Uh-huh-huh, Uh-huh-huh, Uh-huh-huh, Oooh yeah… Sorry, I think I just dosed off. Where was I? Oh, right. It’s Elvis again. How many #1s is that, now? I’ve lost track… Eleven? Thanks.
Good Luck Charm, by Elvis Presley (his 11th of twenty-one #1s)
5 weeks, from 24th May – 28th June 1962
This is the sound of Elvis in complete cruise-control. If his career were a long-haul flight (bear with me…) then we would currently be five-hours in, cruising at 37,000 feet, meals served, lights dimmed, pilots snoozing with their feet up.
Don’t want a four-leaf clover, Don’t want an old horse-shoe… These are the things Elvis doesn’t need – along with a silver dollar, a rabbit’s foot on a string and a lucky penny – because he has his girl. Come on and… Be my little good luck charm, You sweet delight… I want a good luck charm, A-hangin’ on my arm, To have, To hold, Tonight…
And that’s pretty much it. Elvis sounds bored. The music sounds like one of the pre-set backing rhythms on an old Casio keyboard that I had as a kid. After two verses and two choruses, we get to the spot where the solo should be. And the solo is Elvis going ‘Uh-huh-huh’… over and over again. When you think back to the energy of his fifties number ones – his growl on ‘Jailhouse Rock’, for example – or the startling newness of his Sun Record, pre-chart topping days, then you have to feel sad that he had been reduced to songs like this. It’s not awful. It’s OK. But the problem is that it’s not trying to be anything more than just OK.
And coming as it does, hot on the heels of Elvis’s best two post-army chart toppers – ‘Little Sister / Her Latest Flame’ and ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ – it really does feel like a step backwards. He was capable of so much more. It’s a well-known fact that Elvis was up for recording pretty much anything that his manager, Colonel Parker, suggested, and that Col. Parker had absolutely no qualms about milking his hit-record machine for all he was worth. (‘Song of the Shrimp’, ‘(There’s) No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car’ and ‘Petunia, the Gardner’s Daughter’ are all titles of songs recorded by ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ between 1961 and 1967.) ‘Good Luck Charm’ is probably the one UK chart-topper record that best encapsulates this mid-career malaise.
I wrote in my previous post that the zany ‘Nut Rocker’ was just what we needed to liven things up at the top of the charts. This, however, is just what we didn’t need. I’ve listened to it six or seven times while writing this post and am pretty sure that my brain has started to melt. To think that this was the country’s number one selling song for five (5!) weeks. Really, record buying public of 1962? Really…?