Blue Hawaii [Expanded]

by: Elvis Presley

After his return from military service, Elvis Presley's movies, and the soundtracks to them, began taking on a formulaic quality -- the early ones, however, such as G.I. Blues and this release, still had enough interest on the part of the makers and the singer, however, to make them attractive if flawed efforts. In keeping with its setting, Blue Hawaii used a lot of Hawaiian-themed music that doesn't necessarily present Elvis in anything like his strongest musical setting. But in between and around tracks like "Aloha Oe" and other pieces of music lifted from the local color, there are songs such as "No More" and, most importantly, "Can't Help Falling in Love" (arguably the best song in any Elvis movie, and maybe the best song ever written for a rock & roll movie) that show him at his best -- his singing was advancing with each passing month, and with the right material he was still one of the most compelling and charismatic vocalists on the planet, and here, for those two songs, he had the right material, which was more than enough; it was even enough to overcome the weakness of "Rock-A-Hula Baby," a third-rate song that became an international hit and proved that at this point, Elvis could probably have sung the telephone book and made it chart. The expanded edition is mostly filled out with the songs as arranged and mastered for their on-screen incarnations, which are slightly different in emphasis, texture, and accompaniment -- even here, "Can't Help Falling in Love" is different enough to justify the purchase of the special edition. The sound on all of this is impeccable, state of the art, and gives the singer his due and more in terms of fidelity and richness. There's also a "Collector's Edition" version that takes the form of a mini-deluxe LP, like a miniature hardcover book with pages and pages of photos and other relevant documentation. Either way, this release captures Elvis' singing at a point that -- as the quality of the songs in his movies declined in the years to come -- fans would soon regard as a golden age. ~ Bruce Eder

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