It's the most romantic time of the year and next week The Mail on Sunday provides the perfect preparation for Valentine’s Day – with a FREE CD of classic love songs by Elvis Presley. Elvis was one of music’s great romantics and this brilliant 15-track CD – Elvis Love Songs – includes some of his greatest and best-loved recordings. Love wasn’t the first emotion inspired by the 20-year-old Elvis when he exploded on to American TV screens in early 1956. There was certainly plenty of lust but also rage and indignation, depending on people’s attitude to rock ’n’ roll.
But it wouldn’t be long before the so-called Hillbilly Cat – a teenage truck driver from Memphis with nothing but a wild haircut and some big hopes – fully embraced his role as a purring musical charmer. Mail on Sunday music critic ADAM WOODS tells the stories behind the great tracks on Elvis Love Songs . . .
It’s Now Or Never
Based on the Italian operatic aria O Sole Mio, It’s Now Or Never was recorded with specially commissioned lyrics in April 1960. It was less than a month after Elvis returned to the U.S. from army service in Germany and this beautiful track was a gigantic hit in the UK, where it remained at No 1 for eight weeks.
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
Recorded the day after It’s Now Or Never, this gave The King another huge 1960 No 1 at home and abroad.
Elvis’s first U.S. No 1, this sultry, echoey lament shook the lives of English teenagers – including John Lennon and Keith Richards – when it came crackling out of their radio sets in 1956.
I Need Your Love Tonight
A brief heart-racing rocker laid down in June 1958 at his last recording session before the army called. This brilliant 15-track CD includes some of his greatest and best-loved recordings
(Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I
This was the B-side to I Need Your Love Tonight before emerging from its shadow and eclipsing it, hitting No 1 in the UK and No 2 in the U.S. in 1959.
One of seven big American hits Elvis enjoyed in 1956.
A hoarse, bawdy rock ’n’ roll number from 1958 that offered yet another angle on love, One Night was one of a string of hits that kept Elvis’s profile high as he whiled away two years on a U.S. army base in Germany.
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Not to be confused with the Van Morrison song of a similar name, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You had been a success for Bing Crosby, among others. It featured in Elvis’s second film, Loving You, which gave the young sensation his first starring role.
Memorably delivered by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in High Society, True Love was only a year old when Elvis took a stab at it in 1957, backed by the Jordanaires and a lone guitar. Written by Cole Porter, it is reckoned by many to be the legendary composer’s last truly great song.
I’m Counting On You
Just turned 21 and newly signed by RCA Victor for $35,000, Elvis headed to Nashville in January 1956 to record his first album for the label. I’m Counting On You was one of the first things he tried and shows the former hillbilly evolving into a far smoother, more romantic proposition than he had been just a few months earlier.
Elvis’s version of this big favourite is ghostly and pared back, with none of the musical lushness usually associated with it. It is a fascinating leftover from Elvis’s pre-fame sessions with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Studio in Memphis in 1954. Released two years later, it sounds like an experiment, but it’s a thrilling one, featuring an uncharacteristic, lonesome falsetto from the young star-in-waiting.
As Long As I Have You
This lovely, simple piano ballad from the 23-year-old Elvis was written for the soundtrack to his fourth movie, 1958’s King Creole.
Any Way You Want Me
Raw, passionate and featuring the mighty vocal group the Jordanaires, Any Way You Want Me is a lesser-known Elvis love song from an auspicious session in June 1956. The other fruits of that day’s work in the studio were the Elvis classics Don’t Be Cruel and Hound Dog.
I Love You Because
Opening with a whistling intro, which presumably was courtesy of the 19-year-old Elvis himself, this poised, jazz ballad was one of the singer’s first recordings, made around the same time he recorded That’s All Right, sometimes regarded as the first true
rock ’n’ roll record.
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine
Another song from the 1954 Sun sessions, I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine is carried along by an exuberant rockabilly thwack and an irresistible lust for life.