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Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:24 am

brian wrote: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.

Isn't that exactly what showfan is trying to say? We shouldn't underestimate the timing and hype that has a lot to say for any entertainer out there, also Elvis.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:00 am

Xaykev wrote:
brian wrote: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.

Isn't that exactly what showfan is trying to say? We shouldn't underestimate the timing and hype that has a lot to say for any entertainer out there, also Elvis.


I meant it does happen with some artists but not as often as Showfan is making out.

Showfan is exaggerating that and then using it as an example for some things that i don't think are true.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:48 am

Showfan is right though in that much of the criticism of Elvis' later work is reflexive, rather than reflective. Soundtrack bad. 60s Beach Boys good. (Not that I don't like '60s Beach Boys.) Sometimes people respond more to the context and preconceptions than they do to the work. I was on here a few months and ago and fans were praising "Beauty School Drop Out" from Grease a song that makes me cringe worse than any Elvis movie song and if it were an Elvis movie song fans we would be bemoaning that he ever sang it. Instead we hear satirical it is, well truth to be told a lot of Elvis' movie material is meant that way as well, not that's it's good satire.

I've often wondered if "Return to Sender" and "Can't Help Falling in Love" if fans of those songs would be battling for them on internet message boards today had they not been released on single and become big hits. The size of their popularity has overruled the reflex in many cases.

Personally, the story that does the most for me in this regard is the "MacArthur Park" story from the '68 TV show. It's great that Elvis saw himself going that far afield. But does anyone in their right mind think it's a loss that Elvis never sang "MacArthur Park"? It's in Richard Harris' version, one of the worst records I've ever heard. But because it was recorded in an edgy era and had success it has a patina of legitimacy and somehow Elvis, a singer whose talent ten thousand percent outstrips this overripe, overwrought, overlong, unintentionally funny composition, has to attach himself to it to acquire some.

As for Barry McGuire. If someone had played me "Eve of Destruction" and "Shake That Tambourine" back to back in 1965, it would be hard to tell which record was more lame. Again, McGuire's record had success and despite its innumerable flaws, including McGuire's near psychotic delivery, it gets some respect.

It's very important to be a hit I think because people remember hits and a hit will always find defenders.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:02 am

brian wrote:
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.

Elvis took many mediocre songs high on the charts with his artistry and popularity. When a singer is hot, you are correct, he can sell anything. How else to explain Bobby Sherman's greatest hits?

Teddy Bear is a fine song for its era and deserved to be a big hit. It's catchy and Elvis is terrific on it.

When I was younger, I didn't like side 2 of Loving You. Now, I like it more than side one.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:07 am

likethebike made great comments and examples. I too, liked the Beach Boys, and the songs I used as examples in previous posts were not "bad" songs that were only popular because of the artist, but I don't think they would have been considered great songs had Elvis recorded them. People say we can't compare 50s and 60s music. That is true to a degree, but if lack of good songs was part of Elvis's problem in the 60s, it seems to me that we should be able to pick some big hits of the 60s and say, "These are the kinds of songs he could have done and remained on top," but I find that to not be the case. So, what was the guy to do?

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:33 am

showfan wrote: People say we can't compare 50s and 60s music. That is true to a degree, but if lack of good songs was part of Elvis's problem in the 60s, it seems to me that we should be able to pick some big hits of the 60s and say, "These are the kinds of songs he could have done and remained on top," but I find that to not be the case. So, what was the guy to do?


I've always felt that the biggest mistake Elvis and the Colonel made was to wait until 1968 before they decided to do something else.

Music was changing with folk rock, The British invasion and Bob Dylan but Colonel Parker's plans were just to continue recording the soundrack material and ride the movie formula.

I think beginning in 1964 around the time of Roustabout Colonel Parker and Elvis should have opened up the publishing to allow Elvis access to other songwriters and to say they would get Elvis better scripts.

Elvis could have gotten songs by Goffin & King, Mann & Weil, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Mitch Murray, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Jimmy Webb and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.

Those songwriters could have saved Elvis' career during 1964 to 1968.

No Girl Happy, Harem Scarem, Clambake, Easy come easy go, Double Trouble, paradise Hawaiian style etc.

There were a lot of non performing songwriters during those years.
Elvis had several different options it wasn't like recording the soundtracks was the only thing he could've done.

As for songs that were hits by other artists that Elvis could have had hits with?
the list is long.

It's not unusual, Green green grass of home, The Letter, Hooked on a feeling, Memphis, Galveston, You don't have to say you love me.

