Sunday, January 2, 2011

1961 - Blue Hawaii (Original Soundtrack Album) plus: Aloha Elvis: The Arizona Memorial Concert. Best sound ever!!!

"A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood"
-Hal Wallis

In 1961, nothing could stand in Elvis way except his own success, although neither of his dramatic efforts "Flaming Star" or "Wild in the Country" lost money at the box office, both where deemed disappointments after de financial success of "G.I. Blues", no matter how proud could Elvis be of his performance on "Wild in the Country", in the eyes of movie producers, it lackluster performance at the box office soured any chances for Elvis to become a serious actor. If "G.I. Blues" was the prototype of the Elvis Hollywood formula, then, in the fall of '61, "Blue Hawaii" became the archetype, grossing five million dollars just upon its initial release, and reaching 8 at the box office poll for 1961, and the movie soundtrack L.P. outselled all Elvis Presley albums to date. Elvis had already signed a 6 year contract to make 3 movies a year, and with "Blue Hawaii" a pattern was set, much to Elvis dismay. Yet, if the movies and their respective soundtracks became subpar in years to come, "Blue Hawaii" with its highproduction values, exotic settings, sex simbol Elvis, a fortunate mix between rock and roll, pop and hawaiian music, was at the time, the ultimate in teen beach and sky party movies, and it remains as a classic in that cinema area. 

The soundtrack was the fourteenth album on RCA by Elvis Presley, released in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2426, in October 1961. Recording sessions took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on March 21, 22, and 23, 1961. It spent 20 weeks at the #1 slot on the Top Pop Albums chart, Presley's biggest selling album during his lifetime, and has been certified by the RIAA as triple platinum. Is ranked No.2 (second to "West Side Story"), on Billboard's Top.No.1 Albums chart 1960-1969, and No.9 on the All-Time Hot 100 Albums chart. It sas nominated for a Grammy Award as best Original Soundtrack Album, lost also to "West Side Story". Ironically, the leading male role for "West Side Story" was first offered to Elvis, but his manager, Col. Parker, declined. 

The songs "Can't Help Falling In Love" and "Rock-A-Hula Baby" (a genre mix of Hawaiian folk and rock n' roll) were pulled off the album for two sides of a single released the following month. The A-side "Can't Help Falling In Love," which would become the standard closer for an Elvis Presley concert in the 1970s, went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the b-side charted independently at #23. According to the RIAA, the single is certified Platinum, for US sales in excess of one million copies. In the UK the single was flipped, being "Rock-A-Hula Baby" the A-side, reaching the #1 spot for four weeks in February 1962.

The music in this album is far removed from the real Elvis Presley's musical output, but it points out the major function of the music in Elvis' cinema vehicles from the 60's. The songs are generally important to the storyline; that is, they advance the plot or they relate something about the characters to the audience. Known as integrated musicals, this type of musical was standard fare in Hollywood for decades. However, those who criticize Elvis' musical vehicles generally overlook this, preferring to attack the songs as being inferior to his non-movie output and to the music of his pre-army films. Yet, in those pre-army films, almost all of the musical numbers were performed on a stage setting, this is the nonintegrated musical type, and the songs on those type of musicals tend to stand by themselves outside the contexts of the film, so 50's soundtracks like "King Creole" were musical excellence on its own.  Now that still happened during his 60X's movies and often with great results: "Return to Sender"(1962), "Bossa Nova Baby"(1963), "Viva Las Vegas"(1964); those nonintegrated numbers where still written and recorded in the style that made Presley famous and so stand side by side with his non-hollywood best material.  But only a couple of numbers per film came in that nonintegrated musical style, and usually where picked for single releases, the 80%  or more of the soundtrack Lp's released during the 60's came from the integrated musical form, and so, are hardly pure Elvis at all. 

