A celebration of the LP, the long-player, the album music format. Reviews, recommendations and discussion.

Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley

Before I even start I feel bound by the choice of the first album review to reveal how I choose my next album to listen to. I have, like I’m sure almost all other music fans out there also have, a vast and seemingly ever expanding list of records filed under “I’ve-never-heard-this-and-I’d-like-to-someday”. Each weekend I select one album from this list at random…….this used to be by picking a number out of a bag (yes, really), now it is all spreadsheets and random number generator phone apps……..I won’t go on for fear of being crushed under the weight of my own nerdiness but I just wanted to point out that the choice of album is random(ish).

Therefore it seems a nice coincidence that this weeks’ album of the week, and therefore my first review, should be pretty much where the whole thing started…..Elvis Presley by Elvis Presley. Never having been much of an Elvis fan in the past I was pretty familiar with most of his big hits but had never listened to one of his albums, but what sort of music fan can you really be if you haven’t even given it a try so I thought I’d dip my toes in with a week listening to his debut.

Firstly it is impossible to actually buy a copy of this album with the original tracklisting only. Having been given the remaster/deluxe/bells and whistles box set treatment on numerous occasions it takes a bit of fiddling in itunes to actually come up with a version with the original tracks and only the original tracks on it.

That done the album is made up of 12 tracks of mostly rock’n’roll with the odd tinge of country here and there. The opener is the classic Blue Suede Shoes which sets up a pace largely kept up throughout the record. It’s easy to see why audiences would get so excited by a young Elvis hammering out tracks such as I Got A Woman and I’m Gonna Sit Right Down. The whole record has the feel of a live album which, given the more simple recording techniques, it probably largely was, and although musically it seems rather simplistic to a listener in 2012 it is largely irrelevant as this record is all about one thing and that is Elvis. I was surprised by how much I liked his voice, both Tutti Frutti and Trying To Get To You highlight the fact that he really was a great singer.

I think it important when reviewing any album that you take into account the time it was released. Although the songs seem rather tame and innocent now I can easily imagine listening to this in 1956 and being blown away by the sheer energy of some of it, rock and roll would have seemed a million miles away from anything else, and this excitement comes through in the performance of the future King.

There are a couple of low points for me. I Love You Because and I’ll Never Let You Go unfortunately sag into crooner territory which has been one of the things that has put me off listening to Elvis in the past. But these aside the rest of the record is excellent, his version of Blue Moon (with a frankly unexpected but delightful near falsetto vocal performance) and the lyrically wonderfully-sweet One-Sided Love Affair are standouts.

Although it’s been good to start this blog with such an early an iconic figure of modern music this is supposed to be ‘All About The Album’ and that makes this a difficult album to enthuse about. In 1956 the album was very much second place to the single, and not too much thought went into creating an album as a coherent listening experience, it was more a place to put the tracks that weren’t single material (hits from the time Heartbreak Hotel and I Want You, I Need You, I Love You were both left off). As such this album, though very good, is a little unsatisfying. It feels very much like a collection of songs rather than an album meant to be listened to together.

So, a great album? No. But an important one, and one I’m glad I’ve heard.

Blue Suede Shoes
I’m Counting On You
I Got A Woman*
One-Sided Love Affair*
I Love You Because
Just Because
Tutti Frutti
Trying To Get To You
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Cry Over You)
I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)
Blue Moon*
Money Honey

* = Standout Tracks


3 comments on “Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

  1. Ovidiu Boar
    March 10, 2013

    I liked your review, but have you ever considered giving marks (1 to 10 or 1 to 5) to the albums?

    • allaboutthealbum
      March 10, 2013

      Thanks for the comment (and the follow). I did consider giving albums a score but felt it might be a bit limiting, also it wouldn’t account for an album growing over repeated listens, or diminishing for that matter. I’d probably spend half my time changing my mind over what score it deserved.

      Glad you liked the review.

      • Ovidiu Boar
        March 10, 2013

        Fair enough. Looking forward to more of your reviews.

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This entry was posted on December 13, 2012 by in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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