It’s Now Or Never by Elvis Presley

June 15, 2014

 

It’s doubtful that Giovanni Capurro could have imagined what lay in store for his composition, “O Sole Mio,” when he wrote the song back in the year 1900. Six decades later, an adapted English version topped the music charts in the United States.

Elvis took the melody of “O Sole Mio,” added English lyrics and turned it into a smooth pop song. Released during the summer of 1960, it topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart for five weeks beginning August 15, 1960.

It signaled a change in Elvis’ style and sound as he began to move away from his rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll roots toward a more pop sound. The public embraced the song and the sound. It reached The Billboard Hot 100 on July 18, 1960, and on August 15, 1960, it claimed the top spot where it remained for five weeks.

“It’s Now Or Never” was one of Elvis’ biggest hits and remains one of his signature songs.

 

 


Stuck On You by Elvis Presley

May 25, 2014

 

March 1, 1960: Farewell party for Elvis by his Army Unit.

March 5, 1960: Elvis is honorably discharged from the Army at Fort Dix.

March 20-21, 1960: Elvis enters the recording studio and records six songs including two future number one singles.

March 1960: Advance orders for the as yet unnamed and unheard single top 1.2 million.

March 26, 1960: Elvis debuts “Stuck On You” on the Frank Sinatra Timex Television Show.

April 4, 1960: “Stuck On You” enters the BILLBOARD Hot 100 Chart.

April 25, 1960: Stuck On You” reaches number one where it remains for four weeks.


Recorded Live In Memphis (Legacy Edition) by Elvis Presley

April 16, 2014

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Elvis has re-entered the building again. The Elvis releases just keep coming as many of his albums have reached the 40 and 50 year mark and are being reissued with all sorts of bonus tracks. The latest album to be resurrected for its 40th anniversary is Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis.

Elvis was back on top of the music world in 1974. His 1973 Stax sessions had been well received and his Hawaiian television concert had been viewed by close to one billion people and the subsequent album Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite had topped the American music charts.

Elvis wanted to record a live album in his hometown of Memphis. Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis was released on vinyl July 7, 1974. The original album was somewhat disjointed as the concert was edited down to basics and clocked in at a meager 41 minutes. The concert is now complete as the missing ten songs have been returned to their rightful places. “Steamroller Blues,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel” Medley,” “Polk Salad Annie,” and “Funnny How Time Slips Away” are the best of the missing songs and help to flesh out the performance and make the concert experience complete.

Elvis is in fine voice and the sound has been scrubbed crystal clear. The 24 page booklet with some rare photographs gives a nice history of the tour and homecoming concert. His performance of “How Great Thou Art” would win the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance.

As with most of Elvis’ reissues there is a bonus disc. In this case it is what is called The Richmond Test Run Concert recorded March 18; two days before the Memphis performance.  While there may only be subtle differences, the complete concert is intact.

The album concludes with five tracks recorded at the Hollywood RCA Studios on August 16. They are referred to as reference recordings for an upcoming Las Vegas engagement. “Down In The Alley,” “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues,” “Softly As I Leave You,” “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and “The Twelfth Of Never” provide an interesting look at Elvis in the studio.

Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis is sometimes underrated in the pantheon of live Elvis albums. The release will certainly appeal to Elvis’ large fan base but if you are a casual fan there are better places to start when exploring his catalogue of music. If you are so inclined, however, this is a very good and interesting release as it fills in some missing elements in his legacy.

 


A Big Hunk O’ Love by Elvis Presley

March 25, 2014

Elvis was in the service in 1959. Elvis received a furlough in June of 1958 and on June 10, entered a recording studio for a two session. He managed to record five songs and then it was off to Germany where he would meet his future wife Priscilla.

“A Fool Such As I” was released in March of 1959 but became a rare Elvis release not to top the Billboard Hot 100 as it stalled at number two.

“A Big Hunk O’ Love” was released in June of 1959 and entered the Hot 100 on July 10th. It reached number one five weeks later on August 10, and remained number one for two weeks. It was his last single release until he was discharged from the military.


