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Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:49 am

I realize that a lot of critics think Elvis in the 60s was lightweight compared to his 50s persona. It seems that some thought everything he recorded beyond the 50s should have been the next "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," or "Jailhouse Rock," and anything less was not up to par.
As Elvis once said, "an image is one thing, a human being is another." I feel that Elvis created such an awesome image in the 50s, that there was no way to live up to it as the years passed. Everything he did in the 50s was 100% Elvis, from the way he wore his hair, his clothes, his songs, the way he performed them, and his on-stage style. He wasn't trying to fit a current trend or be like anybody else. At the time, it was "different." It was shocking and groundbreaking, thus, came his rebel, rocking image.
I feel that Elvis is often judged due to a time period rather than material. If Elvis had recorded "Teddy Bear" for the first time in 1966, for example, I'm sure everyone would have considered it just another silly song, yet because it was done in the 50s, during his raw period, it's awesome. On the other hand, I think he had some material in the 60s that was just as good as anyone else's, but because his image had then changed, it was written off as lightweight. On the other hand, some artists had hits with songs in the 60s that had they been released by Elvis, the song would have been considered mediocre at best.
To use a Beatles comparison as an example, If Elvis had recorded the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" exactly as the Beatles and had worn the same outfit on the cover, would it have still been considered a masterpiece, or his worst album to date? What if he had been the first to record "Yellow Submarine" and sang it in one of his movies in 1966? Somehow, I don't think it would have been a #2 hit for him as it was for the Beatles.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:29 am

I agree with you partially.

I do think much of the criticism that Elvis has faced for his 60s work is due to the bad soundtracks and that's legit.
No way should Elvis have been recording those songs and if he had recorded better material instead he wouldn't be criticized as much.

Elvis was at his most consistent 1954-1958.

If Elvis had recorded Sgt. Pepper it probably would have got good reviews but because the Beatles are much more loved by the 1960s loving rock press it wouldn't have been hailed as a classic.

If Elvis had recorded ''Yellow Submarine'' for Paradise Hawaiian Style you are right it would have been treated the same as any other movie song.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:43 am

There was a very funny bit on "The Daily Show" the other night where a couple of the correspondents treated Barack Obama as if he were a rock star. One of them only wanted to hear the classics, the stuff he did between 2004 and 2008, "all the new stuff is crap." It's a telling bit because people see many artists this way. The music your hero makes when you're 21 or 22 (let alone 30 and you're not paying attention anymore) seldom seems as good as what he/she did when you were 14 and just discovering the world and impressionable in a way you would never be again. Almost every artist goes through this syndrome.

As Brian pointed out, there is plenty of legitimate criticism to be aimed Elvis' way. He allowed the movie years to go on too long and allowed the material to reach a nadir it never should have touched. Later, although he was his own man as an artist in a way unique to that point, his gifts partly due to his drug addiction and decline in physical health, were much more erratic than they had been prior to that. A lot of the difference between '70s Elvis and '50s is not necessarily one of artistic intent, but one of artistic ability. He just had more to give in the '50s. Plus, the infrastructure that was so supportive in the 1950s was outmoded by the 1970s.

And it's also important to remember the seismic quality of the impact that Elvis had in the 1950s, he was not just a great artist, he was also a great artistic and cultural disruption. Tracks like "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog" were stark contrast to most of what most people had ever heard at that time. You can only reinvent the wheel once though and while a track like "Burning Love" is in the view of many fans as a good as any track Elvis ever made (Stephen King selected it his second greatest single of all time.) it didn't reinvent the wheel.

That being said, much of the criticism aimed at Elvis comes from the shift in age of the listeners, ignorance, and the sheer variety of styles in which Elvis performed. In 1972, Elvis released three top rank singles in a row- "An American Trilogy," an epic presentation of three traditional American folk tunes, "Burning Love" one of the great rock singles of its era, and "Separate Ways" a moving meditative adult ballad about divorce. Many fans with an investment in Elvis or with a catholic musical interest might enjoy all three. But many fans might like one and leave the others. A board member a few years ago shared a fine story with me about about how the young kid he was working with at a pizza parlor was just rocking down with "a hunk, hunk o' burning love" weeks after dismissing Elvis to the older fan. The older guy said I told you so. I can't imagine that kid liking "Separate Ways." But I definitely can picture a 35-year-old man working his way through his own divorce liking "Separate Ways" but just not feeling "Burning Love."

