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Song of the Week #138 – “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”

Written by admin on December 24, 2012 – 7:14 pm -



Elvis Presley’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” is Song of the Week on Classic Pop Icons.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” was released in October 1957 on “Elvis’ Christmas Album,” the 1970 reissue of which would go on to become the best selling Christmas album of all time in the US. It didn’t appear on single in the US until 1965, when it was backed with “Blue Christmas”.
Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas and Santa Claus Is Back In Town single


Elvis recorded his Christmas album directly after a short but dynamic North American tour, which was notable for including his last ever live date outside the USA (he played Vancouver, Canada on August 31, 1957).

Elvis assembled his core band in Hollywood to record the album and had the studio decorated with a Christmas tree and presents in order to create a festive atmosphere.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” was a brand new song that was written at the last minute for the album when it was decided that an extra track was required. The bluesy rock ‘n’ roll style of the song stood in contrast to the other songs recorded for the album, which included Christmas carols such as “Silent Night” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” and popular secular Christmas songs such as “White Christmas” (based on the Drifters’ arrangement).

On first listen, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” takes you by surprise, with a choral opening suggesting a traditional Christmas arrangement, before the band rips into the low-down R&B style. Elvis leads the way with an excellent vocal, completely at odds with the other material he recorded that night (“O’ Little Town Of Bethlehem,” “Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me),” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”). Everyone plays their part though, and notably Dudley Brooks whose great piano work adds much to the song. Over time, Elvis would supplement his core band with session musicians, but a recording like this highlights just how well his original players worked together.

Elvis sang a snippet of “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” during filming for both his 1968 television special and 1970 concert movie “That’s The Way It Is”. In the former, he referred to it as “Santa Claus Is Back in Town brian setzer

Elvis celebrating Christmas at Graceland in 1957
Elvis celebrating Christmas at Graceland in 1957

Elvis Presley Christmas album The original 1957 issue of “Elvis’ Christmas Album” went three times platinum in the US, with sales of three million, and the 1970 reissue earned a Diamond award for ten million sales.

Earlier this month, Rolling Stone placed “Elvis’ Christmas Album” at number two on its list of the 25 greatest Christmas albums of all time.


“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – Elvis Presley

In 2008, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” featured on the “Elvis Christmas Duets” album, with Wynonna Judd’s performance complementing Elvis’ original vocal very nicely.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – Elvis Presley and Wynonna Judd

Authorship

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Recording date/location

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” was recorded on September 7, 1957 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California.

Musicians

The following musicians appear on “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”:

  • Elvis Presley – vocals
  • Scotty Moore – guitar
  • Bill Black – bass
  • D.J. Fontana – drums
  • Dudley Brooks – piano
  • The Jordanaires – backing vocals.


The Jordanaires were Gordon Stoker, Neal Matthews, Hoyt Hawkins and Hugh Jarrett.

Chart performance

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” backed with “Santa Bring My Baby (Back to Me)” reached number seven on the UK singles chart in November, 1957.

The song didn’t appear on single in the US until 1965, when it was paired with “Blue Christmas”. The single reached number four on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart.

“Elvis’ Christmas Album” reached number one on the US album chart in December 1957 and number two in the UK.

Elvis Presley - Christmas album

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” also appeared on the four-track EP “Elvis Sings Christmas Songs” in 1957, which hit number two on the US EP chart.

Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” EP kept the Christmas EP from the top spot.
Elvis Presley Christmas album


Covers

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – Brian Setzer Orchestra

The Brian Setzer Orchestra included “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” on their 2002 album “”Boogie Woogie Christmas“. Setzer’s vocal owes a lot to the original, as does the intro, but there are some imaginative touches, including a bluesy guitar break and effective use of horns.

“Santa Claus Is Back In Town” – Trisha Yearwood

Country star Trisha Yearwood really got in touch with the blues elements of the song in her gutsy rendition that appeared on her 1994 album “The Sweetest Gift“.

In 1998, she performed the song as a guest on the “Garth Brooks & The Magic Of Christmas” television special.

There will be a new Song of the Week on December 31.

Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” features on numerous compilations of his Christmas songs, including the recent “Elvis Presley – The Classic Christmas Album”. The duet with Wynonna Judd is on “Elvis Christmas Duets.”

 Title

Elvis Presley – The Classic Christmas Album (CD)

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Elvis Presley – Christmas Duets (CD)

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