I never really loved — not loved — that old school rock and roll. It tended to grate on my latter day sensibilties: this taste for more ratio of roll to rock.
But the King overcomes. In this 43-year-old clip (colourised) he builds the sub-three minute Jailhouse Rock into an epic epitome of all that rock’n'roll represents: raucous, joyous, uninhibited energy. Lust for life.
The miming here is enjoyably execrable but the jailhouse ensemble dance number is excellent and a recognisable predecessor to michaeljackson’s Bad video, overblown as that was. Elvis makes a dance prop of the dining bench and pacing his way through the moves, shows his confident sense of restraint.
There is a little frisson of homoerotic in these bad-boy songs. Jackson aggressively, suggestively, sibilantly pokes:
You butt is mine, gonna take you right, just show your face …
Come on, come on, lay it on me all right …
I’m giving you till count of three to show your stuff …
You know I’m smooth, I’m bad, you know it.
Elvis has another kind of jail tale:
Number 47 said to number 3
“You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see
I sure would be delighted with your company
Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me”
Alright, let’s rock.