(What did the critics and fans say?)
With "It's Now or Never" we come to one of Presley's greatest performances. This song sold around ten million copies as a single, and is an English version of the Neopolitan song, "O Sole Mio". After a gentle introduction Presley's first, stirring top E, strong and manly, sets the scene, and the ensuing singing, abetted by Floyd Cramer's graceful piano, adds to the atmosphere. The steady beat is just right and the climax, with Presley soaring up to an incredible top G sharp, is pure magic.
Robert Matthew-Walker, Elvis Presley: A Study in Music, 1979
Elvis' first smash single out of the Army, which locked him forevermore into the tradition of the popular romantic song. A recycling of the Neopolitan operatic "O Sole Mio", Elvis gives it the full treatment: mandolin, Floyd Cramer piano, and Elvis' voice soaring to the peaks of Mount Love. A heart melter, tailor-made for the girls.
The Complete Elvis, edited by Martin Torgoff, 1982
...He eases into the verses, his vocals quivering a bit on the haunting melody and lyrical theme, building it up to a full-throated roar on the chorus. It is a stunning effect. The dramatic delivery of the ballad is characteristic of romantic Italian folk and opera songs. Presley demonstrates that he also listened to Mario Lanza records. He was very proud of the long, high note at the end, a section that took him a few takes to get right...
Bill Janovitz, from the AllMusic review of "It's Now or Never"
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