Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:20 am

Although this information may soon magically appear on other sites, you read it on FECC first, as usual.

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Since Elvis Presley discographies were first compiled, RCA's reissue of his infamous 1957 Christmas album with a new cover photo has always been relegated to the 1958 holiday season, likewise a lookalike Extended Play 45 (EP). But, in recent years, many have been perplexed by the photos RCA used on these releases, as they seem to post-date December 1958!

Between personal research, information found in Off Duty (MRS) and input from valued members of FECC, it seems every one of these discographies all these years are WRONG.

In a nutshell, RCA unleashed the LP reissue and sister EP in November 1959.

This resolves a problem with the chronology of the back cover photographs and allows a reassessment of RCA's priorities during the holiday seasons of 1958 and 1959.

Below are the highlights of my findings; any other credible information is welcome.

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Elvis: RCA Christmas Product 1957 - 1960
(new release in red)


Nov 1957
Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LOC 1035
Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - RCA EPA 4108

Peace In The Valley - RCA EPA 4054

Nov 1958
Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LOC 1035
Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - RCA EPA 4108
Peace In The Valley - RCA EPA 4054

Nov 1959
Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LPM 1951
Christmas With Elvis - RCA EPA 4340

Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LOC 1035
Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - RCA EPA 4108
Peace In The Valley - RCA EPA 4054

Nov 1960
Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LOC 1035
Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - RCA EPA 4108
Peace In The Valley - RCA EPA 4054
Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LPM 1951
Christmas With Elvis - RCA EPA 4340


Media Publicity, Charts and Information

Surveying the Billboard and Cashbox charts from 1958 on, there is no mention of the new EP in 1958.

In 1959, the EP is seen as "new" product.


Image

Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LOC 1035 (Nov 1957 -> Nov 1960)



Image

Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - RCA EPA 4108 (Nov 1957 -> Nov 1960)



Image

Peace In The Valley - RCA EPA 4054 (Nov 1957 -> Nov 1960)



Billboard Dec 15 1958 p50.JPG

Billboard - December 15, 1958
Notice Elvis ranks at #18 (LPs) and #'s 1, 4, 8, 10, 21, 22, 25, 30 (EPs).
Note also that EP #25 is a misnomer -- it actually refers to Elvis Sings Christmas Songs - EPA 4108 (see December 15, 1958 #2, December 28, 1959 and January 4, 1960 below).
There is no mention of EPA 4340.




Billboard Dec 15 1958 p106.JPG

Billboard - December 15, 1958 #2
Notice EPA 4108 is cited as the holiday pick, "even tho' this was released for last Christmas."
There is no mention of EPA 4340.
Interesting that Buddy Holly is mistakenly referred to as Buddy "Hollis."




Image
Image

Christmas With Elvis - RCA EPA 4340 (Nov 1959 -> Nov 1960)
Notice the other two holiday EPs are endorsed on the back cover.



The book Off Duty (MRS, 2010) suggests that EPA 4340 and others, in front of a blue curtain, like that of Elvis Is Back ! (RCA 2231, 1960) ...


Image


... all come from a photo shoot arranged by the German TELDEC Record Company in May 1959. The original used for the updated Christmas album picture has the same blue curtains in the background. Elvis wore a variety of clothes at this photo shoot.



Billboard Nov 2 1959 p34.JPG

Billboard - November 2, 1959
Notice "a new and excellent picture" comment in this "New Christmas Packages" review of EPA 4340.




Billboard Nov 16 1959 p37.JPG

Billboard - November 16, 1959
Wonderful ad for key RCA LP release, and also mentions "NEW ELVIS 45 EP ALBUMS," including EPA 4340.



Image

Billboard - December 28, 1959


Image

Billboard - January 4, 1960
Here we see Elvis at #1 on the EP chart with Elvis' Christmas Album - EPA 4108 as 1959 turns into 1960.
Again, the title we see is a misnomer -- it actually refers to Elvis Sings Christmas Songs
.




Image
Image

Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LPM 1951 (Nov 1959)
The back cover shows Elvis with a medal for marksman (earned June 23, 1958) and one Private First Class stripe (received November 27, 1958).
On June 1, 1959, Elvis was promoted to Specialist Fourth Class (Spec 4).
Thus, these photos were made on or after November 27, 1958, meaning the album was not released for the 1958 holiday retail season.




