G.I. Blues

By Blogcritics/ David BowlingJul 4, 2008
G.I. Blues

G.I. Blues was the first Elvis movie released after his discharge from the army in 1960. It is not among my favorite three Elvis films but might make the top five or six. It sneaks up on you and provides some light and ultimately enjoyable entertainment. This romantic comedy co-starred Juliet Prowse of whom Elvis stated, “She has a body that would make a bishop stomp his foot through a stained glass window.” Can you say attraction?

This movie and its resulting soundtrack album found Elvis leaving his rebel image behind and moving toward the mainstream. The soundtrack album, also entitled G.I. Blues, would spend two months at number one and remain on the charts for over two years. It resolved, once and for all, questions about Elvis’ post military popularity.

As with many of Elvis’ soundtrack albums, you really need to watch the movie to understand many of the songs. G.I. Blues is a good example of this fact as many of the tracks are regulated to the category of filler when listened to out of context. Songs such as “Shoppin’ Around,” “Didja’ Ever,” “What’s She Really Like,” and “Big Boots” really need to be placed within the context of the film’s story.

The performances from this album continued the trend toward a pure pop sound for Elvis. The title song, “G.I. Blues” is a toe taper so to speak and finds a mature Elvis just giving a joyful performance. “Pocketful Of Rainbows” is an upbeat song with a smooth vocal that shows off Elvis’ new maturity. “Wooden Heart” was a number one song in just about every country in the world except the United States where it was not released as a single at this time. “Doin’ The Best I Can” is a nice ballad that provides a good counterpoint to many of the up-tempo songs. Elvis records a new version of “Blue Suede Shoes.” While I prefer the original, Elvis could not really give a bad performance of this classic rocker and it would remain a part of his live act until his death.

Elvis looks good in G.I. Blues. He is now an adult and has served his country. He had, for better or worse, become an accepted part of the musical landscape and one of the most recognizable people in the country. G.I. Blues, the album and the film, were both solid performances by Elvis and helped him regain and continue his status as an American musical icon.

