Sunday, May 31, 2009

A one-of-a-kind celebration

It's been over a week since I wrote my latest post, but that's the way it is. Although most of the time Elvis is part of my life in some way or the other, there are periods that are not that intense Elvis wise. Still, two things comes to mind, one a great disappointment and the other a more happy one.

The disappointment with a capital D is that I wasn't able to attend The Original Elvis Tribute 2009 that was touring Europe, including Sweden, in May. I've written about this show a couple of times, so maybe you know it included Michael Jarrett, who wrote "I'm Leavin'" and "I'll Be Home On Christmas Day" for Elvis, as well as bass player Duke Bardwell.

As things went, my work took me travelling in another direction and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. This was especially sad as I was looking forward to meeting Michael, who I've been having some e-mail contact with. He really comes across as a nice person and I was looking forward to talking to him and of course, have him sign my copy of the single "I'm Leavin'."

Arjan Deelen, the guy behind The Original Elvis Tribute, was kind enough to tell me he'd uploaded some video clips that he filmed during the tour. After watching them, it's clear to me that I missed a great evening with people associated with Elvis.

The highlight for me is Michael Jarrett performing "I'm Leavin'." And it must have been a special moment for Michael too, because singing harmony with him is his daughter Michele. According to the information accompanying the clip, the tour was basically the first time in 40 years that father and daughter spent quality time together. It really is a beautiful rendition, after checking it out I'm sure you'll agree:

Judging by the clips, this was no ordinary Elvis tribute show, instead it seems it lived up to what was promised on the tour's own homepage:

"The Original Elvis Tribute 2009 breaks away from all the usual clichés surrounding Elvis tributes; instead, it's centered around several unique individuals with very different backgrounds, brought together by their admiration for Elvis Aaron Presley. More than 30 years after his death, Elvis' legacy is more alive than ever, and this vibrant new show tells you why. It's a one-of-a-kind celebration of The King that features some of his finest music, performed by those who were there when Elvis shook the world."

Here are the other clips from the tour:
Oh, I almost forgot. The happy thing. I'll write about that one in my next post. But you wont have to wait a week. I promise.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From Elvis In Memphis - deluxe version

To be honest I wasn't too excited reading that Sony Music will release a deluxe version of Elvis In Memphis to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the album. It takes more than the 32 masters, even if they are "mastered from the original album masters" and a nice booklet to raise my eyebrows these days.

But I do confess that I was a bit surprised, as I had seen no indications whatsoever so far this year that either Elvis Presley Enterprises or Sony were to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of Elvis' historical American Studios sessions. After all, the recordings were done in January and February and the original LP released in June.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't be surprised, either. After all, this year saw the third repackaging of Elvis religious songs in the form of a box set (the 4 CD set I Believe), so why shouldn't the same be done to the 1969 studio material? In 1999 we had the excellent double CD Suspicious Minds - The Memphis 1969 Anthology and the year after the reissue of From Elvis In Memphis including six bonus tracks.

For me, an FTD version of the album has, of course, a much stronger appeal. Or while I'm at it, why not a release that would be the labels first box set, including both the 32 masters and outtakes? That's one FTD project I wouldn't hesitate buying.

But returning to the announced deluxe version, or as it's also called, "the first ever Elvis Presley Legacy Edition CD Set." Most of the songs on From Elvis In Memphis are outstanding, and I for one have friends who after listening to the album, got a whole different picture of Elvis and actually started getting interested in his music.

So if this release does just that to people, who am I to complain? And maybe, if a DVD is included, like Ernst hinted, well then I might get a little excited after all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No shoppin' around

There aren't that many Elvis stores around, not in Sweden anyway, so I was a bit disappointed a few days ago when I walked by one and it was closed.

This particular store is located in Karlstad, a town I sometimes visit in my work. A couple of collegues there, knowing I’m an Elvis fan, have recommended a visit, so on my way back to the train station I found it, having asked for directions.

As you can see by the photograph, it isn't a big place. I actually missed it the first time around, and had to back track my steps before I found it.

But, this being a Tuesday, it wasn’t open for business. "Open
Wednesday-Thursday-Friday and Saturday," the sign on the door said. Hard luck, in other words.

Nevertheless, I pressed my face to the window and peeked in. The assortment seemed to center around merchandise like posters, alarm-clocks, pictures, cups, t-shirts and figures, but I also spotted some books, DVDs and records. It really would have been nice to go inside.

On the train home I did some research on the internet on my lap top and found out the store was called King Creole, as it was opened last year, 50 years after the movie was made. As good a choice as any, and the sign above the door is tastefully done in the same style as the movie logo.

Next time my work takes me to Karlstad, I’ll make sure it will be on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday!

PS: Two Swedish local newspapers have written about the store. You can find the articles here and here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Elvis sings for kids

If I was in fifth grade in school again, I'd like to be a pupil of Herrestadsskolan in Uddevalla, on the western coasts of Sweden. The reason? Last Friday, the school had a day that was all about Elvis!

According to the radio station Sveriges Radio Väst, the pupils have, for some time, been listening to songs and studying the history of Elvis Presley. And that resulted in a day where they could dress like Elvis and listen to an Elvis impersonator, among other things.

