Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Don't Be Cruel

"Don't Be Cruel" is one of my favorite Elvis songs of all time. Written by Otis Blackwell, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002. In 2004, it was listed #197 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greastest Songs Of All Time. "Don't Be Cruel" was originally the A Side of RCA single with "Hound dog" on the B Side although both sides became chart-toppers, RCA reissuing the single in later decades as double A side. The single was the first to top all three extant Billboard charts: pop, rhythm & blues, and country & western.
The song was recorded for RCA Victor by Elvis' regular band of Scotty Moore on lead guitar, Bill Black on bass, DJ Fontana on drums and backing vocals from the Jordanairs. Elvis recorded this song on July 2nd 1956 at RCA's New York City studio. The producing credit was given to RCA's Steve Sholes, however the studio recordings reveal that Elvis produced the songs in this session (as well as many others) himself, which is verified by the band members. Elvis selected the song, reworked the arrangement himself on piano, and recorded eight takes of the song with the band (number 7 being the take released on the record) during one recording session following the thirty takes of "Hound Dog" (number 28 being released on the record) recorded that day. "Any Way You Want Me" was also recorded in that same session following "Don't Be Cruel". "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" were released on July 13th 1956
Elvis reworked the Otis Blackwell demo and changed the music and lyrics, just as he did to other compositions by Blackwell. Thats the reason he received co-songwriting credit.
Elvis, Scotty, Bill, DJ, and the Jordanaires first performed "Don't Be Cruel" on national televsion on the September 9th 1956 Ed Sullivan Show. They revisited the song twice more when appearing on the Sullivan Show October 28 of the same year, and on January 6th 1957.

1 comment:

Mike Edwards said...

This recording session was possibly the most important ever. It was certainly one of the greatest. He was only 2 days away from the July fourth concert in Memphis that was so legendary. He was in top form as an entertainer at this time.