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G.I. Blues [Bonus Tracks]

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Elvis Presley 12/14/1999

Review

Elvis Presley's first post-Army movie, G.I. Blues, was scored to music that the King had begun recording in April of 1960, immediately after his discharge from the service. He was in excellent voice -- even better than he had been before his induction two years before, in terms of his intonation and control -- and he still had one of the best bands in the business, including Scotty Moore on lead guitar and D.J. Fontana on drums. What he didn't have here was a first-rate score. There are some OK rock & roll songs present, including "Shoppin' Around," and a pair of good ballads, "Doin' The Best I Can" and "Wooden Heart" -- the latter was co-authored by pop bandleader Bert Kaempfert, thus making him one of the few (and perhaps the only) musicians to cross paths creatively with Elvis and the Beatles during this period. There's also one beautiful tune, "Pocketful of Rainbows," that Elvis treats in a subdued, gentle, moody style that recalls his classic Sun Records recordings of "Harbor Lights" and "Blue Moon." And there are a handful of better-than-decent filler numbers, such as "Frankfort Special" and the gentle pop ballads "Big Boots" and "What's She Really Like," but none of those is close to being a truly first-rate composition -- most of it is predictable by-the-numbers compositions. Not only would most of the music not be of any interest had anyone other than Elvis recorded it, but it's impossible to imagine any other singer wanting to record any but two of the songs on this album. And "G.I. Blues" and "Didja Ever," in particular, are little more than military-themed novelty tunes, with which Elvis has some fun, but are hardly worth the two slots they take up in the score. And then, right in the middle of this uneven selection, is a fresh, 1960-vintage recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" that shows exactly what Elvis Presley and company were still capable of doing. It's because of tracks like that and the other strong numbers here that G.I. Blues can be recommended as Elvis' best full-length post-Army soundtrack release, and the 1997 reissue can be bought with even greater confidence, offering good sound and seven bonus tracks that include some lively alternate takes of five of the better songs. The soundtrack also contains an anomaly from the film -- it opens with the main title song from the U.S. version of the film Tonight Is so Right for Love, based on the "Barcarolle" from Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. For the European issue of the movie, however, the opening credits played over "Tonight's All Right for Love," adapted from Johann Strauss. Both tracks date from the same period and the same conception of a popular song that yielded the single "It's Now or Never." There's little in the way of annotation, even on the remastered CD, though some of the factoids listed in the booklet are interesting, such as that G.I. Blues was the King's longest-charting album at 111 weeks, including five at number one. ~ Bruce Eder
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Tonight Is So Right for Love Elvis Presley 2:13
  3. 2 What's She Really Like Elvis Presley 2:15
  4. 3 Frankfort Special Elvis Presley 2:56
  5. 4 Wooden Heart Elvis Presley 2:1
  6. 5 G.I. Blues Elvis Presley 2:35
  7. 6 Pocketful of Rainbows Elvis Presley 2:33
  8. 7 Shoppin' Around Elvis Presley 2:21
  9. 8 Big Boots Elvis Presley 1:29
  10. 9 Didja' Ever Elvis Presley 2:34
  11. 10 Blue Suede Shoes Elvis Presley 2:5
  12. 11 Doin' the Best I Can Elvis Presley 3:8
  13. 12 Tonight's All Right for Love Elvis Presley 1:20
  14. 13 Big Boots [Fast Version] Elvis Presley 1:14
  15. 14 Shoppin' Around (Alternate Take 11) Elvis Presley 2:15
  16. 15 Frankfort Special [Fast Version - Take 2][Take] Elvis Presley 2:25
  17. 16 Pocketful of Rainbows (Alternate Take 2) Elvis Presley 2:50
  18. 17 Didja' Ever (Alternate Take 1) Elvis Presley 2:42
  19. 18 Big Boots [Acoustic Version] Elvis Presley 0:57
  20. 19 What's She Really Like (Alternate Take 7) Elvis Presley 2:22
  21. 20 Doin' the Best I Can (Alternate Take 9) Elvis Presley 3:17

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