Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
"There's something touchingly childlike in Elvis' uncontrolled laughter, and this performance has become a classic for the way it shows a side of Elvis that rarely surfaced in public," Colin Escott writes in the CD reissue of the silver box set. That got me thinking about other songs where Elvis gets the giggles. This is what I came up with:
On the above mentioned box set, there is another laughing version, that has in its own way become a classic, at least among the fans. I am, of course, referring to the infamous "Datin'" from Paradise, Hawaiian Style that has Elvis cracking up a number of times on numerous takes of the song. It's highly entertaining and I always smile when I listen to Elvis struggling with the silly lyrics and completely loosening it.
Another soundtrack song that has Elvis breaking up is "Beach Shack" from the movie Spinout. Thanks to FTD and its classic album series we can hear the first three takes, and right from the start it's clear that Elvis finds the lyrics he's reading from the lead sheet highly amusing. Giggles become an enormous laughter as he ad libs "What you think I am" right before he and the Jordanaires are about to sing the line "dum-di-dum-di-dum."
Trying to pull himself together he exclaims, "It's got to be the silly hour," before loosening it again on the following take. I guess humor was the weapon with which to survive those soundtrack sessions in the mid 60's. It's great fun listening to and my favourite laughing version with Elvis.
It wasn't just during studio hours that Elvis got the giggles. As you all know he often laughed on stage both between and during songs. "I'll Remember You" from FTD's Takin' Tahoe Tonight! featuring the 3 AM show he did on May 13, 1973, no doubt qualifies as a laughing version.
The reason for this is Elvis having fun changing the lyrics to fit the early hour of the show: "Long after this, long morning is through... I'll be horny, ..lonely, oh so lonely." He also, for some reason, cracks up right at the end of the song, after which he laughingly announces, "Well, that's about enough!"
Another live laughing version that comes to mind is "Love Me Tender" from Murfreesboro recorded on May 6, 1975, and included on the FTD release Dixieland Rocks. As I've written about that one before I wont go into any details, except to say that it's really funny.
The final song I come to think of the rehearsal version of "Memories" from July 24, 1970, only available on bootleg. It's really hilarious and has Elvis changing the lyrics, making peculiar noises and almost laughing his head off. You have to listen to it to fully understand what I'm talking about.
So there you have it. Six laughing versions that show the funny side of Elvis. Of course there are more of them out here. Can you help me out?
Friday, August 14, 2009
I won't bother with a review, as I totally agree with the one written by Tygrrius over at the Elvis Australia site. Instead, this fantastic concert once more made me think about which show I would pick if there existed a one-use-only Elvis concert time machine.
No doubt one of the shows from the Elvis third Las Vegas engagement would be a very strong candidate. One of my absolute favorites is the Midnight show recorded on August 12, available on the 3 disc set That's The Way It Is - Special Edition released in 2000.
As Alex Richardson puts it in the latest The Man And His Music issue, while reviewing the unofficial CD/DVD package That's The Way It Is: The Complete Works:
"The perfect blend of old and new material - the highlight being the seemingly impromptu sit-down-with-electric-guitar session - from a man who was firing on all cylinders, this is a very strong contender for Elvis' greatest show ever."
Sometimes when I fantasize like this about which show I would like to travel back in time to see, I cheat and bend the rules a little. When I do, it's possible to pick both an early show (say, from 1969-72) and one from the later concert years (1973-77).
Still, I always have a hard time choosing between the legendary Pittsburgh concert from New Year's Eve 1976 (released by FTD in 2003) and the afternoon show performed in Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, on July 19, 1975 (available on the bootleg Americas Own). Both stand out as some of the best concerts Elvis did during those years.
It must have been an incredible experience sitting in audience watching him perform "Rags To Riches" or sing "Bosom Of Abraham/You Better Run."
