21
Jul 04

ELVIS PRESLEY – “Surrender”

Popular5 comments • 1,746 views

#119, 3rd June 1961

For once an Elvis record isn’t scuppered by the choice of song – this nervy Latin pop is a welcome step up from the catastrophic “Wooden Heart”. Rather it’s Presley’s own performance that feels misjudged. He sings “Surrender” as if it was “It’s Now Or Never” part two – more shag-or-bust ultimatum-throwing – but the song feels more subtle than that blockbuster did, and the vibrato Elvis piles on sabotages that. He could have sung it predatory or sung it desperate: instead he tries for cod-operatic romance and the result is a hotchpotch. It’s not Elvis’ worst Number One but it’s the first where he doesn’t really sound like he’s trying.

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Comments

  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 22 Apr 2014 #

    Elvis’ performance in this song reminds me a lot of Roy Orbison in its operatic style and staccato rhythms. It’s a strange record that sounds just as avant-garde as hit material. I like it.

  2. 2
    Tom on 22 Apr 2014 #

    Finally a comment!

  3. 3
    wichitalineman on 17 Jun 2014 #

    Yes, this was an unlikely song to have no comments at all!

    Surrender is 1961’s Velocity Girl, with all the soul-baring and chest-baring over by 1.37, when Elvis hits that high note. I’ve always found it simply too short to get involved with, though: verse, chorus, chorus, fade on apocalyptic exotica backing.

    The production sounds like a parody (not necessarily a bad thing) as does Elvis’s performance – self-consciously simpering on “won’t you please sur-render to me” at 1.17, and appearing to sing “be mine hooooooo-night” at the Lanza-esque climax. A bit like It’s Now Or Never with everything turned up, even the speed of the record, but nothing like as good.

  4. 4
    Paul I on 18 Jun 2014 #

    I love this record – especially the cod opera! It always sounded to me like Elvis doing a James Bond theme. I’m not sure it would be improved by being “better” – although a sotto version in the style of “Fever” would probably have been lovely.

  5. 5
    wichitalineman on 18 Jun 2014 #

    Good call on the James Bond-ness of the opening, can’t believe I’d never noticed. I’d always assumed John Barry had got his “inspiration” from Guy Mitchell’s prison song, 99 Years:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOdbWzW_FEI&feature=kp

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