Monday, 16 July 2018
Elvis Presley - Elvis Is Back! (1960)
Released April 1960
Recorded at RCA Studios, Nashville
“Elvis Is Back” was Elvis Presley’s first album upon discharge from the US Army. Released in 1960, it saw Presley wanting to diversify away from the rock’n’roll that had catapulted him to fame. He experimented with pure pop, easy listening, crooning, some r’n’b. His voice seemed to have deepened, it had more soul and more range. Personally, I have always liked that early pre-army period in comparison to this one, but I have a soft spot for his album. One reason for that is the simply sensational stereo sound, which is quite remarkable for 1960. It was advertised as “Living Stereo” on the cover. A new type of sound had arrived, but few people had the equipment to play it on. Thankfully we do now.
Regarding the music, “Make Me Know It” is a lively, upbeat opener, while his cover of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” is soulfully and atmospherically delivered. “The Girl Of My Best Friend” is simply a great pop/rock song. “I Will Be Home Again” enters easy listening territory, but “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” is a frantic rockabilly-style song that sounds as if it should be on a movie soundtrack. Some excellent, cutting rockabilly guitar picking in the middle from the now legendary Scotty Moore and some rock’n’roll saxophone. One of the closest songs to rock’n’roll on the album. “Thrill Of Your Love” is slow-paced rock’n’roll ballad with a great vocal from Elvis and some bluesy piano. “Soldier Boy” is a predictably sad, devotional lament relating, clearly, to time in the army. It has a slow doo-wop, fairground slowie feel. While very sentimental, cloyingly so, the rock’n’roll ballad feeling is lovely, as is the piano.
“Such A Night” is jazzily sublime. Addictive cymbal work and saxophone plus killer guitar and, of course a peerless vocal. It is an instinctive toe-tapper. I love it, even now. In many ways, it is Elvis at his best. His voice soars on this. He owns it outright. The “woop” at the end adds to its spontaneous appeal. “It Feels So Right” is more than just a ballad. It has a mysterious bluesy guitar lick throughout and a real atmosphere. This really is some of the best material Elvis ever recorded, in many ways. “The Girl Next Door Went A-Walki'” is a jaunty, doo-wop piece of upbeat fun.
“Like A Baby” is almost a duet between Elvis and his saxophone player. This is once again superior slowed-down bluesy rock’n’roll. This really is far from an easy listening, Sinatra-style crooning album. It has many elements of blues-influenced rock’n’roll. That is confirmed by the gritty blues of “Reconsider Baby”. Presley’s vocal is nonchalantly lazy. The saxophone and piano break is intoxicating. Early sixties bluesy rock’n’roll of the highest quality. Superb.