He could have had a hit with Solitary man if Neil Diamond would have gave it to him.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:38 am

When Elvis came out with Gi Blues ''Wooden heart'' was released as a single all over the world and it proved to be very popular.

It hit #1 in several countries.

It's not what i ever thought would be a #1 hit so you'd think it was Elvis' popularity at that time that made it one.

However Joe Dowell recorded it and was able to release it as a single in the United States where it hit #1 in August of 1961.

I guess it wasn't Elvis' popularity like you would think but instead the masses must've really liked that song.

Joe Dowell was a one hit wonder with no following or no popularity before or after that.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:13 am

brian wrote:
showfan wrote: People say we can't compare 50s and 60s music. That is true to a degree, but if lack of good songs was part of Elvis's problem in the 60s, it seems to me that we should be able to pick some big hits of the 60s and say, "These are the kinds of songs he could have done and remained on top," but I find that to not be the case. So, what was the guy to do?


I've always felt that the biggest mistake Elvis and the Colonel made was to wait until 1968 before they decided to do something else.

Music was changing with folk rock, The British invasion and Bob Dylan but Colonel Parker's plans were just to continue recording the soundrack material and ride the movie formula.

I think beginning in 1964 around the time of Roustabout Colonel Parker and Elvis should have opened up the publishing to allow Elvis access to other songwriters and to say they would get Elvis better scripts.

Elvis could have gotten songs by Goffin & King, Mann & Weil, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Mitch Murray, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Jimmy Webb and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.

Those songwriters could have saved Elvis' career during 1964 to 1968.


Maybe. As Poormadpeter suggested times were changing and youth wanted their own idols. But it's also important to note that a big reason that Elvis stayed on that treadmill after say Roustabout was that for an artist in his tenth year in the spotlight 1965 was year of tremendous commercial fortune. Elvis ranked in the Top Ten in both box office and record sales. So you can see why they stayed. As for whether the slump that happened in the subsequent years could have happened in the few next years with good material, you don't know. It could have just been Elvis' time to slump. Jackie DeShannon, great singerm had access to those writers. One hit wonder. Jerry Butler recorded "Alfie" before anyone else. No one listened to it. You never know.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:54 am

likethebike wrote:
brian wrote:
showfan wrote: People say we can't compare 50s and 60s music. That is true to a degree, but if lack of good songs was part of Elvis's problem in the 60s, it seems to me that we should be able to pick some big hits of the 60s and say, "These are the kinds of songs he could have done and remained on top," but I find that to not be the case. So, what was the guy to do?


I've always felt that the biggest mistake Elvis and the Colonel made was to wait until 1968 before they decided to do something else.

Music was changing with folk rock, The British invasion and Bob Dylan but Colonel Parker's plans were just to continue recording the soundrack material and ride the movie formula.

I think beginning in 1964 around the time of Roustabout Colonel Parker and Elvis should have opened up the publishing to allow Elvis access to other songwriters and to say they would get Elvis better scripts.

Elvis could have gotten songs by Goffin & King, Mann & Weil, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Mitch Murray, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Jimmy Webb and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.

Those songwriters could have saved Elvis' career during 1964 to 1968.


Maybe. As Poormadpeter suggested times were changing and youth wanted their own idols. But it's also important to note that a big reason that Elvis stayed on that treadmill after say Roustabout was that for an artist in his tenth year in the spotlight 1965 was year of tremendous commercial fortune. Elvis ranked in the Top Ten in both box office and record sales. So you can see why they stayed. As for whether the slump that happened in the subsequent years could have happened in the few next years with good material, you don't know. It could have just been Elvis' time to slump. Jackie DeShannon, great singerm had access to those writers. One hit wonder. Jerry Butler recorded "Alfie" before anyone else. No one listened to it. You never know.


I don't think Elvis was ever going to be popular with the teenagers of that time but he wouldn't need to be.

Elvis' own exsisting fan base could have kept him in the top ten and maybe he could have picked up a few new fans during that time.

I say that because if you look at Elvis' chart statistics and sales ''Kissin cousins'', ''Ask me, ''Ain't that loving you baby'', I'm yours'', ''Such an easy question'' and ''Such a night'' did almost hit the top ten.
''Crying in the Chapel'' did hit the top ten.

I figure with more contemporary material Elvis could have had some bigger hit records during that period.

Elvis did get back into the top ten in 1969 and 1970 with ''Suspicious minds'', ''In the ghetto'', ''Don't cry daddy'' and ''the wonder of you''.

Were teenagers snatching up those songs i don't think so but they still hit the top ten and they were million sellers.

