Just check the lineup on the recording session that produced "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," and you get an idea of the reason that the track bristles with energy: Chet Atkins and Scotty Moore (guitars), D.J. Fontanna (drums), Bill Black (bass), and Floyd Cramer (piano). RCA Studio B in Nashville during 1956 was ground zero and ripe for the crossover of rock & roll into the big time. Yet, the city was still a bit innocent, and so was Elvis Presley; the really big dollars had not yet corrupted the music itself, and what one hears on "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" is effervescent rock & roll balladry bursting with potential and the knowledge that this was brand new and exciting music -- neither the country & western that Nashville was used to, nor the Memphis blues. Yet, the track does not sound at all self-conscious. Presley seems to be fulfilling a role of destiny on tracks like this, bounding off of swinging musicians and the backing vocals of Gordon Stoker, Ben Speer, and Brock Speer.
Beginning with a Fats Domino piano-like introduction played on guitar, Presley enters with a desperate plea: "Hold me close, hold me tight/Make me thrill with delight/Let me know where I stand from the start/I want you, I need you, I love you with all my heart." The singer is a perfect amalgam of his influences. Within the same verse, he moves from an excited blues style -- hanging upon the first word with a stuttering style ("ho-ho-hold me" and again on "I-I-I love you") that would become one of his trademarks -- to an Ink Spots-like croon on "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-heart." Of course, Presley ends up sounding like no one else but himself; his voice is still a bit green and underdeveloped, a little shaky, rushed, and nervous-sounding on some words, hiccuping almost, and then settling down on some of the more drawn-out lines to approach the full-throated style of Mario Lanza. His urgency suggests the sexually tense pleas of a teenager, making promises to get where he needs to be. Gone is the raw tape echo of his Sun sessions, replaced with a richer and smoother RCA Studios plate reverb. The year for Presley was 1956; he spent 25 weeks at the number one position on the charts with a revolving string of hits, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel" b/w "Hound Dog," and "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." It was also released as one of rock & roll's first albums, and the first rock & roll album to reach number one on the pop charts.