You see that in assessments of Elvis. For years, Elvis the rocker, the rebel held sway. And for many he still does. Yet in the past decade, there have been moving paeans to Elvis the balladeer from people like William F. Buckley and Will Friedwald, writers for whom the rockers don't really connect. A writer asked Robin Williams about Elvis a few years back and what did Robin Williams point out? Elvis' gospel music specifically How Great Thou Art.

As I have often pointed out many, many of the dismissals of Elvis are not based or at least solely based on the movie tracks or some weak '70s tracks or EIC. It's based upon tracks like "It's Now or Never," and "Are You Lonesome To-night?" and even- believe it or not- "Suspicious Minds." Two examples one was an interview with John Lennon just before he died. In the interview, the writer helps Lennon sort out his good Elvis records like "Heartbreak Hotel" and "All Shook Up" from his bad ones like "Are You Lonesome To-Night?" In the 1970 review of Elvis' Worldwide Gold Award Hits the writer raves up Elvis' classics while putting down the current run of hits including "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds" as so much crap.

Bottom line I don't think there's any doubt that Elvis extended and expanded his achievement in the 1960s and 1970s. It's part of why he's a bigger icon today than all of his '50s rivals, it's part of why he's an enduring icon. Sure he was bigger and more influential in the first place, but a big part of why this board is filled with 30 and 40 somethings as opposed to domination by people 60 plus (well leaving aside of course the struggles older folks have with technology) is the fact that Elvis did things in the 1960s and 1970s that caught the public's imagination and that merit interest.

In 1971, 15 years after turning the world on its head with "Heartbreak Hotel," almost 17 years after "That's All Right Mama," Elvis opened the year with arguably his finest long playing collection ever in Elvis Country a record that became not only just a personal high point, but a generally recognized classic. Very few of Elvis' peers can say as much. The following year he released "Burning Love" an iconic piece to rival all but a few of his '50s classics. In terms of depth, breadth and endurance of achievement Elvis had one of the most remarkable careers in pop music.

Many fans have a problem with the consistency issue. That however, if you look at enough careers, is something that seems to come with the territory for artists with lengthy careers. I've found that most artists have a span of 2 and in extreme cases 7-8 years of mass popularity and in most cases continuous creativity. Look at Bob Dylan, the solo Beatles, Chuck Berry, etc. After that, for a variety of reasons, it just becomes more difficult to find "it" over time and because you're getting older and the audience always stays young, it's a little tougher to find those pieces that make that mass impact. Although due to his failure to cut bait as quickly as he should have in his movie years, Elvis managed as well as anybody. Place Elvis' eight years (which again is on the long side) at 1962. And you still have How Great Thou Art, "Viva Las Vegas," "It Hurts Me," "You're the Devil in Disguise," "Tomorrow is a Long Time," "Guitar Man," "US Male," the '68 Television special and accompanying recordings, From Elvis in Memphis "Suspicious Minds," "Kentucky Rain," Elvis Country "The Wonder of You," "Burning Love," "Promised Land," and dozens of other sundry first rate and classic recordings. Who wouldn't love that career? It's not equal to what happened in the 1950s, nothing could be, but it's a first rank expansion of that achievement and it's a big part of what separates Elvis from other greats.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:03 am

Great points! Elvis certainly never reinvented the wheel after the 50s, but had some great stuff nonetheless. No other artist of his peers has had such a great career. It's just weird when someone makes a comment, like Lennon did, that Elvis died the day he went into the army, as if nothing after that was any good. I wonder what Lennon thought about the 68 special, or if he did like anything Elvis did after the 50s?

I've often wondered where Elvis would have gone had he came out of the army and continued touring and recording some serious rockers. Perhaps he would have still waned when the British invasion occurred, and there would have been no 68 Comeback Special because there wouldn't have been as much of a feeling for a "return" to anything. Perhaps instead of the jump suites and Vegas, he would have been doing nostalgic tours with Fabian in the 70s. Who knows?

