appearing on the FTD set last year. I must admit that I’m confused as to what exactly is unique about that version–apparently it is both undubbed and edited, or maybe edited with different overdubs–having never heard it, I’m not quite sure. But these rare Presley variations have been known to pop up in strange places–the single version of “I’m Yours” that showed up on disc 3 of the “HITStory” comp, for example.


      September 15, 2012 at 06:37

  2. From what I understand, Barry Manilow is also among the list of artists who will be appearing in this series.


    September 13, 2012 at 23:07

    • We didn’t forget Barry! Watch this space… 🙂

      Joe Marchese

      September 13, 2012 at 23:07

  3. Can you get Elvis Presley singing Pretty Paper?

    Tom McCarthy

    December 21, 2013 at 14:45

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