Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel (1956) HQ

Between 1966 and 1976 I was for the most part an album collector. In addition to new Top 40 singles I started purchasing at retail stores in early 1976, I began collecting oldies singles from the 50s, 60s and early 70s, often at garage or yard sales. The movie “American Graffiti” had kicked off a renewed interest in music from the 1950s and early 1960s, a craze that was maintained throughout the 70s by TV shows like “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley” and “Sha Na Na” and more movies like “American Hot Wax” and “The Buddy Holly Story.” After I became a nightclub disk jockey in January 1978, I decided I wanted to do an oldies show in the spring and began purchasing these kinds of oldies freshly printed at record retail and department stores. One of the very first purchases I made was this song by The King himself, Elvis Presley, entitled “Don’t Be Cruel.” When I thought to myself, “what is the first Elvis I want to buy?” … THIS was the first one. Some others included on my first purchase run were “Only The Lonely” by Roy Orbison, “It’s My Party”/”She’s A Fool” by Lesley Gore, “It’s All In The Game” by Tommy Edwards, and “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino. You could say I have a soft spot for the late 70s due to my oldies interest at that time and ever-accumulating collection since … and the opportunity I had then to play them for people as well.

“Don’t Be Cruel” may be my favorite Elvis song of all time. It was a departure from more heavily rockified songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Jailhouse Rock” or the hard edge R&B hit “Heartbreak Hotel.” Those songs, and others, including covers like “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” marked the first beginning for Elvis. But it was his second start that would put him over the top for all time … the SMOOTH rockin’ Elvis that would be heard in songs like this one, “Don’t Be Cruel,” followed by “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” “All Shook Up,” “Good Luck Charm,” “Return To Sender,” and so many others. SMOOTH … and none so smooth or as lovely, I think, then “Don’t Be Cruel.”

“Don’t Be Cruel” was released with “Hound Dog” as its B-side on July 13, 1956. “Hound Dog” soared to #2 and “Don’t Be Cruel right behind at #3 on Billboard on September 8, 1956. The following week on September 15, “Don’t Be Cruel” jumped over “Hound Dog” and became the #1 song in the country for seven straight weeks. However, on Cash Box, “Hound Dog” made it to #1 for two weeks on September 1 and again on September 8. “Don’t Be Cruel” followed suit at #1 on Cash Box the same time as on Billboard, on September 15, 1956, for six weeks.

It will be noted that the date of the Ed Sullivan broadcast was January 6, 1957 … a little less than two months after “Don’t Be Cruel” dropped from its #1 position. This video is an edited version of that broadcast and the song track is a synchronization from the original recording.

From now on, to avoid confusion over whether the track you are hearing from a concert or TV broadcast is live or synchronized from a digital recording, you will always see “Editing & Synchronization” By MUNROW’S RETRO or “Edited & Synchronized By MUNROW’S RETRO” (or something like that) at the end of the video. I never upload live or broadcast material with the original live track anyway: I always synchronize it to the original recording. Of course I always tell you if a video has been synchronized in my description, but it seems a lot of people don’t take the time to read.

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