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:15 am

showfan wrote:Great points! Elvis certainly never reinvented the wheel after the 50s, but had some great stuff nonetheless. No other artist of his peers has had such a great career. It's just weird when someone makes a comment, like Lennon did, that Elvis died the day he went into the army, as if nothing after that was any good. I wonder what Lennon thought about the 68 special, or if he did like anything Elvis did after the 50s?


Not wanting to turn this in to another thread about John Lennon but i'll still answer your question.

Lennon did say Elvis came out with good stuff after the army but it was never the same.

He never got specific but if i had to guess he probably liked ''(Marie's the name) of his latest flame'', ''Return to Sender'', ''Little Sister'', ''A Mess of blues'', ''Can't help falling in love'' and ''i feel so bad''.

I say that because a lot of people who loved the 50s Elvis still liked those songs and that type of rock n' roll material.

Lennon might of liked ''Suspicious Minds'' and ''In the ghetto'' but i'm not sure.

Someone posted a thread containing an interview in France with John Lennon from 1975 where he seemed to acknowledge the 1968 special.
I can't imagine him not liking the 1968 special.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:24 am

showfan wrote:I've often wondered where Elvis would have gone had he came out of the army and continued touring and recording some serious rockers. Perhaps he would have still waned when the British invasion occurred, and there would have been no 68 Comeback Special because there wouldn't have been as much of a feeling for a "return" to anything. Perhaps instead of the jump suites and Vegas, he would have been doing nostalgic tours with Fabian in the 70s. Who knows?


The overlooked reason for Elvis' decline in the mid 60s was due to the fact that his stable of songwriters like Otis Blackwell, Pomus & Shuman and Aaron Schroder were drying up creatively.

If Elvis or Colonel Parker had brought in new creative songwriters in 1964 to write songs for him he could have been a consistent top ten hitmaker during the British invasion.

If Elvis or the Colonel didn't bring in new writers then his career would have declined anyway regardless of whether he was still touring.

Elvis never would have played multi artist concerts or nostalgia tours because he was too popular and could sell out venues on his own.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:37 am

showfan wrote: Everything he did in the 50s was 100% Elvis, from the way he wore his hair, his clothes, his songs, the way he performed them, and his on-stage style.
I realize that a lot of critics think Elvis in the 60s was lightweight compared to his 50s persona I feel that Elvis is often judged due to a time period rather than material.


Not sure I understand what you’re saying here Elvis was always 100% Elvis, he never really changed, and Music is subjective of course but again, for me, it’s a toss-up between “Don’t Be Cruel” & “Suspicious Minds” as the greatest ‘pop song’ ever made. Two songs made 13 years apart and while by the mid 1960’s he’d (due to the movies & soundtracks) lost credibility with his musical peers and Fan’s were asking what has happened? Elvis’ legacy has unfortunately been forever tainted by his final years, complete with ‘Santa belts’ – It’s terribly sad and he deserves better. He died in the middle of the decade that fashion forgot. One person can only change popular culture one time.Todd Morgan was correct when he said that never has any individual been more mocked, abused, ridiculed and criticized than Elvis Presley.

“It’s very hard to live up to an image”

showfan wrote: It's just weird when someone makes a comment, like Lennon did, that Elvis died the day he went into the army, as if nothing after that was any good.

Yeah showfan. I’ve always hated that ignorant Lennon comment, however I'm sure he didn't mean it literary and was only disappointing in what he hero was delivering. For me, Elvis never sounded as good vocally as he did in 1960 I truly still find many of these recordings mind-blowing.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:27 pm

