King Creole was the last movie that Elvis Presley made before he entered the army in the spring of 1958 -- it was also his last film in black-and-white, as well as his final effort directed by a serious old-time filmmaker (Michael Curtiz); and, apart from a few isolated, quirky efforts like Flaming Star, Change of Habit, and Charro, this was the last of his serious movies, in which Presley was trying hard, pushing himself as an actor and, really, all through the score, as a musician. This is reflected in the soundtrack, which is one of the stronger film-related releases of his career. The original 11 songs included a hot title track by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that was a dazzling showcase for Scotty Moore's and Tiny Timbrell's guitars as well as Elvis' intense, exciting lead vocal. Leiber and Stoller's "Trouble" and Claude Demetrius' "Hard Headed Woman" have Moore's and Timbrell's electric guitars competing successfully with a five-man brass and reed section. Even "Dixieland Rock," if not up to the level of those other two numbers, features good playing and a strong performance by Presley, and "Young Dreams" is a decent midtempo number. The slow ballads are where the soundtrack falls flat, "As Long As I Have You" coming up to standard but "Lover Doll" and "Don't Ask Me Why" failing to excite or maintain interest; "Crawfish" can only have been included to bring the album up to the minimum acceptable length for an LP. [The 1997 remastered CD features rather upgraded sound and seven additional numbers that are outtakes from the score; these include two alternate takes of "King Creole" with considerably different guitar and brass parts, and two superior alternate versions of "As Long as I Have You," both in a much more spare arrangement -- basically just Elvis and a single piano accompanying him -- plus a discarded alternate title track ("Danny"). The undubbed "Lover Doll" is superior to the released version, featuring Presley accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. Even with the bonus cuts, this CD only runs 34 minutes and change.] ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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