Elvis Presley: Classic Or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I suppose the question should more be - Classic or Vivid? Dead or Alive (and not in the supermarket sighting sense)? I make periodic attempts to love Elvis, but mostly I just find myself appreciating. Is he still the King? Or an object of respect but not love? Or did he never mean a goddamn thing to you?

Tom, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Fair point, Tom, but then I feel that way about tons of music. 'Respect' is pretty good going for me. I don't 'respect' or 'appreciate' contemporary bands etc like I respect and appreciate Elvis.

I suppose a thing about Elvis is, how familiar is he really? He *seems* over-familiar - we think we know it all already - and maybe many folk do, several times over. But often, when I actually go and play the stuff rather than just think about it abstractly, it surprises me. It turns out to be more exciting than I imagined, or there are great songs I'd forgotten about; etc. I mean: the reality of Elvis might, possibly, be more (rather than less) interesting than the idea.

the pinefox, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

It's probably not representative but the recently issued video of his early 70's (?) performance of "Suspicious Minds" seems to show him to be a rather mediocre performer (at least at that time).

David, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

For me his music has always been part of the pop background scenery, without it meaning much. His status as the pop uber-icon means that I'm always left with a feeling of 'is that it?' when listening to it, the songs themsleves being dwarfed by all the extraneous cultural bumpf that surrounds him. I'm not entirely comfortable with this state of affairs, as it feels like I'm missing out on something important, but even when I make the extra effort to listen to the music all the associations make it very difficult for me to go much beyond appreciation.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis. GRR.

Dan Perry, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Bugger. Forgot to type my name in.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

classic, in my opinion one of the ten most classic artists of all time, and it took me years to realize this. i lived in an elvis household and as part of the whole rebelling against parents thing that i never took very seriously, i decided to hate elvis. in high school one of my best friends had what could only be described as an elvis room; i called him a fool, never realizing that the fool was me.

with all due respect to little richard (who i love) and chuck berry (who i respect), elvis was rock n' roll, until those damned beatles showed up, as he epitomized what it was all about viz. white kids doing naughty things viz. commingling with blacks. he had the hair, the looks, the moves -- few people have looked as bad-ASS as the king did on his comeback special -- and most importantly the voice, the one thing he'd have after everything else was gone.

search: "mystery train," "jailhouse rock," "surrender," "can't help falling in love," "anything that's part of you," "it hurts me," "tiger man," "if i can dream," "wearin' that loved on look," "i'll hold you in my heart," "tomorrow never comes," "american trilogy," etc muthafuckin' etc.

destroy: the films and most of the concomitant music, the cult, his private life, the karate...it's not too difficult to figure out what should be discounted.

fred solinger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic, although the image, myth and 'iconography' are so overwhelming as to make actually HEARING the records through all that next to impossible, particularly when the same handful of 'classics' get played over and over. A rummage through the 50s, 60s and 70s box sets shows that above all else he's a great singer, of all different kinds of material - country, r'n'b, rockabilly, gospel, soul, torch songs, etc. Contrary to all that 'creatively dead after leaving Army' bollocks, he made fine records at every point in his career, right up to the end, as well as all the many, many bad ones. He wasn't the first, or even the best in any particular genre, but he's the great all-rounder, and often (despite all the 'artifice') the most nakedly emotional and raw. And he makes me laugh.

Andrew, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

He's got so much out there that if you don't know where to start, you're bound to be confused. Few people actually have the vocal power he did on the old Sun recordings or that classic double live Memphis session where Suspicioius Minds comes from. What can beat Blue Moon? Even on CD it sounds like it's being played through an old tube radio. Nice and warm. It was years later when I could finally understand why Frank Black loved Elvis and insisted the Pixies were a cross between Elvis and ... er... what was it, the Ventures?

