Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (1956), 4/10

Unfortunately Elvis' self titled debut, while fun, is ultimately generic and uninteresting rock and roll by today's standards. Dimery points out that the album is 'frustratingly inconsistent' and while I can't categorically disagree, I am more frustrated with how consistently the album fails to provide any form of surprise for the listener. This is a problem with the genre in this era with very few exceptions, not just with Elvis. The record certainly feels more like a statement of image rather than a revolutionary rock record. Oddly, however, there is an inexplicable charm and charisma that still makes it a worthwhile listen for rock fans. The ballad “I’m Counting on You” balances well after the instantly gratifying “Blue Suede Shoes” and preceding the equally energizing but less compelling “I Got a Woman”. A track like “One-Sided Love Affair” perfectly illustrates Elvis’ charming, genuine eccentricity at this early stage in his life yet beyond this phenomenon there is frustratingly little to deliberate, just as on “I Love You Because” that sounds like a disingenuous, impassionate love song. Even the legendary “Tutti Frutti” is superbly empty and void of meaning, and disappointing after the opening few tracks in comparison. Perhaps Elvis is falling prey to the generic motifs of rock & roll, but there remains a frustrating lack of essence in consideration of his substantial talent, regardless of time and place in history. This is most explicitly displayed in the juxtaposition of the album’s majority against his rendition of “Blue Moon”, a well performed and arranged standard. Beyond the king’s vitality and personal magnetism there is little substance here.