Saturday, December 29, 2007

You have to own Tupelo's own

If you haven't already seen the DVD Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley it's about time that you do! I have just spent a rainy afternoon watching it once more and it lifted my spirits immediately.

The highlight is 13 minutes and 9 seconds of Elvis performing live at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show in Tupelo on the 26th of September 1956 - with sound!

When I first heard this performance on A Golden Celebration back in 1985 I certainly thought it interesting, despite the poor quality of the recording. But brought together with the footage it really gives you an idea of what an exciting thing a Presley concert must have been back in the 50's.

There's screaming, there's the band and there's, above all, Elvis Presley moving around and working the crowd. Seeing and hearing Elvis perform such classics as "Heartbreak Hotel", "Long Tall Sally" and "Don't Be Cruel" in this way is highly enjoyable.

Unfortunately, there is only parts of "I Got A Woman" and "Hound Dog", but what there is shows Elvis really going wild in front of the screaming fans.

One thing that I find interesting is that Elvis has his guitar strapped on for the whole show, except on the last song which is "Hound Dog". On the footage from his show in Tupelo a year later, also included on the DVD, Elvis is without his guitar the whole time. This clearly gives him more freedom as he moves and gyrates even more on that show.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley is without a doubt one of the most interesting releases in quite some time, and its importance as a historical document is priceless. After watching it, I'm sure you'll agree!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Elvis Christmas Youtube Special

Christmas is coming to an end but you can still enjoy what's left of it by visiting the Elvis Information Network. There you'll find a great selection of Elvis Christmas clips EIN has brought together on their site.

My favorite is the Blue Christmas edit using the original song together with '68 Comeback Special footage and home movies from Graceland. Great stuff!

Another superb clip that indeed hasn't got anything to do with Christmas but nevertheless is funny to watch is Ain't That Loving You Baby? featuring Laurel & Hardy dancing to Elvis music. Don't miss that one!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Blue Christmas - my very first Elvis record

I'm not big on traditions but I have a few. One is playing, every Christmas, the first record I ever bought with Elvis, and this year is no exception. Right now Blue Christmas, a RCA LP manufactured in Sweden in 1976, is spinning on the turntable of my record-player.

Unfortunately I can't recall what year I purchased it, but it must have been in the late 70's. A couple of months before one of my brothers had bought the double album Elvis Forever, and after that I had borrowed a few Elvis records from a class-mate, amongst others Elvis In Concert and Mahalo From Elvis.

A few days before Christmas that year I tagged along with my family to a department store. As my parents kept themselves busy shopping Christmas dinner I visited the record department. And there, on a rack, was a whole bunch of Elvis Camden (or Pickwick, can't remember) records on display.

I didn't know a thing about these records or the songs on them at the time, but after some serious thinking I picked one of them where I thought Elvis looked cool on the cover. It could have been Elvis Sings Flaming Star, but I'm not sure.

What I do remember is that just as I was going to look for my parents and show them my find I spotted another Elvis LP amongst a bunch of Christmas records. I don't know why, maybe I was caught up in the Christmas spirit, but I exchanged the Camden record for Blue Christmas.

Home again I played it over and over through the Holidays. I especially liked the title track, as well as "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Santa Claus Is Back In Town." As I listen to it now, I still think it has a pretty good mix of songs from Elvis two Christmas albums.

As you can see the cover was taken from Elvis' Christmas Album from 1957, not a very imaginative move. And speaking of the cover, on all the CD releases (as well as on the latest LP release from 1985) of the first Christmas album the cover is not the original one. You can spot this by comparing the parcels.

I was first made aware of this in an article in the Swedish fan magazine Tidskriften Elvis back in 1987. Entitled "The Christmas When Elvis Gave Us New Christmas presents" it described in extreme detail every parcel and how it differed from the original one in wrapping, size and so on.

At the time I thought the article was pretty corny, and I still do. But the fact remains that it was a new cover made to look like the old one. Why this was the case I have no idea. Anyone?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

From another part of the globe

Yesterday I was at a party together with a couple of friends. One of them had recently been in Jerusalem, and knowing how much I like Elvis, she'd bought a CD there with Elvis on the cover and the title Return To Happiness - Great Hits of the 60's.

She told me she had entered a record store in Jerusalem and asked if they had any Elvis records. The sales clerk had looked slightly offended and then answered, "Of course we do!"

But my friend wanted it to be an Elvis record made in Israel, and that turned out to be more difficult as all Elvis records were imported ones. The second best alternative the sales clerk could come up with was the record I got.

Despite featuring Elvis both on the front and the back of the cover it only includes the Elvis number "Good Luck Charm". The other 23 songs are from such artists as Diana Ross, Paul Anka and Ray Peterson (you can read about his connection to Elvis here).

Still, it's nice to be able to include an album from another part of the globe with Elvis on it in my collection. And this one looks quite different with its Hebrew lettering. So, thank you, my friend!

By the way, the evening ended with some heavy Elvis karaoke, but that's another story...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Memories of Elvis and Chuck

In the book Me And A Guy Named Elvis that I wrote about a couple of days ago there's one passage where Jerry Schilling describes one of his fondest Vegas memories. This is a night when Elvis is bringing Sammy Davis Jr. back to his suit after a show.

As Elvis, Priscilla, Jerry, Sammy and his wife are making their way through the lobby they hear "some unmistakable guitar riffs" and stroll into a nearly empty lounge where Chuck Berry is performing. Chuck is happy to see them and starts addressing them between songs.

This episode reminded me of a very similar story a colleague at my work told me a few months back that you can read here. In this story, my colleague, who worked in Las Vegas during the 70's, is watching Chuck Berry perform a lounge show at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1974, when Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr. and a couple of girls walk in to see the show.

Was my colleague and Jerry Schilling describing the same thing? To find an answer, I showed the book to my colleague to ask him what he thought. The day after he told me that he wasn't sure about the year anymore, it could have been 1972, and not 1974. One thing he was certain of though, was that the lounge was packed with people and not nearly empty.

But even if it was in 1972, it doesn't fit with Schillings story of Priscilla being there. She could hardly have been in the company of Elvis in 1972 (during his first Las Vegas engagement that year Priscilla told him she was leaving) and much less so in 1974.

So either this is really two different occasions, or Jerry Schillings memory is failing him; maybe Priscilla wasn't there and maybe the place wasn't nearly empty as he describes it. Jerry, if you are reading this, please let me know what you think!

One final thing: To try to solve my little dilemma, I searched the Internet to find out when Chuck Berry was performing in Las Vegas during the 70's, but found zilch. Not very surprisingly, there is a lot less information about Chuck Berry than there is about a certain Elvis Presley.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Have you heard the news

What do you know! A couple of weeks ago I forwarded my post about the FTD release of the album Pot Luck to ElvisNews.com and it's now number five on their "Hot Articles" list. Apparently the post, Pot Luck With Elvis, have had over 1 200 visits. Not bad, eh?!

Speaking of ElvisNews.com, it's one of the best Elvis sites around when it comes to keeping the fans up to date with what's happening in the Elvis world. I turn to it daily, sometimes more than once, and if you haven't payed it a visit be sure to do so.

The ElvisNews.com homepage recently got a new look that, not surprisingly, evoked both positive and negative responses from its readers (you find them here). But, working daily with publishing news on the Internet, I for one must say I like it as it makes it more easy to find your way around the home page.

There are a few other Elvis sites that I also check for the latest information about our man. You can find them under my Elvis links. And if you have other sites about Elvis you would like to share, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Me and a guy named Elvis

I guess everybody has their own image of Elvis and yours might differ a lot from mine. Even those who were close to Elvis paint different pictures of him. One of the latest efforts is by Jerry Schillings whose book Me And A Guy Named Elvis I recently bought.

Jerry Schilling should know his subject. He was a friend of Elvis for 23 years and part of the Memphis Mafia.