showfan wrote:I realize that a lot of critics think Elvis in the 60s was lightweight compared to his 50s persona. It seems that some thought everything he recorded beyond the 50s should have been the next "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," or "Jailhouse Rock," and anything less was not up to par.
As Elvis once said, "an image is one thing, a human being is another." I feel that Elvis created such an awesome image in the 50s, that there was no way to live up to it as the years passed. Everything he did in the 50s was 100% Elvis, from the way he wore his hair, his clothes, his songs, the way he performed them, and his on-stage style. He wasn't trying to fit a current trend or be like anybody else. At the time, it was "different." It was shocking and groundbreaking, thus, came his rebel, rocking image.
I feel that Elvis is often judged due to a time period rather than material. If Elvis had recorded "Teddy Bear" for the first time in 1966, for example, I'm sure everyone would have considered it just another silly song, yet because it was done in the 50s, during his raw period, it's awesome. On the other hand, I think he had some material in the 60s that was just as good as anyone else's, but because his image had then changed, it was written off as lightweight. On the other hand, some artists had hits with songs in the 60s that had they been released by Elvis, the song would have been considered mediocre at best.
To use a Beatles comparison as an example, If Elvis had recorded the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" exactly as the Beatles and had worn the same outfit on the cover, would it have still been considered a masterpiece, or his worst album to date? What if he had been the first to record "Yellow Submarine" and sang it in one of his movies in 1966? Somehow, I don't think it would have been a #2 hit for him as it was for the Beatles.

My feeling is you are making an apologist's argument for Elvis' artistic failures in the 1960s.

It was not just the image that blew everyone away in the 1950s, it was his music. Presley's choice of songs, his energy, his innate mix of all the styles he loved (pop, R&B, blues, country) helped to create something new and exciting called rock 'n' roll. And at the heart of it all was his intense commitment to his art. This is why so much of what Elvis laid down on tape between 1954 and 1958 is so significant.

In the 1960s, Presley started strong right out of the army, but eventually let go of all of what made him great, and his Hollywood career path nearly killed him as an artist. He had set a standard that he failed to live up to as the 1960s took hold, a standard that all the artists inspired by him in this decade noticed and felt somewhat betrayed by. It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened.

It would be insightful to learn which critics you have been reading that compelled you to create this topic. Can you share which ones you read that discuss Elvis' 1960s career?

Also, although your Beatles analogy is, quite frankly, inane, here is an image you may enjoy:


Sgt Presleys Lonely Hearts Club Band.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:43 pm

likethebike wrote:The music your hero makes when you're 21 or 22 (let alone 30 and you're not paying attention anymore) seldom seems as good as what he/she did when you were 14 and just discovering the world and impressionable in a way you would never be again. Almost every artist goes through this syndrome.


Agreed. As magnificent as the 50's were, I think there is a tendency to romanticize that decade and say that everything Elvis recorded then was good. It wasn't. There were dreary ballads and covers that are utterly limp compared to other versions (e.g. the Little Richard songs). There's sort of a cyclical argument at work; the more you lionize the 50's, the less impressive the latter-day stuff seems. The less open you are to the post-Army stuff, the more you're going to keep going back to the 50's stuff...

All of that having been said, I think we can all agree that you can make the case that Elvis' Sun tracks are still his best work.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:49 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
showfan wrote: Also, although your Beatles analogy is, quite frankly, inane, here is an image you may enjoy


What's inane about it? It wasn't meant as a slam on the Beatles. I like the Beatles. I'm just saying, the Beatles was the most influential, ground breaking rock band of the 60s and beyond, but I feel they had songs that if Elvis had recorded first, it wouldn't have been a big deal, even lame, yet, because the Beatles did them, the songs were considered awesome. Just my opinion, and we all know about opinions.
Yes, I did enjoy the image!

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:54 pm

Well, of course the actual performer who records a song is going to influence the critical acclaim any such song receives. But to assert that had Elvis been provided with strong material and a concept mirroring Sgt. Pepper that it would have received lukewarm praise is completely misguided.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:10 am