Hard Headed Woman 45 by Elvis Presley

November 28, 2013

“Hard Headed Woman” by Elvis Presley was a hard rocking, up-tempo performance that was typical of many of his early hits. Unfortunately for Elvis, it did not top the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Most Played By D.J.’s Chart or The Top 100. It did sell well, however, and on July 21, 1958, it began a two week run at the top of the Best Sellers In Stores Chart, which gave Elvis another official number one song.

Elvis was at the height of his early popularity and just about everything he touched turned to gold and so it was with this sometimes overlooked hit. Fifties Elvis at his best.


Elvis At Stax (Deluxe 3-CD Version) by Elvis Presley

September 5, 2013

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Elvis may be long gone but his music just keeps on coming in various incarnations and combinations. The latest release is the 3-CD box set, Elvis at Stax, the “Deluxe Edition.”

While all the material has been available in various forms and on multiple albums, the concept for this release is solid. Gather together the tracks from the last major studio recording sessions of his career, which took place at Stax Studios in Memphis, add in a number of outtakes, put them in some semblance of order, select a number of archival pictures, put together a booklet that provides a history of the sessions, and you have a cogent look at a specific period in the career of Elvis Presley.

The 1970s were a hit-and-miss period for Elvis. His studio albums were somewhat haphazard affairs of hastily recorded songs of the day. Some worked and some did not. Many of his live albums repeated the same songs over and over again. The one constant during this period was his single releases. They were polished, well recorded, found Elvis engaged, and were consistently excellent. The tracks issued as singles from his various Stax sessions are the highlights of the release.

Included in the set are rocking versions of “Promised Land” and “Raised on Rock,” country hits “Take Good Care of Her,” “It’s Midnight,” “If You Talk in Your Sleep,” “Help Me,” and the pop songs “My Boy” and “Thinking About You.” They prove that even as his health and enthusiasm were beginning to decline, he could still produce extremely good music when motivated.

The album tracks are a different matter. Most of them were issued on the albums Good Times, Raised on Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake, and Promised Land. While there may be a good performance here and there, the albums are not among the best of his career and many of the songs demonstrate why.

There are almost two discs worth of alternate takes. There is always the somewhat interesting question of why such takes as number four of “Your Love’s Been a Long Time Coming” and take nine of “Girl of Mine” were selected over others, but so be it.

The sound is good but limited somewhat by the Stax Recording Studio’s equipment of the day. It still had an eight track system rather than 16, which had become fairly common. On the positive side, Elvis always surrounded himself with the best session musicians available. Guitarist James Burton and drummer Ronnie Tutt were part of his touring band and they were joined by such artists as bassist Donald Dunn, drummer Alan Jackson, vocalist Kathy Westmoreland, and the ever present J.D. Sumner & The Stamps, among others.

Elvis at Stax [Deluxe Edition] is not the place to introduce yourself to the music of Elvis Presley. It is a release for the fan who wants everything or the collector who wants to dig a little deeper into his legacy with this snapshot of his time spent at Stax.


Don’t 45 by Elvis Presley

August 29, 2013

 

Elvis returned to the top of the charts in early 1958 with another Leiber and Stoller composition. The slow ballad “Don’t” became his 9th number one single. The flip side, “I Beg Of You,” also became a hit reaching number eight on the BILLBOARD Top 100.

Elvis had been drafted into the Army but was able to put off his induction for two months so he could finish the film, KING CREOLE, and record a number of singles and a Christmas album. On March 24, 1958, he reported for induction. That was just after “Don’t” topped the charts.

Best Sellers In Stores Chart – 2/10/58 – 5 weeks at number one.

Most Played By D.J. Chart – 3/17/58 – 1 week at number one.

Billboard Top 100 – 3/10/58 – 1 week at number one.

The hits would keep coming while he was in the service.  Of course his income dropped from over $100,000 a month to $78.