With the upcoming release of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, I’ll be marking the occasion by reviewing all of Elvis Presley’s 18 #1 hits on Billboard including 11 that topped pre-Hot 100 charts and 7 that topped the Hot 100 after its 1958 inception.
Elvis Presley- “All Shook Up”
HIT #1: April 13, 1957
STAYED AT #1: 8 weeks
Sometimes a song doesn’t have to sound like the biggest thing in the world to get enjoyment out of it. Listening to “All Shook Up,” it can feel a bit tame for a song with that title and an Elvis song from his early rebellious phase. The song has a mid-tempo boogie-woogie shuffle as Elvis sings about how madly in love he is with a girl to the point where he can’t think straight. He’s all shook up as he sings. It’s a slight song running less than two minutes like a lot of songs of this time but it’s one that I find myself enjoying. And unlike “Too Much” which was just another hit that nobody remembers now, “All Shook Up” remains one of Elvis’ best-selling songs.
Two tales are brought up in the creation of “All Shook Up.” The first one is that songwriter Otis Blackwell, coming off writing Elvis’ massive #1 “Don’t Be Cruel,” was approached by the owner of the publishing company he worked at to come up with a song that used the phrase “all shook up.” The other story involved Elvis who contacted Blackwell about writing a new song for him giving him the title as a suggestion. Either way, you can tell from the stories that the song was written expressly around the title. It’s less about any personal experience but just describing the basic dizzying feeling of being in love with someone so much that you can’t help yourself with Elvis describing himself itching like a man in a fuzzy tree and how this girl’s lips become a volcano when they get hot.
Like a lot of Elvis songs, it’s Elvis himself that makes the song worthwhile. He sells the lovestruck nature of the lyrics acting all excited like he can’t wait to tell everybody how he feels. It makes things like the little pause between “I’m in love” and “I’m all shook up” so much fun to listen to. But at the same time, the song goes along at such a casual pace that it doesn’t feel like it’s taking itself that seriously. For almost two minutes, “All Shook Up” acts as a short burst of giddy excitement that may not be one of my personal favorites from Elvis but is still pretty good for what it is.
Upon its release, “All Shook Up” became another monster hit for Elvis in America and it also broke him in the UK becoming his first #1 there, his first of a record 21 even though he never toured the UK or anywhere much outside America for that matter. Elvis would obviously continue to land #1 hits but wouldn’t land another #1 with an Otis Blackwell-written tune but he still did fine for himself. Later in 1957, Blackwell wrote the Jerry Lee Lewis/Top Gun classic “Great Balls of Fire” as well as Jimmy Jones’ 1960 #2 hit “Handy Man.” He would have one more success with Elvis in 1962 when he wrote “Return To Sender” for the movie Girls! Girls! Girls! with that song peaking on the Hot 100 at #2. (“Return To Sender” is a 6.) After suffering a stroke in 1991, Blackwell largely remained out of the public eye until 2002 when he died of a heart attack at the age of 70.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s the cover of “All Shook Up” that Billy Joel recorded for the soundtrack to 1992’s Honeymoon in Vegas:
(Billy Joel’s version of “All Shook Up” peaked on the Hot 100 at #92.)
BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the late Biz Markie quoting “All Shook Up” on the 1996 DJ Kool and Doug E. Fresh collab “Let Me Clear My Throat”:
(“Let Me Clear My Throat” peaked at #30. Biz Markie’s highest-charting single, 1989’s “Just A Friend,” peaked at #9. It’s a 10.)