Released by BMG in October 2001. Project consultant, compilation and liner notes.
In the eight years that followed Elvis Presley’s discharge from the Army in March 1960, and two benefit concerts in Memphis and Hawaii, Elvis concentrated solely on movie and recordings to the almost total exclusion of live performances and television appearances. Instead he produced three films a year, most built around a formula of exotic locations, songs and girls, girls, girls. Musically with most of his studio time devoted to movie soundtracks, his recording career, according to the critics, had become lacklustre as well. But what they forgot to tell us was that in the decade of Elvis making two comebacks, first from the Army and then from his declining era of movies, the singles and album tracks collected here, clearly demonstrate, that his crown as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll remained firmly placed.
Opening our collection from the 1969 Memphis sessions is Suspicious Minds. The Mark James penned song that headed the US chart in November of that year, and gave Elvis his first American chart-topper in seven years. In the end, it sold almost two million copies although it would be his last US number one. In Britain, the single would do much the same, but was kept off the pinnacle position the following January by Rolf Harris’ Two Little Boys. Nonetheless, the song to this day, remains an all-time Presley and live recording favourite.
At the other end of the decade, from one of two Army homecoming recording sessions in 1960 – the same one that produced ELVIS IS BACK, his most critically successful rated album – is It’s Now Or Never. One of two million selling singles from those sessions. Based on an adaptation of the 1899 Italian song, O Sole Mio, written by Eduardo di Capus with English lyrics by Aaron Schroeder and Wally gold, Elvis’ recording, with its semi-operatic Latin sound, topped the US charts that August. In Britain, a publishing wrangle over O Sole Mio‘s copyright temporarily delayed the record’s release until later that October, when a week after issue, it entered the chart directly at number one, and remained there for nine weeks. In the process becoming Elvis’ biggest selling single with total sales of over 20 million.
Jumping ahead two years to 1963 is another non-movie song, Devil In Disguise, which hit the UK number one position ahead of America’s number three peak a week later. In Britain, the record would be Presley’s last chart-topper until mid-1965, and the last single by any US act to reach a UK number one until Roy Orbison’s It’s Over the following year. All the same, Devil In Disguise, like it’s predecessors, Good Luck Charm, She’s Not You and Return To Sender was another million seller.
From Devil In Disguise, and several big movie hits in between, Elvis’ next number was his revival of the Orioles’ 1953 million selling gospel ballad Crying In The Chapel. Originally planned to coincide with Easter, and recorded in 1960 for Elvis gospel album, HIS HAND IN MINE, the track had been held over for release at a later date. When it was finally released, in the midst of 1965, the single charted at number three in the US, Elvis’ first top ten since Bossa Nova Baby three years earlier. And in Britain, even better, it headed the UK chart for two weeks.
Equally successful, album-wise was Fever, one of the cuts from Elvis’ post Army long-player, ELVIS IS BACK, released in June 1960. It ended the month at number one in the UK album chart – and number two in the US – just as ELVIS’ GOLDEN RECORDS VOLUME 2 – a compilation album that gathered Elvis’ A and B sides of non-movie singles from 1958 an 1959, hit number four.
His Latest Flame and Little Sister made up both sides of Elvis’ September 1961 single release, but were also included on an experimental four-track EP Elvis By Request. Experimental because it played at the same rpm speed of an LP. Unpredictably it was placed at number fourteen in the US, while His Latest Flame, more expectedly charted at number four, and number one in the UK. Not to be left out, or at least not in America, Little Sister also made the top five.