I even love his corny movie themes like wooden heart, blue hawaii and girls, girls, girls. Not to mention that awesome song about the stripper with the ruby in her bellybutton. Or the funky hard rocker Clean Up Your Own Back Yard where he tells the preacher man what he can go and do.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I agree with all the classic voters here, and esp with heybuddy re 'Wooden Heart'. Fantastic performance! That's in 'GI Blues', isn't it? I love that 'Frankfurt Special' song, too. And isn't that the film with the amazing moment when Elvis is in a bar, and an Elvis Presley record comes on the jukebox, and he smashes it up? Mind- blowing, man!

the pinefox, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

all i can say in "wooden heart"'s favor is that it predated bryan ferry -- voice and style -- by about ten years. who else was ferry trying to be but a british elvis (sorry cliff), i mean, look in the for your pleasure sleeve.

fred solinger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

If I Can Dream is my favourite record ever most of the time. Written overnight by the songwriter/musician working on one of Elvis' comeback specials: they didn't have a song to close the show with so, unable to decide on which of the existing catalogue to use, the producer told this guy (shamefully I've forgotten his name) to 'go home and write the song of your life'. He did, by 7am the next day. Elvis said he'd never again sing a song he didn't 'believe in'.

Jack Seale, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh so classic - enough that I dedicated a chapter in my book on his sweat, his gold lame suit and what exactly he was wearing when he died...the man, the myth, the monster and the methamphetamines, not to mention the karate moves

Geoff, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Destroy: The idea of Elvis looking bad ass at ANY stage of his life.

I'm like Tom, I appreciate the idea of Elvis but I can't be bothered to listen to him, like ever. I own none of his CDs, because I have no desire to turn him on. If he comes on the radio, I won't turn it off, but really it's not my cup of tea. I won't search him out, simple as that.

Ally, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic. GI Blues also has a Doc Pomus tune "Doing the Best I Can". Great Ballad. Elvis can really sing.

Joseph Wasko, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Dud stretches the point. I have tried, and tried, and tried to understand what people saw in Elvis, either thick or thin, and I just do not get it. Yes, he's got a good voice. Sure, he could shake his hips. To me, though, he sounds like a very bland version of Little Richard. Elvis was, relatively speaking, safe. That's not rock and roll.

Sean Carruthers, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Classic because he’s so hard to pin down. The great Elvis performances are poised between tears and laughter, irony and sentimentality, pop and rock’n’roll, sex and sanctity, showbiz and authenticity, country and blues. The 1968 comeback shows, themselves poised between the gorgeous beauty of his youth and the fabulous ruin that was his decline (I mean fuck Nick Cave this man could do gothic pathos and excess), capture Elvis as icon better perhaps than any other footage or recording.

Guy, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Actually, I think the whole idea with Nick is that he was able to take Elvis' leanings there and not be dead on his toilet at his age, despite comparable substance abuse. Woo-hoo!

Elvis I think does the business, but proceed with caution. The really bad sixties movie cuts aren't even good for camp value.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What's the book, Geoffrey? It sounds like an interesting read.

Johnathan, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis: CLASSIC... true pop icon. Only now is he beginning to have any meanign for me though.

DESTROY: Greil Marcus. Much of the time, he's worse than the folks who see the image of Elvis in the grease spattered on a toaster of the local Waffle House.

badger, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Cave's excess remained tasteful - he stayed thin for-gods-sake. The Elvis binges on hamburgers, pills and coke, wearing rhinestone romper suits, were truly humiliating in their excess.

Guy, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Guy, Elvis was a rather unique case. He could be bedridden in a pile of his own diarrhea and people would still pay to see him and line up to fellate him back stage. Nick Cave doesn't have that luxury. If he did, perhaps he would get fat on peanut butter banana sammiches and wear suits stolen off decks of cards.

, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I'll agree with Badger on Greil Marcus. His obsession with Elvis became downright embarassing after Mystery Train.

As for me, I would say classic. I think a lot of the mythology surrounding him has belittled the music he created.

Nicole, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Apart from "Mystery Train," who really cares?

alex in nyc, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Alex, do the posts above answer your question ?

Patrick, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

He was a hero to most...including me. I love The King. The Sun Sessions is incredibly good. His voice on "Jailhouse Rock" is awe- inspiring. He had the best songwriters money could buy cranking out tunes for him, and he knew how to sing them (unlike the current crop of teen faves!) I love watching early footage of him performing. And I get teary-eyed when I see footage of him encoring with "Unchained Melody" at the piano in the 70s. Plus, he once bought 27 Cadillacs in one day, for friends and family. A mere "classic" is an insult.

