U.S. lokakuu 1956 #1
G.B. huhtikuu 1957 #3
U.S. lokakuu 1956 #1
G.B. huhtikuu 1957 #3
It was a cold, rainy night on Broadway. The time, January 1956. The place. a TV theaterstudio between 53rd and 54th Streets. The occasion, the first network telecast of a country singer unknown to the pop world, a youngster of unusual talents with some uncertainty about displaying them before a national audience. Although Elvis Presley's debut was gained through spectacular local fame and following, its publicity had not attracted the world at large. An artist who had set numerous Southern centers on their ear, Presley was facing a majority of viewers as cold and unprepared as the citizens of Siberia. In New York very few had braved the storm. The theater was sparsely filled with shivering servicemen and Saturday nighters, mostly eager for the refuge from the weather. Outside, groups of teenagers rushed past the marquee to a roller-skating rink nearby. Just before show time, a weary promoter returned to the box office with dozens of tickets, unable even to give them away on the streets of Times Square. What happened that night, and during the days following, is now history. The national gaze was pivoted to Presley en masse, the rain above was quickly transformed into a deluge of acclaim all over the country. In the South, people understood and were delighted by the success of their 21-year-old prodigy. Elsewhere this enthusiasm was carried first by amazement, later by a sizzling controversy. At its source was the "Why?" of Elvis Presley's wildfire popularity.
Many have confused the issue with social problems, real in themselves but meaningless when the termsare begged, borrowed and stolen for musical criticism. As a result, most of the analytical sour grapes soon turned into useless vinegar, or else were sweetened by the critics' "discovery" of Presley's talents in time. The answer to this "Why?" lies somewhere in the welter of feelings and trends which have become focused through Presley's powerful style. A way to find it is to add them together, then try to equate the sum with his incredible following over the world.
Of commercial folk music Presley is perhaps the most original singer since Jimmie Rodgers. His rhythmic style derives from exactly the same source of Deep South blues and jazz as that which inspired the late Blue Yodeler. Nor is it any coincidence that their birthplaces in Mississippi are less than a hundred miles apart. Some say it is a reaction to present-day confusion that has caused rhythm and blues writers to simplify their songs with repeated tones and a heavy after-beat – in other words, to create rock-and-roll. If so, Presley was the first to extend to it the Rodgers interpretation, followed with his own. As the album cover dramatically illustrates, however, his folk characterization most is still most natural and forthright. Presley's belting delivery accounts for a truly sensational reaction among teenagers. Important to this is his enthusiasm for music by the Blackwood Brothers, The Statesmen and other quartets in the South. There has never been a great difference between rhythm and gospel songs except, of course, for the lyrical content; in fact, the latter are far more rhythmic where staging is concerned.
It is essentially the fervor, the animation and boundless spirit of gospel singing that Presley admires, and which has been absorbed into his own dynamic performances. We can better understand this if we consider how often "revival" numbers have hit in the popular field. Here, Presley favors beat and ballad singers alike, in such different personalities as Billy Daniels and Bill Kenney – which leads to this possible answer for the "Why?" of his unprecedented appeal: Elvis Presley, by combining the four fields (country, gospel, rhythm and pop) into perfect unity, is unique in music annals and experience. At this point we must leave influences behind and discuss Presley in his own right, or better yet (since this is the point where publicity begins) – leave the subject altogether and listen to the music.
Of special note is the piano accompaniment in Old Shep, the first that Elvis Presley has ever recorded himself – also the superb vocal backing of the Jordanaires, who have assisted on several of his important singles. In scope, we feel that this collection is unsurpassed for variety by any artist, and will serve to win an even greater Presley following. For, in addition to the chill wind that penetrated Broadway on that memorable January night, there entered a new breath of life into the musical world – one that has just begun to vitalize the imagination of listeners everywhere.
© by Radio Corporation of America, 1956
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