showfan wrote:I realize that a lot of critics think Elvis in the 60s was lightweight compared to his 50s persona. It seems that some thought everything he recorded beyond the 50s should have been the next "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," or "Jailhouse Rock," and anything less was not up to par.
As Elvis once said, "an image is one thing, a human being is another." I feel that Elvis created such an awesome image in the 50s, that there was no way to live up to it as the years passed. Everything he did in the 50s was 100% Elvis, from the way he wore his hair, his clothes, his songs, the way he performed them, and his on-stage style. He wasn't trying to fit a current trend or be like anybody else. At the time, it was "different." It was shocking and groundbreaking, thus, came his rebel, rocking image.
I feel that Elvis is often judged due to a time period rather than material. If Elvis had recorded "Teddy Bear" for the first time in 1966, for example, I'm sure everyone would have considered it just another silly song, yet because it was done in the 50s, during his raw period, it's awesome. On the other hand, I think he had some material in the 60s that was just as good as anyone else's, but because his image had then changed, it was written off as lightweight. On the other hand, some artists had hits with songs in the 60s that had they been released by Elvis, the song would have been considered mediocre at best.
To use a Beatles comparison as an example, If Elvis had recorded the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" exactly as the Beatles and had worn the same outfit on the cover, would it have still been considered a masterpiece, or his worst album to date?

Best post I have read here in a long time.

Especially this:
showfan wrote:What if he had been the first to record "Yellow Submarine" and sang it in one of his movies in 1966? Somehow, I don't think it would have been a #2 hit for him as it was for the Beatles.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:37 am

showfan wrote:What's inane about it?

To use an analogy from the period being discussed, it's like wondering whether Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants) could score a touchdown like Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns), if he put on the uniform and joined the huddle.

So, how about sharing some of the critic names and articles you allude to which inspired this topic?

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:24 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
showfan wrote:What's inane about it?

To use an analogy from the period being discussed, it's like wondering whether Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants) could score a touchdown like Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns), if he put on the uniform and joined the huddle.

So, how about sharing some of the critic names and articles you allude to which inspired this topic?


isn't everyone on this board a critic?

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:01 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
showfan wrote:What's inane about it?

To use an analogy from the period being discussed, it's like wondering whether Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants) could score a touchdown like Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns), if he put on the uniform and joined the huddle.

So, how about sharing some of the critic names and articles you allude to which inspired this topic?


I didn't mean to imply that specific critics in specific articles had inspired my post. My post was actually created due to a conversation I recently had with a work colleague who seemed to think Elvis was great in the 50s but a joke in the 60s, but i thought his reasons were lame. It's not like that's the first time I've heard or read comments of that nature, and it rekindled memories of comments that I've heard like that all my life.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:36 am

Showfan, I made a similar argument on these pages several years ago. I said if Elvis had recorded some of the Beach Boys songs (instead of the Beach Boys) in his movies, like Girl Happy, they wouldn't be great summer songs but lightweight, cheesy Elvis movie songs. Conversely, if Jefferson Airplane or Barry Maguire recorded Wisdom Of The Ages, instead of Elvis, that might seem like some deep message song.

Of course, no one from any era could make Wolf Call or I Love Only One Girl into anything but a POS. These kind of songs earned him the bad reputation. Elvis recording the Sgt Pepper album is an idea I had never considered before.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:59 am

showfan wrote:I realize that a lot of critics think Elvis in the 60s was lightweight compared to his 50s persona. It seems that some thought everything he recorded beyond the 50s should have been the next "Heartbreak Hotel," "Hound Dog," or "Jailhouse Rock," and anything less was not up to par.
As Elvis once said, "an image is one thing, a human being is another." I feel that Elvis created such an awesome image in the 50s, that there was no way to live up to it as the years passed. Everything he did in the 50s was 100% Elvis, from the way he wore his hair, his clothes, his songs, the way he performed them, and his on-stage style. He wasn't trying to fit a current trend or be like anybody else. At the time, it was "different." It was shocking and groundbreaking, thus, came his rebel, rocking image.
I feel that Elvis is often judged due to a time period rather than material. If Elvis had recorded "Teddy Bear" for the first time in 1966, for example, I'm sure everyone would have considered it just another silly song, yet because it was done in the 50s, during his raw period, it's awesome. On the other hand, I think he had some material in the 60s that was just as good as anyone else's, but because his image had then changed, it was written off as lightweight. On the other hand, some artists had hits with songs in the 60s that had they been released by Elvis, the song would have been considered mediocre at best.
To use a Beatles comparison as an example, If Elvis had recorded the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" exactly as the Beatles and had worn the same outfit on the cover, would it have still been considered a masterpiece, or his worst album to date? What if he had been the first to record "Yellow Submarine" and sang it in one of his movies in 1966? Somehow, I don't think it would have been a #2 hit for him as it was for the Beatles.


