While listening to "Jailhouse Rock" on the Amarillo '77 FTD release last week, I was reminded that it isn't always the originals versions that get people interested in Elvis' music. At least that's the way it worked for a buddy of mine while we were attending high school in the early eighties.
I don't remember the exact details, but I know I played him a cassette tape of Elvis In Concert, maybe at his place. I guess the tape was in the Sony Walkman I carried with me where ever I went (just like I do with my iPod nowadays).
Anyway, at first I didn't get the reaction I was hoping for, you know, a sign that he was digging the music. But when he heard "Jailhouse Rock" he started to beat time with his feet and when the song ended he demanded that I play it again.
I think he really went for the machine gun tempo of the song, the pumpin' piano and Elvis singing, never mind that he forgot some of the words. If memory serves me right, I had to play it many times in a row. Not that I minded, of course.
A couple of days later, when I visited again, I noticed an Elvis LP in his room. I picked it up and identified the album as 20 Greatest Hits Vol. 1, sporting a publicity shot of Elvis from the 50's on the cover. Looking at the track list I noticed the songs were mainly from the 50's as well. The fourth track on the B side was "Jailhouse Rock."
Glancing at my friend I saw he had a disappointed expression on his face. "That's not the version we listened to last time," he said. "This sounds completely different."
I tried to tell him that the version on his LP was the original one, and a great one at that. I also explained to him that he should've asked me which album to buy if he'd wanted the "Jailhouse Rock" that we'd listened to, as there existed many versions of the song.
Unfortunately I don't remember if he bought the Elvis In Concert album to get "the right" version. Maybe I gave him my tape and recorded a new one for me. Since we no longer stay in touch I don't know how much of a fan he became, either.
But, thinking back, I recall I thought it was great that he liked a live recording with Elvis from 1977. And that the song in question, "Jailhouse Rock," was featured on an album that has always been a favorite of mine.