Saturday, 10 January 2015

Alternative Elvis: An 80th Birthday Celebration

by Emma Bell

On the occasion of Elvis’s 80th birthday (January 8th, 2015), there seems little else to say on the man and the myth. But it seems a good reason to dig out some unknowns from the Presley catalogue and celebrate his voice in these cuts. Happy Birthday, Elvis.

1. Down in the Alley (1966). A stomper of a record, and a personal favourite. Elvis takes this cover from The Clovers and powers it forward with his bluesy voice. Mouth organ, sax, Hammond and guitar add a true Memphian flavour to this track. Superb. 

(Note: RCA sat on this record for two years before adding it to the Clambake movie soundtrack. Pah.)

2. Tomorrow is a Long Time.(1966) Recorded at the same session, this cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tomorrow..’ was rated by the writer himself as his favourite version of any of his songs. (Note: Bob Dylan. "The highlight of my career? That's easy, Elvis recording one of my songs.") The sparse and elegant restraint of Presley’s voice make this a standout 60’s track.

3. Edge of Reality (1969)
Recorded for Live a Little, Love a Little, this track confirms that despite the dross there were often hidden gems in these run of the mill movies. A dream sequence, a song and arrangement very much of the time - Psychedelic Elvis…

4. Good time Charlie’s Got the Blues (1974)
A gem from late-period Elvis, his voice in fine shape. The lyrics suggest a darker place, an understanding of his mistakes and flaws. Mortality was beckoning.

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