Last week we had a great contribution by Shaun Mather where he discussed Mystery Train. Now it's time for his second comparison.
DON'T BE CRUEL
Elvis Presley - RCA 47-6604
Bill Black Combo - Hi 2026
Following another coast to coast TV show with Steve Allen, Elvis, Scotty, Bill, DJ and the Jordanaires entered the RCA Studio in New York to cut a session. Together with painist Shorty Long they'd laid down Hound Dog before tackling r'n'b songwriter Otis Blackwell's omposition, Don't Be
Cruel. Kicking off with some neat bass lines from Scotty and Bill Black, the mid tempo rock'n'roll groove had smash hit written all over it. The Jordanaires who sometimes sounded a bit obtrusive, are spot on and Elvis is in complete command as he teases with the words and adds vocal gimmicks like never before. He had hinted at it as early as a year before on Baby Let's Play House but by now the King was on his throne and was playing with the songs, knowing he was getting at every teenage girl in America. Even Sam was impressed enough on hearing it, to pull his car off the road, saying "They've finally found this man's ability".
The CD containing two original albums by the Combo
The Bill Black Combo had obvious Elvis/Memphis connections. Apart from Black the group also featured Reggie Young and the producer was ex-Sun artist Ray Harris. One of the owners of the Memphis based Hi label was Joe Coughi, who also owned the regular Elvis haunt, Poplular Tunes record shop. Their instrumental version of Don't Be Cruel was a grits and gravy southern boogie taken at a faster pace than Elvis'. Young's guitar figures are the real driving force, with both organ and sax taking turns up front. The sax is low down and dirty and has the Memphis feel but the organ, a popular instrument at the time, sounds dated today and slightly spoils the effect. The Combo's version was great for the time (it reached No.11 in 1960) - Elvis' is perfect for any time!
Again we ask other readers to follow Shaun's great example and share their thoughts on covers of Elvis songs or songs by others that Elvis covered. You can use the form to submit it!