15
Mar 04

ELVIS PRESLEY – ‘A Fool Such As I’

Popular3 comments • 1,795 views

#85, 15th May 1959

An enticingly louche guitar line is sabotaged at once by Elvis, whose absurd baritone makes one thing very clear: from now on, he’s playing for laughs. People who nod approvingly at Presley’s record tally of British #1s tend not to mention that we got to him late and that most of them are trifles ‘ in this country at least, ‘what made Elvis great’ has little crossover with ‘what made Elvis money’. But both sets of records made Elvis Elvis – the consummate pop star, equally capable of uncanny wonders and have-a-go follies.

And anyway, this is a fine little record ‘ it’s relaxed, Presley is having fun, the goofy voice works, and when he does flip back to the good old uh-huh style his casual smoulder makes your doubts seem footling. His string of ’59-’62 hits were commercially minded, to be sure, but the eclectic approach also sounds like a man trying things out, fooling around not to fool you but to keep things interesting for himself. Some of the things he was given to try were awful, but that’s another story (or several).

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Comments

  1. 1
    rosie on 26 May 2008 #

    Though this is still a tad before my time it still amazes me that there were Elvis number ones that I didn’t remember, or remembered only vaguely, when I obtained my copy for the purposes of Popular. The more time has gone by since I added this to the collection the more there’s a kind of familiarity that it always just out of reach.

    Perhaps it’s because this is so forgettable, by Elvis standards (though he’d do things in the future that one would long to forget). But even so, there are flashes of what made Elvis himself so memorable in his earlier years, and none more so than the moment when the voice cracks open a little and soars for a moment.

  2. 2
    wichita lineman on 26 May 2008 #

    I’d say it’s more subtle than Jailhouse Rock or All Shook Up but wouldn’t think it’s easily forgettable. I’ve always thought of this as one of the very best Elvis 45s. Everyone is in the pocket – the stinging guitar intro, ludicrously deep bassman, his most punishing drum sound since Hound Dog, and Elvis at his most relaxed and confident (seconds before he was packed off to Germany and his mom was taken ill). This doesn’t stop the delivery from being believable. The point at which his voice soars on the last verse (“I’m a fool but I’ll love you dear until the day I die”) is when you realise he’s masking the pain, kicking himself, but what the hell else can he do? He’s made his bed, now he may as well laugh at his self-made misery. I bet this is a Morrissey favourite.

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 26 May 2008 #

    PS We didn’t get to Elvis any later than America. His first US hit, Heartbreak Hotel, got to no.2 here a few weeks after it made no.1 in ’56, swiftly followed into the Top 10 by his sig tune Blue Suede Shoes which wasn’t even issued as a single in the States. Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel also stalled at 2, as did Don’t, King Creole (another UK only 45), and Hard Headed Woman.

    We latched on quick. El just had more number ones in the States in the 50s, including great singles but not 10 out 0f 10-ers like Too Much and Big Hunk Of Love.

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