Tuesday, March 23, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Elvis Presley (3/23/56) 54 Years!

Elvis Presley was the first rock ’n’ roll album to reach #1 on the Billboard pop album chart (spending 10 weeks there), the first million-selling rock ‘n’ roll album, and the first million-selling pop album for RCA Records. While Elvis Presley (playlist here) had seen some action on the country and western singles charts in 1955, when his debut album was released on March 23, 1956, the ground shook, The King was born, rock ‘n’ roll found its legs and the world of pop music was never the same again.

Elvis Presley wasn’t really a cohesive album in that sense of the term that came along in the 60s, and certainly not in a time when teens mainly bought 45s. It’s disjointed, with 12 tracks on the original vinyl (mono) disc recorded at three different times. Seven came from two sessions in January at RCA studios in Nashville and New York. The remaining five were leftovers culled from Presley’s catalogue of singles acquired from his previous employer, Sun Records (RCA bought his contract from Sun in November 1955 for $35,000). But who cared? Inconsistency aside, the landmark record had great rockabilly (Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”), country-pop (“Trying To Get To You”), shufflin’ R&B (Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”) and languid cover of the classic ballad “Blue Moon” (which doo-wop group The Marcels would speed up with startling effect in 1961).

Most CD reissues of include the classic hit “Heartbreak Hotel,” which rose the charts along with the LP but was not on the original vinyl pressing. Together, though, they make one helluva starting point for a playlist of the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll (soft sell, click here). Elvis Presley is #55 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 top albums of all-time. CD reissues and mp3 downloads are available on Amazon, but and iTunes downloads are available here.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

 

Album of the Day: Elvis (3/1/65) 45 Years!

In the five short years following his discharge from the Army in March 1960, Elvis Presley went on a tear (click here for Dr. Rock's Top 25 Elvis songs). He recorded and released 13 albums, eight of which were soundtracks to films he starred in. And every one of those albums charted in the Top 10. Few other recording artists or groups have ever – or will ever – equal that prolific output.

Girl Happy was released on March 1, 1965 and was the sixth straight Elvis soundtrack album after Girls! Girls! Girls! from November 1962. Both Girl Happy the movie and its counterpart soundtrack were an obvious attempt to cash in on the beach party movie craze of the mid-60s (remember Frankie and Annette in the classic Beach Blanket Bingo?). As it turned out, neither was particularly memorable. The album featured only one single - “Do The Clam” peaked at #21 - but it did reach #8 for a short period in mid-1965.

Girl Happy is available as a CD on Amazon (click here), but not on iTunes.

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