’68 Comeback Special

In the annals of auditory opulence, “Elvis” stands as the sonorous opus accompanying the televised spectacle of the eponymous American rock and roll luminary, Elvis Presley, in 1968. This resonant compendium, disseminated by RCA Records, emanated from the live resonances within the hallowed halls of NBC Studios in Burbank, California, complemented by supplementary studio endeavors at Western Recorders during the ephemeral epoch of June 1968. Subsequently ascending to the zenith of the Billboard 200 at the prestigious No. 8 echelon, this harmonious convergence, coupled with the televised extravaganza, wrought a renaissance in Presley’s vocational trajectory, resuscitating it from a prolonged period of waning commercial and critical fortunes. The RIAA duly anointed it with Gold certification on July 22, 1969, and Platinum laurels on July 15, 1999.

About the Song

Elvis recorded “All Shook Up” at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on January 12, 1957. In a 1991 interview, Otis Blackwell said that on this song, as on “Don’t Be Cruel,” Presley copied Blackwell’s vocal style on the demo. It’s hard to judge the validity of his claim without hearing Blackwell’s demo, but Elvis was known often through his career to closely adhere in his recordings to the singer’s delivery on demos.

In the 1971 radio documentary, The Elvis Presley Story, Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires told an amusing story about Elvis’s recording of “All Shook Up.”

“While I was doing ‘All Shook Up’ with Presley, I was just facing him on another mike, you see, and all the time I’m doing it, I had this little ‘Yea, yea, I’m all shook up.’ I had these little harmony parts I had to do with him.

“Of course, now, the recordings these days, you overdub it. Like Presley would have put his voice on first, and I would have put my harmony part on second. But in those days … we did it all at the same time.

“During the entire recording, Presley tried to break me up. He either picked at me, winked at me, or stuck his finger in my mouth, just anything he could do, you see, to try to break me up, and only one place on the entire record, if you ever hear the record, at the very end of the record, when I say, ‘Yea, yea, I’m all shook up,’ he did break me up at that point, and if you play the record, you’ll hear it.”

According to Jorgensen, one distinctive sound on Elvis’ “All Shook Up” recording that was overdubbed was the beat created by Elvis slapping on the back of a guitar. It enhanced, Jorgensen noted, the “combination of laid-back feeling and driving beat that made Blackwell’s songs unique. It was as perfect a pop record as its predecessor.”

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The industry journals were united in praise of Presley’s new single when it came out in March 1957. Billboard’s “Spotlight” column noted, “Presley is at it again and this coupling is so strong it can hardly miss. The top side is a typical, hoarsely belted swinging rockabilly job while the flip is a complete change of pace into the closest the singer has come to the traditional country weeper ballad. Top may have a slight edge, but both are powerful.”

“All Shook Up” entered the Billboard chart at #26 on April 6. The very next week it jumped all the way up to #6, and in its third week, on April 20, it took over the #1 spot from Andy Williams’s “Butterfly.” For eight weeks “All Shook Up” sat atop the chart, the longest run at #1 for any Presley single before or after.

On April 27, 1957, a month after “All Shook Up” had been released, Billboard acknowledged the record’s across-the-board appeal on the journal’s many music charts.

“Elvis Presley walked off with another Triple Crown Award this week, with his new disk, ‘All Shook Up,’ No. 1 in all three pop chart categories—retail, jockey and juke. The platter also took the No. 1 slot on the ‘Top 100’ list, and the tune is No. 1 on ‘The Honor Roll of Hits.’ At the same time, the Presley record is No. 3 on the rhythm and blues retail chart and No 2 on the r&b jockey chart. It is No. 5 on the country and western retail list and No. 4 on the c&w jockey chart.”


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