Nice post! For me you cant compare the 50s and the 60s. When Elvis got out of the Army his music adapted very well to the new "pop" music. When things changed mid 60s he was too caught up in making movies and cocooned in his own world to care much about where music was heading. When he got over his movie career he returned to making music he liked and by the mid 70s he was out of favour again.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:02 pm

stevelecher wrote:Showfan, I made a similar argument on these pages several years ago. I said if Elvis had recorded some of the Beach Boys songs (instead of the Beach Boys) in his movies, like Girl Happy, they wouldn't be great summer songs but lightweight, cheesy Elvis movie songs. Conversely, if Jefferson Airplane or Barry Maguire recorded Wisdom Of The Ages, instead of Elvis, that might seem like some deep message song.

Of course, no one from any era could make Wolf Call or I Love Only One Girl into anything but a POS. These kind of songs earned him the bad reputation. Elvis recording the Sgt Pepper album is an idea I had never considered before.


Yes, that's what I'm trying to say. Some say you can't compare 50s and 60s music, and perhaps that is true. It just seems that the argument is often that "lack of good songs" is what made Elvis lightweight in the 60s. I agree that Elvis recorded some things, such as what you mentioned, that nobody could have made into a great song. So, what if Elvis had been given first stab at songs that went on to be good songs in the 60s? I think there are many that would still have been considered lightweight for Elvis because people expected so much of him. If he had done "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Love Me Do," and "Summer In the City," i feel it would have been considered more junk for him, yet they were hits for others. On the other hand, if The Byrds had done "Wisdom of the Ages" with basically the same arrangements, I'm sure it would have been considered a deep song.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:34 pm

There is a general train of thought that suggests that Elvis in the 50s could do no wrong, and that every song he recorded was a fine song, and every performance he gave was wonderful. Someone with a more critical eye can tell that is not the case. There has already been mention in this thread of Teddy Bear, which to say the least is less than stellar material. It's very much of its time, and is fondly remembered today as much because of its appearance in the film, and because it was a hit at the time rather than because it is a stellar recording which hasn't dated. It has dated, and quite badly, but because it was a hit and part of the public consciousness we just kind of accept it.

The title song from Loving You is hard a masterpiece of a song either. Just take a look at the words:

I will spend my whole life through,
Loving you, loving you.
Winter, summer, springtime, too,
Loving you, loving you.
Makes no diff'rence where I go or what I do.
You know that I'll always be loving you.
If I'm seen with someone new,
Don't be blue, don't be blue.
I'll be faithful I'll be true;
Always true, true to you.
There is only one for me,
And you know who.
You know that I'll always be,
Loving you.

"There is only one for me, and you know who" is hardly Shakespeare, folks. In fact the lyric of the first verse, when separated from the music, sounds like a verse you might find in a birthday card for the missus.

The 50s material is certainly romanticised as being consistently brilliant when really it's not any more consistent than any other Presley period when we count only non-soundtrack, studio recordings. Yes, the hits came thick and fast and they capture the era perfectly, but as has been stated before, the albums suffered from a great deal of filler and relatively unimaginative covers of very recent hits. Even as early as 1957, Elvis was heading down the easy listening route with the cover of True Love, a song written by Cole Porter - hardly rock n roll.

The key thing about the 50s I guess is that there are no "bad" recordings - there are no Queenie Wahines, Smorgasboards, or even Hey Judes kicking around in those 100+ tracks, but to suggest that each and every one is a classic is ridiculous and far from the truth. As with every other Presley era there is a fair bit of mediocrity sitting alongside the works of art.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:42 pm

The second side of Loving You - there are only balads ans covers-I was bored with them after the good rock'n'roll on the first side. (Mean Woman Blues, Hot Dog, Party, Teddy Bear, Got a Lot a Livin' to Do!). Yes, the title song is mediocre but the movie is exciting and semiautobographical of Elvis and does have a fresh look at the reality of the rock'n'roll era. As acting, Elvis did a good job in Loving You - he is enthusiast, happy and comitted to the role.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:55 pm