In the integrated Elvis musicals of the 60's, the interdependence of the songs and the plots is both a strenght and a weakness, Within the film, the lyrics and sometimes even the melody of the songs take the place of the scripted dialogue to relate important information or convey a mood necessary to advance the story. Yet outside the movie, these same songs are often too specific to the storyline to stand on their own. When the greed of Hollywood producers took over quality on Elvis musicals an they started to showcase Elvis on whatever crapy plot as a mere excuse to show Elvis shaking legs and make billions, the integrated musical soundtracks went downhill until ridiculous and self humiliating. Yet at the time of  "Blue Hawaii" production values where top of the tops, and the idea of taking Elvis: Rock & Roll Idol, Sex Symbol, to Hawaii on a Boy meets Girl musical dealing with youth rebeliousness agains the older generation expectations, get the Megan Fox of the day as Elvis co-star, all while singing traditional Hawaiian sounds, mixed with stand out pop and a few rock and roll beach numbers, fill the gaps with more beatiful girls, and that was actually an unprecedented success in entertainment. The soundtracks is actually a pleasant  experience, perfectly cool and fun for early 60's beach  and hula themed teenage parties. One song from the film "Can't Help Falling In Love" with its Santo & Johnny like guitar fills and Elvis perfect crooning, stands out in Elvis career as one of his most beloved love songs. 

Publicity for the movie was propelled with Elvis visiting Hawaii for a benefit concert. On March 24, 1961, more than 3,000 fans greeted Elvis when he arrived at Honolulu's International Airport. In the afternoon, he hosted a press conference in the Carousel Room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. The following nighp, Elvis gave a uinique live concert at the Bloch Arena in Pearl Harbord,  to raise funds for the USS Arizona War Memorial. The concert was radio broadcasted regionally, and so although in very low sound quality is still available today. We have added it as a bonus cd to the original "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack Lp.

Yes, by 1965 Elvis Presley became the highest paid actor in Hollywood, a multimillionare spending life in wild non stop parties and night clubbing between movie sets, "I'm a movie star, I'm a sonofabich" he used to say; but the huge popularity of these formula musicals, "the only sure thing in Hollywood" Hall Wallis said, soon became mere exploitation, and by '66 their life was numbered, Presley would be then on a crossroad between extinction or musical renovation. But back in '61, everything he touched became gold, the "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack album was no exception, 50 years latter, with the right drink in hand, it can still send you paradise hawaiian style.

"Blue Hawaii" 
(Original Movie Soundtrack)

Blue Hawaii
Almost Always True
Aloha Oe
No More
Can't Help Falling In Love
Rock-A-Hula Baby
Ito Eats
Steppin' Out Line
Slicin' Sand
Hawaiian Sunset
Beach Boy Blues
Island Of Love
Hawaiian Wedding Song

Bonus Tracks
Can't Help Falling In Love (Movie version)
Steppin' Out Line (Movie version)

Aloha, Elvis
 The Arizona Memorial Show, March 25 1961

Award Presentation To Elvis (March 24, 1961)
Concert Introduction
Heartbreak Hotel
All Shook Up
(Now and Then) There's a Fool Such as I
I Got a Woman
Love Me
Band Introductions
Such a Night
Reconsider Baby
I Need Your Love Tonight
That's All Right
Don't Be Cruel
One Night
Are You Lonesome Tonight
It's Now or Never
Swing Down Sweet Chariot
Hound Dog
Elvis Has Left The Building


Soundtrack Session for Paramount: Blue Hawaii, March 21-23, 1961
Studio: Radio Recorders, West Hollywood, California
Producers: Joseph Lilley / Hal Wallis
Engineer: Thorne Nogar

Vocals & Rhythm Guitar: Elvis Presley
Guitar: Hank Garland
Guitar: Scotty Moore
Bass: Bob Moore
Drums: D.J. Fontana
Percussion: Bernie Mattinson
Drums: Hal Blaine
Piano/Celeste: Dudley Brooks
Piano: Floyd Cramer
Harmonica: George Fields
Saxophone: Homer "Boots" Randolph
Ukulele: Bernie Lewis
Ukulele: Fred Tavares
Steel Guitar: Alvino Rey
Backup Vocals: The Jordanaires: Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, Neal Matthews and Ray Walker
Backup Vocals: The Surfers: Pat Sylva, Bernie Ching, Clay Naluai and Al Naluai

"I'm a movie star, I'm a sonofabitch"  -Elvis Presley.

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