After finishing the book yesterday, I think it' safe to point out that Jerry Schilling really thought of Elvis as his best friend. When he was young he idolised him, and in 1974 Elvis bought him a house. "How many friends buy you a house?" he asks in the book.

To me it's the first half of the book that is the most interesting. It's fascinating reading about how Jerry at twelve, in the summer of 1954, suddenly finds himself playing football in the same team as a nineteen-year-old quarterback named Elvis Presley.

I also enjoyed the part where Elvis asks him to come work for him in 1964. And also, how he during his first stay in the Bel Air house in California, scares the crap out of a woman who turns out to be Ann-Margret on her way to pay a nightly visit to Elvis.

Jerry Schilling also shares some stories revealing Elvis shrewd sense of humour. In one, Elvis has just returned from the restroom in a restaurant when he suddenly walks to the maître d's station. "Excuse me-are you...," a puzzled woman waiting for a table asks. "I get that all the time," Elvis answers back.

Me And A Guy Named Elvis is well written and a good read. But at the same time I get the feeling it becomes a little too much diplomatic at times.

For example, when Elvis in 1973 fires the Colonel when he doesn't want Elvis to tour overseas, Schilling writes: "I wanted him to tour overseas...but I also knew how hard the Colonel had worked for Elvis."

I also think that Elvis downfall is talked about in too general terms, when there is obviously a lot more to tell to get the reader to understand why it was happening. Maybe this is because Jerry, as a friend, doesn't want to go into any details in that area, or maybe it's because of his close friendship with Priscilla and Lisa-Marie.

Jerry Schilling still lives in the house Elvis gave him. That speaks a lot about how he feels about Elvis. And I guess he has his reasons for telling some things and excluding others.

All in all, the book is well worth reading and gives you some new insights into the life of Elvis Presley. And also, how it was to be Elvis friend.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The wonder of Elvis

Sometimes it just hits me how much I love Elvis music and what a great feeling I get from listening to it. Today I had such a moment driving to work.

On the highway I put the fourth CD from the Today, Tomorrow & Forever box set in the car stereo and there was "See See Rider" from February 1970 blasting through the speakers. It's hard to explain what I felt, but I remember thinking "Man, I'm gonna listen to Elvis and his music until the very day I die."

I think I played the song three times, and then there was "Polk Salad Annie" followed by "Walk A Mile In My Shoes." It was a very pleasant car ride.

It also reminded me of when I first listened to the On Stage album and heard these songs. I can't have been more than a couple of years into Elvis when someone told me you could borrow LP records in the basement of our local library.

With an image in my head of a lot of Elvis records I hurried off to the library together with my brother, but lost all hope when I realised there was only a single crate with some LP records in it. But faith was kind that day; one of the records was a scratched copy of On Stage.

Back home again, we played the record over and over. What did we care that it was scratchy, it sounded great! And although I can't remember after all these years, I'm pretty sure I was feeling something similar to what I did this morning on the highway.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sound advice

Right now I'm listening to "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" on the radio. And the reason for it being played is me. You see, at my work I have a colleague who has a daily radio show where the listeners can celebrate friends and family by wishing a song.

Needless to say, Elvis is often requested, and my colleague who knows what my musical preferences are, often asks me for advice. "They want to hear a Christmas song with Elvis, which one should I pick?" was today's question.

I just love the story of how "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" was written by Leiber and Stoller while the recording session for Elvis' Christmas Album was actually going on. It's also a great song and one of the highlights of the album, so it was a simple choice. (Although I first thought of "The First Noel"...not!)

So you see, I have some power over what Elvis music is being played on the radio and I try to use it wisely. It's a great chance of letting people know there is more to Elvis than "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender" and the laughing version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight".

That's why the listeners have made the acquaintance of "Make Me Know It", "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" and "She Thinks I Still Care", amongst others. Any requests?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why can't they get the head right?

The other day I walked past a gift store selling, among other things, Elvis Presley action figures made by McFarlane Toys. I went inside, and looking at the Blue Hawaii Elvis, I was once more reminded that I've never seen a figure of Elvis where the face looks quite right.

The same seems to be true when it comes to statues of Elvis. One example of this is the life-sized Elvis Aloha statue that was revealed this summer on the site where the historic satellite concert was broadcast back in 1973.

I'm the first to admit the bronze statue is an impressing sight and a fitting tribute but once again, I think there is something wrong with the face. Maybe it's the look in the eyes, or rather, the lack of life in the eyes.

Maybe that's the explanation, that it's impossibly to recreate a decent image of Elvis face with his eyes open. Judging by McFarlanes '68 Comeback Special figure (one that I own myself) that just might be true. This figure is, at least in my opinion, the best of the bunch, and Elvis eyes are closed.

Next year McFarlane will release another figure from the comeback, this one from the closing segment of the show where Elvis sings "If I Can Dream". This one looks like a good effort, and Elvis do have his eyes closed here too.

Or is the simple solution that the face of Elvis from his Comeback Special is the one easiest to recreate?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I really dig this

A while back I ordered the two FTD records Pot Luck and Something For Everybody from Now Dig This. Pretty quick I received the latter as the former wasn't released at the time. Then when I got Pot Luck it came together with another copy of Something For Everybody.

Being a nice guy I returned copy number two and in return was told that I was going to get the next two issues of Elvis - The Man And His Music to cover my postage. Obviously, they were nice guys, too.

Anyway, this week I found my first issue, no 78, waiting for me in the mail, and it was an interesting read. I especially liked the interview with Tickle Me co-star Edward Faulkner who played Brad Bentley in the movie.

I can't recall doing too many takes. We'd rehearse a couple of times, then maybe do one or two takes, and if Mr Taurog liked what he saw he'd print it," Faulkner tells the magazine. (Sounds a bit like Ed Wood to me!)

"But the movie was fun to make," he continues, and reading that makes me wish I could tell him it's fun to watch.

Other interesting stuff is an article where Canadian jazz drummer Arni May shares his memories of when he became part of a local 16 piece band playing behind Elvis own band on stage in the Ottawa Auditorium. "They wanted us to play behind them because they liked the sound of the band."

It's stories like these I like the most with The Man And His Music. That is, stories told about Elvis from those who were there when it happened, who worked with him or knew him.

That's why I'm looking forward to my next issue, and that's why I'm gonna take out a subscription after that.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Something from Elvis wardrobe for me

I'm finally the proud owner of a piece of Elvis clothing. Last week the 4 LP set Elvis: The Other Sides - Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Vol. 2 I ordered a while back finally arrived, and with it the bonus envelope containing a swatch of Elvis wardrobe. This is what it looks like:

Maybe it's a bit silly, but to me the little green piece of cloth is fascinating. Even though there is no guarantee that Elvis wore the thing, it's genuine and once belonged to him.

Is it part of a shirt, a jacket or a pair or trousers? Who knows, but I admit browsing through some of my Elvis books looking for a match, but, not very surprisingly, finding nothing.

Unfortunately there is a downside to Elvis discarded clothing being cut up as souvenirs for the LP set released back in 1971. As a lot of it was from the 50's that means not much of the clothes from the early career is left. You can read about it here.

Despite this, I'm happy for my tiny piece of Elvis wardrobe. I can assure you I will take good care of it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A special greeting

One of my brothers and his wife had their first child, a girl, a week ago, and this weekend me and my wife paid them a visit. And what gift could be more perfect to bring the new-born than Elvis Sings For Children And Grownups Too!

I went through some trouble getting a copy of the LP with the A Special Memories of Elvis Greeting Card included on the back of the cover. Not that the baby girl would mind particularly if it was missing, but my brother, who like me is a huge Elvis fan, would understand the importance of the card being there.

I found the LP on the Internet, and through e-mail communication with the seller was told that, yes, the card was on the back and had never been removed. But when I received the album the card wasn't there. What to do?

Well, that's when I remembered that I'd bought an extra copy of the card in question in Tupelo in 2005. When I visited the gift shop next to Elvis birthplace I spotted a stack of, you guessed it, A Special Memories of Elvis Greeting Card selling for $2.00 a piece. As my own card at home was a bit worn I bought one.

