To follow the recent Legacy Editions of FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS and ON STAGE comes this fulfilling coupling of the triumphant ELVIS IS BACK! from 1960 partnered with 1961's less well-acclaimed SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY, both albums being fleshed out with related singles, including 'It's Now Or Never' and that stonking double-sided hit 'His Latest Flame'/'Little Sister'.
Admittedly, if you've already bought the single CDs of these two albums, you may not really want to invest in this, as apart from a brand new booklet, there is nothing in the way of session outtakes or unreleased masters included. However, what this set does deliver is a compact snapshot of Elvis Presley at the top of his game, which might also encourage you to take a closer appreciation of the SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY album, which I personally have overlooked in the past.
ELVIS IS BACK!, Presley's first album released after his army discharge, is a recognised classic, within which he tackled a bewildering array of material with disarming ease. From the upbeat 'Make Me Know It'; through to the slinky, sultry 'Fever'; and on to the suggestive 'Such A Night'; before closing out with the bluesy 'Reconsider Baby', Presley covered all the bases. Even the single B-sides 'Fame And Fortune', 'A Mess Of Blues' and the jaunty 'I Gotta Know' were far from throwaways, providing beautifully contrasting accompaniments to 'Stuck On You', 'It's Now Or Never' and 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' respectively. Arguably, perhaps not until the Memphis sessions in early 1969, would Presley ever have quite such a productive and thoroughly rewarding time in the studio.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY on the other hand, although perhaps not quite as strong as its predecessor, is nevertheless a decent piece of work - and all the result of just one night in the studio! True, it was padded out with a tune from his WILD IN THE COUNTRY movie, but overall Presley's commitment on this album is once again palpable, particularly on the slower numbers like 'Give Me The Right' and the winsome 'Gently'. A conceptual direction is evident in the division of the material between 'The Ballad Side' and 'The Rhythm Side' - almost fifteen years before Rod Stewart got the same idea for his ATLANTIC CROSSING album - while the addition here of such classic singles cuts as the aforementioned 'Little Sister' and the bluesy but often neglected 'I Feel So Bad' were proof that Presley hadn't forgotten how to rock and roll.
To sum up, what this Legacy Edition of ELVIS IS BACK! provides is a clean and tidy appraisal of Elvis Presley's music at the dawn of the 1960s. Both albums included here are hallmarks of his versatility as a singer, while highlighting further how awful some of those subsequent soundtrack albums were in comparison.