Mark, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I was expecting an iconoclasm overload from you lot, and have been really surprised. I can't really answer this question as I know nothing of his beyond the obvious, so I'll back out and leave you lot to it. But surely someone else out there HATES him?

DG, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

my mother adored him, i came to him more slowly. i only have two cds of his and they are both gospel cds, his voice booms and makes me shiver. i always crank up the 'burnin' love' when it comes on the oldies station. destory--the colonel.

keith, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

You guys are fanning the flames, that's all I got to say... (besides a resounding "CLASSIC")

Keiko, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Pardon my earlier post, I thought we were talking about Elvis Hitler.

Mark, Monday, 30 April 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

the book's called Fuct & Fiction - you can pick it up via www.hungrypublishing.com under novellas for about 4.50 US I think.

Geoff, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Well let's say dud. As with that other King (of Pop that is) so in your face your whole goddamn life his music becomes meaningless. Never meant shit anyway. That said: 'Alcapulco' the movie rocks. Man that was some tense shit when I watched it as a kid, . Saw it recently, can't stop saying "Hey senorita!" to my girlfriend in Elvis- drawl. So a glimmer of classic then :)

Omar, Tuesday, 1 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

My favorite Elvis song is that bit on Chill Out ("Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in my Soul"), with Elvis' voice processed and echo-y and incredibly distant. That gives me chills, man. Chills. Chill Out.

Other than that, he never meant a thing to me. Dud I guess. I'm such a fucking kid.

Ian White, Thursday, 3 May 2001 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
I'm young enough that I could have not cared either way - but the Sun sessions remain a favorite - along side all the other country/rockabilly stars of the 50's. The book "Last Train to Memphis" helps define what's so fascianting about the man; he really managed to define rock n'roll, teen culture and super stardom, and that is of historical interest. Take a step back from subjective opinion and take in the effect he had on American culture and music - that is what is truly interesting. It could have been anyone, but it was Elvis. He worked his ass off from the day he turned 19 and didn't know how to quit; he wanted 'it' that bad, before 'it' had even really been defined. I believe that given another 50 years his image will be restored. The 70's were an excessive time for everyone, had he not died in the midst of it, maybe there would be more respect and tact surrounding Elvis and less exploitation.

Era Tanttros, Sunday, 20 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I went to see "McCabe and Mrs. Miler" at the Castro Theater a couple days ago, and before the film they showed a trailer for the Elvis concert film "That's the Way it Is". I've only recently gotten into Elvis; I own only "Elvis in Memphis", which is fabulous. Well, I could go and look it up, but this film looks to be after "In Memphis" but before his slow 70's decline was really underway. The man looked amazing. Yes, white bejeweled jumpsuits, but he's still in great shape. I mean just the fact that he dared look so outrageous is powerful in it's own way. And then there were some brief clips of him dancing onstage. His moves were unreal; he just goes wild. Many people in the audience laughed; I sat there with my jaw open in awe. To move around like that means either you're a fool or some kind of shaman, and I know what side I'm on. I can't wait to see this movie and to explore more of this era of his career.

Sean, Tuesday, 22 January 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
What some people have always ignored is that his voice was incredible.
They run his demise into the ground, search for dirt, print as much inuendo and trash as they can find. They never explore the fact that he had a 3 octave voice, and could virtually sing any style of music. Not only would he sing it but he could bring something new to it. The people who ignore the voice ignore what made him so unique in the first place. If you ignore the greatness of the voice(because of a pre-conceived notion of "ELVIS"), you will never see what millions have found in it. Its almost as if the voice is the last thing that is considered, taken for granted. His chrisma started with the voice! What artist today could go into the studio and in a couple of weeks cut over 30 songs as Elvis did at the Memphis sessions in 1970?
It seems to take newer artists years to produce new material. The Memphis material was varied and several hit singles came from these sessions plus a couple of gold albums. There were no gimmicks or technical enhancements, no digital computer setups. He went in picked his songs out and worked out arrangements then cut them until he felt he had given the performance he wanted. The songs he picked were songs that said something to him. He usually (after 1968)only did songs he wanted.(This was not always commercial, but honest)He never used the computer tricks which many of todays artists today use to make sure they are on KEY. He never lip-sinked at concerts because he was worried on fast numbers he would sound breathy, as some newer artists have been found to do. None of this is ever appreciated because no one explores beyond the image. Listen to the best Elvis impersonater in the world then play the same song by Elvis and you will see the greatness of the voice

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 16:40 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

that version of "Mystery Train" in "That's The Way It Is" where he's rehearsing with the TCB band is incredible.