So I decided to part with it, and now have only my old worn one. But as I saw my brother's eyes light up as he realised the greeting card was included, I understood it was a small price to pay.

As a final note: Six years ago I bought a CD copy of Elvis Sings For Children And Grownups Too! to my sisters first child. You can read about that and other suitable Elvis presents for children here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

"I was experiencing history"

Today at work I sat down with a colleague to talk with him about when he saw Elvis live on stage in Las Vegas. I like to hear about it now and then, but this time I wanted to get all the facts right so I could share them with you. Here goes:

In 1974 my colleague was part of an acrobatic group performing at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. One day he, and all the other artists performing on "The strip" received an inquiry if they wanted to see an Elvis show. My colleague, who has always liked Elvis, accepted and one August night found himself sitting in the showroom of the Las Vegas Hilton.

The time was 2.30 a.m. and this was an extra concert, the third for the evening. (I have never found any information about this show. During the summer of 1973 Elvis did perform a special 3:00 a.m. show, but my colleague is sure this was 1974, and who wouldn't remember the year one saw Elvis!?)

His strongest memory is the feeling he had sitting in the audience right before the show. "I had seen famous artists before but never felt anything like this. The atmosphere was electrifying and it was like everyone knew something special was about to happen," he told me. "Then when they turned the houselights down and 2001 began to sound people started screaming."

As for the show, he can't remember any particular songs, but he does remember Elvis being in total command, working hard on stage, moving around and sweating profusely. "He wiped his sweat off his forehead with his scarves and threw them at the audience," my colleague recollected. "And he walked to the front of the stage when the girls came forward."

Even today, more than 30 years later, my colleague says he's never been to a concert like the one with Elvis. "I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones and so on and they were fine. But that night in Las Vegas I felt like I was experiencing history."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rock me lord - more Elvis music in church

Is it just me or has it become more common with Elvis music being performed in church? That thought hit me when the music producer at my work showed me a a new record with artist and actor Håkan Brinck interpreting a collection of Elvis gospels together with a gospel choir.

I went home to listen and actually it was pretty good. There were even a few surprises thrown in like "I Got A Feelin' In My Body" and "Why Me Lord." And as you can see on the cover of the CD he doesn't try to look like Elvis, which is always a big plus, at least in my book.

The very same day I received a clipping my mother had sent me from the city missions paper in Gothenburg. The article described a concert where musician Peter Winsnes performed Elvis songs during Mass in a church packed to the last seat.

All of this made me think of singer Kent Lundberg. A year ago, after the broadcast of a radio program I produced about Elvis religious music, I received an e-mail from him telling me about him and his band performing Elvis gospel music mainly in churches around the country.

He even had the courtesy to send me a CD, and listening to it right know I must say it's even better sounding than Håkan Brincks effort I mentioned earlier (here is an example).

So how about it, is my theory right? Whatever the answer, I bet Elvis music is a safe bet if you want to fill a church!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh please release them!

I often find myself wondering why Elvis On Tour still isn't available officially on DVD. I mean, it's been released on VHS several times, the last time 1997.

Therefore, it was interesting reading the answer Todd Morgan of EPE gave Elvis Australia regarding rumors about Warner Brothers' having cancelled plans to release Elvis on Tour on DVD. "There's no truth to the rumor. We should see that come along from them in a couple of years or so," he commented.

Well, I'll believe it when I see it. Until then I'll hang on to my VHS-copy and watch the bootleg DVD version of Elvis On Tour titled Through My Eyes. This is one example of what you'll find on that one:



And then we have the TV Special Elvis In Concert from 1977 that has never been released officially at all. On Elvis.com EPE writes "There just simply is no way to get it only to the real fans (and we've exhausted all kinds of ideas) without also having Elvis served up to the general public and press for ridicule."

Hmm, that's what I thought FTD was all about...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You gotta stop, you're wrong again

Seems The Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain have it all wrong. Again. In the latest issue of their magazine that I received with the mail today, you can order two January 2008 FTD releases, "one studio out-takes title and the other a movie soundtrack, rumoured as being Elvis For Everyone and GI Blues."

Well, thanks to Internet we know by now that there is only one FTD release in January, the Wild In The Country soundtrack. (Besides, how likely is it that Elvis For Everyone is released when two of its tracks, including outtakes, just saw the light of day on Pot Luck?)

A similar mistake was made a couple of months ago when the British fan club announced the next FTD records would be a classic album and a two CD set they believed would consist of "two superior audience recordings of Elvis last two shows recorded 30 years ago". That turned out to be false information. Instead we got I Sing All Kinds, Raised On Rock and Easy Come, Easy Go.

Those weren't bad releases, on the contrary, but that's not the point. The point is that the fan club looses credibility when they get our hopes up with information that isn't correct. What's the point ordering FTD records that don't exist?

This also raises the question why the fan club in England doesn't have a site on the Internet. That way, at least mistakes like these could easily be corrected there.

As regard to Wild In The Country, I think it's a bit strange that Jorgensen and company is releasing it as a classic album, as it never was a LP, in fact not even an EP. And why wasn't the cover from the single used instead of a fictitious one?

But then again, it's nice to have all the songs from this movie, with the outtakes, on one album. And anyway, wasn't the original idea with the FTD gatefold albums to do just that - release the movie soundtracks?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pot Luck with Elvis

I've always liked the album Pot Luck more than its predecessor Something For Everybody. I think this is because Something For Everybody always felt to me like kind of an inferior version of Elvis Is Back, while Pot Luck is something different.

And after spending practically a whole afternoon listening to the new FTD release of this classic album (158 minutes of playing time compared to the 29 minutes of the original album), I think I now more clearly understand what that difference is all about.

For starters, I've never realised so many of the songs have a Latin feel, like "Fountain of Love" with a Spanish-sounding strumming guitar and Elvis in total control. The most obvious example of a Latin arrangement is the dramatic "You'll Be Gone" that for some strange reason wasn't used on the album. (Maybe Elvis, for once a co-writer of a song, was nervous about the quality of the performance.)

Also, Elvis takes his ballad singing one step further on Pot Luck. On songs like "I'm Yours" and "I Feel Like I've Known You Forever" he sings smoothly and effortlessly despite the vocal challenges, and the end result is beautiful and haunting at the same time.

And last but not the least, it's like Ernst Jorgensen writes in his Elvis Presley – A Life In Music: "Elvis’s voice never sounded better." That is indeed true, he sings superbly.

But nothing or no one is perfect. The inclusion of the song "Steppin Out Of Line" from Blue Hawaii is a mysterious one that, unlike "I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell" on Something For Everybody, isn't presented as a soundtrack recording. In addition, the bonus track "For The Millionth And The Last Time" lacks real spirit and its companion "I Met Her Today" isn't a strong song, in my opinion.

When it comes to the outtakes, nearly all of the material has been spread out over the years on other records from FTD and BMG. Only four of the 44 complete outtakes are unreleased (there are a few false starts as well), the most interesting which is the first take of "Suspicion" that differs some from the released version.

In other words, there are few surprises on the FTD release Pot Luck, but it's a joy hearing the songs in crystal clear sound together with the singles and bonus songs that weren't used on the album. (I guess that rules out a FTD release of Elvis For Everyone, no big loss there!) And it's nice to finally have all of the outtakes collected in one place.

The cover is true to the original and the booklet is what to be expected with In and Outtakes and Behind the Scenes information (I didn’t know there were early plans for including "Just For Old Times Sake" in Change Of Habit). We also get some more publicity shots of Elvis with the same incredible hairstyle as on the cover of Pot Luck (from Follow That Dream). How on earth did he manage to style it that way?

Speaking of the cover, the only real complaint I have is a more general one that has been bothering me on the last couple of FTD releases. The cover always seems to come buckled in places, especially on the spine. I think this have to do with the protective plastic being wrapped too tight, but I’ve grown tired of returning my records and getting a new one with the same problem.