On the website of the radio station, you can listen to a short report from that Elvis day. One kid explains to the reporter how old Elvis was when he died and that his favourite song is "Jailhouse Rock."

You can also hear the music teacher, who arranged the day, tell the reporter that many of the children think that Elvis was a cool guy. Also, that he's been playing both old and new songs, and that there is always someone that they like.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Elvis goes psychedelic

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to see that Academy Award-winning screenwriter and film director Cameron Crowe chose Elvis Presley and his performance of "Edge of Reality" from Live A Little, Love A Little as number eight in his "Top 10 Musical Moments in Film". The list is featured in the latest issue of the film magazine Empire.

At the same time I was rather pleased as Live A Little, Love A Little is one of my favourite Elvis movies. Also, I've always had a soft spot for "Edge Of Reality" that was used in the dream sequence in the film. Cameron Crowe justifies his choice like this:

Elvis' weariness and unpreparedness sometimes created seismically funny and unintentionally profound sequences like this one. Turn it up and groove out to E's only true foray into psychedelia. It's no "She Said She Said" but it's appropriately trippy and you can't quite believe it exists.

The dream sequence is weird stuff indeed, having Elvis wearing a tailored set of pajamas and singing about a girl with a nameless face (Bernice) driving him to the point of madness. Certainly not your average movie song lyrics, but entertaining and yes, psychedelic. See for yourself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

You'd be surprised what you can do!

The creativity among Elvis fans never ceases to amaze me. That thought hit me once more today as I was watching some Youtube updates courtesy of the Elvis Information Network.

In October last year I wrote about a guy who who'd created a fantastic 3D animation of Elvis. The clip had Elvis singing "Tiger Man" from That's The Way It Is and I was very impressed with the result.

Among the clips I watched today recommended by EIN, there were two I especially liked. I guess you could call them live Elvis fantasies, where footage from TTWII has been cleverly edited to show Elvis singing "A Little Less Conversation" and "Got My Mojo Working" respectively.

And, looking through the list of clips from the editor, elvisfantasay 2010, I found a couple of more of these fantasies, among them Elvis performing "Speedway" at the International. Here's what it looks like:

I really like it when Elvis sings "a whole lotta sweat" and how he moves after singing "on the speedway." During it all, I couldn't help wondering how on earth it was going to end (the original is faded out) but it was surprisingly well done (although I doubt Elvis would've ever considered singing "Speedway" live on stage). But it's entertaining, nevertheless.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The alternate Elvis For Everyone?

In 1965 the album Elvis For Everyone was invented to celebrate Elvis' ten years on RCA. As no session was held to cut the songs needed for an LP, the label's people had to look hard in the vaults to find leftover movie and studio tracks to use instead.

But now it seems their first proposal was changed. On Ebay right now is an acetate that could be an early test pressing of Elvis For Everyone with a different track listing than the one finally used.

Apparently the thought was to include "Crying In The Chapel," "Tell Me Why," "You'll Be Gone," "Angel" and "A Whistling Tune." But instead, they were dropped in favour of "Memphis, Tennessee," "I Met Her Today," "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears," Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" and "Santa Lucia."

The acetate has already been discussed on the FECC forum, and the majority seems to think this is the real thing. It also seems like "A Whistling Tune" is the then unreleased take from the Follow That Dream session. You can see the add for the acetate and listen to sound samples here. (The bidding ends on the 7th of May.)

This is an interesting find, and as somebody wrote on the FECC forum, it would be nice to know the story behind the acetate and why the song selection was altered. Especially since the original track listing is a stronger one.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Treated with respect

Reading about "A Big Hunk O' Love" in the booklet accompanying the Madison release Hot August Night featuring the August 12, 1972 Midnight Show, got me thinking about songs from the 50's Elvis sang live in the 70's. The booklet has this to say about "A Big Hunk O' Love":

This was one of his best pre-army rock songs which was always treated with respect and leaves us to regret that others from his vast repertoire were not afforded the same treatment.

All so true, just think about the bonus songs "All Shook Up," "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear"/"Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" on FTD's recent Standing Room Only. Pure standard routine stuff, not very exciting at all.

The hard rocking "A Big Hunk O' Love" on the other hand, is, to use Madison's words, treated with respect. Being about 14 years old at the time, the song still sounds remarkably fresh thanks to a good arrangement with a driving rhythm.

But there are other songs from the 50's getting the same, inspiring treatment on stage during the 70's. The one that comes first and foremost to mind is "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" which Elvis sang all through 1971. He also rehearsed the song on March 31, 1972 and then sang it on tour in April. Watching the version from Elvis On Tour it's clear that Elvis is enjoying himself performing this classic.

Another favourite from his early years must have been "Trying To Get To You," released on his first LP in 1956 and used regularly during the later concert years. In a way, this song reached another level with the powerful voice he had obtained by then.

Finally I have to mention "My Baby Left Me" from Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis. This version is a fine tribute to the original and is really rocking along. The same can also be said for the next track on the album, the above mentioned "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy."

Those are a couple of "pre-army" rock songs that I think Elvis never treated like throwaway numbers, and which were given a new, more modern sound with the help of some good arrangements. There are of course others, like his very first single "That's All Right." Which ones are your favourites?