Elvis Presley – From Elvis in Memphis (1969)

After a 14-year absence from Memphis, Elvis Presley returned to cut what was certainly his greatest album (or, at least, a tie effort with his RCA debut LP from early 1956). The fact that From Elvis in Memphis came out as well as it did is something of a surprise, in retrospect — Presley had a backlog of songs he genuinely liked that he wanted to record and had heard some newer soul material that also attracted him, and none of it resembled the material that he’d been cutting since his last non-soundtrack album, six years earlier. And he’d just come off of the NBC television special which, although a lot of work, had led him to the realization that he could be as exciting and vital a performer in 1969 as he’d been a dozen years before. And for what was practically the last time, the singer cut his manager, Tom Parker, out of the equation, turning himself over to producer Chips Moman. The result was one of the greatest white soul albums (and one of the greatest soul albums) ever cut, with brief but considerable forays into country, pop, and blues as well. Presley sounds rejuvenated artistically throughout the dozen cuts off the original album, and he’s supported by the best playing and backup singing of his entire recording history. — Bruce Eder

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Recording date Length
1. “Wearin’ That Loved On Look” Dallas Frazier, A.L. Owens January 13, 1969 2:47
2. “Only the Strong Survive” Jerry Butler, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff February 19, 1969 2:46
3. “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)” Eddy Arnold, Thomas Dilbeck, Hal Horton January 22, 1969 4:34
4. “Long Black Limousine” Bobby George, Vern Stovall January 13, 1969 3:44
5. “It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'” Johnny Tillotson February 20, 1969 2:38
6. “I’m Movin’ On” Hank Snow January 14, 1969 2:50
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Recording date Length
1. “Power of My Love” Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, Florence Kaye February 18, 1969 2:37
2. “Gentle on My Mind” John Hartford January 14, 1969 3:22
3. “After Loving You” Johnny Lantz, Eddie Miller February 18, 1969 3:09
4. “True Love Travels on a Gravel Road” Dallas Frazier, A.L. Owens February 17, 1969 2:38
5. “Any Day Now” Burt Bacharach, Bob Hilliard February 20, 1969 2:56
6. “In the Ghetto” Mac Davis January 20, 1969 2:57

Schill Score:  9/10

 

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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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Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

Elvis Presley is the debut album by American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley. It was released on RCA Victor, catalog number LPM-1254, in March 1956. The recording sessions took place on January 10 and January 11 at the RCA Victor recording studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and on January 30 and January 31 at the RCA Victor studios in New York. Additional material originated from sessions at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 5, August 19 and September 10 of 1954, and on July 11, 1955.

The album spent ten weeks at number one on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in 1956, the first rock and roll album ever to make it to the top of the charts, and the first million-selling album of that genre. In 2003, it was ranked number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list

Track Listing

Side one

1. “Blue Suede Shoes”
2. “I’m Counting on You”
3. “I Got a Woman”
4. “One Sided Love Affair”
5. “I Love You Because”
6. “Just Because”

Side two

1. “Tutti Frutti”
2. “Tryin’ to Get to You”
3. “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)”
4. “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)”
5. “Blue Moon”
6. “Money Honey”

Review: Look, lets be honest here. If this album didn’t exist, or if it had flopped miserably, there probably would never have been Rock And Roll. That is how “important” this album was. The album was important. But was it great to listen to? At the time maybe, but a lot of it did not hold up over time. Sure you have songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” that anyone who knows even the tiniest thing about music knows, and was an awesome song. But then you have other songs such as “I Love You Because” Which are straight up garbage.

Schill Score: 5/10

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