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Tracklisting

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Reactions

frenchguy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
"Dixieland Rock", your replies make my day ! I have this GI Blues version of BSS story in a corner of my head since 46 years now. Lord knows how I have tried to convince my friends with what appeared to me as an obvious fact, but in vain. I remember, in my tender years I even wrote to the most important french radio station asking for an airplay of "my best-loved" version ! And they did play it ! But my dear friends couldn't care less... The story of I Got a Woman, first choice of Elvis for the picture was told in the brilliant british mag The Man and his Music by Jan Erik Kjeseth : "Elvis wanted to do I got a woman. But Ray Charles came up and said, this will cost 2.000 dollars to do this song. Problem was Ray Charles wanted the money up-front, and they wouldn't pay 'till the movie came out. So Elvis didn't get to do it. Negociations broke down and Elvis suggested Blue suede shoes as an alternative." Dixieland Rock, it'd please me if there was a way to keep in touch by mail. This BSS story amazes me !
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
"frenchguy", I wasn't aware of what you said about Elvis wanting to recut "I Got A Woman". That would have been awesome to hear that in this laid back style. Another one that I wish he would have recut in this style would have been "Rip It Up". Although I have no problem with the original version because it too is one of my favorites just the way he did it in 56, I still would have liked to have heard him cut it in the style he did "Blue Suede Shoes" in 1960. But I'm grateful he did recut "Blue Suede Shoes" here. :)
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 13, 2008report abuse
"frenchguy", all this time, I thought I was the only one in the Elvis world that really took notice of this underrated version "Blue Suede Shoes"....lol. What amazes me and disappoints me as well, I NEVER have seen this version appear on any of the movie compilation collections. It's like this cut is completely overlooked unless its repackaged on another rerelease of "GI Blues". Like you, I was surprised and disaapointed to find out that take 1 was the only cut of this song. I was hoping that this cut would be take 25 or 30...lol. I would like to hear alternate takes of this song while Elvis was so laid back. That's why this version works better for me. "Frenchguy" I found out years ago that I can take the plug on my headset and set it in a way that blocks the lead vocals out and you hear ONLY the music itself. When I do that with this version of "Blue Suede Shoes", you can really hear Elvis digging deep with his guitar and fully hear Scotty doing what he does best. I just wish Elvis had recut "Money Honey" and "I Got A Woman" while he was laid back here.
frenchguy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
Dixieland Rock, I agree with you and it's good to me to read someone else prefers this version of Blue Suede Shoes over the 56 one (so I'm no more the lonely one...). Back to the early sixties, my first Elvis record was a french EP titled Rock and Roll N° 2. I bought it because of Tutti Frutti, but I immediately liked the other ones too, Blue Moon, Shake Rattle and Roll and Blue Suede Shoes. So when I came across the GI Blues album at my record shop, I asked the seller to play Blue Suede Shoes for me. I was thrilled ! I immediately liked this, like you say, laid back but so much in control voice, as well as the new and much fuller guitar sound (I didn't know until recently that it was Elvis himself who played the rhythm guitar while Scotty was on lead). Today, I still prefer that version, and I'm very sad no alternate of this one exists (Elvis recorded it in one take) ! Did you know Elvis wanted first to redo another of his favourites, I Got a Woman, instead of Blue Suede Shoes ? Yes, I would have loved to hear Elvis redo some of his old gems in the sixties...
get real (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 12, 2008report abuse
I love "Wooden Heart". I dont know why others dont think it is a wonderful song. It is one of my fav of Elvis. I think people in Europe - especialy Ireland and England - have a better reaction to it. It is more popular there then in the US.
JLpResLey (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 11, 2008report abuse
Both the picture and the soundtrack did well, but he´d been gone for two years so it was not a surprise. The songs could have been better, but they could have been worse too. Doin´ the best I can is among his greatest ballads
Dixieland Rock (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 9, 2008report abuse
I prefer the version of "Blue Suede Shoes" in GI Blues over the original 56 version. So underrated & my favorite song from the film. I like his laid back approach on the 1960 version. I have always preferred it over the original, but I still like the original. I wish Elvis would have recut a few other earlier songs when he cut this version of Blue Suede Shoes using this laid back approach. Nevertheless I like both versions. Just my opinion.
dressingroomrehearsa (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 6, 2008report abuse
wowo. intresting addition to my psot. thank you so much!
lray (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2008report abuse
No. You missed the meaning in the movie. Elvis' charactor is singing a song, not BBS, the other charactor walks over to the jukebox and says I want to hear the original. Then he puts the coin in the slot and then we see listed, Blue Suede Shoes, Elvis Presley and the music starts. It is an inside joke. The other charactor is not talking about the original version of BBS, he is talking about the ORIGINAL ROCK AND ROLL GUY, Elvis Presley, who he preferes over Tulsa McLean (Elvis' charactor). He is complimenting Elvis and insulting Tulsa. Time for a fist fight. The one used in the movie is Blue Suede Shoes 1960 by the way, but that doesn't matter and doesn't have anything to do with the joke.
dressingroomrehearsa (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2008report abuse
Blue Suede Shoes by Carl Perkins was released on January 1 1956. Preseley performed at the Dorsey show in Febraury for the first time. the Album containing the song was released by march 1956, as found on wikipedia
Viva (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2008report abuse
Wasn't Elvis' version released before Perkins'? This, technically, makes Elvis' the original! That'll do for me.
dressingroomrehearsa (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2008report abuse
a smalll critique is to add concerning Blues Suede Shoes #2: Don't know what the dialogue was in the english movie. When Elvis is performing Blue Suede Shoes in the movie someone walk over to a juke box saying: I want the original, saying this he presses the button and we hear a snippet of the 56 version by Elvis. This seems quite tasteless to me as the original was done by Carl Perkins.
Viva (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 5, 2008report abuse
There is a good reason G I Blues stayed on the charts for so long: Believe it or not, it was bloody good, and deserved the success. The film was a brilliant concept which absolutely gave the public what they wanted. The songs on their own, I've always felt, were well recorded and perfectly sung. I can't stand the snobs who automatically rubbish an album just because it was a film soundtrack, although it has to be noted that, according to one of the Jordanaires, when he first heard the demos Elvis was less than impressed with what he was offered. I regard G I Blues as one of his best - Love it!
OtisBlue22 (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
"Songs such as “Shoppin’ Around,” “Didja’ Ever,” “What’s She Really Like,” and “Big Boots” really need to be placed within the context of the film’s story" ? I don't think any of them were integral to the plot but I do think they stand alone as songs. An Elvis pop album, to go with Elvis blues (Elvis Is Back!), Elvis Country, Elvis soul (From Elvis in Memphis), Elvis rock (Elvis Presley, Elvis, Loving You), Elvis gospel (HHIM, HGTA & HTM) and Elvis folk (TTWII, Elvis Now). He at least liked one of the songs from GI Blues, because he played "Doin' the Best I Can" in Memphis in 1961.
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
JerryNodak, every Elvis movie is a trip along memory lane. I recall going to the newly released movies with great joy. Now-a-days I also like them as it is easy entertainment. Just innocent fun. About this album, the version we had here and in the US differed as to the two Tonight ... I was happy to have both of them only many years later. The joy of the easy listening albums is that they are part and parcelof the whole Elvis collection. So we have something for evry situation and mood.
busboy (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
One of the best musicals and one of the best movie soundtracks. Wooden Heart and Big Boots are there to help the plot along and wouldn't have been recorded by Elvis otherwise. Pocket full of Rainbows is just gorgeous and sung to perfection. One of the first films and albums i listened to so is always special to me. These kind of films would not have harmed Elvis wanting to be a serious actor, they could have gone hand in hand unlike the trash that came later.
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
A very enjoyable soundtrack. My favorite song is "Tonight Is So Right For Love." Personally, I enjoyed the so called Elvis movies and their soundtracks. I'm glad he did them.
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
The end of Rock 'n' Roll was a fact. All the great ones were gone. And the King himself grew into a new style. Here is the first one in a long line of albums on which Elvis is seeking new grounds. Unfortunately not always to be apreciated. Musical stuff cannot be put on LP and be top all the way. Interesting 'new' version of Blue Suede Shoes ... A preview of what raw and basic RnR was to become. Anyway, I enjoy(ed) this album, especially after seeing the movie.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Jul 4, 2008report abuse
Elvis goes mainstream. Cant say I blame him for much of rock and roll music was being softened and the Colonel wanted a more mass appeal. Elvis was said to not be happy with these songs and wanted Leiber & Stoller back. Despite that, I still like this LP except for Big Boots & Wooden Heart (never understood the appeal of that one). Elvis is in great voice, but tamer. Much worse LPs were to come in the 60's where he sounded like he didnt care at all about the material.

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