Anyway, I’m now hoping for a FTD version of The Lost Album that was intended to be the follow up studio album to Pot Luck. It too, deserves the attention.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I know three chords, believe it or not

Elvis was around eleven years old when he got his first guitar. I'm a lot older than that but have never played a single chord in my life. Until now.

Maybe it's some kind of midlife crisis thing, but I do want to learn how to play the guitar. So last week a good friend of mine who really knows her way around the instrument, patiently showed me a couple of chords on a guitar I've borrowed from my brother.

And, knowing my musical preferences, she then applied them to the song "Love Me." Because, as she told me, a lot of Elvis songs have only a few chords in them and are suitable for beginners. "It would have been harder had you been a fan of Deep Purple," she kidded.

After that first session my fingertips hurt like crazy. But that hasn't stopped me from playing those chords over and over again these last days and belting out the lyrics: "Treat me like a fool, treat me mean and cruel, but love me."

My wife laughs at me when my fingers slip and it sounds really awful, but I persist. "Beggin' on my knees, all I ask is please, please love me, oh yeah!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

That one takes the cake

It never ceases to amaze me what products Elvis Presley Enterprises wants us to buy. The latest offering is a singing and talking life-size bust that nearly defies description. And taste.

EPE writes in their ad that "motion captured facial animations and a leather jacket styled from the Elvis Presley '68 Comeback Special complete the most authentic recreation ever of this legendary artist."

The leather jacket do look the part, but that's where all similarities end. The face doesn't resemble Elvis' at all and the hairstyle is all wrong. When the thing moves, it looks like a zombie (check it out for yourself), and when it sings and talks it isn't Elvis voice you hear, just some impersonator.

And here comes the worst part. The price for this really awful product that according to EPE captures the magic of Elvis, but to me fails miserably to do so, sells for $349,99.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A remix that doesn't mix well

One of my favourite Sun records with Elvis, "Baby Let' Play House", has been remixed and will be released as a single in Europe in December. The guy behind the remix is a DJ who calls himself Spankox. But in this form the song certainly isn't a favourite anymore:

After watching the video on Youtube I have to say that the result is miles behind the remixes of "A Little Less Conversation" and even "Rubberneckin'". I think the reason for this is two-fold.

First, the original song nearly drowns in all the new music. Second, a Sun record just ain't as suitable for a remix as is some of Elvis later work. But, as this clearly isn't a joint effort with Elvis Presley Enterprises, I guess this Spankox guy had to turn to the early unprotected material if he was to avoid being sued by EPEs band of lawyers.

Still, I believe songs such as "Edge Of Reality" and "Let Yourself Go" would make great remixes if treated properly. But for that to happen, maybe we'll have to wait until 2018.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The EP Collection Vol. 3

Two of the Elvis items I treasure the most are The EP Collection and its successor The EP Collection Vol. 2, both from the early 80s. Each set included eleven EPs, the majority of which were re-issues. Three of the records, one from the first package and two from the second, were "new" EPs containing outtakes.

I didn't buy these collections at the time of their releases, as they were way to expensive for me back then. But for some reason a few of the EPs were sold separately, and I managed to get my hands on Such A Night and both volumes of GI Blues - The Alternate Takes.

Earlier this year I did get my act together and bought the two sets from a guy who sold them on the Internet. He turned out to be a big Elvis collector that knew Swedish author Börje Lundberg who'd met Elvis in 1973, but that's another story.

This story is about The EP Collection Vol. 3. Yeah, I know that there isn't such a collection, but there could be. When I studied Ernst Jorgensens and Joe Tunzis recording sessions books a couple of days ago I came to the conclusion that there are enough EPs for a third volume:

1. Any Way You Want Me
2. Elvis Vol. 1
3. Elvis Vol. 2
4. Strictly Elvis
5. Loving You Vol. 2
6. Elvis Sings Christmas Songs
7. Christmas With Elvis
8. Elvis Sails (contains interviews only)
9. Tickle Me
10. Easy Come, Easy Go
11. Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite (jukebox edition)

There you have it, The EP Collection Vol. 3. One could argue that there should be a GI Blues - The Alternate Takes Vol. 3 included, but I think Aloha From Hawaii would make for a more interesting bonus EP. Surely a release like this would be a winner, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mama's so nice

I have a very nice mother. As soon as she sees something in her daily newspaper that has anything to do with Elvis she cuts it out and sends it to me. "Maybe you can use it for your blog," she tells me.

Not surprisingly, most of the time these clippings are old news to me. One example is the news-item I received this weekend that Elvis Presley is once more leading the list over top-earning dead celebrities.

But sometimes my mother strikes gold. My favourite clipping is a short paragraph that Elvis in 1960 was appointed society's enemy number one by the East German paper Junge Welt. That one has earned a place of honour on my notice-board.

And I have to admit I didn't know that Elvis is featured together with his bloodhound in The Big Book Of Dogs, by JC Suarès . But now I do, thanks to my mother.

By the way, does anyone know the story of that bloodhound?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Elvis is number 1 in Sweden

Once more Elvis is topping the charts in Sweden. This time it's the DVD-release The King Of Rock 'n' Roll that is number 1 on the DVD Top 20, followed by Bob Dylans The Other Side Of The Mirror - Live and Plug Me In from AC/DC.

Considering it was only a few months ago that The Essential Elvis Presley was leading the CD chart, I find Elvis success in Sweden this year pretty impressive. Especially since neither product has attracted any attention in the media, at least I haven't spotted a review anywhere. Come to think about it, can't say I've noticed any advertisements for these releases, either.

I remember when the remixed version of "A Little Less Conversation" went on to become a number 1 hit record in Sweden (as well as in many other countries) in 2002. Before that I had given up hope a long time ago that an Elvis single would ever be a hit again, but man was I wrong.

It was a great feeling hearing the song being played on the radio day after day, and realising people suddenly thought Elvis was kind of cool. That's something I'd known for about 25 years, but still I felt damn good.

Finally Elvis had the attention he deserved among the public and at last my friends (at least some of them) understood why I had stuck to Elvis for so long.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

That's the way it should be

The first time I was made aware that there was a lot of previously unseen footage from That's The Way It Is in circulation must have been in Memphis during Elvis Week 2005. A guy at the hotel where I was staying approached me and asked if I would like to buy 11 DVDs with outtakes from the movie.

That amount of material sounded incredible but the price he asked for, US $500, was a little too much for my taste. And anyway, I was going to Graceland for the first time in my life and had my thoughts elsewhere.

Earlier this year, with the news of a forthcoming two-disc special edition of TTWII, my interest in unreleased material was awoken. I thought we were in for a treat, but boy was I wrong. What we got was about 35 minutes of outtakes in poor picture quality with the sound so low you can barely hear what's going on.

Finally realising that official channels weren't going to get me what I was asking for I recently ordered three import DVDs from the Unites States with nearly four hours of outtakes from the movie, containing about 80 songs.

I received these DVDs just a couple of days ago and have been busy viewing them since. The picture quality isn't the best, but the amount of material is overwhelming and the sound quality is great. And the price was nowhere near US $500!

It's great fun watching these outtakes, such as "Patch It Up" that have Elvis lying on the floor at the end of the song. Or seeing him taking a quick smoke from someone in the audience right before "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

Also, the film sequences shot of stage are fascinating stuff. One example of this is footage of Elvis and parts of the Memphis Mafia passing (I think) the canteen in the hotel on their way to the elevator that will take them up to Elvis suite.

But what really hits me when I'm looking at these import DVDs is how much better the official products could have been, both the special edition released in 2001 and the one this year. A lot of the outtakes have been mixed by the movie company obviously intended for commercial release. Why that didn't happen is anybodies guess.