Billboard Dec 31 1960 p20.JPG

Billboard - December 31, 1960
This is apparently the first appearance of Elvis' Christmas Album - RCA LPM 1951 in Billboard!


Phew! Just when you imagine there's nothing new to learn about Elvis!!

What do you think?

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Thanks to ELVISRECORDS.US http://www.elvisrecords.us/ for some of the great disc covers seen above.
And thank you to all who helped update or confirm the information in this post.
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:36 am, edited 8 times in total.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:50 am

Actually Doc, one chevron (stripe) indicates the rank of private E-2. If Elvis were a private 1st class (PFC) E-3 he would have one chevron with a rocker beneath it. Here are the ranks Elvis held during his military career;

E-1: private (often referred to as buck private)
E-2: private
E-3: private first class (PFC)
E-4: specialist 4th class (often referred to as spec4)
E-5: sargeant (often referred to as buck sargeant)

I'll leave it up to the more informed to provide the dates when he achieved each rank.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:58 am

elvisfan_48079 wrote:Actually Doc, one chevron (stripe) indicates the rank of private E-2. If Elvis were a private 1st class (PFC) E-3 he would have one chevron with a rocker beneath it. Here are the ranks Elvis held during his military career;

E-1: private (often referred to as buck private)
E-2: private
E-3: private first class (PFC)
E-4: specialist 4th class (often referred to as spec4)
E-5: sargeant (often referred to as buck sargeant)

I'll leave it up to the more informed to provide the dates when he achieved each rank.

Any thoughts on the topic per se?

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:59 am

Hi there!! :D :D :D.

Doc, as always your articles are very well researched, they are outstanding 8). Sorry, I can´t add anything else :oops:. Thank you very much ::rocks. Bye for now :smt006.

Mike windgren.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:09 am

Hi there!! :D :D :D

elvisfan_48079 wrote:Actually Doc, one chevron (stripe) indicates the rank of private E-2. If Elvis were a private 1st class (PFC) E-3 he would have one chevron with a rocker beneath it. Here are the ranks Elvis held during his military career;

E-1: private (often referred to as buck private)
E-2: private
E-3: private first class (PFC)
E-4: specialist 4th class (often referred to as spec4)
E-5: sargeant (often referred to as buck sargeant)

I'll leave it up to the more informed to provide the dates when he achieved each rank.


I´m actually a NATO OR-7 or an U.S.A Senior Chief Petty Officer, so Sergeant Elvis Presley salute! :lol:. Bye for now :smt006.

Mike Windgren.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:18 am

Doc, I personally believe you have more than proven your premise given the information provided. I simply wanted to correct this error in your post, given the fact that you had used the photo and the date he was promoted to PFC as a part, all be it a small one, of your arguement. As a career Army man, 20+ years, I'm a stickler when it comes to this type of thing. No offense was intended. I find your posts of this type very informative.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:28 am

In the Motown LP numbering order, MT-642 was issued in September 1968. MT-643 came out in February 1966. There are plenty of similar anomalies in catalogue numbers from other companies as well. They aren't fully accurate in terms of release order.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:46 am

The LP Fans uniform doesn't have the stripe below the patch on the left shoulder. Also the patch says Hell On Wheels. Does the Christmas Album uniform patch say that, I can't tell, it is too small.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:48 am

Also, the LP Fans back cover and Date With Elvis front cover feature the same exact uniform jacket. So you can check it out that way as well.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:01 am

I am kinda slow with certain details I don't normally pay attention to, so forgive me and be patient, but: do we know the date when the cover of Elvis Is Back! was taken? I mean, month, year?

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:08 am

THEMEMPHISFAN wrote:doc, Sorry, man. You haven't completely proven your theory. What you're saying doesn't totally add-up. LPM-1951 may have made its first appearance on Billboard in December of 1960, but it is still most likely that it was first released in 1958. Look at the assigned album numbers in chronological order. Why would the new cover version of Elvis' Christmas Album be issued in late 1960 with the #LPM-1951 ? It just wouldn't make since for that number to be a 1960 issue.

