THE trouble with picking Elvis Presley’s Top 10 songs is there are an awful lot of crackers, making it hard to leave any out.
The King, who died on August 16, 1977, simply knew how to churn out one classic hit after another, but after much analysis and deep thinking — and a straw poll in the office — we’ve whittled it down to just 10.
As for the office spoilsport who said he didn’t like Elvis, we’ve put him out the back and he can get back in when he apologises!
HEARTBREAK HOTEL (1956)
A NEWSPAPER article about the suicide of a broken-hearted man doesn’t sound like the stuff of pop hits, but it sure was.
Elvis had just moved to the famous RCA label, the one with the orange sticker in the middle of the records, and he gave them a megahit.
If he could break hearts with his tender songs, he could also raise the roof with ones like this about misery and tragedy.
HOUND DOG (1956)
THE first Elvis single I bought, and annoyed the neighbours with.
Guitarists searched long and hard to find out what Scotty Moore did at the start of his second guitar solo, and nobody’s been able to replicate it.
Elvis’s singing, of course, was raucous, and at the time, must have had parents everywhere horrified. A classic then and now!
LOVE ME TENDER (1956)
DONE in full crooning mood, another timeless classic from an incredible year for Presley, when he could do no wrong.
It was apparently a remake of a sentimental number from American Civil War times.
Just to demonstrate the power of Presley, the day after he first performed this song on The Ed Sullivan Show, RCA got over a million advance orders.
This achieved something unheard of — it became a gold record before its release.
ALL SHOOK UP (1957)
A SMOOTHER vocal, less rocky, it topped the charts in America for eight weeks.
The story goes that prolific songwriter Otis Blackwell boasted you could say or do anything and he could turn it into a song.
When Al Stanton, one of the record- company boys, shook a bottle of Pepsi, All Shook Up just came to him.
There have been other theories, but we love this one.
IT’S NOW OR NEVER (1960)
BASED on O Sole Mio, this became one of the bestselling singles, by anyone, ever.
Elvis had heard Tony Martin’s version while based with the military in Germany.
Finally home, a couple of songwriters did their new lyrics in half an hour and it went on to sell more than 25 million.
RETURN TO SENDER (1962)
A MAN called Boots Randolph was on the big, bassy baritone sax which carries the whole thing, and they say his great playing brought the best out of Elvis.
The tale of a lady returning pleading letters from her discarded lover, he also performed it in his movie Girls! Girls! Girls.
When, in 1993, the US Mail finally got round to issuing postage stamps honouring The King, men everywhere sent envelopes with them to fictitious addresses, hoping to get Return To Sender-marked ones in the return post.
(YOU’RE THE) DEVIL IN DISGUISE (1963)
WHAT a belter of song, with a bit of everything that made Elvis great.
It has stop-start, slow-fast tempo changes, it has a lovely build-up to the fast bits, wonderful guitars strumming away, and sensational backing vocals.
Add that to a great lyric, and it’s possibly the most toe-tappingly-perfect Elvis song ever.
SUSPICIOUS MINDS (1969)
MANY have covered this, but nobody has got close to Elvis’s reading of it.
Three of the first five office buddies I asked suggested this one, and that’s good enough for me.
The female backing singers and the big production with tons of instruments help it along, but it’s that man’s broken-hearted voice that makes it so enduring.
THE WONDER OF YOU (1970)
ONE of Elvis’s not-so-secret methods was to always surround himself with the best musicians and backing vocalists.
The guitar solo on this is surely one of the most wonderful of all time, as is everything else in the recording.
Recorded live in Las Vegas, we loved it here especially, and it topped UK charts for six weeks, doing even better than it did Stateside. We Britons have excellent taste.
ALWAYS ON MY MIND (1972)
THIS was only a bloomin’ B-side! Were they nuts?
The reverse of the Separate Way single —can’t even remember it! — the King recorded it just after his separation from Priscilla, giving it added poignancy to his fans at the time.
Now, 45 years later, it is still one of his most emotional vocal performances and a wonderful recording.
Then again, you could say that about countless Elvis songs.