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Dec 03

ELVIS PRESLEY – “All Shook Up”

Popular8 comments • 2,599 views

#62, 12th July 1957

Look! It’s Elvis!

The boogie-woogie piano forming this song’s undercarriage sounds so generic to me* that I get the best results from listening to it like a riddim, a bolt-on beat for Presley to freestyle over. Helpfully, that way of hearing it also draws full attention to Elvis’ voice.

By this time Presley was already a superstar in the UK, he’d just not gone to #1 yet. Why did “All Shook Up” manage it? Because nobody had sung the word “love” like Elvis does here – half thrusting, half swallowing, with that half-breath after it acting like a full stop. Politely carnal, respectfully smouldering – “I’m proud to say she?s my buttercup” – and as passionately humble as an ideal 50s man should be, Elvis-love seems as natural here as the histories tell you it was. Plus for the UK there was an exotic element – what, pray tell, was a “fuzzy tree”? (I should save this for his ’58 hits, but I wonder if Elvis joining the army actually made him sexier for UK fans? The oversexed over-here US G.I. had had a generation to seep into folk memory, after all.) .

*(with one exception: that occasional drumbeat, which sounds like a plimsoll hitting a tabletop. Cool!)

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Comments

  1. 1
    Lena on 9 Oct 2006 #

    Yes, and doesn’t he mention a volcano here too? Politely carnal indeed…

  2. 2
    blount on 10 Oct 2006 #

    tom you know the story behind the writing of this song right?

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 10 Oct 2006 #

    What, the one about Otis Blackwell writing it but Presley getting a co-writing credit anyway?

    When I was very young I thought the song was about some bloke called Moshukup.

    The Suzi Quatro version used to make me feel like a fuzzy tree in my long-gone youth…

  4. 4
    wichita lineman on 13 Jan 2009 #

    Plimsoll on a table top percussion, very nice! The similar effect on Treat Me Nice sounds exactly like Elvis is slapping his (then not so concave) belly to the beat.

    “Wild as a bug” is pretty exotic, too.

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 3 Jun 2009 #

    “Her lips are like a volcano… when it’s hot”. As opposed to cold, grey, craggy and dormant.

  6. 6
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH

    Gary Glitter, singer (1981)

    Jimmy Tarbuck, comedian (2004)

    Imelda Staunton, actress (2005)

  7. 7
    wichita lineman on 10 Aug 2011 #

    Another reason this was his first number one, rather than Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes or Heartbreak Hotel, is that the flood of Elvis 45s released when he first hit probably split the vote. Blue Suede Shoes, for instance, only reached no.9 – punters were spoilt for choice with Heartbreak Hotel released just 2 or 3 weeks earlier. He had new chart entries every month in 1956 from July onwards.

    In 1957 HMV had only (!) released three singles before All Shook Up charted in June. Eight more Presley songs (double A’s were listed separately) would chart before 1957 was out.

    It was also his last single on the purple HMV label with gold lettering, and properly beautiful objects they are too.

  8. 8
    hectorthebat on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Critic watch: This song appears on the following ‘best-of’ lists:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 18
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 352
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 361
    VH1 (USA) – The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time (2000) 68
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1950s (2008)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

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