Look at these assigned mono album numbers. They're all in progressing numerical order as released over time:

1958 releases:
LPM-1707 ELVIS' GOLDEN RECORDS
LPM-1884 KING CREOLE
LPM-1951 ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM

1959 releases:
LPM-1990 FOR LP FANS ONLY
LPM-2011 A DATE WITH ELVIS
LPM-2075 50,000,000 ELVIS FANS CAN'T BE WRONG

1960 releases:
LPM-2231 ELVIS IS BACK!
LPM-2256 G.I. BLUES
LPM-2328 HIS HAND IN MINE


THEMEMPHISFAN


My first thought was that too, but then I checked Tunzi's sessions III book on the matter.

It would seem this was the order.

1957- LOC-1035 Chrismas Album.

1958-LPM-1951 Christmas Album with same cover, but this time without the gatefold.

So, the question is, did the above version with original cover picture without gatefold last for one year or 2?

Because then in 1959 or 1960 the NEW Cover design came out.

LPM-1951 Christmas Album with the new cover.

The new cover retained the reissue number apparently. So, placing the number in 1958 is correct, but you can't match that to
cover change yet until we find some visual documenation type ad that shows the new cover on sale
somewhere in 1959. If you can't, then it would have to be from 1960, thereby answering the question of how long was
the non-gatefold version of the original cover available for.

This is a tricky one.

I originally thought the new cover with same number came out in 1959, but it makes more sense if it didn't make the charts til
1960, but even that isn't conclusive as memphisfan says.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:41 am

THEMEMPHISFAN wrote:ekenee wrote: "My first thought was that too, but then I checked Tunzi's sessions III book on the matter.
It would seem this was the order.
1957- LOC-1035 Chrismas Album.
1958-LPM-1951 Christmas Album with same cover, but this time without the gatefold."



ekenee, Hold your horses. THIS is exactly what is printed in Tunzi's book on page 482:

1958

LPM-1951 ELVIS' CHRISTMAS ALBUM
(Reissue of LOC 1035 without gatefold cover and booklet of color photos. Selections are the same.)

It does not read "with same cover". Are you a politician in Washington, D.C.?! :wink:


THEMEMPHISFAN


I stand corrected. That makes sense. I think i was projecting a bit there.

So, then here are few other questions then.

The original cover design was never issued then without the gatefold back in the 50's?

And is it possible that the new cover from 1958 could have had different back cover designs
for the following three years to account for varying album ads they wanted to promote at the time?

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:05 pm

thanks for the info, Doc

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:12 pm

elvisfan_48079 wrote:Doc, I personally believe you have more than proven your premise given the information provided. I simply wanted to correct this error in your post ...

Thank you, and I have amended the reference.


Mike Windgren wrote:Doc, as always your articles are very well researched, they are outstanding 8). Sorry, I can´t add anything else :oops:. Thank you very much ::rocks. Bye for now :smt006.

Thank you, Mike! It took a while to evaluate and compile.


Frankie Teardrop wrote:In the Motown LP numbering order, MT-642 was issued in September 1968. MT-643 came out in February 1966. There are plenty of similar anomalies in catalogue numbers from other companies as well. They aren't fully accurate in terms of release order.

Correct.

What I did not include in the original post is that the original album was still being offered and sold in the holiday seasons after 1957, and is mentioned in concert with LPM 1951 (the reissue) during the 1960 holiday period.

Otherwise, the absence in 1958 of the new EP and LP reissue in any form is overwhelming evidence that they did not yet exist in the marketplace. The same rule applies in 1959, where one sees NO mention of the LP reissue anywhere, but does observe ads and reviews for the new EP.

What some do not understand is seasonal records have a necessarily limited shelf life, and any remaining stock is held over until the next year. In Elvis' case, these records were good sellers, and so the same titles were made available again and again either by overstock or new pressings. EPA 4108 is an example of a very successful release, returning to the charts and hitting #1 two years after it debuted.

What makes this topic so interesting is how, for years, almost every discography placed EPA 4340 and LPM 1951 in 1958.

Whoops!

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:16 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
What makes this topic so interesting is how, for years, almost every discography placed EPA 4340 and LPM 1951 in 1958.

Whoops!


Thanks doc, this is one of those topics that makes FECC the best site for true fans.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:20 pm

Hav-A-Tampa wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
What makes this topic so interesting is how, for years, almost every discography placed EPA 4340 and LPM 1951 in 1958.

Whoops!


Thanks doc, this is one of those topics that makes FECC the best site for true fans.

Thanks very kindly, Hav-A-Tampa!

FECC rules!!

Trust the doc!!!

