When Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army in March 1958 and deployed to the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32nd Armor, 3rd Armored Division in West Germany, his absence created a rock vacuum. With the King in uniform, other worthy recording artists were poised to command a larger share of the limelight. Rockers-in-waiting included the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Ritchie Valens and Eddie Cochran.
But when Holly and Valens died in February 1959 and Cochran [pictured] died the following year, the tragedies put country-rock's development on holduntil Presley's return from the service in March 1960.
Two of Presley's finest post-Army recordingsElvis Is Back!
(1960) and Something for Everybody
(1961)have just been remastered and reissued in one CD set. What makes these recordings special is the eclectic nature of their contents and the vulnerability and maturity of Presley's baritone.
Some readers of this blog may debate Presley's true value and his impact on jazz. But at the end of the day his voice remains richer, deeper and warmer than most vocalists of the period. These recordings truly speak for themselves, and they make for fine listening. Hear them for yourself.
On Elvis is Back!
, Presley recorded in a wide range of styles. There's the jazzy and heated rendition of Fever
, which certainly rivals Peggy Lee's. His Soldier Boy
is a penetrating doo-wop execution. The twangy It Feels So Right
is pure country. A Mess of Blues
harkens back to his golden mid-'50s formula. And Are You Lonesome Tonight
channels the Ink Spots.Something for Everybody
continues this attempt to win back as wide an audience as possible following his military service. There's a good dose of hushed ballads (It's a Sin, There's Always Me
as well as country-flavored rockers such as Judy, I'm Coming Home
and I Want You With Me
The set also includes five remastered hit singles from the periodincluding two highly overlooked pre-Beatles rockers: Little Sister
and Good Luck Charm
Both albums in this set were recorded at RCA's famed Studio B in Nashville and included guitarist Hank Garland [pictured], pianist Floyd Cramer and saxophonist Boots Randolphmusicians who in 1960 discovered and encouraged vibraphonist Gary Burton.
By the end of 1961, Presley had re-established himself as rock's pre-eminent crooner and balladeer. And he did so by recording in almost every single rock style imaginable.JazzWax tracks: Elvis Is Back!
and Something for Everybody
is available remastered in a two-CD set (Sony/Legacy) at iTunes or here
.JazzWax clip: Here's It Feels So Right
from Elvis is Back!