Elvis Presley

Christmas Duets

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Elvis Presley never recorded duets, but that didn't stop RCA from compiling an album of duets for the 2008 Christmas season -- all with the help of the latest studio technology and ten willing duet partners. The guests are virtually all female, and virtually all come from the country field (or have recorded country in the past). It's easy to note the clever marketing moves made throughout the entire project, but that doesn't stop the results from being surprisingly agreeable, a good effort at attempting to re-create the sound and feel of classic Elvis Christmas songs from the '50s (and a few from the early '70s). It's clear that the project was handled with a great deal of care, from the sympathetic productions to the fact that the producers got help from more than just a few musicians who knew Elvis well. With Gordon Stoker leading the Jordanaires (Elvis' prime backing group), and Hargus "Pig" Robbins tinkling the ivories, this is certainly the kind of session date that Elvis wouldn't have missed (and would have ensured lasted well into the night). The duet vocals are usually fine, especially since Elvis and his guests are usually trading lines, which works much better than the occasional duet harmonies. The opener, "Blue Christmas" with Martina McBride, sets the mood, laid-back and slightly bluesy, while McBride makes sure she gives the King plenty of room. Carrie Underwood's piercing, crystalline vocals threaten to overwhelm "I'll Be Home for Christmas," but LeAnn Rimes goes back and forth in a great duet on "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)." The only outright failure is Gretchen Wilson's attempt to echo Elvis' lines and really stretch out during the eight-minute "Merry Christmas Baby."

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