Picks and Pans Review: Amazing Grace—his Greatest Sacred Performances

updated 12/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Elvis Presley

Nearly two decades after Elvis's death, his record company is still finding fresh ways to repackage his musical canon.

If Every Day Was Like Christmas gathers together all the singer's Yuletide-themed recordings in one big overstuffed stocking. The best material comes from E.'s 1957 session with the Jordanaires, from which emerged a rockabilly "Blue Christmas" and a gutbucket "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" (my, what sharp sideburns you have, Santa). Be sure to seek out the collectors' edition (available only in CD format), with a pop-up model of Graceland, all frosted in snow and bedecked with lights. Merry Christmas, baby.

Amazing Grace assembles a vast offering of Elvis's devotional recordings. Yes, he was the King of rock and roll, but like many of the great pop singers who emerged in the '50s, Elvis was well-versed in gospel music, an avocation to which he returned again and again during his career. This two-CD set is not for the casual fan. It captures Elvis in his most vibrato-drenched, cornpone style, at his most lugubrious and—like it or not—at his most sincere. Hey, the King was a complicated cat. That's why the guys in marketing can keep carving him up eight ways from Sunday. (RCA)

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