Released by BMG in October 2001. Project consultant, compilation and liner notes.
In 1992, the Recording Industry Association of America proclaimed Elvis Presley as “The Greatest Recording Artist of All Time” and presented 111 Gold and Platinum certifications to his Estate, the largest collections ever awarded to a single artist or group. Even 15 years after his death the Presley legend continued to grow. Many of these classic tracks appear on ELVIS HITS.
Opening our collection is the title song from Elvis’ first motion picture, Love Me Tender. Penned by Ken Darby, but credited to his songwriter-wife Vera Matson and Presley, the 45 topped the US charts just two days after the film had premiered in New York on 15 November 1956. In the UK, the disc was placed just outside the top ten, at number eleven, towards the end of December.
Almost two decades later was The Wonder Of You. Elvis’ live version of the old Ray Peterson hit, recorded in Las Vegas in 1970. Coupled with Mama Liked The Roses, it reached number nine in the US earning Elvis a gold disc for one million US sales. In the UK, the success was much the same. Number one that August, where it would remain for six weeks. Selling 700,000 copies of the single, the song was also one of ten featured on the album ON STAGE – FEBRUARY 1970. That too, charted in the album lists, at number thirteen in the US and number two in the UK.
Back to the movies for Return To Sender. A then traditionally-styled medium paced rocker for Elvis, the song, co-penned by Otis Blackwell, was taken from Presley’s 1962 romantic musical Girls! Girls! Girls! In the US the disc, on RCA’s now famous black and silver label, peaked at number two, and one place higher in the UK, where it stayed for three weeks giving Elvis the Christmas hit of that year, and another 700,000 sold records.
Still with movie soundtracks, this time form 1957, is Teddy Bear, the hit song from Elvis’ second picture Loving You. It started a seven-week stay at the top of the US charts in July of that year, quickly becoming a two million seller plus just as All Shook Up became Presley’s first number one in Britain. As for Teddy Bear, released in the UK the following month, it was one of the first singles to be released on RCA’s own label in the UK rather than those previously released through the HMV label. As predicted, the disc peaked at number three for what would become a nine-week spell in the top ten.
Although a live recording from Las Vegas in August 1970, I Just Can’t Help Believin’ can also be regarded as a movie song of sorts. Featured in the concert documentary, Elvis – That’s The Way It Is, Presley’s treatment of B.J Thomas’ hit taken from the soundtrack album and film eventually peaked in the UK at number six – almost eighteen months after it had been recorded – in January 1972.
The next two tracks are also movie songs. Both Hard Headed Woman and King Creole taken from the film of the same name were originally released in 1958. Hard Headed Woman, with an arrangement in keeping with the movie’s setting of mixing Dixieland jazz with rock ’n’ roll, was the first single to be put out from the film and the soundtrack. Hitting number two on both sides of the Atlantic in the summer of that year, the record, backed with another side from the film, Don’t Ask Me Why, scored Elvis another million plus seller. As for the title track, that was released as Elvis was starting his Army stint in Germany for his military national service, in October the same year. The single also reached number two in the UK, while the album arrived just behind Frank Sinatra’s Only The Lonely in the American LP chart.
Six months after that is A Fool Such As I. A revival of Hank Snow’s 1953 country hit, and backed with wild rocker I Need Your Love Tonight, the single, released in the spring of 1959, reached number two in the US behind Fleetwood Mac’s Come Softly To Me, selling over two million copies on home turf. In Britain, the disc dethroned Buddy Holly’s It Doesn’t Matter Anymore from the top spot, and in the end, enjoyed a thirteen week run in the top ten with five of those in the pole position.
Wooden Heart taken from GI Blues was Elvis’ first post-Army movie, in which he appropriately played a young US soldier in Germany. The single, lifted from the 1960 soundtrack album, was released throughout most of the world, except in the US, the following year. In the UK, it would top the chart for six weeks and spend another twenty-one weeks in the top fifty.
Taken from the then forthcoming 1977 MOODY BLUE album of Elvis’ final studio recordings, Way Down featured the distinctive bass vocals of backing singer J.D Sumner. The single, as expected, topped the UK chart that September. It remained at number one for five weeks, selling more than 600,000 copies, just as seven other singles also re-charted in the wake of Elvis’ untimely death the previous month. In the US, the record would reach number eighteen during the latter part of the same month that it was enjoying its number one success in the UK.