- Elvis is Back! This is Elvis’s big post-Army enlistment record, and it’s an interesting advancement for the King in a couple of ways.
- First: the literal quality of the recording is notably advanced from his 1956 debut. This is his first album released in stereo, and you can really appreciate the depth of the sound. His voice is sharp and smooth; backing vocals pop in different channels; each snare and piano plunk and guitar strum fit perfectly. It feels warm and inviting; it’s nice to hear the advancement in technology.
- The album itself also feels like a clear transitionary record for a guy trying to mature into more than a teen heartthrob. Elvis wasn’t exactly fighting during his enlistment, but there are few ways to brandish yourself as a serious person (after a playboy early career) than adding military experience to your resume, and this album sounds like it’s trying to capture that growth.
- Unfortunately it feels a bit unfocused as a result. Tracks shift in tone and style wildly, especially across the 2nd through fifth tracks: from the slinking, sexy bassline of “Fever,” to the 50s doo-wop “The Girl Of My Best Friend,” to the country folk ballad of “I Will Be Home Again,” to the swing of “Dirty, Dirty Feeling.” I generally appreciate artists trying to break out of their creative boxes, but Elvis here seems to be throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. It’s all solid enough, but it’s inconsistent and lacks cohesion, and as a result, it doesn’t stick in your craw like you want it to.
- The record ends with a couple thirsty tracks that hint at the promise of a more fulfilling album to come, both of which have the word baby in their title (“Like A Baby,” “Reconsider Baby”). But for now, this stands as an album with plenty of promise that under-delivers in its totality.
One Essential Song:
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