Jackie Deshannon never had the fans Elvis had and she was on a smaller label.

Even if recording songs by Goffin & King wasn't going to get Elvis hits i'd still rather his career go in that direction.
That would give Elvis a greater chance.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:36 pm

likethebike wrote:Showfan is right though in that much of the criticism of Elvis' later work is reflexive, rather than reflective. Soundtrack bad. 60s Beach Boys good.

This is simply untrue. Yet it's no surprise you embrace this; only someone who is a prime exponent of the apologist argument can possibly believe such folly.

The reality is that much of the criticism of Presley's '60s work is based on the material and performance. And in many, many instances, Elvis recorded sub-par material with lackluster (or worse) performances and production. To be plain, he stopped trying, and nearly killed his career.

likethebike wrote:I was on here a few months and ago and fans were praising "Beauty School Drop Out" from Grease a song that makes me cringe worse than any Elvis movie song and if it were an Elvis movie song fans we would be bemoaning that he ever sang it.

Huh? What "fans"?

The only mentions of "Beauty School Dropout" on this forum are from 2006, mostly made by you, and praise is not seen by anyone. Your use of this as a point of comparison is nothing but deceptive, and it's strange you choose to support your thoughts using false premises.

likethebike wrote:Personally, the story that does the most for me in this regard is the "MacArthur Park" story from the '68 TV show. It's great that Elvis saw himself going that far afield. But does anyone in their right mind think it's a loss that Elvis never sang "MacArthur Park"? It's in Richard Harris' version, one of the worst records I've ever heard.

The actual point of this story is that Jimmy Webb, the song's author and the producer of the Harris single, was highly regarded in May 1968 by almost everyone in the current music scene as someone who was new and innovative, and NBC director Steve Binder used "MacArthur Park" -- a very new release that already was turning heads and would become a huge pop hit -- as a litmus test to see if Elvis was still connected to and interested in contemporary musical trends.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Webb
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacArthur_Park_(song)


When Presley answered in the affirmative, Binder had his answer, and it was key to the development of the show. Binder knew Presley had not lost the plot. We all know what happened after that.

But heck, yeah, thank goodness Elvis never covered this 1968 Richard Harris single, and held out for five years and a cover of a 1971 Richard Harris release called "My Boy" instead.

likethebike wrote:As for Barry McGuire. If someone had played me "Eve of Destruction" and "Shake That Tambourine" back to back in 1965, it would be hard to tell which record was more lame.

This says much more about your unyielding support of the apologist argument regarding Elvis' career in the '60s than anything about these two recordings.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:42 pm

brian wrote:
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.



Here is a quote from Lennon 'Even Elvis is sounding great again' It was said in 1969, so obviously he was listening to those Memphis sessions. But as we all know and most agree upon, it was the last time Elvis sounded as though he was reborn in a recording studio, I doubt Lennon grooved to Raised On Rock.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:46 pm

r&b wrote:Here is a quote from Lennon 'Even Elvis is sounding great again' It was said in 1969, so obviously he was listening to those Memphis sessions. But as we all know and most agree upon, it was the last time Elvis sounded as though he was reborn in a recording studio, I doubt Lennon grooved to Raised On Rock.

Where is that 1969 quote from? I've never heard it before, and suspect it may not be genuine.

The Beatles are mentioned a few times in Ken Sharp's ELVIS - VEGAS 69:

RAY CONNOLLY (music writer, London Evening Standard) At that time I was friendly with the Beatles. I was in Apple a few days before I left for Vegas and told Mal Evans, one of the Beatles' assistants, that I was going to Vegas to see Elvis. He was obsessed with Elvis, just Like me. When we got to Elvis's room he had a telegram on his door from The Beatles and Mal it said, "Congratulations on your opening night." Elvis seemed touched by that....

RAY CONNOLLY ....Two days later I'm back in England and I'm on the phone with John Lennon and I get exactly the same questions from him (as I got from Bob Dylan) about Elvis. "How was the show? Did he do any of the Sun numbers? Did he play 'Mystery Train'?". It showed me more than anything that rock stars are basically fans who do it themselves.

John Lennon did have interest in Elvis' return to the stage, with obvious hope that his hero would maintain his rock 'n' roll roots.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:20 pm

As Doc pointed out - "It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened."


You are correct, we were :cry:

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:59 pm

Chris Roberts wrote:As Doc pointed out - "It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened."