Yes, the film is much better than the album, which is highly erratic in quality and almost schizophrenic in style from the wild Mean Woman Blues and Got A Lot of Livin' To Do to the pedestrian Blueberry Hill and Don't Leave Me Now. I need You So is the only real highlight on the second side.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:26 pm

Easy listening was always going to be part of Elvis' repertoire, whether it be the 50's, 60's or seventies.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:15 pm

poormadpeter wrote:There is a general train of thought that suggests that Elvis in the 50s could do no wrong, and that every song he recorded was a fine song, and every performance he gave was wonderful. Someone with a more critical eye can tell that is not the case. There has already been mention in this thread of Teddy Bear, which to say the least is less than stellar material. It's very much of its time, and is fondly remembered today as much because of its appearance in the film, and because it was a hit at the time rather than because it is a stellar recording which hasn't dated. It has dated, and quite badly, but because it was a hit and part of the public consciousness we just kind of accept it.

The 50s material is certainly romanticised as being consistently brilliant when really it's not any more consistent than any other Presley period when we count only non-soundtrack, studio recordings. Yes, the hits came thick and fast and they capture the era perfectly, but as has been stated before, the albums suffered from a great deal of filler and relatively unimaginative covers of very recent hits. Even as early as 1957, Elvis was heading down the easy listening route with the cover of True Love, a song written by Cole Porter - hardly rock n roll.


Yes, you and a few others understand exactly what I was trying to say. Personally, I like Elvis from all eras. I like "Teddy Bear" for what it is, but I agree with you that it was less than stellar material, and had he sang it in a 60s movie, people would have thought it to be a joke, yet because it was part of his 50s material, it is somehow superb. I'm sure if he had done "Long Legged Girl" on Sullivan, it would have been considered awesome, but I doubt his career would have been revived in 64 had he been the first to record "I Want To Hold Your Hand," even though it was a monster for the Beatles. Everyone has songs they like and dislike from all performers, but with Elvis, it's not enough to just say, "I don't care for that song" and leave it at that. People measure Elvis's songs beyond the 50s by some unreachable standard, such as, was it groundbreaking, did it blow your mind the first time you heard it, and did it turn the music world inside out again? If the answer is no, then it is dismissed as no good.

poormadpeter wrote:"There is only one for me, and you know who" is hardly Shakespeare, folks. In fact the lyric of the first verse, when separated from the music, sounds like a verse you might find in a birthday card for the missus.


Good example. I agree.

poormadpeter wrote:The key thing about the 50s I guess is that there are no "bad" recordings - there are no Queenie Wahines, Smorgasboards, or even Hey Judes kicking around in those 100+ tracks, but to suggest that each and every one is a classic is ridiculous and far from the truth. As with every other Presley era there is a fair bit of mediocrity sitting alongside the works of art.


I agree.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:49 pm

We have to remember, though, that songs are hits not just because of the material, but also because of the person singing them. By 1962 when the Beatles started hitting the charts, there was a new generation of teenagers who wanted their own idols - by this point Presley was viewed by them as something of past. They wanted singers who represented them, not someone who represented their older brothers and sisters.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:10 am

Let's not go overboard with this thread showfan.

I'm starting to disagree with the things you are saying.

If the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane or Barry Mcguire recorded ''Wisdom of ages'' it wouldn't have been hailed as a great message song.
It would've been tucked away as a B-side and no one would've paid much attention to it.

If Elvis would have sang ''Long legged girl'' on Ed Sullivan it be thought of as the weakest song he performed during those appearances.

I somewhat agree with what you are saying about ''Teddy Bear'' but you have to realize that the song was more contemporary sounding in 1957 than it would have been in 1967.

If someone else had recorded ''Teddy Bear'' in 1957 besides Elvis i could see it being a big hit for them.

Although the Beatles wrote ''I wanna hold your hand'' if Elvis had recorded it first it probably would have been a big million selling hit.

Sometimes an artist who is really popular can record a mediocre song and their popularity can take the song to #1.
It has happened from time to time with certain singers and bands not just Elvis.