But of course there are other highlights. The shows from Elvis' third tour in November 1971 show him in top form, as do the the ones from tour number eight that took place in the summer of 1973. And of course it would have been incredible to see Elvis perform during the filming of Elvis On Tour or when he was recorded live on stage in Memphis on March 20, 1974. Not to mention Madison Square Garden or the famous Aloha satellite show.
What it boils down to is that not only is it impossible to travel back in time to see Elvis, it's also extremely difficult to pick that one concert to attend. But if a time machine materialized right now in my living room I would punch in the following date and location: August 12, 1970, The International Hotel, Las Vegas, around midnight!
PS: Thanks for lending me the title to this post, Tygrrius!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
When I arrived in Kosovo as part of the Swedish battalion stationed there, one of the first things I had to do was to visit Pristina, the largest town in Kosovo, to get to know the lay of the land, so to speak. Sitting in a green jeep, me and my buddies made big eyes taking it all in. After all, a war had taken place here not long ago.
Then all of a sudden, I caught sight of a large banner hanging over the street. In high letters it spelled E-L-V-I-S. It caught me completely off guard. I mean, here I was, not knowing what to expect or find, and right in front of me was the name of the greatest singer the world has ever known. It was a surrealistic moment.
Back at the Swedish camp, I couldn't help but wonder about that banner. Was there really an Elvis shop in Kosovo? And if so, what did it sell? I found the answer a short while later, while on foot patrol one night in Pristina.
In a city where electricity come and go randomly, it came as no surprise to me and my fellow soldiers that the street lamps were dark that particular night. After a while my night vision kicked in, and suddenly, walking on the pavement, I caught sight of that big banner again. And, turning my head to the right, I understood.
Though it was dark, I clearly identified a shopwindow and that the name of the store was – yeah, you guessed it, ELVIS. But, looking closely, I noticed that the goods displayed had absolutely nothing to do with Elvis Presley whatsoever. Instead, I found myself looking at a clothes shop.
As you can imagine, I was slightly disappointed. At the same time I guess I was glad the mystery was solved. And you know what? Every time I drove under that banner the following six moths or walked past that particular store, I saw the face of Elvis Presley in front of me. In an unsafe country far from home, it was a good feeling.
Friday, August 7, 2009
A couple of years ago I left the safety of civilian life and did a tour of duty with the Swedish Armed Forces stationed in Kosovo, as part of the peacekeeping mission. As you can imagine, I brought my fair share of Elvis albums with me together with a portable CD player. (This was just before the iPods made their entrance.)
One of my army buddies kind of digged Elvis too, especially the 70's stuff, so one day we talked about organizing an Elvis night in the mess room. This was a fairly easy thing to do, since music was played in the mess every Saturday evening during bar hours. Me and my buddy just volunteered to pull bar duty one particular night and we were on.
We then decorated practically the whole camp with posters announcing an "Elvis night" the following Saturday, where only Elvis music would be played. Admittedly, we were a bit worried that no one would turn up, but apparently word had spread quickly.
The night in question the mess room was packed with uniforms, most of them Swedish, but some from other countries as well. To this day I still remember the first song we played - "I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water" - and soon the place was cooking.
I also recall a Norwegian soldier turning up, armed with a guitar. All of a sudden he was doing his own Elvis imitation, something that came as a complete surprise. He was all right I guess, but many in the crowd wanted the real thing back, and pretty soon "Whole Lot-ta Shakin' Goin' On" blasted through the speakers.
All in all, the night was a complete success. I'd like to think that Elvis would've been proud had he known what his music meant to all those soldiers that night, serving in another country far from home.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
3. Much more interesting is the Elvis: Vegas '69 book written by Ken Sharp, the guy who also put together Writing For The King, among others. Elvis Australia, another great Elvis site I favour, posted a review and after reading it, I have to say it sounds like a promising book.
Not only does it include a lot of previously unseen photographs, it also features first hand accounts of those who "where there." One of those, a lucky Mr Ian Fracer-Thomson, not only succeeded in sneaking into the opening night invitation only show, he also watched and listened to a large part of the dress rehearsal.