Elvis Is Back!

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Elvis Is Back!
Studio album LP mono and stereo (LPM/LSP 2231) by Elvis Presley
Released April 8, 1960 (1960-04-08)
Recorded March–April 1960
Studio RCA Studio B, Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Rock and roll, rhythm and blues
Length 31:54
Label RCA Victor
Producer Steve Sholes and Chet Atkins
Elvis Presley chronology
Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2
(1959)
Elvis is Back!
(1960)
G.I. Blues
(1960)

Elvis Is Back! is the tenth studio album by Elvis Presley. It was released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo in April 1960. Recorded over two sessions in March and April, the album marked Presley's return to recording after his discharge from the U.S. Army.

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 first session was held on March 20–21 and the second session was held on April 3–4, completing the album.

Elvis Is Back! was released on April 8, 1960. The album topped the UK Albums Chart and reached number two in Billboard's Top Selling LP's. Since release, the album's critical reviews have become progressively more positive and it was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999.

Background and Army years[edit]

Following his third and last appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Presley received a notice from the Memphis draft board on January 8, 1957. The board announced his 1A classification and his possible draft before the end of the year. [1] During the first half of 1957, Presley had three number one hits with "Too Much", "All Shook Up", and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear".[2] His second film, Loving You, opened on July 30 to box office success.[3] His Christmas album was released on October 15 and his third film, Jailhouse Rock, opened on October 17.[4]

On December 20, Presley received his draft notice. He was granted a deferment so he could to finish the forthcoming film King Creole, which had already received an investment of $350,000 from Paramount Pictures and producer Hal Wallis. At the beginning of 1958, Presley's single "Don't" topped the charts.[5]

Presley was inducted into the Army on March 24, 1958.[6] Soon after commencing basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, he received a visit from Eddie Fadal, a businessman he had met on tour. According to Fadal, Presley "firmly believed" his career was finished.[7] After completing training, he joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany, on October 1.[8]

Media reports echoed Presley's concerns about his career, but RCA producer Steve Sholes and Freddy Bienstock of Hill and Range had carefully prepared for his two-year absence. Prepared with unreleased material, they kept up a stream of regular, successful releases.[9] Between his induction and discharge, Presley had ten top 40 hits, including "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck", the best-selling "Hard Headed Woman", and "One Night"[10] in 1958, and "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" and the number one hit "A Big Hunk o' Love" in 1959.[11] RCA also released four albums compiling old material during this period, most successfully Elvis' Golden Records (1958), which rose to third position on the LP chart.[12]

Return to music[edit]

During his final months in the Army, Presley started to experiment with new material and thinking ahead to his anticipated return to recording. For his first scheduled recording session, Presley considered The Four Fellow's "Soldier Boy", the Golden Gate Quartet's "I Will Be Home Again", The Drifters' "Such a Night" and Jesse Stone's "Like a Baby".[13] His friend Charlie Hodge taught Presley techniques to improve his breathing and expand his range. For inspiration, Presley used Roy Hamilton's "I Believe" and "Unchained Melody", the traditional song "Danny Boy", and Tony Martin's English adaptation of "’O sole mio", "There's No Tomorrow".[14] Presley also studied the phrasing and notes of records by The Inkspots and the Mills Brothers.[15] By the end of his time in Germany, Presley had added a full octave to his vocal range.[16]

Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant on March 5.[17] While Presley was in Germany, Colonel Tom Parker negotiated new terms with RCA Records for Presley to fulfill his contractual obligations with film soundtracks. Parker also obtained an increase in Presley's salary and a profit share from producer Wallis, and negotiated an appearance on The Frank Sinatra Show.[18] Meanwhile, to assure publishing royalties, Bienstock commissioned new lyrics for "O Sole Mio" since the tune was already in the public domain.[15]

Recording[edit]

On March 20, Parker sent a chartered Greyhound bus to transport Presley and his entourage from Memphis, Tennessee to Nashville. The session personnel consisted of guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer D.J. Fontana, pianist Floyd Cramer, guitarist Hank Garland, bassist Bobby Moore, percussionist Buddy Harman and the backing group The Jordanaires. To prevent possible disruption by fans, the musicians were initially told they were going to play on a Jim Reeves session. RCA Executives Sholes and Bill Bullock were joined in the control booth by Parker, his assistant Tom Diskin, A&R head Chet Atkins, engineer Bill Porter and Hill and Range's Bienstock.[19]

