Elvis Presley - Elvis is Back! (1960), 3/10

Elvis is Back refers to Elvis’ return from the army in 1960, but his return to music is one that flounders in its attempt to make a true lasting impact. In comparison to his debut Elvis Presley, there is not a standout track that rises above the rest apart from his rendition of “Fever”, and this is simply due to the composition and not to his performance carrying anything akin to passion. There is a simple, singular optimistic energy that flows from beginning to end. Even further, there is not an outstanding performance from Elvis or the band at almost any stage. These two factors in combination form a frustrating misfire from Elvis, fully illustrating a complete bastardization of a former rocker who has lost his edge even in the studio. He keeps it smooth and innocuous, drowning out any effect that the songs may have hidden within them, reinforced by backing vocals from The Jordanaires that sound completely flat and almost tragically asleep at the wheel at times. A record of sleepy ballad after sleepy ballad simply does not create or sustain interest when there is also a lack of depth in understanding and a full leaning to Elvis’ limited technical abilities when he is clearly not fully engaged. A tame Elvis sounds like a bored Elvis, and one whose boredom is infectious. Even an upbeat song like “Girl Next Door Went A’Walking” that should break up the monotony lacks unaffected, earnest sentimentality in his performance. The immediate gratification of a faster tempo and simple dynamics fades quickly. “Such a Night” adds just a tinge of energy to the second half before the album fully dozes off with its remaining few minutes.