The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At 56 is the first album by Elvis Presley. It was released in 1956 and spans recording sessions going back as far as 1954, before he joined RCA. It was the first rock ‘n’ roll record to top the US album charts and at the time it must been like a breath of fresh air.
I’ve never been a fan of The King, but I have to admit that he certainly had a presence and a strong voice. I’ve known people who were obsessed with the man, but I’m sure even those people would have seen him as a singles artist in the main.
The opening track is a rock ‘n’ roll timepiece, the cover of Carl Perkins Blue Suede Shoes and it stands up well after 60 years. Catchy, melodic, raw, concise… what more can you ask for?
The upbeat songs like I got a woman and Tryin’ to get to you are easy listens and there are sweet ballads like Counting on you and I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) that are very 1950s in style. Blue Moon has a very odd arrangement, taking it from a love song to a spaced out ballad.
A couple of tracks are just filler, such as One sided love affair and I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You) and these are like a poor Elvis impersonator. The cover of Tutti Frutti seems a bit lazy and the guitar is all over the place at one point!
The album sounds more like an up tempo country record in places but I must appreciate the time it was recorded and this was a clear transition from twangy country to rock ‘n’ roll. Compared to the over-produced modern music, it sounds basic but with a spontaneous feel, which can often be a good thing. There wasn’t the time or money to record dozens of takes and no technology for overdubs; you had to perform and record at a high quality to be successful.
My rating: 6/10
Standout track: Blue Suede Shoes
Listen to the album here.
See the Top 100 here.