RCA's Studio B had recently been equipped with a new three-track recorder.[20] To further improve the recording of Presley's voice, Porter had Telefunken U-47 microphones placed in the studio.[21] The U-47 was the first condenser microphone that could switch between omnidirectional and cardioid patterns. The microphone could be used for vocals, instruments and full area coverage.[22] The first song recorded was Otis Blackwell's "Make Me Know It", which was mastered in nineteen takes. "Soldier Boy" was later recorded in fifteen takes, followed by the non-album cuts "Stuck on You" and "Fame and Fortune". The last song recorded during the March session was a non-album cut, "A Mess of Blues".[23] A new session was arranged for April. Presley then left for Miami, Florida, where he taped The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis.[24]

The original musicians returned to the studio on the evening of April 3; they were joined by saxophonist Boots Randolph. Presley started the session with "Fever", accompanied only by the bass and drums.[25] He followed with the reworded version of "O Sole Mio", now titled "It's Now or Never". After Presley failed several times to achieve the full voice ending of the song, Porter offered to splice it for him. Presley refused and tried the song until he finally got the ending.[26] "Girl Next Door Went A-Walking", was recorded in ten takes, followed by "Thrill of Your Love".[20] The non-album cut "Are You Lonesome Tonight" was followed by "I Will Be Home Again"—a duet with Hodge. For the last song of the session, Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby", Presley played the lead using his Gibson Super 400 rhythm guitar.[27]

Content[edit]

Elvis is Back! represented a new sound for Presley; it moved him further toward pop music, a direction he continued to take over much of the decade.[28] The album features a mixture of genres, including rock, rhythm and blues and pop ballads.[29] Critics generally agreed that Presley had acquired a "deeper, harder voice quality",[30] and said his interpretations were "increasingly sophisticated". The album includes a variety of material; Presley and the session musicians, known as the "The Nashville A-Team", had the benefit of recording equipment that was state-of-the-art for its time.[28] Elvis is Back! was the first Presley album to be released in stereo.[31] The album's front cover shows Presley standing in front of a blue stage curtain, dressed in an Army trench coat and smiling as he glances to his left. The back cover features an image of Presley grinning; he is dressed in an Army regulation fatigue jacket and cap. The inside of the gatefold cover features fifteen photographs of Presley taken at various times during his Army service.[32]

The second track of the album presents Presley closely following Peggy Lee's version of the song

Closing the album, Presley covers Lowell Fulson's song

Problems playing these files? See media help.

The album contains twelve trasks; it opens with "Make Me Know It".[33] The second track is a cover of "Fever", which Presley based on Peggy Lee's version, although his recording incorporates finger-snapping[34] and the sounds of the two percussionists are divided between the two channels of the stereo mix.[35] On "The Girl of My Best Friend", Presley is supported with doo-wop backing vocals by The Jordanaires.[34] The fourth track is "I Will Be Home Again", a slow ballad performed as a duet with Charlie Hodge.[36] The fifth track is "Dirty, Dirty Feeling", a song characterized by its "raunchy rock sound" and satirical humor; it was written by by Leiber and Stoller, and had been previously discarded from the soundtrack of King Creole. [37] The final track on side one is "Thrill of Your Love", on which Presley is accompanied by Cramer on the piano.[20]

The second side opens with "Soldier Boy", which featuring a change of key in the chorus. This is followed by "Such a Night", which has saxophone accompaniment by Randolph.[38] The next track is the blues number "It Feels So Right", which features lead guitar and heavy use of percussion. The following track is "Girl Next Door Went A-Walking", which was brought in by Moore.[39] The album closes with the rhythm and blues songs "Like a Baby" and "Reconsider Baby". Presley played the lead guitar on both tracks, the latter of which features long saxophone and piano solos.[40]

Release and reception[edit]

The first single from Elvis Is Back!, "Stuck on You", was released two days after its recording with "Fame and Fortune" on the B-side, attracting 1.4 million advanced orders.[18] The pre-printed single sleeve said, "Elvis' 1st New Recording For His 50,000,000 Fans All Over The World".[28] It was the first Presley single to be released in stereo.[33] Elvis Is Back! was released on April 8, 1960, in stereo and monoaural versions. The album reached number two on Billboard's Top Selling LP's and topped the UK Albums Chart.[35]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Billboard Favorable.[41]
The New York Times Negative.[16]
High Fidelity Mixed.[42]
Hi-Fi Stereo Review Mixed.[43]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[44]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[45]
PopMatters 7/10 stars[46]
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Favorable.[47]
Daily Express 4/5 stars[48]

Initial reviews[edit]

Billboard magazine said, "Elvis is back and singing better than ever in the rock and roll style he made famous".[41] The New York Times called the record "drab and lackluster".[16] Referencing Presley's change of style, High Fidelity magazine said: "Presley obviously finds it hard to record his old gusto ... Perhaps [the recordings] are the first attempts to master new styles".[42] Hi-Fi Stereo Review magazine also remarked on the change in Presley's style, calling the album "musically schizoid" despite deeming the overall recording "good". The review said Presley's ballads were "the worst he's ever made" but lauded "his former vitality" in the "commercial rockabilly romps".[43]