One thing's for sure though. The opening remarks in the 2001 edition that "most of the footage remained lost...until now" is obviously a lie. It still remains lost, at least officially.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Something from Elvis wardrobe

Right now there's an original Elvis jumpsuit on sale on eBay. It's called the Turquoise Suit and was worn by Elvis on stage in the summer of 1973. The starting bid is US $22 000, and the auction stops on the 13th of November.

I've always thought it would be really cool to own something Elvis actually wore, and what would be greater than a jumpsuit? But I for one haven't got the kind of money it takes and even if I did, I guess the suit in question would be better of in a museum.

So what to do? Well, I remember when I was just a kid and a neighbour showed me his 4 LP set Elvis: The Other Sides - Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Volume 2 (that title just takes the cake, doesn't it?).

I was fascinated with the piece of Elvis' clothing that was included as a bonus, as was my brother. "It smells of Elvis," he said and buried his nose in the tiny cloth that was cut from Elvis discarded clothing back in 1971.

Be that as it may, I've never gotten around buying the LP set, only the 25th anniversary 2 CD set. So today I made a search on eBay, found a copy that was sold for a fixed buy-it-now price and bought it. Pretty soon I will own something from Elvis wardrobe. It may not be a jumpsuit, but it will be enough for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween, Elvis style

In the United States, Halloween is a major celebration, and of course Elvis Presley Enterprises wants a piece of the action. Using the slogan "Have an Elvis Halloween" the strategy is to have both kids and adults buy jumpsuits and capes that don't come even close to resembling the real thing. Instead those ugly costumes, in a way, help cement the image of Elvis as a clown in ridiculous outfits.

Besides that, the thing I don't understand is what Elvis got to do with Halloween. I thought the idea was to wear scary costumes designed to look like vampires, skeletons, witches, devils and the like. What trick will a kid dressed up as Elvis pull when the neighbour doesn't want to give away candy? Sing the x-rated version of "Hurt"?

Let me make a friendly suggestion to EPE. If they want to connect Elvis with Halloween then at least do it right. Make a copy of the black suede suit and the dark purple velvet cloak Elvis wore when he met president Nixon.

As Marty Lacker pointed out in the Elvis and the Memphis Mafia book: "Jerry said he looked like Dracula. His hair was down over his collar in the back and his eyes looked like he was wearing heavy shadow and mascara." Now how's that for a Halloween costume?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Such an easy session

While eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next FTD-release Pot Luck I've been playing its predecessor Something For Everybody quite a lot lately, to kind of get in the mood. The album was recorded during only one day (or rather, night) and listening to the outtakes it's obvious the session was a smooth ride.

Elvis nails the arrangements real quick and the result is twelve masters in under twelve hours. His voice on the ballads is soft and unforced and the fast numbers work well, too. But the album is not as strong as Elvis Is Back, despite highlights such as "There's Always Me", "Gently" and "Put The Blame On Me".

The singles recorded a couple of months later, which are included on the FTD-release, are more classic Presley recordings. I especially enjoy listening to the different ways Elvis and the band approaches "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame".

Something For Everybody makes for easy listening and I enjoy it. But I've always liked Pot Luck better. Maybe this is because, unlike Something For Everybody, it's not a kind of inferior version of Elvis Is Back, but rather something different, as my brother so wisely put it the other day.

By the way, yesterday I suddenly realised I had four versions of Something For Everybody (the first CD release, the one with bonus tracks, the FTD-release and the one on vinyl). I showed them all to my wife who just shook her head. Need I point out she's not an Elvis fan?

Monday, October 29, 2007

A house that has Elvis-things

This weekend an old friend of my wife together with her son, who is four years old, paid us a visit. And as is often the case when it comes to young kids, they do tend to notice some of the Elvis stuff I have laying around.

I concentrate on records, DVDs and books when it comes to Elvis. But being an Elvis fan makes me an easy target for receiving Elvis merchandise as gifts. Most of it I wouldn't dream of buying myself, but some of it I have become quite attached to over the years.

One of those things is an Elvis clock that I have in the kitchen, you know the kind where the legs are swinging back and forth. This was a gift from my sister maybe fifteen years ago, and whenever there is a child in our home they zoom in on it. Some of them start to do a little dance, clearly inspired by Elvis shaking his legs, while others stare at it in fascination.

This time, my wife's friends kid looked at it and asked what my brother was doing on the wall. He does know I have a brother, but not what he looks like, so either I'm looking as Elvis (yeah, right!) or the face on the clock is a really lousy image of the King.

Another Elvis toy that I like is my own Hound Dog. This gift my parents got me and after the first chock I now think it's really cool. Apparently, so do kids, because when one of my brothers visited me, his nearly one year old child stared hypnotized at it when it performed. And every time she was carried in the room her eyes fell on it. This is what she experienced:



In all fairness I have received some other Elvis gifts over the years that are not on public display in my home. One of them is a giant clock in black and gold that plays "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" alternately every hour. That one is in the closet. It's an ugly thing, I can tell you that!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Elvis, Jerry and Jerry

Two Elvis books are awaiting my attention at the moment. The first one is an updated version of the two classic bestselling books Elvis and Elvis The Final Years by Jerry Hopkins, simply called Elvis The Biography. The second is Jerry Schillings story Me And A Guy Named Elvis.

So far I've just skimmed through the two volumes. An interesting piece of information that I didn't know is that it was Jim Morrison who gave Jerry Hopkins the idea of writing about Elvis. This happened when Hopkins was interviewing Morrison for the music magazine Rolling Stone. "I'd like to read a book about Elvis," Jim Morrison said.

Also worth noticing is that Jerry Hopkins first book about Elvis, published back in 1971, still was the only biography in print when Elvis died. Now some 500 books about Elvis have been published, Hopkins writes in his introduction.

One of the newer ones is Jerry Schillings story about his friendship with Elvis. It was published last year and is now available in paperback. As you probably know Jerry is one of the members from the Memphis Mafia that has the support of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Priscilla and Lisa Marie.

The connection is pretty obvious, because every time there's a documentary sanctioned by EPE or the Presley family Jerry is one of the persons speaking about Elvis. Still, his story is part of the complex puzzle that is Elvis Presley and I need all the pieces I can get. So I'll give it a shot.

Finally a kind of funny observation. I ordered the books at the same time but it didn't strike me until I saw them together side by side: The author in both cases is named Jerry and both books have a picture of Elvis obviously taken at the same occasion.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Elvis in Huntsville

Being in the news business myself I'm a bit envious of local reporter Dick Curtis. In the early morning hours of May 30, 1975, he and his colleague were able to film Elvis arriving in Huntsville, Alabama for his five concerts in the newly built von Braun Civic Center.

And not only that, the reporter also had a chance to welcome Elvis and hear the King answer (yeah, you guessed it) "thank you very much." You can watch this fascinating footage and also hear the reporter tell the story on WHNT NewsChannel 19's video sharing site.

By the way, Elvis seemed to be in great spirit during those days in Huntsville. You can get some idea by listening to the FTD-release Southern Nights where about half of the songs originate from the shows in the von Braun Civic Center. Guess I'm pretty jealous of those who were in the audience too...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ku-u-i-pod

On Elvisnews.com you can read some pretty aggressive comments regarding iPods and mp3 players. The bottom line seems to be that bootleg labels such as Southern Comfort will be forced to shut down their business because of the competition from the "file-swapping movement" and "downloading craze."

I don't agree. I think there will always be a demand for bootlegs, especially for strong releases such as The American Way series. Just look at the Follow That Dream label. One of the reasons it started back in 1999 was because of all the bootlegs. But did it stop them? Nope.

Let me tell you straight away that I don't support illegal downloading from the Internet. No way. But I have a hard time understanding how you can blame one illegal thing and defend the other. I mean, bootlegs are illegal, right?

Another thing I don't understand is the reasoning that "iPods are why I still buy CDs." Why must one thing exclude the other? I too like buying and collecting CDs, reading the liner notes and listening to the tracks on my stereo. But that doesn't stop me from downloading the music into my iPod and taking it with me whenever I'm travelling somewhere.

