14/09/2018: “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

There’s no name more strongly connected with ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll than The King himself, Elvis Presley.

Despite the legions of Elvis impersonators around the world today, of wildly varying quality, nobody can come close to the man himself.

“Hound Dog” was originally a 12 bar Blues song written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, and performed as a Rhythm & Blues song by black artist Big Mama Thornton in 1952. In that way it’s easy to see the link between black dominated Blues and white dominated Rock.

Elvis’s Rock ‘n’ Roll version was released in 1956 and was top of the charts for pop, blues and country music, indicating its crossover appeal. Elvis liked the original but was really inspired by Freddy Bell and Bellboys version, which was written in 1955 to clean up the original song and make it more commercially viable.

The song is angry and visceral, with a raw energy that is almost Punk. The singing is far away from Elvis’s normal gentle crooning, the drumming is manic, the guitar is fierce. It’s a rockstar song through and through, and lays the foundation for things to come.

The song was released as a B side with “Don’t Be Cruel” but was such a hit that the record company re-released it with bigger writing to emphasise it!

A milestone moment in modern musical history.

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