Later reviews[edit]

Allmusic awarded the album four-and-a-half stars out of five. Critic Bruce Eder said the record "shows a mature Elvis Presley [who] displayed the rich, deep vocalizing that would challenge critics' expectations of Elvis Presley playing rhythm guitar throughout". The review concluded "[Elvis is Back!] comes off better than on any of his other albums since arriving at RCA".[44] Rolling Stone also gave the album four-and-a-half stars out of five, and praised its "wildly varied material, revelatory singing, impeccable stereo sound".[45]

Popmatters gave the album a score of seven out of ten. The review said the album helped Presley grow from "teen idol" to "adult entertainer". Critic Steve Horowitz stated, "Presley’s voice was still strong and clear. He could belt out the blues one minute ... and then sound sophisticated the next ... without changing character."[46] The Seattle Post-Intelligencer also gave a favorable review, saying: "Elvis is Back! finds [Presley] demonstrating both versatility and an affinity for handling a range of song styles".[47] UK newspaper Daily Express awarded it four stars out of five, saying, "this collection ... is [Presley's] finest". [48]

Legacy[edit]

Elvis is Back! was certified Gold on July 15, 1999, by the Recording Industry Association of America.[49] Critic Robert Dimery included the album in his book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[50] RCA reissued the album on Compact Disc in 1990, and in 1999 re-released it with bonus tracks. Legacy Recordings released a remastered version of the album together with Something for Everybody in 2011.[44]

Personnel[edit]

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Recording date Length
1. "Make Me Know It"   Otis Blackwell March 20, 1960 1:58
2. "Fever"   John Davenport and Eddie Cooley April 3, 1960 3:31
3. "The Girl of My Best Friend"   Beverly Ross and Sam Bobrick April 4, 1960 2:21
4. "I Will Be Home Again"   Bennie Benjamin, Raymond Leveen, Lou Singer April 4, 1960 2:33
5. "Dirty, Dirty Feeling"   Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller April 4, 1960 1:35
6. "Thrill of Your Love"   Stan Kesler April 4, 1960 2:59
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Recording date Length
1. "Soldier Boy"   David Jones and Theodore Williams Jr. March 20, 1960 3:04
2. "Such a Night"   Lincoln Chase April 4, 1960 2:58
3. "It Feels So Right"   Fred Wise and Ben Weisman March 21, 1960 2:09
4. "Girl Next Door Went A-Walking"   Bill Rice and Thomas Wayne April 4, 1960 2:12
5. "Like a Baby"   Jesse Stone April 3, 1960 2:38
6. "Reconsider Baby"   Lowell Fulson April 4, 1960 3:39

1999 reissue bonus tracks[edit]

2011 Legacy edition reissue[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1960) Peak
position[35]
UK Albums Chart 1
Billboard Top Selling LP's 2
Preceded by
South Pacific by Original Soundtrack
UK Albums Chart number-one album
30 July 1960 - 6 August 1960
Succeeded by
South Pacific by Original Soundtrack

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Guralnick; Jorgensen 1999, p. 95.
  2. ^ Salisbury 1957, p. 4.
  3. ^ Templeton 2002, p. 10.
  4. ^ Templeton 2002, p. 16.
  5. ^ Guralnick 1994, p. 448–49.
  6. ^ Guralnick 1994, p. 461–74.
  7. ^ Guralnick 1994, p. 466–67.
  8. ^ Ponce de Leon 2007, p. 115.
  9. ^ Jorgensen 1998, p. 107.
  10. ^ Gilliland 1969, show 8, track 2.
  11. ^ Whitburn 1993, p. 501.
  12. ^ Marcus 1982, p. 278.
  13. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 44-45.
  14. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 45.
  15. ^ a b Guralnick 1998, p. 46.
  16. ^ a b c Jeansonne, Glen; Luhrssen, David; Sokolovic, Dan 2011, p. 162.
  17. ^ Slaughter 2004, p. 54.
  18. ^ a b Jeansonne, Glen; Luhrssen, David; Sokolovic, Dan 2011, p. 161.
  19. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 59.
  20. ^ a b c Colman 2011, p. 8.
  21. ^ Colman 2011, p. 4.
  22. ^ Granata 2003, p. 22-23.
  23. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 60.
  24. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 61.
  25. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 64.
  26. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 65.
  27. ^ Guralnick 1998, p. 66.
  28. ^ a b c Jorgensen 1998, p. 129.
  29. ^ Kirchberg 1999, p. 42.
  30. ^ Hatch 1987, p. 95.
  31. ^ Bernardo 2011, p. 32.
  32. ^ Osborne 2007, p. 161.
  33. ^ a b Neibaur 2014, p. 55.
  34. ^ a b Eder 2013, p. 124.
  35. ^ a b c Mojo staff 2007, p. 30.
  36. ^ Matthew-Walker 1983, p. 49.
  37. ^ Eder 2013, p. 125.
  38. ^ Eder 2013, p. 126.
  39. ^ Eder 2013, p. 127.
  40. ^ Eder 2013, p. 128.
  41. ^ a b Billboard staff 1960, p. 35.
  42. ^ a b High Fidelity staff 1960, p. 108.
  43. ^ a b Hi-Fi Stereo Review staff 1960, p. 80.
  44. ^ a b c Eder 2008.
  45. ^ a b Hermes 2011.
  46. ^ a b Horowitz 2011.
  47. ^ a b Gibson 2010.
  48. ^ a b Gage 2011.
  49. ^ RIAA 2014.
  50. ^ Dimery 2011, p. 238.