James Blount (James Blount), Thursday, 23 January 2003 16:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Plus, he loved his momma like anything.

No wait, that was William Lyon Mackenzie King!

Dennis Lee to thread!

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Thursday, 23 January 2003 17:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Been playing 30 #1 Hits a LOT around here lately. I've always liked him--reading Mystery Train was what sealed it (it's almost impossible for me not to hear the Sun stuff and Sly's Riot through the scrim of G. Marcus in some way, which is great as far as I'm concerned--enhances the music, doesn't limit it in the least). "Suspicious Minds" and "Burning Love" and "It's Now or Never" on the same disc is a hell of a thing for anyone.

I don't understand how anyone can say he's a "watered-down Little Richard" since (a) they sound nothing at all alike, even when Elvis covered Little Richard songs, and (b) Elvis started making records before Little Richard cut "Tutti Frutti," the first record he made in the style he's famous for.

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 23 January 2003 18:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Nick Tosches (who's hardly an Elvis apologist) to thread on that front

James Blount (James Blount), Thursday, 23 January 2003 18:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Thatis something that has always been overlooked, Elvis was developing his style and voice in 51,52, started recording in 53. Jerry Lee Lewis came to Sun after Elvis had left.Carl Perkins came later also. Little Richard recorded Tutti Frutti on Sept. 14, 1955 yet people claim somehow Elvis got his style from anyone of these gentlemen depending on who you read. Chuck Berry began recording for Chess records in May 0f 55. Bo Diddily also started recording for Chess in 55. Elvis was already established he had been recording and performing seriously for over 2 years. Elvis was affected by these guys later as they were in some ways affected by him, but all of them had their own style.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 19:02 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

More than anything, all the other guys were more influenced by the amount of cash EP was getting than by his music.

Though he IS undeniably a great singer, with really terrible management, though try telling that to the billion dollar EP Estate.
Like Ali, his talent was squandered, though there are many moments of transcendence throughout his career.

Also, in Linda Gail Lewis's autobio, she claims that the time Jerry Lee stormed the gates at Graceland, it was because a doped up EP had called him to come rescue him, a claim not as preposterous as it seems.
Elvis might have been King, but Colonol Parker ruled.

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Thursday, 23 January 2003 19:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The other guys should appreciate the fact that without his groundbreaking the bulk of white America would have never even heard of them let a lone bought their records. Jerry Lee was always jealous of Elvis, but he never had a voice for anything except country rock. He is a great rock pioneer, but he was not a complete package. Little Richard has said he owes a debt to Pat Boone(who covered many more Richard songs than Elvis) and Elvis for opening doors that would have stayed closed if not for him. Bill Haley had a "ROCK" hit before any of them but until Elvis no one gave black artists the time of day except other black people. Col. Parker was what Elvis needed in the 50's, but in the late 60's he needed a Brian Epstein or someone of his kind to let Elvis explore, and grow. To particpate in new music that would not have necessarily been Elvis music(which still sold and was still good) but would have allowed other people in the music world to produce, play, and collaborate with him.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I think Ken is oversimplifying things some: Louis Jordan and Louis Armstrong were possibly the two biggest singers in America (apart from Bing Crosby) during the 40s, so it's not like white people in this country were unaware of black artists back then, which isn't to say things were totally equal. (Still aren't.) I understand the frustration of a lot of people re Elvis as King what about other, just as or more talented black artists, though.

M Matos (M Matos), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Loved everything he did in 1956 or before. The Sun stuff, especially "Mystery Train," definitely lives up to the myth.
But everything he did after '56 sounds pretty close to easy listening to these ears.

Here's a question to ponder: What would Elvis's legacy be had he not been so incredible looking?