To me, that's the real benefit of owning an iPod, that I always have access to the Elvis Presley catalogue, wherever I happen to be. (Right now I have about 1 200 Elvis songs on my iPod and it's only half full.)

And don't forget the younger generation. There are, after all, legal ways of buying songs on the Internet, and if the kids discover Elvis by downloading him, then what's the problem? And who knows? After a while maybe they'll want to buy real CDs as well!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Play it James!"

As you probably have read elsewhere, guitarist James Burton was slightly injured in a car crash in Shreveport, Louisiana the other day. Didn't look too bad judging by this news report and apparently he's doing fine and can continue to work.

I've only met James Burton once, in 2005 at his international guitar festival in Shreveport. Man, it was a hot summer day! I remember standing in the sun outside the Municipal Auditorium, home of the famous radio program The Louisiana Hayride, together with a bunch of other people. This is what we were waiting for:



I agreed with a lot of my fellow travellers that the statue didn't really look like the guy I'd watched countless times on That's The Way It Is, On Tour and Aloha From Hawaii. But James himself seemed pleased and praised the likeness. What do you think?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Elvis Web 2.0

Have you heard about Web 2.0? Well, you're looking at a small part of it right now. I learned today that it's the name for all the new communities and services on the Internet where the users themselves generate and distribute content, such as blogs, Facebook and Youtube.

Elvis is alive and well on Web 2.0. Take Youtube, for example. Search for "Elvis Presley" and you get over 27 000 hits! Pick a video, and when you've watched it you can post a comment and share your thoughts with others (another definition of the term Web 2.0).

The one Elvis video that has been viewed most times on Youtube is Unchained Melody from June 21, 1977. Since it was posted a year ago it has been played more than 2 million times and 3 600 comments have been made!

A quick search reveals that videos from Elvis CBS TV Special are popular on Youtube. Elvis Presley Enterprises should take notice of this and releases Elvis In Concert on DVD together with the complete shows from June 19 and 21 as a nice bonus. Maybe someone should tell them about Web 2.0?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Priest and impersonator

The news agency Reuters had a piece today about a guy in Italy that believes you can worship God and Elvis at the same time. Would you believe he's a Catholic priest as well as an Elvis Presley impersonator?

According to the article, he finds his spiritual inspiration in the late rock legend. He also feels his responsibility as a priest is to "walk this Earth in love for Jesus Christ", a task in which he is inspired by Elvis "search for spirituality in his own life".

Check out his web site which have two separate entries: one for the priest, and one for the artist. Click on "L'artista" and see for yourself. One thing's for sure, he seems serious about his jumpsuits!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I love it a lot!

It's a more adult Elvis film, no question about it. Elvis shares a bed with a woman, gets to say both "dammit" and "sonofab...", shaves and showers and in one scene stands in front of the camera dressed in underpants.

I'm talking, of course, about Live A Little, Love A Little that I watched for the first time on DVD the other night. Breaking the formula of most of his previous films makes it well worth seeing, together with the fact that it's actually quite good (view the trailer here).

The tempo is high, Elvis is credible in his role as a photographer and there's plenty of comedy. "Nuts, absolutely nuts," as Elvis himself points out a couple of times. Also, three of the four songs are excellent, I especially like Edge Of Reality that was used in the dream sequence.

Speaking of the soundtrack, the actress Elvis picks up at a party when he sings A Little Less Conversations appeared as a guest during Elvis Week in 2005 in Memphis. I saw her at a tribute concert where she got up and danced to the same song when the band performed it. I clocked her appearance in Live A Little, Love a Little to little over five minutes but apparently that was enough to make her famous in the Elvis world.

Another plus with the movie is Elvis himself. He is extremely good looking with his jet black hair combed straight back and wearing all sorts of cool clothes. Finally, lets not forget the dog in the movie, the Great Dane named Albert. I read somewhere that he was nominated for the equivalent to an Oscar for trained animals.

The only complaint I have is the fight that Elvis has with Red and Sonny West in a newspapers printing office. It's far too long and why it actually starts is a bit unclear. OK, Elvis gets fired but why would his boss have two workers beating the crap out of him because of that? Maybe this was a remnant from his earlier films where a fight was obligatory.

But this is a minor point. To me Live A Little, Love A Little shows that Elvis at 33 could do a pretty decent job as an adult actor and make really watchable movies. Add to this that the new DVD release has great picture and sound quality and you're in for a treat in front of the television!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Welcome to my blog

A version of my latest posting was published as an article on ElvisNews.com, and I was happy to see that it brought some reactions. I'm also glad that the link to my blog has given me new readers. You're all very welcome!

It's like I write in the header on top of the page: not a day goes by without Elvis taking part in my life in some way or the other. That's why I started this blog. Here I can tell other fans about my Elvis experiences and express my opinions about things dealing with Elvis.

Hopefully, you can relate to some of the things I write. Maybe you've had similar experiences when it comes to Elvis or maybe you don't agree at all. You're always welcome to leave a comment on the blog and tell me what you think. In fact, I hope you do.

So far, it's been great fun and my goal is to write a couple of times a week. I hope you continue to visit Elvis Today and enjoy reading it. Once again, welcome!

Friday, October 12, 2007

This is not the story

Today my work took me to Stockholm, and on my way home I picked up the new issue of the British music magazine Q on the train station. The magazine celebrates 21 years, and in this particularly issue you can read about "the 21 people that changed music."

Among those listed are John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Madonna and yes, Elvis Presley. But the article about Elvis, written by singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Hawley was, at least to me, a great disappointment.

The reason for this is that it's written very much along the lines of "Elvis died when he went into the army." After describing his love for the early Elvis, "My favourite song is probably Blue Moon Of Kentucky" I know where this is leading, when Hawley one third into the text writes that Elvis "shot himself in the foot...and started believing his own myth around the time he was in the army."

Therefore, it's no surprise when, a little further into the article, I'm told that "the majority of his career he was either really fat and bloated or he was lost in those shitty films". What confirmation I need I get with the sentence: "You saw a brief flash of the old Elvis again in '68 and then it all went back to business as usual, the Las Vegas horseshit."

This is to be expected in an article about Elvis written in the '80s, but c'mon! Nowadays I thought we were well past that, and that Elvis, thanks to the '60s and '70s box sets and Peter Guralnicks books among others, had the recognition he rightly deserves, especially in the music press. Apparently I was wrong, and that makes me sad.

To make matters worse, the magazine also writes about "the 21 albums that changed the world." And yeah, you guessed right, among the 21 there is not a single one recorded by a certain Elvis Presley. Sigh!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A fly on the wall

I recently read that the famous "Million Dollar Quartet" has been turned into a musical that is playing at a theatre in the USA. According to the synopsis, Sam Phillips knows his recording stars are on the move and makes plans for a one-of-a-kind recording session that kicks off with "Blue Suede Shoes". Pure fiction, in other words.

Better to experience the real thing, and that's what I did this afternoon. For the first time I played the 50th anniversary CD edition of this jam session where Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash got together that December afternoon, 1956.

At least they are all on the photograph that was taken, but the question has always been if Johnny Cash actually sang on any of the songs. In his autobiography Cash states that his voice is on the tape. "It's not obvious, because I was farthest away from the mike and singing a lot higher than I usually did in order to stay in key with Elvis, but I guarantee you, I'm there," he writes.

I don't know, The Man In Black must've been a really long way from the mike, because I can't detect him in any of the songs. My bet is there's only a trio singing and playing. And the one who's in command is obviously Elvis.

He sings lead most of the time, with Carl Perkins playing the guitar and Jerry Lee hammering on the piano and doing a lot of background singing. The Killer wasn't famous at the time, and I don't think he would've let Elvis dominate so much if the jam had taken place a few years later.

