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Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

March 25, 2012

[Album 31/1001]

“Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant ____ to me.”
– Public Enemy, Fight The Power

Though Chuck D is not among his legions of fans, few artists inspire a devoted following quite like Elvis Presley.  Many followers don’t just like Elvis, they live for Elvis, a la Screech’s mom on Saved By The Bell.  The truly dedicated of course make the pilgrimage to Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Admittedly, I never fully understood the appeal of ‘The King’ but until this year I had also never heard any of his albums. 

Listening to this 1956 record, 56 years later, I’m starting to get it, at least with the hip-shaking, up-tempo numbers.

The ballads on his first studio album are pretty forgettable and on some songs, it sounds like he’s still trying to find his voice.

As a result, Elvis Presley wasn’t hit out of the park, but few debut albums are.  I’d compare it to Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, a solid if unspectacular debut album where you could tell there was something unique about the group.  Within the next few years, they’d release The Bends & OK Computer, two masterpieces by any yardstick. 

In a similar manner, it was clear from the 12-bar blues tunes on Elvis’ debut that he was on his way to stardom.  On each of these tracks, you can hear the confidence and charisma, Blue Suede Shoes and One-sided Love Affair being two of the more prominent hints of greatness to come.

Sure enough, within a year, the hip shaking would be too much for television & Elvis would have to be filmed from the waist up!

So perhaps Chuck D’s quote no longer fits for me.  When it comes to Elvis, I’m starting to feel more like Community’s Jeff Winger when discussing how people feel about the actor Paul Rudd.  “I see the appeal, and I would never take it away from anyone. But I would also never stand in line for it.”

From → 1950s

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