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:43 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Besides, everyone knows that James Brown is really the king of rock and roll.

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Elvis - he's Jesus Christ but still Elvis meant nothing to some. But KERRIST just for the Albert Goldman book, being White Trash, the Fatty Glitter Stage pre-Bowie? Suspicious Minds and for that late-80s documentary of Elvis Fanatics* he is AMERICANA CLASSIC.

One of whom I phoned just to hear her voice after her repeating "Listen, we will invite some guys over, listen to Elvis and play some yahtzee".

robotman, Thursday, 23 January 2003 21:57 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Elvis needs boats. Elvis needs boats. Elvis needs boats."
Classic for inspiring such haunting lyrics. I get chills.

Bruce Urquhart (Bruce Urquhart), Thursday, 23 January 2003 22:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Armstrong and Jordan were big singers, but they were "safe" in the eyes of white people. The music they made had a polish to it. You can not compare Armstrong with a white handkerchief in his hand and wearing a tuxedo to say the likes of Bo Diddily or Little Richard. They played ballrooms and upscale clubs in large metropolitan cities. Jordan could have an edge, but he was "Accepted". All I'm trying to say you don't sell a billion records, without having a very special talent that few artists are given. All the black artists mentioned are great artists. They were definitly shortchanged by the music industry in the 50's. But Elvis was not the reason for it. He had talent, looks, chrisma, that sent him to the top. He is undervalued, as I said before, because of the image people see in their minds. If they would set down and listen, not just to the 50's but a cross section of his work they would see how his voice grew, how his phrasing became more and more distinct. He could be raw and hard, when he wanted, he could be bluesy, he could be pop. I will admit that in the period of 75 to his death he had basically dreaded recording and he could sleep walk through a performance. He had no challenge, he had done it all. He needed someone who could have stood up and told him what everyone saw. But he was in a position that few have ever been in. He broke ground for rock super stars who needed to see not how to end.
Its funny most of the stars we have been talking about, with a few exceptions, have never had anything but praise for Elvis and his talent.

Ken, Thursday, 23 January 2003 23:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"undervalued"??

jones (actual), Thursday, 23 January 2003 23:51 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

'I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago' also available on the Legacy Edition of Elvis Country.

Austin, Wednesday, 20 July 2016 20:53 (one year ago) Permalink

It's also on the 90s reissue as a bonus track

Re: The Semen story--It was in some Elvis bio that got reviewed in Blender in the early/mid-00s. They ran an excerpt w/the anecdote alongside a still from the special wherein Elvis has this very goofy look on his face and a caption speculating that perhaps that moment was when it happened.

Kenneth Without Anger (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 20 July 2016 21:36 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Oh man...."An Evening Prayer" from He Touched Me, take 3

Back-up singer proposes way to sing the closing "Amen...."

Elvis: Good Idea. Now get your ass back in the room.
Back-up singer 2: It's easier just to do it the other way.
Back-up singer 3: It's easier to do it the other way.
Back-up singer 4: It's easier to do it the other way.
Back-up singer 3: We like the other way.
Elvis: We're not looking for easy ways.

Hadrian VIII, Sunday, 21 August 2016 16:20 (ten months ago) Permalink

The FTD Jungle Room sessions is great late Elvis.

RCA just dropped their own version of that collection: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/22213-way-down-in-the-jungle-room/

a full playlist of presidential sex jams (C. Grisso/McCain), Sunday, 21 August 2016 20:22 (ten months ago) Permalink

Ah, that most have been what showed up in my Release Radar on Friday.

Deneb on Ice (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 21 August 2016 20:24 (ten months ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Finally reading Guralnick's Last Train To Memphis
Barely begun and already teared up

so good

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 20 April 2017 05:28 (three months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

this seems to have rattled a few cages.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/may/16/millennials-elvis-presley-legacy

piscesx, Friday, 19 May 2017 20:51 (two months ago) Permalink

idk, i feel like it's a very statistics-driven piece and i dont disagree but it's kinda ignoring the reality of what elvis has become

I dont think i really started buying elvis albums until my late 20's or early 30's when i realized on my own that it wasnt just nostalgic hits my mum liked that i heard growing up, that there was a whole world of stuff that was pretty cool

frankly i dont think he's been an artist for the "youth" for a long time, decades even

im not mad about it

Yoni Loves Chocha (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 19 May 2017 21:07 (two months ago) Permalink

agreed, and anyway good music endures, esp. in a digital marketplace that obviates the choice of one artist's work over another. It's not like Elvis is gonna go unheard.