One of the highlights is Elvis impersonating Jackie Wilson impersonating Elvis on "Don't Be Cruel". It's also interesting to hear Elvis telling the guys that he still thinks that "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" could be a hit: "If somebody could sing it right I'd think it sell." (The following month he did record it).

On a final note, "The Million Dollar Quartet" is not something that works well as background music. But if you put on your headphones, close your eyes and really listen, you do become a fly on the wall in the Sun Records studio that legendary day, over 50 years ago.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Elvis-spotting

When I travel abroad, I always look for signs of Elvis. And this past week, during my vacation in Helsinki, was no exception.

After spotting the "Kismet" chocolate bar and passing a restaurant called "Memphis" I found my first real trace of Elvis at a newsstand. Although I don't understand a word of Finnish, a picture of Elvis from his '68 Comeback Special on the cover of a music magazine called "Rytmi" caught my eye.

Inside was a total of 16 pages devoted to Elvis, apparently in connection with the 30th anniversary. The articles seemed to be about the Las Vegas years, Elvis sights in Memphis, the fan club in Finland and collecting Elvis. There was also some other stuff I really couldn't figure out (for example, an article titled "Elvis Suomessa"), but the magazine made for a fine souvenir.

In the record shops I visited there were the usual CDs and DVDs with Elvis, together with a Finnish effort, a double CD with Elvis songs from the 50's. Not very interesting, but nice to see that our man was well represented.

By the way, one record store had the American edition of the "Walk A Mile in my Shoes" box set, which includes the sheet of stamps depicting Elvis record covers from the 70's. Why this sheet wasn't included in the European edition, as was the case with the 50's and 60's box sets, is one of those little Elvis mysteries I probably never will be able to figure out.

I was tempted to buy it, but 82 euros for those stamps seemed a little to much. I had the same dilemma in Santiago in Chile a few years ago, but that time I choose to spend my money on another box set instead, the "Behind Closed Doors" 4 LP bootleg. But that's another story...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Round and around it goes

The last couple of days I've been humming the song "Kismet" to myself over and over. Would you believe the reason for that is a Finnish chocolate bar?

You see, this week I went to Helsinki for a vacation. My first day in the capital I visited the supermarket and that's where I spotted it, near the check-out counter. A chocolate bar that the manufacturer had named - yeah, you guessed it - "Kismet".

I didn't buy it, but that didn't help. On my way back I started singing to myself: "When two hearts stand still, it's destiny's will, it's kismet" and the other lines I remembered from this "Harum Scarum" number.

It's funny how a certain song can get stuck in your memory. This one certainly did in mine and I've found myself humming it from time to time for days now. I just can't seem to get it out of my mind.

Can't blame the company behind the chocolate bar, though. The fact that an Elvis Presley movie song could be associated with one of their products must be something that never entered their mind.

And I guess it could have been worse. What if they'd named the chocolate bar "Confidence", for example?


Monday, October 1, 2007

I'll be home for silent night

Seems I was wrong when I wrote last month that there's a "new" Christmas album with Elvis being released every year (read that posting here).

This time around the greedy record company has surpassed itself by issuing not only "Elvis Home For The Holidays" but also "Christmas Peace" (this time in a eco-slip case version) and "Christmas With Elvis" (released through Hallmark).

The funny thing is, at the same time the far superior "If Everyday Was Like Christmas" from 1994 is still available. This CD includes all the Christmas songs, has good sound quality and fine liner notes and makes all the other Christmas compilations obsolete even before they hit the market.

I can only find one tiny fault with it. Listen closely to "Christmas Message From Elvis" followed by "Silent Night" and you'll realise the intro is from "I'll Be Home From Christmas" and not from "Silent Night".

Why RCA didn't use the real intro I've never been able to figure out. I haven't found an explanation for it anywhere so I hand over the question to you. And if you don't have "If Everyday Was Like Christmas" my Christmas message is: Buy it!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Long distance information

This week I found the latest issue of the magazine from The Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain in the mail. And to be perfectly honest, there weren't many things in it that were news to me.

Why is that? Well, nowadays you can read about Elvis news the same day they are made public (and sometimes before that) on the Internet. To give you an example: I already knew three weeks ago that the new FTD-releases were to be "Girls! Girls! Girls!" and "Put Luck".

When I became a member of the fan club back in 1982, the magazine played a much more important role. It was my sole channel for information about what was happening in the Elvis community.

For example, in some of the first issues I received I learned that Graceland was to be open to the general public by August 1982. I also read a review of a book written by Albert Goldman that didn't seem worth buying and found out that the soundtrack from "This Is Elvis" was to be released as a double LP.

Now, 25 years later, it's a completely different matter. Nor does it help that the print in the magazine is so small I can barely make out the text, and that the fan club doesn't have its own site on the Internet.

So why am I still a member? Well, I think the number 25 is the answer to that one. How can I quit after so many years? I'm a sentimental fool.

One thing impresses me, though, and that's the amount of articles Anne E Nixon has written. No matter what issue I pull from the shelf, she's in it. In my book, that's worth a salute!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Introductions

Tonight there's a lot of Elvis musicians in Sweden. "Elvis 2007 - The Original Cast" is playing in the town of Jönköping and on stage is the TCB Band, the Sweet Inspirations, the Imperials and Joe Guercio with original members from Joe Guercio Orchestra.

Although I'm not in the audience I've had the pleasure of seeing and saying hello to a lot of Elvis old band members in the last few years. The first time was when "Elvis - The Concert" played in Stockholm in 1999 and I shook hands with members of the TCB Band after the show.

But it wasn't until 2005 that I really talked to musicians that once played for Elvis. That year the American Sound Studio Band performed in Uddevalla together with the Sweet Inspirations. I brought my "From Elvis In Memphis" LP with me and all the band members signed it after the show.

I met them again only a couple of months later when they played in Memphis during Elvis Week. This time I had the privilege of interviewing organist Bobby Emmons and pianist Bobby Wood backstage. They were really nice guys who seemed to enjoy talking about their recording days with Elvis.

During my trip to Memphis I also spoke to the Imperials. And in Shreveport one week later I managed to have my photo taken together with James Burton at his international guitar festival. But it was hard work. He was a busy man and didn't have time to chat with a guy from Sweden.

A man who did have time for me was D.J. Fontana when he visited Sweden in 2006 and performed, among other places, in my home town. We met at his hotel before the show and he told me about some of his moments with Elvis. And afterwards, I got his autograph on my "Elvis Presley" LP. Great stuff.

Finally, I met Glen D. Hardin when he played in Uddevalla at an Elvis Christmas concert last year. He seemed like a nice, old man and laughed when my brother asked him about Elvis always throwing water at him on stage.

So there you have it. I think it's fascinating that these old musicians travel around the world to play to fans 30 years after Elvis death. I guess it's like Bobby Wood told me: "It's a good feeling. You know that there is fans out there, people that actually like you."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Elvis, my brother and me

I'm home after spending two days with my brother in Malmö, in the south of Sweden. It was a pleasant visit, not only because I found some Elvis LPs in a second-hand record store, but mainly because my brother is a big Elvis fan, just like me.

Of course we do other things than talk about Elvis when we meet. But we always end up discussing FTD-records, new DVD-releases or whatever. This time we watched "Tickle Me" on DVD which we both agree is a winner. Even my brothers wife, who isn't into Elvis, likes it, so we must be onto something there.

I don't know about you, but I've always felt that it is great to have someone to discuss Elvis with. There weren't many of those around when I grew up during the 80's, so I was very lucky that my brother started to listen to Elvis, too.

Of course, nowadays you can share your thoughts on the Internet but that doesn't beat talking eye to eye or over the phone. And speaking of phone calls, my wife keeps teasing me about the conversations I have with my brother. "You always talk about Elvis," she says, and she's right.

The funny thing is, I have a second brother, who started the ball rolling when he bought the double LP "Elvis Forever". He didn't become an Elvis fan, though. But I guess two out of three ain't bad!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sentimental me

Today I added the two Camden CDs "Burning Love And Hits From His Movies" and "Separate Ways" to my collection. They came in the mail together with the DVD box set "Elvis - The Hollywood Collection".

