Review Summary: The King of Rock 'n Roll delivers a fine second album, one that could have used a better arrangement overall.
Elvis Presley is a legend. It's tough to find fault in a man who excelled in being a truly phenomenal stage-performer for years on end. The real tragedy comes in the realisation of how young he was when he kicked the bucket; only 42 years old at the time of his death, he could have offered the rock and pop genres a whole lot more soul had he not fallen into the trap of becoming addicted to prescription drugs. Before his health begun deteriorating, Elvis was a force to be reckoned with. Bursting with confidence and a fantastic voice, he took the music industry by storm in a hurry; his first-two albums reached #1 on Billboard
's Pop Albums chart in 1957 and soon went on to become platinum-certified albums.
The King's follow-up to his previous self-titled debut kicks off with a sudden blast of youthful cheer during "Rip It Up"
. Though the lyrics tend to repeat themselves quite a bit near the end, "well it's Saturday night and I just got paid / a fool about my money, don't try to save / my heart says go, go have a time / on a Saturday night, babe, and I'm feelin' fine"
, the song is very well-written, swiftly exploring the carelessness most men show while in search of a fun weekend night. But then comes "Love Me"
, a song which tragically lands like a thud in terms of pacing, drastically switching the album's gears, while presenting a very boring song in the process. The lyrics are typical love ballad mumbo-jumbo too, further amplified by the fact that Elvis places elongated slurs between certain words, such as "darling, I'll be oh so lonely"
and "just to feel your heart"
, this song feels as if it were 10 minutes of torture (when it's only 2 minutes and 40 seconds in length). Some good things to take from the track include the fact that it was clearly recorded in one-take, The Jordanaires are charming background vocalists and Elvis shines during some of the lines (especially "tear it all apart / but love me"
and "crying over you / dear, only"
A plethora of tracks on here have a wealth of shining moments throughout, but good moments can hardly amount to a good song overall. For instance, "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold"
features a humorous vocal performance from Elvis, but whether that humour was intentional or not is debatable, as he makes some lines sound like incoherent rambling for the sake of keeping up with the tempo. Following the stand-out "Long Tall Sally"
cover, "First in Line"
arrives and literally feels distant. Elvis sounds as if he's singing fifteen-feet away from the microphone, using a hollow metal pipe to sing into while pointing it at the microphone for good measure. The song is easily the worst on the album, everyone involved simply sounds bored and it further illustrates how sloppy the arrangement on this album is; frantically switching between fast and slow ("Rip it Up"
and "Love Me"
), fun and depressing ("So Glad You're Mine"
and "Old Shep"
), and so on and so forth.
Thankfully some later songs, similar to the fast and fun style of the album opener, help pick things up a bit. "Long Tall Sally"
, as previously mentioned, is a stand-out cover of Little Richard; while it's far from a classic, especially when compared to the original version, it's still a wonderful cover that shows how much love Elvis had for Little Richard as an artist. Keeping up the momentum, "Ready Teddy"
comes along in rollicking fashion with what is easily the finest guitar-work on the album. The song is a pure, unbridled masterpiece with Elvis delivering an electrifying vocal performance within another great cover of Little Richard; the only thing the song does wrong is follow after the deeply depressing, dead-dog snoozer known as "Old Shep"
. "Anyplace is Paradise"
is a pleasant example of a slower song on the album that actually works extremely well. It's endearing, with a nice piano melody woven throughout.
Unfortunately this album moves back-and-forth in quality as if it were a teeter totter. Every positive, joyous song on this record is followed by a dull, pointless wimp of a track in-return. The great songs - such as "Rip it Up"
, "Long Tall Sally"
and "Ready Teddy"
- really shine, whereas the trite tracks - consisting of "Love Me"
, "First in Line"
and "Old Shep"
- are dim enough to make a person drowsy. This isn't a bad album by any means, despite the missteps, it's fast and ultimately moving. Overall this record sits as a good, but extraordinarily flawed, sophomore effort from The King of Rock 'n Roll. "Hail to the King, baby."