The laid-back boogie rhythm and rolling bass tones are partly what make “All Shook Up” sound soothing and yet fresh each listening, which has to number in the hundreds if not thousands. But the biggest stand-out element, in my head at least, is the absence of drums. The beat is kept by someone (possibly Elvis) tapping on an acoustic guitar or…I don’t know, a phone book? Recorded in January 1957 and released two months hence, “All Shook Up” is one of the very few percussion-free cuts of rock’s classic era…just that relaxed, almost slapdash vocal delivery (which Presley reportedly copied phrase for phrase from songwriter Otis Blackwell‘s original demo) and the instruments — piano, lap steel guitar, stand-up bass…what else?
Quickly and entirely written by Blackwell and recorded in Los Angeles on 1.19.57, “All Shook Up” was reportedly “the last song in a marathon session in which Elvis and the Jordanaires were recording material for a gospel EP,” according to the writes SF Weekly‘s Andrew Stout. “It came as a respite from the intensity of the gospel sessions, which may be why, even today, the song retains a looser, one might even say cathartic and whimsical, feel relative to the other Elvis hits of his early RCA period.” Take #10 was reportedly selected for release. It was released on 3.22.57 and became the nation’s #1 song for eight weeks. It also became Presley’s first #1 hit on the UK singles charts, remaining there for seven weeks.