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In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:44 am

In Praise Of Elvis Presley
Rolling Stone, December 23, 1971


Jon Landau is best known these days as Bruce Springsteen's manager for the past 35 years.

But, back in 1971 he was a well-regarded popular music critic and record producer (MC5, Jackson Browne). For his 1971 review of Elvis on stage in Boston on November 10, Landau went out on a limb, offering lavish praise in the hippest rock magazine in the country.

It is probably Presley's most intelligent, passionate and insightful live review, post-1970. Most online versions of this contribution do not include the full text -- it's at least twice as long as previously seen!

Enjoy the complete piece below -- if you dig Elvis in the 1970s. I do!


711223_Rolling Stone 098_Landau.JPG

Rolling Stone - Issue 98, December 23, 1971
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:48 am

Thanx, Doc - great!

O.S. ::rocks

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:41 am

LOVE the look on Elvis' face in that pic.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:44 am

Great article, great photo. The last paragraph is perfect.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:44 am

Thanks for that. What a cool review from someone who clearly had both affection for Elvis and understood his art.

Interesting that Bridge Over Troubled Water had such a powerful impact on him. "I'm Leavin'" evidently didn't impress as it doesn't even get a passing mention. Or perhaps it was just unfamiliar to him and he didn't know the title.


ps The Boston show was November 10th, not 11th.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:39 am

Loved it.
So rare to read a 70's review where an intelligent author describes Elvis as a current,
progressive stage performer, and backs up the statement with first hand proof.

Interesting to see "Bridge" referred to as "absolutely stunning", that this performance
by itself is justification for attending an Elvis concert.
Also interesting to see the reviewer refer to Elvis' stage presence as violent, softened with humour.

Thanks for a review that will stay with me for some time.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:54 am

TJ wrote:Thanks for that. What a cool review from someone who clearly had both affection for Elvis and understood his art.


It is a cool review (jn fact, much more than cool), but Jon Landau also wrote the following piece about "Aloha From Hawaii":

My God! Another live album from my hero. He's turning them out as fast as he once made movie soundtracks. And with as little point, in view of the fact that the material, patter, structure and sound vary so little from record to record. On the other hand, they sell better than his current studio albums, and those haven't exactly been aesthetic triumphs, so maybe there is some logic to it.

Just the same, "Suspicious Minds" has been released live from Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden and Hawaii and not one of these versions comes close to the sheer artistry of the Memphis studio original. The live "Burning Love" is a mockery of Elvis' best single since "Suspicious Minds." The "American Trilogy," El's version of Mickey Newbury's simple but effective blending of "Dixie," "All My Trials" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" doesn't generate anything near the power of actually seeing him do it.

In the enjoyable documentary Elvis On Tour he turns his performance into a visual drama. By contrast, the live recording magnifies the worst element of Elvis' stage show—the simplistic horn arrangements, poorly performed—while the film magnifies the depth of Elvis' commitment to the music.

I usually enjoy hearing him do the ballad staples he became identified with during the movie phase, especially the by-now haunting "Can't Help Falling in Love," with which he closes each concert (and here given its worst recording yet). But when he strays into the pure Caesar's Palace repertory that includes "What Now My Love," "You Gave Me a Mountain," and "My Way," depression easily crosses over the line into disgust.

As usual, Elvis trys his hand with some recently popular chart material; thus, a mediocre "Something in the Way She Moves," and a bloated "Steamroller Blues," only partially salvaged by some elegant James Burton lead guitar. The band is impersonal but astoundingly tight and professional throughout.

Charlie Gillett once noted that in his early records Elvis sang at the top of his vocal range but that soon after the move to RCA he started singing lower. The high notes were the mark of an innocently beautiful approach to rock & roll singing, the bass ones more symptomatic of his penchant for self-mockery. And on this album he seldom crawls past the middle register at all, a sure sign of what he's thinking about himself.

There are moments when he pushes past every fault of the format and generates not just smoke but fire—as on a rousing "See See Rider." But it is his good moments more than the bad ones that remind me of Greil Marcus' comment that Elvis Presley's whole career has been a throwaway. Albums like this one prove he was right. It is just that when I hear in the smallest ray of hope—like the interplay between Presley's voice, Burton's guitar, and Ronny Tutt's drums on "Rider"—that I remember that there isn't a reason in the world why he couldn't make an album that was good from beginning to end. Does he have to throw it all away?


Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/elv ... _satellite


* * *

Thanks for posting the cutting, Doc. That was -- and is -- a spell-binding summary of the magic of EP!

It sounds like Landau experienced a wave of pure exhilaration and wrote his review still riding it. There's inspiration in every sentence, every word.

And some of the observations are spine-tingling. His linking of EP's 70s stage craft with his 60s movies is fascinating, as are his extended comments about EP singing around songs and making fun of himself in even serious performances to diffuse some of the danger (for the audience and for himself). Landau's comments on EP's vaudevillian tropes are so good that it makes you think that not nearly enough has been written or said about EP's musical act.

It seems, when he wasn't in the audience and he'd already seen better, Landua lost a lot of sympathy and investment in the Elvis who stepped on that Honolulu stage and strutted for the world. There's no denying his passion or intensity in this review, however.
Last edited by Cryogenic on Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:56 am

Thanks for sharing this great article with us.
Very cool review and the photo is new to me. It's not in the booklet of "One Night Only".

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:26 am

Cryogenic wrote:
TJ wrote:Thanks for that. What a cool review from someone who clearly had both affection for Elvis and understood his art.


It is a cool review, but Jon Landau also wrote the following piece about "Aloha From Hawaii":? ...



The Aloha review does seem a touch harsh, but he's not exactly way off the mark with some of his criticisms. You can tell that this was a fan who was frustrated because he knew how great Elvis was when on form and felt that there were only glimmers of that greatness being shown with recent releases. Close to 40 years on, it's a point that many fans still raise about the 70s output, including Aloha. For me, Aloha has some exceptional moments, in particular Trilogy, as well as some really poor moments, such as Blue Suede Shoes and Fever (tho I'm with you on that being cool from a visual standpoint). Landau expected more and Elvis was capable of more.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:52 am

Thanks, Doc.

Cryo
Even if the Aloha was an event back then, it was also considered as a new dissapointment in Presleys´s 70s discography. After the 1971 release of "Elvis Country", there surely were expectations from the fans / critics to get new GREAT albums from the King. Instead, there were Leftovers albums (Love Letters), hodge-podge albums (Now), mostly-uninspired-Christmas albums and, of course, many Live albums. Everybody was waiting for a new Rock or Blues collection and Elvis was singing once again half hearted versions of HOUND DOG and SUSPICIOUS MINDS.
I agree a 100% with Landau.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:21 pm

Thank you Doc.
Very interesting read. :D

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:53 pm

Thank you , Good Doctor.

I've had this review in the back of my mind for years because of one phrase, about Bridge Over Troubled Water :

" . . . which is in and of itself sufficient justification for attending an Elvis Presley concert". I remember reading it at the time, probably via Rex Martin's Elvis News Service Weekly.

The summary of his review of "Bridge", "He sings like an angel and moves like a ballerina, and he left me struck dumb", brings up the goosebumps.

In the dark recesses of my mind, I had believed the review was of one of the concerts from the 1970 tours, but clearly it is not - but do we know which concert Jon Landau attended ? Apologies if I've missed something, as I haven't yet read everything through on this topic.

In truth, I don't think (from recordings I've heard) that Elvis ever again sang Bridge as well as he is seen doing in ETTWII - I prefer the straight, serious reading of the song.

How sad that the glorious promise of those times was not fulfilled, but how good it was to live through the halcyon days of mid-1968 to early 1973, as an Elvis fan.

Steve Morse

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:09 pm

It's a great review of Elvis absolutely at his peak.

As others have noted, Elvis' version of Bridge was really well regarded. Doc, in a recent discussion about the merits of TTWII vs the SE, you commented that Bridge was another cover, and leaving it out of the SE wasn't a big issue.

The reaction of Landau to Elvis version is the same as the reaction of many of my non Elvis fan friends when they see / hear it - they're always blown away.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:20 pm

Steve Morse wrote:
In the dark recesses of my mind, I had believed the review was of one of the concerts from the 1970 tours, but clearly it is not - but do we know which concert Jon Landau attended ? Apologies if I've missed something, as I haven't yet read everything through on this topic.

