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Elvis Presley

Elvis is Back! The Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Mar. 15, 2011
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The artistry of Elvis Presley's career after his return from the army rose and fell with as many fluctuations as the stock market. His worst music was generally produced for the movie soundtracks he came to despise. The best was recorded in sympathetic settings in Memphis or Nashville in the company of musicians who understood from where he came.

A new Legacy release collects the best of his work from his first years after the service. The brimming two-disc set includes a pair of LPs recorded in Nashville, Elvis is Back! (1960) and Something for Everybody (1961), plus singles made in the country music capital during that same period. Accompanied by an accomplished crew, including longtime band members Scotty Moore (guitar) and D.J. Fontana (drums), Elvis sang with a voice deeper, more polished than on his sessions in the '50s. His range of material was remarkable. Elvis was trying to embrace the whole of American music, including the down-but-never-out blues of "Reconsider Baby," the lachrymose country of "I Will Be Home Again" and the gospel-inspired "Thrill of Your Love" along with much that sounds like ersatz rock'n'roll, sung with feeling but corny to 21st century ears. With "It's Now or Never," Elvis emulated his hero, Dean Martin, with great aplomb.

Some performances are classic. Elvis was deep into his stark rendition of "Fever," his voice sizzling with barely restrained sensuality. While many of the tunes have not worn well with time ("Good Luck Charm"), others, especially Doc Pomus' "Little Sister" and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame," stand as great rock'n'roll.


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