Hadrian VIII, Friday, 19 May 2017 21:16 (two months ago) Permalink

my feeling about the article is that the argument it makes is probably pretty much right -- but, yknow, who cares. i don't think elvis's greatness should be judged by how many millennials are listening to him on spotify. his place in american culture is secure and isn't going to vanish just because we aren't experiencing an "elvis moment" the way we arguably had a bowie moment last year.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 19 May 2017 21:17 (two months ago) Permalink

my sense is that he's falling into obscurity slightly faster than his contemporary musical icons

calstars, Friday, 19 May 2017 21:57 (two months ago) Permalink

That article is "true" but also completely wrong. It pertains to Elvis the business not Elvis the artist. He has one of the richest outputs out there so as long as there are music heads around he'll be fine.

gospodin simmel, Friday, 19 May 2017 22:04 (two months ago) Permalink

well, it pertains to Elvis the Baby Boomer messiah.

sexualing healing (crüt), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:08 (two months ago) Permalink

Elvis the interpreter vs Elvis the songwriter
Have to go interpreter right? I mean, an American Trilogy.

calstars, Friday, 19 May 2017 22:09 (two months ago) Permalink

how many songs did he even co-write? maybe a dozen?

sexualing healing (crüt), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:12 (two months ago) Permalink

according to a snap YouGov poll of 2,034 British adults, a hefty 29% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had never listened to an Elvis song

lol wow you've proved a specific demo of British 20 somethings don't care about Elvis

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:13 (two months ago) Permalink

The messiah thing is in need of a revival I feel. The poptimist turn took rock as an antagonist too carelessly. Elvis is the moment pop actually becomes good imo. But that depends on how you feel about Broadway and jazz-pop and adult contemporary I guess.

gospodin simmel, Friday, 19 May 2017 22:14 (two months ago) Permalink

So do interpreters fade away faster than composers?

calstars, Friday, 19 May 2017 22:15 (two months ago) Permalink

pop was fantastic before Elvis

sexualing healing (crüt), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:16 (two months ago) Permalink

ok

gospodin simmel, Friday, 19 May 2017 22:17 (two months ago) Permalink

So do interpreters fade away faster than composers?

i suppose it depends on just how long-lasting the appeal of a static sheet of music is.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:21 (two months ago) Permalink

not sure how pop is being defined here but yes there was a lot of great popular music before elvis

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 19 May 2017 22:33 (two months ago) Permalink

how many songs did he even co-write? maybe a dozen?

I'm not sure there's even one. At some point, the Colonel required songwriters to share a co-writing credit with Elvis if they wanted him to sing their song. Not sure how long that lasted because Elvis seemed embarrassed by the arrangement and admitted that he'd never written a song.

Ex Slacker, Saturday, 20 May 2017 04:42 (two months ago) Permalink

The co-writing credit was on a couple of songs on the love me tender ep iirc. Plus there's a handful of "arranged by" in the gospel stuff.

wtev, Saturday, 20 May 2017 08:29 (two months ago) Permalink

So do interpreters fade away faster than composers?

Sinatra?

wtev, Saturday, 20 May 2017 08:30 (two months ago) Permalink

What do milennials think of Sinatra

c (calstars), Saturday, 20 May 2017 11:37 (two months ago) Permalink

yeah he's someone that's fallen off the radar even with the Gen x-ers. the endless tribute shows and 'An Evening With The RatPack' balls must have had a similar dulling impact as the Chinese Elvis impersonators.

http://www.masseytheatre.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Rat_Pack.jpg

piscesx, Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:29 (two months ago) Permalink

if only there was a way for millennials to effortlessly search for older music that is not being presently marketed to them.

sadly, no such system has been invented.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:33 (two months ago) Permalink

I always thought Chuck D was talking about Elvis Costello

MaresNest, Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:38 (two months ago) Permalink