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:32 pm

Mike Windgren wrote:Hi there!! :D :D :D

elvisfan_48079 wrote:Actually Doc, one chevron (stripe) indicates the rank of private E-2. If Elvis were a private 1st class (PFC) E-3 he would have one chevron with a rocker beneath it. Here are the ranks Elvis held during his military career;

E-1: private (often referred to as buck private)
E-2: private
E-3: private first class (PFC)
E-4: specialist 4th class (often referred to as spec4)
E-5: sargeant (often referred to as buck sargeant)

I'll leave it up to the more informed to provide the dates when he achieved each rank.


I´m actually a NATO OR-7 or an U.S.A Senior Chief Petty Officer, so Sergeant Elvis Presley salute! :lol:. Bye for now :smt006.

Mike Windgren.


I am actually a war protestor so hold your helmet on Mike! :)

All kidding aside: great info though Doc! I have always held my copy of the Elvis' Christmas Album with the soldier pics on the back for a 1958 reissue. Now we assume that this LOC 1035 was available al the way to november 1960 the original set is probably less rare than we always thought it to be. What do you think does your findings mean for the value of original LOC 1035 and LPM 1951 albums? Any thoughts on that?

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:12 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
elvisfan_48079 wrote:Doc, I personally believe you have more than proven your premise given the information provided. I simply wanted to correct this error in your post ...

Thank you, and I have amended the reference.


Mike Windgren wrote:Doc, as always your articles are very well researched, they are outstanding 8). Sorry, I can´t add anything else :oops:. Thank you very much ::rocks. Bye for now :smt006.

Thank you, Mike! It took a while to evaluate and compile.


Frankie Teardrop wrote:In the Motown LP numbering order, MT-642 was issued in September 1968. MT-643 came out in February 1966. There are plenty of similar anomalies in catalogue numbers from other companies as well. They aren't fully accurate in terms of release order.

Correct.

What I did not include in the original post is that the original album was still being offered and sold in the holiday seasons after 1957, and is mentioned in concert with LPM 1951 (the reissue) during the 1960 holiday period.

Otherwise, the absence in 1958 of the new EP and LP reissue in any form is overwhelming evidence that they did not yet exist in the marketplace. The same rule applies in 1959, where one sees NO mention of the LP reissue anywhere, but does observe ads and reviews for the new EP.

What some do not understand is seasonal records have a necessarily limited shelf life, and any remaining stock is held over until the next year. In Elvis' case, these records were good sellers, and so the same titles were made available again and again either by overstock or new pressings. EPA 4108 is an example of a very successful release, returning to the charts and hitting #1 two years after it debuted.

What makes this topic so interesting is how, for years, almost every discography placed EPA 4340 and LPM 1951 in 1958.

Whoops!


I understand what you are saying. Even today with CD's you will find Elvis' CD's of christmas music going back
some 5 years after the initial release. The wholesalers keep the unsold units in thier warehouses til the holiday season.
The retailers return all unsold stock around jan. 1, and the wholesalers hold on to the units again, til next november.

Still, I believe memphisfan is correct in that LPM-1951 came out in 1958 just as the discographies show, but just didn't chart until
1960, 2 years later, just like the EP accomplished. Even in 1960, I am sure both LPM-1951 and LOC-1035 were probably both on the shelves in the stores, but LOC-1035 in much less numbers.

I believe the reason LPM-1951, didn't chart til 1960, is because it was still in competition with LOC 1035 for the previous 2 years, in which still a significant amount of that version were still on the shelves in nov/dec thereby splitting the sales, and rendering the sales not enough for a Christmas chart position in 1958 or 1959.
The fans were still used to seeing the old design and
would've bought that one, concidering they had a choice of getting the gatefold
cover with all the pictures, as opposed to the new simpler design. And possibly at a budget price.
But I bet both versions sold together in enough numbers
to gain a chart position if that would have been allowed given the fact that it was basically the same album.

But, I have no doubt that going by the 1951 numerical system, it did indeed come out in 1958. No doubt there.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:57 pm

So, you are also sure that Fun In Acapulco came out before Elvis' Golden Records Vol. 3?

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:29 pm

Congratulations on your sterling research work, Doc. I have answered your PM but my reply seems stuck in the 'Outbox' currently.

