Heartbreak Hotel - 2007 Edition (With Box)
Reissued on August 13, 2007 in the UK as the kick-off of a new singles reissue campaign is the classic “Heartbreak Hotel”.
The most important part of this reissue is the design. The first single comes with a collector’s box to store the other seventeen reissue singles. The box has the same size as the previous set and will fit nicely with the #1 box set in the collection of fans. Due to the addition of the box the single isn’t eligible to chart in the UK. In Ireland it entered the chart at #19.
The numbered CD comes as a ‘mini-vinyl’ replica card sleeves with an outer and inner bag. The outer bag features the original U.S. picture sleeve artwork with the aparently casual shot of our man. But the raincoat perfectly matches the theme of the sad song. The inner bag replicates a generic U.K. RCA single from the time of the original U.K. release.
Rather than have the standard silver finish on the ‘playing’ side of the disc, each CD rear comes with a black finish, again to replicate a miniaturised version and the look of the original vinyl., including the purple label (but no HMV label). As for the vinyl, that looks like the real stuff too. Only these don’t have the UK cover art outer sleeve.
What to say about “Heartbreak Hotel”? It is a classic and we reviewed it when it was released last year. So this time, the background information; this is what Wikipedia says about it:
"Heartbreak Hotel" is a rock and roll song performed by Elvis Presley, with Bill Black (bass), Scotty Moore (guitar), D.J. Fontana (drums), Floyd Cramer (piano) and Elvis on rhythm guitar as the main supporting musicians. Recorded in January 1956 in Nashville, the song introduced Presley to the American national music consciousness. It was released as a single with the b-side song "I Was The One" on January 27, 1956. "Heartbreak Hotel" became the first No.1 pop record by Elvis and went on to be 1956's biggest selling single.
The song is an example of simple verse form based on the eight-bar blues progression. It was written by Thomas Durden, then a steel-guitarist in Smiling Jack Herring and his Swing Billies, and Mae Boren Axton, a teacher at Dupont Jr.-Sr. High School in Jacksonville, Florida, and the mother of singer/songwriter/actor Hoyt Axton. Her connection to Elvis Presley was that she was a publicist for Hank Snow, who was managed by Colonel Tom Parker, who also managed Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley received co-songwriting credit for his contributions to the final recorded release. In an interview, Tommy Durden conceded that he did not recognize the song after Elvis had made the changes to the song in the studio, including changes to the tempo, phrasing, lyrics, and overall sound.
Durden read about a suicide in the Miami Herald in 1955. A well-dressed man had removed all labels from his clothing, destroyed his identity papers and left a note saying: "I walk a lonely street."
This was the first song recorded by Elvis at RCA Victor. Elvis selected the song. He had earlier promised Mae Boren Axton that he would want to record it. He arrived at the studio with the song ready to record it without input from RCA. Although producer Steve Sholes was worried, he recorded the song taking it on faith that Elvis knew what he was doing. Most others at RCA Victor believed that it was a mistake, especially after hearing that the finished recording sounded nothing like the prior Elvis recordings at Sun Records.
Song's status on the charts
"Heartbreak Hotel" was no. 1 for 8 weeks on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart when released in 1956 on RCA Records. The record was no. 1 for 17 weeks on the Billboard Country Chart and reached no. 3 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart. In 2006, more than 50 years after its initial release, "Heartbreak Hotel" returned to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart when re-released.
Steve Sholes used a hallway at the studio to get a noticably unusual echo for the single. Sholes was attempting to recapture the Sun Records sound not knowing that Sam Phillips ran recordings through a second recorder head to produce the Sun Records echo. Because the vocals on the original record featured such a heavy use of reverb, the song was immediately lampooned in radio humorist Stan Freberg's parody of the song, where the lead singer repeatedly asks for "more echo on [his] voice." When Elvis recorded Hound Dog a few months later, he had completely taken over the role of producer, using what he learned at Sun Records (although Steve Sholes was still credited) and decided not to use echo.
"Heartbreak Hotel"'s lyrical matter deals with the singer's sadness, implicitly that following the end of a romantic relationship. It uses the metaphor of a hotel to represent this emotional state. The song was later ranked #45 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is a Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 1956, Presley sang the song live and introduced it at the Tommy Dorsey TV Show, on February 11. He also sang it on March 1 and March 24 of that year, and on his third and last appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show, also on CBS, on January 6, 1957. Cumulative viewers for these first television performances are estimated at over 60 million. In 1968, he also sang it on his celebrated "Comeback TV Special", in a medley with Hound Dog and All Shook Up.