Dec 23, 2005


I've been listening to Elvis lately. Not my usual fare. When I was growing up he was joke to me even then. Terrible outfits, pudgy face, bad hair dye job, rehashed songs. Even then there were 7-11 sightings and the infamous 'Velvis'. He fit into a class of performers that I couldn't understand. Specifically a performer who seemed extremely popular but for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Other performers who fit into this mold were Wayne Newton, Sammy Davis Jr., Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick. Wayne already looked like he was pickled in formaldehyde, Sammy seemed like a characiture of god knows what, Stevie had these god awful songs, "I Just Called To Say I Love You" and "Part-time Lover" on the radio, and Dionne Warwick was hosting Solid Gold, a horrific music entertainment show.

I slowly came to realize that all these performers had their days. I think the first case of this was when someone put Stevie's Innervision album on and I realized what all the fuss was about.

For Elvis it was somewhere back in 1993 when NPR did a piece on the release of his entire 50s collection. This was a collection of his first recordings. They put on a sample song and I remember thinking, "Holy shit that is good!" It didn't even sound like him. I understood why they called him a crooner. I didn't pick the set up until recently. It begins naturally with his first session with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. The music is really laid bare. There are only 1 or 2 instruments accompanying him and the voice recording has that great warped sound bad recording equipment had back then. The sound many like Lenny Kravitz try to replicate today.

The music is much more honest and emotional than the stuff produced after Hollywood got a hold of him. And his voice is much more playful, almost hiccuping, with a lot more tonal swings than you'd associate with his later music. He may be known for moving his hips but his voice really roamed free back at the start.

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