Steve Morse



The original review that the Doc posted is from the Boston, MA show on November 10, 1971.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:58 pm

If I remember well, Paul Simon was very impressed with Elvis singing "Bridge". I've forgotten what he said, so I looked it up in Wikipedia and found the following comment:

"During this summer season in Vegas Paul Simon attended one of the shows and after seeing Elvis perform the song he was reported to have said "That's it, we might as well all give up now."

This one doesn't ring a bell, so I'm quite sure, he made some other comment as well.

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:05 pm

Tony Trout wrote:
Steve Morse wrote:
In the dark recesses of my mind, I had believed the review was of one of the concerts from the 1970 tours, but clearly it is not - but do we know which concert Jon Landau attended ? Apologies if I've missed something, as I haven't yet read everything through on this topic.

Steve Morse



The original review that the Doc posted is from the Boston, MA show on November 10, 1971.

Thanks, Tony.

So it's the Madison, "One Night Only" show ! I've just listened to Bridge, and I still don't like the funky treatment. I'm sure, "Hit it baby", wasn't in the original lyrics. It also bugs me that Elvis virtually never sang the correct words : he sang "When time gets rough" (instead of times get) and, "When darkness falls", instead of, "When darkness comes", an entirely different meaning.

Clearly the sound on the CD is a long way from being hi-fi, with a notable lack of bass and resonance as well as some distortion, but the whole treatment of the song in the latter part is still far too brash for my liking. However, if I had been there, and witnessed the performance visually and been part of the whole atmosphere, then I am certain I would have been affected in the same way as Jon Landau.

Elvis, we miss you !!

Steve Morse

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:27 pm

Awesome review, never read it this length before! Thanks DJC!

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:26 pm

Josee wrote:If I remember well, Paul Simon was very impressed with Elvis singing "Bridge". I've forgotten what he said, so I looked it up in Wikipedia and found the following comment:

"During this summer season in Vegas Paul Simon attended one of the shows and after seeing Elvis perform the song he was reported to have said "That's it, we might as well all give up now."

This one doesn't ring a bell, so I'm quite sure, he made some other comment as well.


Paul Simon said the following about Elvis' version of Bridge:

"It was in his Las Vegas period and done with conventional thinking. He sang it well, but it would have been nice to hear him do it Gospel because he did so many Gospel albums and was a good white Gospel singer. It would have been nice to hear him do it that way, to take it back - as opposed to the big ending; he seemed to end everything with a karate chop and an explosion. So he didn't really add anything to the song. It's not nearly as significant as the Aretha Franklin recording. It's just a pleasure for me that Elvis Presley recorded one of my songs before he died."

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:19 pm

Thanks Doc! These things are so pleasing to read!

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:26 pm

Great article Doc,I'm sure iv'e read it before though and it may have been you that posted it! (not complaining though)

norrie

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:26 am

norrie wrote:Great article Doc,I'm sure iv'e read it before though and it may have been you that posted it! (not complaining though) ...

Thanks.

What I posted, Norrie, is what I thought was the complete review. It was not.

The above is the entire piece, for the first time ever, most likely.

The DOC is here for the MAN and his MUSIC!

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:45 am

Thanks Doc. Great reading!

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:23 am

The DOC is here for the MAN and his MUSIC!


Never thought anything else Doc! Always look out for your informative posts.

norrie

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:07 am

woo hoo doc great find
Thanks so much 1971 was a very good year indeed :smt006



drjohncarpenter wrote:In Praise Of Elvis Presley
Rolling Stone #98 - December 23, 1971


Jon Landau is best known these days as Bruce Springsteen's manager for the past 35 years.

But, back in 1971 he was a well-regarded popular music critic and record producer (MC5, Jackson Browne). For his 1971 review of Elvis on stage in Boston on November 10, Landau went out on a limb, offering lavish praise in the hippest rock magazine in the country.

It is probably Presley's most intelligent, passionate and insightful live review, post-1970. Most online versions of this contribution do not include the full text -- it's at least twice as long as previously seen!

Enjoy the complete piece below -- if you dig Elvis in the 1970s. I do!


Image
Image

Re: In Praise Of Elvis Presley (1971) -- Complete!

Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:16 am

I agree it's a great, great review. Good post too.