I raised a topic on the 'blue shirt' picture several years ago simply because I loved that sleeve, that picture and the warm but slightly far-away look in Elvis's eyes. Yet the picture was so hard to date. There were a number of suggestions made at that time, and comparative pictures submitted, but we never got much further in nailing it down.

I first got the picture on EPA-4340 in the late 1960s, I think, as a second-hand copy. It is actually the Canadian pressing and the sleeve, too, is printed in Canada on that stiff cardboard they used to use. I finally got the LP in the early 1970s, in mint condition. Too bad that it was the electronically reprocessed stereo version but I never had the need to play it, already having the British version with its own excellent Love Me Tender picture. I have not dug out the LP (LPM 1951) - I would have to move some furniture, I think ! - so I don't know where it was pressed but it certainly has the stiff cardboard cover, so it could well be from the USA.

Unless there has been some jiggery-pokery by MRS (or someone else), the blue shirt picture is definitely from the same photo shoot as the Elvis Is Back front cover though not everyone seems convinced ?

Steve Morse

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:33 pm

THEMEMPHISFAN wrote:... for a supposed late in the year 1960 release, why in the world would RCA use all pre-1960 photos on the front and back of the LP?

That question was answered in my original post.

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Some continue to miss the core findings:

1) There is NO mention of the new EP until Christmas 1959
2) There is not a word printed about the LP reissue -- not just the charts, but ANYTHING, ads, previews, listings -- until Christmas 1960

Again, that's very strong supporting evidence for the correct release dates.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:36 pm

Hello Doc,This is some info that I have.I hope it may be of some help.
The first appearance of LPM-1951 was in November 1959, featuring the back sleeve below.

lpm_1951_b0.jpg


This would tally up with the photo being taken in May 1959 (As you confirmed) for the front cover.
The date I have for the back cover below is November 1963.

lsp_1951_b0.jpg


I hope this info is of some help.All the best, Colin
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Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:39 pm

painterboy wrote:Hello Doc,This is some info that I have.I hope it may be of some help.
The first appearance of LPM-1951 was in November 1959, featuring the back sleeve below.

Hi Colin --

I already posted the original back sleeve on page 1 and addressed why the release was probably out circa Christmas 1960.

Do you have additional information? If so, please share it.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:43 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
THEMEMPHISFAN wrote:... for a supposed late in the year 1960 release, why in the world would RCA use all pre-1960 photos on the front and back of the LP?

That question was answered in my original post.

---

Some continue to miss the core findings:

1) There is NO mention of the new EP until Christmas 1959
2) There is not a word printed about the LP reissue -- not just the charts, but ANYTHING, ads, previews, listings -- until Christmas 1960

Again, that's very strong supporting evidence for the correct release dates.


Wouldn't this information still be in RCA files?
Wouldn't Ernst if he had the time, could check on this?
If the 1960 date is correct, how would so many authors have the date set at 1958.
Someone must have remembered back when they bought the album.
And if true, that would mean that the original LP would be on the shelves for the
Christmas season 1958 and 1959 with no competition with itself and still not chart?
I don't have a charts book, so I can't check on this.

Re: Elvis' Christmas Album --> Mystery No More?

Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:52 pm

THEMEMPHISFAN wrote:... don't you think it was odd that all the photos used on LPM-1951 were pre-1960? Do you think it's possible that the re-issue was designed and made in '58 or '59, but not actually released until late 1960? (I think someone else already mentioned that possibility)

That's exactly what I cited in my original post on page 1.


ekenee wrote:Wouldn't this information still be in RCA files?

Wouldn't Ernst if he had the time, could check on this?

If the 1960 date is correct, how would so many authors have the date set at 1958. Someone must have remembered back when they bought the album.

And if true, that would mean that the original LP would be on the shelves for the Christmas season 1958 and 1959 with no competition with itself and still not chart?

Yes.

Yes, and he has been alerted to this topic.

All it takes is one person to get it wrong, everyone else follows. Note: Ernst's A Life In Music does not mention LPM 1951.

LOC 1035 had plenty of competition. LPs were a luxury purchase in the late 1950s, especially for teenage fans. The people who bought it were parents or grandparents of the young fans who loved Elvis then. EPs were more affordable and even promoted as "Albums." Revisit my original post to see how successful the EPs were in 1958-1959. EPA 4108 had the four coolest Christmas tracks, and it hit #1 more than once.
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.