References[edit]

  • Billboard staff (1960). "Reviews of This Weeks' Top LP's". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 72 (17). ISSN 0006-2510. 
  • Bernardo, Mark (2011). Elvis Presley:Memphis. Roaring Forties Press. ISBN 978-1-938-90100-3. 
  • Colman, Stuart (2011). Elvis is Back! (Legacy Edition) (booklet). Elvis Presley. Legacy Recordings. RCA/Legacy 8869 785300-2. 
  • Dimery, Paul (2011). 1001 Albums: You Must Hear Before You Die. Hachette UK. ISBN 978-1-844-03714-8. 
  • Eder, Bruce (2008). "Elvis is Back!". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  • Eder, Mike (2013). Elvis Music FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King's Recorded Works. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-1-617-13580-4. 
  • Gage, Simon (2011). "Album review - Elvis Presley: Elvis Is Back (Sony)". The Express. Northern and Shell Media Publications. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  • Gibson, Donald (2010). "Music Review: Elvis Presley - Elvis is Back! (Legacy Edition)". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hearst Seattle Media, LLC. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  • Gilliland, John (1969). "The All American Boy: Enter Elvis and the rock-a-billies" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  • Granata, Charles (2003). Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-613-74281-5. 
  • Guralnick, Peter (1994). Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-33225-9. 
  • Guralnick, Peter (1998). Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-33222-4. 
  • Guralnick; Jorgensen, Peter , Ernst (1999). Elvis Day by Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Music. Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-42089-6. 
  • Hatch, David (1987). From Blues to Rock: An Analytical History of Pop Music. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-719-02349-1. 
  • Hermes, Will (2011). "Elvis Presley - Elvis is Back! (Legacy Edition)". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, LLC. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  • Hi-Fi Stereo Review staff (1960). Hi-Fi Stereo Review (Ziff-Davis Publishing Company) 5. 
  • High Fidelity staff (1960). "New Album Reviews". High Fidelity (Audiocom) 2 (10). 
  • Horowitz, Steve (2011). "Elvis Presley: Elvis is Back!". PopMatters. PopMatters Media, Inc. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  • Jeansonne, Glen; Luhrssen, David; Sokolovic, Dan (2011). Elvis Presley, Reluctant Rebel: His Life and Our Times. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-35904-0. 
  • Jorgensen, Ernst (1998). Elvis Presley—A Life in Music: The Complete Recording Sessions. St Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-18572-3. 
  • Kirchberg, Connie (1999). Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, and the American Dream. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-40716-3. 
  • Marcus, Greil (1982). Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music (Revised ed.). E.P. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-47708-X. 
  • Matthew-Walker, Robert (1983). Elvis Presley: A Study in Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-711-90086-8. 
  • Mojo staff (2007). The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Cannongate Books. ISBN 978-1-847-67643-6. 
  • Neibaur, James (2014). The Elvis Movies. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-442-23074-3. 
  • Osborne, James (2007). Presleyana VI - the Elvis Presley Record, CD, and Memorabilia Price Guide. Jerry Osborne Enterprises. ISBN 978-0-932-11749-6. 
  • Ponce de Leon, Charles (2007). Fortunate Son: The Life of Elvis Presley. Macmillan. ISBN 0-8090-1641-9. 
  • RIAA (2014). "RIAA Searchable database". Recording Industry Association of America. Enter search for 'Elvis is Back!' or 'Elvis Presley' 
  • Salisbury, Harrison (1957). "Presley Records a Craze in Soviet". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 
  • Slaughter, Todd (2004). The Elvis Archives. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-380-6. 
  • Templeton, Steve (2002). Elvis Presley: Silver Screen Icon. The Overmountain Press. ISBN 978-1-57072-232-5. 
  • Whitburn, Joel (1993). Billboard Top 1000 Singles 1955–1992. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-7935-2072-X.