Two words exploded worldwide on December 19, 1957 – “Elvis Drafted!” – but three words resounded across the universe even more explosively on March 3, 1960: “Elvis Is Back!” The album that Elvis Presley began recording in Nashville on March 20th, and finished in the legendary overnight session of April 3-4th, is widely regarded as possibly the best album he ever made.
A half-century later, Elvis Is Back is now coupled with 1961′s Something For Everybody, an album he recorded back in Nashville one year later. Along with one dozen hit single sides recorded (also in Nashville) and charted over roughly the same period of time, the deluxe Elvis Is Back: Legacy Edition will be available at all physical and digital retail outlets starting March 1, 2011, through RCA/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.
Elvis Is Back: Legacy Edition follows the template of the recent RCA/Legacy releases, From Elvis In Memphis: Legacy Edition and On Stage: Legacy Edition. With each title, the definitive version of one of Elvis’ most essential albums has been expanded to include another historically significant album from the same time period, along with the hit singles associated with both albums.
Adding wit and nuance to Elvis Is Back: Legacy Edition is a new essay by New York-based journalist Stuart Colman, former member of ’60s UK pop group the Flying Machine (“Smile A Little Smile For Me”), and former BBC radio host, recording studio owner, and Nashville-based record producer. Colman, a liner notes writer specializing in early roots-rock, R&B and rockabilly, sets the stage for that landmark evening in Nashville, the third Sunday in March 1960, two months after Elvis’ 25th birthday. “Right up until the point where cars were being parked and instruments unpacked,” Colman writes, “the assembled musicians were under the impression they’d been booked to record with Jim Reeves. This was a half-hearted attempt to thwart the fans gathered outside who knew full well who was coming in.”
Joining Elvis for his sessions at RCA’s Studio B in Nashville were his long-time guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer D.J. Fontana, Floyd Cramer on piano, guitarist Hank Garland (also on bass), bassist Bob Moore, and drummer Buddy Harman, plus the Jordanaires on harmony vocals. Among the six masters they cut that night were Elvis’ first post-Army #1 million-selling single “Stuck On You,” and three tracks that would be chosen for the new album. They reconvened two Sunday nights later on April 3rd (adding saxophonist Boots Randolph to the lineup) and finished an astounding 12 tracks. The unprecedented results included Elvis’ next two #1 million-selling singles, “It’s Now Or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” plus the nine tunes needed to complete the LP. Elvis Is Back was rush-released days later on April 8th. Any concerns about Elvis’ ability in the studio after more than two years away were set aside forever.
“Elvis Is Back was a triumph on every level,” wrote Jorgensen in his essential research guide, Elvis Presley: A Life In Music (St. Martin’s Press, 1998). “Elvis had never been heard like this before, except perhaps by himself in his own head. There was new depth to his voice; his interpretations were increasingly sophisticated; the group was probably the best studio band in the business; the song selection was imaginative and varied, the technical quality excellent. Most surprisingly of all, the new album pointed in no one musical direction… It was as if Elvis had invented his own brand of music, broken down the barriers of genre and prejudice to express everything he heard in all the kinds of music he loved.”
After spending the rest of 1960 in Hollywood filming and recording the soundtracks for G.I. Blues, Flaming Star, and Wild In the Country, Elvis returned to Studio B on Sunday night, March 12, 1961. With the exception of “I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell” (imported from the Wild In the Country tapes), the other 11 tracks on Something For Everybody were all finished on that equally legendary overnight session. Among them were Elvis’ takes on “I Feel So Bad” (from Chuck Willis) and “I’m Comin’ Home” (from Charlie Rich). Elvis’ next batch of hit singles were recorded at Studio B in June (“(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame” b/w “Little Sister,” both sides penned by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman); and October (“Good Luck Charm” b/w “Anything That’s Part Of You”).
“Something For Everybody and its accompanying singles hit the market at a time when Elvis Presley was right at the top of his game,” Colman concludes. “The man could do no wrong in the eyes of the public and he was rightly thought of across the globe as the arbiter of popular music. He was most definitely the right man for the job.”
ELVIS IS BACK: LEGACY EDITION by ELVIS PRESLEY (RCA/Legacy 88697 76233 2)
CD One – Selections: 1. Make Me Know It • 2. Fever • 3. The Girl Of My Best Friend • 4. I Will Be Home Again • 5. Dirty, Dirty Feeling (Hot 100 #70, 1965) • 6. Thrill Of Your Love • 7. Soldier Boy • 8. Such A Night (Hot 100 #16, 1964)• 9. It Feels So Right (Hot 100 #55, 1965) • 10. Girl Next Door Went A’Walking • 11. Like A Baby • 12. Reconsider Baby (Tracks 1-12 from Elvis Is Back, RCA Victor 2231, released April 8, 1960) • THE HIT SINGLES: 13. Stuck On You (Hot 100 #1, 1960) • 14. Fame And Fortune (Hot 100 #17, 1960) • 15. It’s Now Or Never (Hot 100 #1, 1960) • 16. A Mess Of Blues (Hot 100 #32, 1960) • 17. Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Hot 100 #1, 1960) • 18. I Gotta Know (Hot 100 #20, 1960) • 19. Surrender (Hot 100 #1, 1961).
CD Two – Selections: 1. There’s Always Me (Hot 100 #56, 1967) • 2. Give Me The Right • 3. It’s A Sin • 4. Sentimental Me • 5. Starting Today • 6. Gently • 7. I’m Comin’ Home • 8. In Your Arms • 9. Put The Blame On Me (Hot 100 #70, 1965) • 10. Judy • 11. I Want You With Me • 12. I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (Tracks 1-12 from Something For Everybody, RCA Victor 2370, released June 1961) • THE HIT SINGLES: 13. I Feel So Bad (Hot 100 #5, 1961) • 14. (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame (Hot 100 #4, 1961) • 15. Little Sister (Hot 100 #5, 1961) • 16. Good Luck Charm (Hot 100 #1, 1962) • 17. Anything That’s Part Of You (Hot 100 #31, 1962).
Source: Legacy Records