From the perspective of 2017, Presley is closer to Sinatra and the world of crooners than the Beatles and what came after - an interpreter of straightforward songs with professional backing. He doesn't navigate irony, investigate druggy surrealism or engage with studio production. It's top line melody with sincere introspection and a swinging rhythm section. Even when I got into him in the 1990s, it was when I was choosing to explore older approaches to pop- Hank Williams, Besse Smith, Louis Jordan. His singing-songwriting peers like Berry and Bo Diddly and Jerry Lee Lewis were much more about the riff and the noise and everything that came after. He was a real weirdo like the other early rock 'n' rollers, but his art doesn't work the same way.

pavane to the darryl of strawberry (bendy), Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:40 (two months ago) Permalink

From the perspective of 2017

yes the era of Carpool Karaoke. Elvis could fit in perfectly in this post-rockist world.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:48 (two months ago) Permalink

The article doesn't acknowledge it's the post-rockist world but goes for the bizarre "where's his Sgt. Pepper?" angle. It's true that Presley is closer to the pre Beatles world but that's no longer that big of a deal (and as I said, I'd treat him as a bigger delination mark but that's a nonstarter apparently) and yeah, he doesn't do the rock Diddley/Berry/Lewis stuff but he does the pop part of the rock and roll equation (him/Buddy/Fats) which is as important these days. But he's one of a kind really. He has a much more exposed singing style than any of the earlier "crooners". No one ever sold pomposity in such a vulnerable way. Anyone else who goes for something like Blue Moon, Suspicious Minds, In the Ghetto, American Trilogy etc etc ends up kitschy imo. One of the key distinctions being that Elvis had a recognizable tone and character for each part of his vocal range. Basically not sure I'd rate any vocalist above him. It helps that he was fed hits for a long time so 30#1's plays as well as Immaculate Collection.

gospodin simmel, Saturday, 20 May 2017 19:08 (two months ago) Permalink

someone in the article says that it's a shame elvis didn't live long enough to reinvent his career + image the way johnny cash did w/ his last few albums. but you could argue that elvis had already done that w/ the comeback special and "from elvis in memphis," which is a genuinely great album that i'd recommend to anyone who just associates elvis w/ the early stuff.

it is really intriguing to imagine an alternate scenario where elvis got off drugs, slimmed down, and went on to become a revered music statesman like cash, going back to the style of the sun years, his voice getting richer and deeper with age, being the first to laugh at his own shitty movie soundtracks. unfortunately that scenario probably requires an elvis who was a completely different person, someone w/ better friends and better willpower.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Saturday, 20 May 2017 20:47 (two months ago) Permalink

Late Cash is a weird benchmark for anything imo. It presupposes every old country singer is a goth at heart. Works for Cash I guess but would ruin Elvis. Nick Cave is a sort of peek into that alternative timeline.

gospodin simmel, Sunday, 21 May 2017 15:13 (one month ago) Permalink

I would rather have heard Elvis in the style of '80s Johnny Cash (can you imagine a Highwaymen-style group that included an older Elvis?) than Rubin-era Cash.

grawlix (unperson), Sunday, 21 May 2017 16:42 (one month ago) Permalink

He doesn't navigate irony, investigate druggy surrealism or engage with studio production. Try The Complete Sun Sessions, also he gets more interesting near the end of 50s, 60s, 70s.

dow, Sunday, 21 May 2017 17:25 (one month ago) Permalink

"He doesn't navigate irony"
This is a great line and seems true to me

c (calstars), Sunday, 21 May 2017 18:08 (one month ago) Permalink

I prefer this one from Christgau: "The very refusal of sophistication that renders him unlistenable to Sinatraphiles is what his faithful love most about him." Just switch sophistication with irony and Sinatraphiles with whatever.

gospodin simmel, Sunday, 21 May 2017 18:14 (one month ago) Permalink

I don't agree that he lacks sophistication, not even sure what an example of that would look like

c (calstars), Sunday, 21 May 2017 18:50 (one month ago) Permalink

He means Sinatra's and Crosby's mannerisms. Elvis is way less inhibited.

gospodin simmel, Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:38 (one month ago) Permalink

