Elvis Is Back!
(Legacy Edition)

Elvis Presley

Following his two-year stint in the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley released two seminal albums in 1960 and 1961: Elvis Is Back! and Something For Everybody. Fifty years later, the two have been bundled together for a double disc Elvis Is Back! Legacy Edition. Following the formula established by other recent Legacy/RCA Elvis Presley reissues, this package includes two essential albums (one a little more renown than the other) along with a handful of hit singles, recorded during the same time period. It all makes for a more complete picture of what the King was doing at the time.

Finished in one overnight session, Elvis Is Back! is considered by many to be Presley’s best album ever. Recorded with his usual band of musicians and the Jordanaire singers, the King is truly at the top of his game. There’s “Made Me Know It” with Floyd Cramer’s piano rolls underneath the gospel backing vocals of the Jordanaires and the King out in front. There’s the spectacular “Fever” and “I Will Be Home Again,” which features a rich vocal harmony. “Naughty Dirty, Dirty Feeling” is a bass-heavy tune with a sassy lyric. Cramer sways on both “Thrill Of Your Love” and “Soldier Boy.”

“Such A Night” sees Presley crooning and having fun snapping lyrics off. Things get naughty again with a marching snare on “It Feels So Right” and a chugging train rhythm on “The Girl Of Next Door Went A’ Walking.” As a slow blues torch song, “Like A Baby” is about as perfect as you’ll ever hear from The King. The first CD also features seven Hit Singles, including “Stuck On You,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “I Gotta Know” and “Surrender.”

Something For Everybody, which comprises the second CD, certainly lives up to its name. “There’s Always Me” sees Elvis at about his highest vocal range, supported by a lilting piano and those fantastic backing vocals. “Give Me The Right,” punctuated with horns, brings the house down with its stops and starts. Cramer’s slow, teardrop-like piano is the main accompaniment on “It’s A Sin” with Presley reaching for the high end of his register with a slightly off-putting warbling vibrato.

Guitars plunk gently on “Gently” with Elvis singing softly and in a much lower range. But finally things get rockin’ again on “I’m Coming Home” as everyone seems to be kicking the band up into a gear. “Put The Blame On Me” has a snaky coolness and all those deliciously taunting fits and starts. “I Want You With Me’” mixes all the elements of what we’ve heard so far — low vocal, stops and starts, and a stronger showing from everybody involved. “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” ends the album with a fun vocal from both Elvis and his backing singers. Five Hit Singles round out the CD, including a truly rocking “I Feel So Bad,” the fantastic “Little Sister,” the cute and cuddly “Good Luck Charm,” and the real treat, mainly just Elvis and Cramer, “Anything That’s Part of You.”

The Legacy Edition of Elvis Is Back! includes a detailed essay by New York journalist Stuart Colman. With 36 songs, mostly recorded in Nashville, Elvis Is Back! serves as a highpoint in the King’s ascension to pop legend. These two CDs most definitely gauge his greatness and impact on a world that was just getting into the spirit of rock and roll.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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