SONG TITLE: JAILHOUSE ROCK
PERFORMER: ELVIS PRESLEY
SONGWRITER: JERRY LEIBER / MIKE STOLLER
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1957
COMMENTS: Elvis worked out some rock and roll basics here. This would be a good candidate for the Elvis Presley textbook "rock and roll" song. This is some of the basic architecture on which this whole musical form is based. He took the basic black blues and r&b forms and pumped them full of his basic sexual abandon and overwhelming personal charisma.
One of the big assets here is a strong song underneath it all. This was professionally written by a couple of nice Jewish boys. They gave him an outstanding lyrical conceit, complemented by excellent details - such as Sad Sack sitting alone in the corner on a block of stone, and the prisoners passing up a chance to escape rather than miss this party. The melody is a simple basic blue song, with carefully crafted hooks you likely won't forget after the first time you hear them. Besides the big beat and all that stuff,
the tune under "Everybody in the whole cell block..." for example, will stick with you.
Then there is the giant swaggering beat of the whole thing. Starting with the simple two guitar notes and drums, they set Presley up to come strutting through like he's the cock of the walk. The stop and start quality of the drums and guitar vs. the pure rhytmic momentum of the vocals contrast nicely for the verses.
Ultimately I think the biggest thing that makes this record so special is the pure full throttle abandon, not something he got from Muddy Waters or Leiber and Stoller.
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