I'm with dow re studio production. Whether he twiddled knobs or not is by the by. He knew how he wanted to be heard. Ref the story about the sessions for hound dog

wtev, Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:51 (one month ago) Permalink

Ah ok. So just a visual thing

c (calstars), Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:52 (one month ago) Permalink

Calstars I don't think it's just a visual thing. It's also about what he did with his voice and the effect that had.

wtev, Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:56 (one month ago) Permalink

And how that was different to how bing or frankie used their voices.

wtev, Sunday, 21 May 2017 19:58 (one month ago) Permalink

in the Sun sessions, he and Philips are exploring the possibilities, incl. a new approach to crooning, that would fit the mix of material and tempos---certainly there's as much cultivation of atmospherics as Sinatra was exploring, but here it's all small groups of course, and the difference made by overt use of studio techniques, the reverb of a single guitar note's attack and decay, say,the echo of a snare tom, kickdrun, and at one point his balladeering goes into this unearthly falsetto sidetrip, envy-bait for Bryan Ferry and Scott Walker, who I've never heard attempt anything like it.
All those overcast, end-of-the-60s folk-etc ballads, "Kentucky Rain", "In the Ghetto". Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" (think he covered "Don't Think Twice"too) for that matter the rueful pulsations of "Suspicious Minds", are atmospheric as hell too. And check the uncut Comeback Special (the Dec. '68 TV special, not at all the conventional seasonal bit the Colonel wanted), and the concert doc Elvis On Tour.for the downhome bellbottom Tony Joe White grooves, with soul, blues, gospel, country, rockabilly etc.

dow, Sunday, 21 May 2017 20:01 (one month ago) Permalink

Also, he had a sense of humor about himself----on The Million Dollar Quarter, he keeps trying to tell his hopped-up colleagues about seeing the guy (Jackie Wilson) with Billy Ward and the Dominos, who does a wicked Elvis---wonder if humor wasn't his way of justifying doing some of those dire soundtrack songs later on, the ones for which the Col. just happened to own publishing (in some cases).

dow, Sunday, 21 May 2017 20:11 (one month ago) Permalink

Only the finest in pharmaceuticals for Mr P

calstars, Sunday, 21 May 2017 20:14 (one month ago) Permalink

engage with studio production

What I mean here is pure studio creation, in the late-Beatles, Brian Eno sense. Not that Presley's peers engaged in this way either, and not that the Sun Sessions weren't a break through production-wise. The Sun singles reverb was otherworldly by contemporaneous accounts. What I like to wonder about is what keeps an artist like Presley on the far side of the "modern" line, compared to subsequent rock stars? These things are strengths! It's an approach to music making that's not really possible without affect any more. Like, I don't think Nick Cave's "In The Ghetto" is intended to have any irony, but irony attaches itself to it anyways.

pavane to the darryl of strawberry (bendy), Sunday, 21 May 2017 20:44 (one month ago) Permalink

Calstars I don't think it's just a visual thing. It's also about what he did with his voice and the effect that had.

yes it really is this simple. people liked his singing a lot. he had a charming voice and vocal drawl and homespun package.

i think the main difference between him and the Beatles is they come from a more DIY artist-centric era wheras Elvis hailed from the more industrial pre-rock pop era. he had to make those movies while the Beatles had the creative freedom to not. as for him being a manufactured star, again, his voice is indisputable, his style is legendary, and his renditions of many hit songs are still the most famous 60 years later. on top of that his backing musicians were frequently killer musicians, he had a great ear for collaborators, a pop tactic later used to great success by Bowie.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Sunday, 21 May 2017 22:01 (one month ago) Permalink

Had never thought about how close to each other The Sun Sessions and the Beatles' Rock 'n' Roll Music were released in the States: Elvis in March of '76, the Beatles inside of three months later. I was very aware of Rock 'n' Roll Music at the time, didn't know anything about The Sun Sessions until I saw it in Paul Gambaccini's greatest-ever book two or three years later. The Beatles LP hit #2 on Billboard, Elvis only made it to #76.

I'm a bigger Beatles fan, but easy nod to Elvis there.

clemenza, Sunday, 21 May 2017 22:33 (one month ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.