Elvis Presley – Elvis Is Back! (1960)

Elvis Is Back! is the fourth studio album by American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley, released by RCA Victor in April 1960. It was Presley’s first album issued in stereophonic sound. Recorded over two sessions in March and April, the album marked Presley’s return to recording after his discharge from the U.S. Army. It was Presley’s first album of new material since Elvis’ Christmas Album was issued in 1957.

In 1957, as Presley’s fame was soaring, he received a draft notice from the Memphis Draft Board, but was given a deferment so he could finish his latest film production, King Creole. During Presley’s two-year military service in Germany, RCA Victor and Paramount Pictures progressively released material he had completed prior to enlistment. During his last months in the Army, Presley experimented with new sounds and worked on further improving his performance. He also prepared material for his first session in Nashville, which was scheduled to take place upon his return. Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960. The singer reunited with his original band The Blue Moon Boys, excepting bassist Bill Black. The first session was held on March 20–21 and the second session was held on April 3–4, completing the album.

Elvis Is Back! topped the UK Albums Chart and reached number two in Billboard’s Top LP’s. Initially, the release received mixed reviews, but over subsequent years its critical reception became progressively more positive. Elvis is Back! was certified Gold on July 15, 1999, by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Track Listing:

Side One

1: Make Me Know It
2: Fever
3: The Girl of My Best Friend
4: I Will Be Home Again
5: Dirty, Dirty Feeling
6: Thrill of You Love

Side Two

1: Soldier Boy
2: Such a Night
3: It Feels So Right
4: Girl Next Door Went A-Walking
5: Like a Baby
6: Reconsider Baby

Review: Although they have common recording origins, two of the three singles, “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” were very quirky by the standards of Elvis songs at the time — the former inspired by Elvis’s admiration for Tony Martin’s 1949 hit “There’s No Tomorrow,” while the latter was recorded at the request of Col. Parker as a favor to his wife. They add to the diversity of sounds on this record, which shows a mature Elvis Presley. “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” and “It Feels So Right” showed he could still rock out and challenge authority and propriety, while “Reconsider Baby” and “Like a Baby” offer some of his best blues performances; but “The Thrill of Your Love” (a very gospel-tinged number), “Soldier Boy,” “Girl of My Best Friend,” and “Girl Next Door Went a’ Walking,” also displayed the rich, deep vocalizing that would challenge critics’ expectations of Elvis Presley playing rhythm guitar throughout. He also comes off better than on any of his other albums since arriving at RCA, as a musician as much as a “star” (he’d always had a lot more to say about running his sessions than the critics who loathed his RCA years indicated). — Bruce Eder

Schill Score: 6.5/10

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