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Music Review: Elvis Is Back!: Legacy Edition

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Elvis Is Back!: Legacy Edition is a deluxe two-disc reissue of Elvis Presley’s first post-Army album Elvis Is Back! (1960) paired with Something For Everybody (1961). Both albums were recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with mostly the same group of backing musicians. No less than a dozen hit singles from the period are included as well, spread over the two discs. Music journalist Stuart Colman wrote an informative new essay, included in the generously illustrated booklet.

These albums, while stylistically varied, are not really rock and roll records. They are mainstream pop recordings with plenty of middle-of-the-road appeal. Longtime Presley sidemen such as Scotty Moore on guitar, D.J. Fontana on drums, and the backing vocals of The Jordanaires are present. But the sound is smoother and more polished than his raucous work of the 1950s. Presley’s singing had matured by this point. As a result he turned in supremely nuanced vocals. On Elvis Is Back!, he caresses the showcase ballads “I Will Be Home Again” and “Soldier Boy.” His delivery is positively angelic.

On the other hand, near the end of the album Presley offers proof he hadn’t forgotten how to get down. Bluesy material like “The Girl Next Door Went A’Walking” and “Like a Baby” finds him venturing into edgier territory. Best of all is the album closer, “Reconsider Baby,” featuring a blistering saxophone solo by Boots Randolph. Also of note is a sexy take on “Fever,” hewing closely to Peggy Lee’s definitive version.

While Elvis Is Back! barely missed the top of Billboard’s album chart, peaking at number two, Something For Everybody hit the coveted number one spot. If anything it’s even tamer than the earlier album, focusing largely on gently arranged, country-tinged ballads. “There’s Always Me” features Presley at his most dramatic. “I Want You With Me” is a late-album rave-up with a powerful vocal. The final track, a slight bit of boogie-woogie called “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell,” appeared in Presley’s 1961 film Wild In the Country.

The bonus track hit singles have been included on so many anthologies over the years, even the most casual fans will have the bigger ones. Among these are “Stuck On You,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” and “Good Luck Charm.” But it’s nice to have them in the context of the albums they are associated with. They sound excellent and enhance the value of the package, considering the two original albums total barely fifty-eight minutes. Bonus tracks included, the running time of the entire two-disc package is approximately 90 minutes. The audio quality is excellent throughout despite the recordings’ age of some fifty years. Sony Legacy has once again done the Presley legacy proud with this reissue.

About The Other Chad

Hi, I'm Chaz Lipp. An old co-worker of mine thought my name was Chad. Since we had two Chads working there at the time, I was "The Other Chad."
  • http://irelandtoo.blogspot.com MauricePColgan

    Great review. I remember the ORIGINAL vinyl album Elvis is Back and getting it the year it was released. What a surprising collection. Elvis Presley’s sheer vocal versatility was undeniable!

  • http://www.dominichalpin.com Dominic Halpin

    This is just what the doctor ordered.