Elvis Presley | Elvis is back – 1960

Who is he and where has he been?

I was one year old and the family was moving from Adelaide. My father was striking out away from his father, to make his own life in Melbourne. Maybe he was striking out away from his mother.

Melbourne in 1960. Despite everything appearing cold in the black and white pictures, 1960 was the year of a big heatwave in Australia, it is reported that 13 people died in Sydney due to the heatwave, not sure how Melbourne was affected.

This was the year that Francis Gary Powers, flying CIA U2 spy plane was shot down during US reconnaissance flights over what was then the USSR. This was also the year that Bono was born (as was Osvaldo Golijov, maybe more about him in later posts).

This was the year that Sputnik launched, France testing atomic bombs in the Sahara (Algeria), the Crown of Thorns starfish (not to be confused with the Game of Thrones) invade the Great Barrier Reef and the first CERN particle accelerator becomes active in Switzerland. This was the Cold War

The world was clearly divided along Cold War lines. Tensions had been increasing over the past few years. The USA had troops stationed in Europe. In Germany, one of the recruits was Elvis. By 1960 he’d been in the army for 2 years, and by 1960 was promoted to sergeant. He was not in Oliver’s Army (very small Elvis Costello joke). The US had over 190 barracks through Germany as forward defense station in case of a heating of the Cold War. The majority of these remained open until the 1990’s. From what I’ve read, Elvis wasn’t doing it tough in Germany, leasing BMW’s and 5 bedroom houses, dating movie and theatre stars. It was whilst in west Germany that he met and began dating the 14 year old Priscilla Beaulieu, daughter of a US Air officer. Elvis was 24. They married nine years later.

I’ve never really spent time listening to an Elvis album before. I remember Jo T’s older sister, in August 1977 – almost inconsolable when Elvis died. It didn’t really mean that much to me.

The album and the music:

As always, the music world was changing. If you listen closely, you can hear parts of these changes on this album. This is Elvis’s tenth album and one of his most important. This album comes after that two year army stint. Was he still popular with the fickle pop audience? The music world had changed. 1960 saw Bill Hayley and the Comets have their last hit, Eddie Cochran die in a car accident, and much more ominous for Elvis, The Beatles formed and played their first gigs in Hamburg, Germany.

This is a great album. This is old time rock and roll, but not as Bob Seger remembers. It is a mix of an album, and a sign of the times. The Doo Wop backing vocals are prominent, but there are also some dirty rock and roll (‘Dirty, Dirty Feeling’ and ‘It Feels So Right’), blues (‘Reconsider Baby’) and a bit of gospel (‘The Thrill of Your Love’).

His voice is strong and confident throughout and the song selection displays his versatility.

This was recorded over two days in March / April 1960. The recording sessions also produced a couple of songs that weren’t included on the album, but were released as singles. You may have heard of them: –

‘It’s Now or Never’ – which was adopted from the 1898 Neapolitan song O! Solo Mia via a 1949 interpretation called ‘There’s No Tomorrow’
‘Are you Lonesome Tonight’ – a 1926 song recorded as a favour to Colonel Tom Parker’s wife.

Go and find this album and listen. If you can get one of the later releases that include the bonus singles. This is more than a historical document of the changes in music. This is worth a listen.

Track listing:-
Side One
Track
Recorded
Song Title
Writer(s)
Time
1.
3/20/60
Make Me Know It
Otis Blackwell
1:58
2.
4/3/60
Fever
John Davenport and Eddie Cooley
3:31
3.
4/3/60
The Girl of My Best Friend
Beverly Ross and Sam Bobrick
2:21
4.
4/3/60
I Will Be Home Again
Bennie Benjamin, Raymond Leveen, Lou Singer
2:33
5.
4/3/60
Dirty, Dirty Feeling
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
1:35
6.
4/3/60
Thrill of Your Love
Stan Kesler
2:59
Side Two
Track
Recorded
Song Title
Writer(s)
Time
1.
3/20/60
Soldier Boy
David Jones and Theodore Williams Jr.
3:04
2.
4/3/60
Such a Night
Lincoln Chase
2:58
3.
3/20/60
It Feels So Right
Fred Wise and Ben Weisman
2:09
4.
4/3/60
Girl Next Door Went A’Walking
Bill Rice and Thomas Wayne
2:12
5.
4/3/60
Like A Baby
Jesse Stone
2:38
6.
4/3/60
Reconsider Baby
Lowell Fulson
3:39
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One Response to Elvis Presley | Elvis is back – 1960

  1. Pingback: A life in albums | michaelsprott

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