The box set I can easily justify buying because it contains six Elvis movies never before released on DVD. "No Elvis collection is complete without them!" it says on the box. But can the same be said for the Camden CDs? For me the answer is yes.

They are, after all, part of the original Elvis record catalogue that I try to collect on CD as well. And as farfetched as some of them seem (How on earth can you make the decision to include a hit single like "Burning Love" on a budget album together with a bunch of movie songs, for example?) or maybe because of it, they do represent a part of the Elvis Presley legacy.

But more important, some of the Camden records were the first albums I heard when I started to listen to Elvis in the late 70's. I especially liked "C'mon Everybody" and "I Got Lucky" which included some great songs. So there is a lot of nostalgia involved, as well.

I know a lot of fans feel the same way, and also that many disagree. But when "Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies Vol. 1" is released I will be buying that one as well. What can I say, I'm a sentimental guy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A not very special ABC-TV special

Apparently I didn't miss a thing. I'm talking about the "Elvis: Viva Las Vegas" two hour TV program that the American network channel ABC aired the other day.

Judging by the comments on the forum on Elvis-collectors.com it was a great disappointment. And after looking at ABC News own webpage dedicated to the program I can only agree.

Once again we have Priscilla and Jerry Schilling telling their EPE-approved side of the story. Kind of an "Elvis By The Presleys Vol. 2". And instead of Elvis on stage in Las Vegas there are artists like Chris Isaak and Celion Dion doing covers of Elvis songs. Just bits and pieces from "TTWII" are shown and not any "rarely seen footage" as promised in the press release.

The only thing I paid any attention to was the clip where country singer Faith Hill recalls her first Elvis concert when she was eight years old. I looked her up on the Internet and found out that we are the same age.

That made me realise that theoretically I could have been at an Elvis concert and remember it. But I guess living in Sweden kind of lessened the chances of that happening. Didn't help that I wasn't an Elvis fan at the time, either. But still, theoretically...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's that time of year

It seems like about this time every year there is a "new" Christmas album with Elvis being released. This year is no exception. In the USA Sony/BMG are issuing "Elvis Home For The Holidays", with the CD thrown into a tin can together with a couple of postcards and of all things, an Elvis guitar candle.

But it's still the usual bunch of Christmas songs, this time those from 1957 together with "Mama Liked The Roses". In other words the updated version of "Elvis Christmas' Album" released in 1970.

The fact is that Elvis recorded 20 Christmas songs in his career (not counting live takes). And these songs have been re-released so many times now its hard to keep track. Just look at the following list:

"Memories Of Christmas" 1982 (some unreleased versions included)
"I Wish You A Merry Christmas" 1987
"If Every Day Was Like Christmas" 1994 (the best of them all)
"White Christmas" 2000
"Christmas Peace" 2003
"Christmas Peace" 2004 (this time without the religious songs)
"Christmas Wishes" 2005
"Elvis Christmas" 2006
"Elvis Home For The Holidays" 2007

It seems the pace has actually increased in the last couple years, and the question I ask myself is: Why?

When "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" was released in 1994 I thought it was the ultimate Christmas CD, with all the Christmas songs and even some unreleased alternate takes included. I still think it is. (Especially the limited edition with a pop-up of Graceland!)

All the other Christmas albums after that one have been absolutely unnecessary in my opinion. And the only reason I can come up with is the usual one: money.

And let's face it, it isn't just the general public that pick up these records in the store, a lot of fans do too. I'm the first to admit that I was one of those, but during the last few years I have passed. There is a limit for everything and when it comes to re-packed and re-wrapped Christmas albums I have reached mine. How about you?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Being steadfast, loyal and true

This Saturday, the Swedish Film Institute had the decency to screen a 70 mm copy of "That's The Way It Is" in a cinema in Stockholm. As I nowadays live in a smaller city a long way from the capital, I wasn't able to make it.

A shame really, as I have only seen a real Elvis movie on the big screen one time before, (if you don't count "This Is Elvis"). But I find comfort in the fact that it was "King Creole" that I saw.

It must have been in 1985. Since it was 50 years since Elvis was born a cinema in Stockholm showed "King Creole" and "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" for a couple of nights. "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" was one of the few Elvis films I had seen on TV, so I choose "King Creole" instead.

I clearly remember arriving at the cinema only a few minutes before the film was to be shown, and nervously asking if there were any tickets left. Yes, was the reassuring answer and I happily payed for my ticket.

I shouldn't have worried. No more than three or for other persons were in the movie theatre with me. For some reason I thought that a little embarrassing, both for me and Elvis. But those feelings quickly disappeared as the opening credits started to appear on the screen together with that big paddle-steamer. Finally I was watching an Elvis movie in a real cinema. And I found myself thinking about how proud I was over being an Elvis fan.

It sounds silly, but in those days you had to fight for Elvis. In my school it wasn't easy being an Elvis fan and it took guts to wear an Elvis badge. But sitting there in the dark cinema, I knew I was doing the right thing, sticking to Elvis. Here was proof, if needed, that Elvis was the greatest entertainer ever, and that someday, more people around me would realise that.

And they did. Today it's another ballgame all together. It's kind of cool to like Elvis, and certainly nobody thinks it's strange. But that was something I didn't know in that movie theatre 22 years ago.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

By popular demand - colorization part 3

As I was looking through some old fan club magazines the other day I stumbled across the answer to a question I asked a few days ago: Is there a colorized version of the movie "Love Me Tender"? The add from the October/November 2001 issue tells me there is:

My guess is the colorized version originates from some Asian country, judging by the characters below the English title. And that fits with the clip on Youtube that has subtitles in the same language.

The fact that VCDs (Video Compact Discs) are popular in Asia (except in Japan) because they are cheaper to make than regular DVDs also supports my case. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Go for the money and lead the pack

Not since the movie "Speedway" filmed in 1967 has Elvis made an appearance on the race track. But now, 40 years later, he's back. At least his image is, painted on a Chevrolet together with advertisement for Budweiser (see a picture here).

The car is driven by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. who apparently is a big Elvis fan. That's nice, but the problem as I see it, Elvis wasn't a big beer fan. That doesn't stop Elvis Presley Enterprises from making a lot of the usual merchandise, this time with Elvis and Bud side by side on t-shirts, mugs, magnets, key chains and the like.

Speaking of "Speedway", I always thought the race sequence was pretty lame, despite the fact that it was filmed by ten cameras. And I never really understood what the story was with those professional racers who made a brief appearance in the beginning. But today a search on the Internet revealed to me that these are really famous guys, like Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough.

Then in the 70's, they were challenged by a certain Dale Earnhardt, the father of Dale Earnhardt Jr. who is now driving a Chevrolet with Elvis image on the hood. So I guess the Elvis connection is a bit stronger than I thought at first.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Bubba Ho-tep is dead to me"

About a week ago I wrote about the movie "Bubba Ho-tep" from 2002, remember? Well, now the guy who played Elvis, actor Bruce Campbell, has turned down the offer to star in the sequel "Bubba Nosferatu And The Curso Of The She-Vampires".

Evidently, Campbell and director Don Coscarelli couldn't agree about the screenplay, which features Elvis battling a clan of Las Vegas vampires and some robotic versions of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Sure, it sounds a little weird, but what about the first one, where Elvis and JFK were fighting a mummy eating the souls of their fellow residents at a nursing home?

Whatever the reason, Bruce Campbell told the American horror magazine "Fangoria" that the sequel is "dead to me and sleeps with the fishes". Coscarelli the director is considering making the movie anyway but admits that it will be difficult to find a replacement for Campell.

How about asking Kurt Russell, he has donned the jumpsuit two times before ("Elvis The Movie" and "3000 Miles To Graceland"), and he can do it again. Why don’t you give him a call, Mr Coscarelli?