You are correct, we were :cry:

1968-70 must have felt like manna from Heaven.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:31 pm

Beauty School Dropout is not something I care about, but at least it's pretty witty. Elvis never did a witty movie song, the attempts at humour are all disastrous as far as I can recall.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:43 pm

King Volcano wrote:Beauty School Dropout is not something I care about, but at least it's pretty witty. Elvis never did a witty movie song, the attempts at humour are all disastrous as far as I can recall.

True, but what is truly peculiar is that this song from 1971's "Grease" was ruefully claimed as the focus of some kind of untoward praise on this forum, when the truth of the matter is it was praised by no one, and only ever brought up by the person who complained about it. Very odd.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:49 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Chris Roberts wrote:As Doc pointed out - "It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened."


You are correct, we were :cry:

1968-70 must have felt like manna from Heaven.



It sure did. One of the most exciting times was watching the TV special for the first time with a couple of mates, I just couldn't take my eyes of the screen and you have to remember that there was no video or DVD, so we didn't know if we would ever see it again. We only had a black and white TV, as colour was only just beginning in 1968 in the UK, we always were several years behind the US :!: Watching that programme was like seeing the 50's Elvis all over again and after PHS, HS etc it was pure bliss.

The other great moment was playing the FEIM album for the first time, apart from the LP HGTA we hadn't had an album, excluding the golden record series, full of great tracks since PL in 1962. It truely was heaven, and in a couple of years I would get to see him live. :D

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:10 am

Chris Roberts wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
Chris Roberts wrote:As Doc pointed out - "It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened."


You are correct, we were :cry:

1968-70 must have felt like manna from Heaven.



It sure did. One of the most exciting times was watching the TV special for the first time with a couple of mates, I just couldn't take my eyes of the screen and you have to remember that there was no video or DVD, so we didn't know if we would ever see it again. We only had a black and white TV, as colour was only just beginning in 1968 in the UK, we always were several years behind the US :!: Watching that programme was like seeing the 50's Elvis all over again and after PHS, HS etc it was pure bliss.

The other great moment was playing the FEIM album for the first time, apart from the LP HGTA we hadn't had an album, excluding the golden record series, full of great tracks since PL in 1962. It truely was heaven, and in a couple of years I would get to see him live. :D


Wow, very cool words. I just read this twice :)

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:18 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Chris Roberts wrote:As Doc pointed out - "It's fair to say by 1965 he didn't even try anymore. Fans all over the world were stunned, mystified, and saddened."


You are correct, we were :cry:

1968-70 must have felt like manna from Heaven.

You became a fan after this time Doc? You were very young or not born yet? 1969 and 1970 were excellent. One great record after the next coming out. The albums were amazing: Elvis, EIM, From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis, On Stage, TTWII, Elvis Country, and then uh oh, what? Love Letters From Elvis. Still not real alarmed but then the Christmas album came out and the single Sound Of Your Cry/It's Only Love and real alarm. What's with these songs and Elvis' vocals?

Until Elvis Country though, the press and the records were great and it was great being an Elvis fan.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:29 pm

Just a few thoughts here. Why is what Elvis recorded in 1954-58 more significant than what he did in the 1960s? Not just because the material was per definition so much better (it was in many cases, but not always), but simply because he sang it better, his vocal delivery, his performance, his style was so much more interesting and committed than what he did between 1964 and 1968, and that’s what makes his 50s work so important and lasting. Had he recorded Teddy Bear in say 1965 it wouldn’t have been the same hit, because he would have sang it like Frankie and Johnny or Harem Holiday. That’s also what made the success of new artists in the 60s, because the best of them came up with similar qualities as Elvis in the 50s had: vocal delivery, performance, commitment etc, plus something that become more and more key, production. If you realize what efforts went into the production of for example a Beatles song/album, including experiments in sound or not, than one has to understand why even something like Yellow Submarine (like it or not) will always be more respected than for example Queenie Waheenie or Wolf Call. Even the Elvis album covers looked duller with the years, while those of many of the 60s top artists evolved into works of art. All that seemed lost on Elvis for most part of the 60s and that’s why so many will continue to think less of him in that era.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:33 pm

Marc Haegeman wrote:Just a few thoughts here. Why is what Elvis recorded in 1954-58 more significant than what he did in the 1960s? Not just because the material was per definition so much better (it was in many cases, but not always), but simply because he sang it better, his vocal delivery, his performance, his style was so much more interesting and committed than what he did between 1964 and 1968, and that’s what makes his 50s work so important and lasting. Had he recorded Teddy Bear in say 1965 it wouldn’t have been the same hit, because he would have sang it like Frankie and Johnny or Harem Holiday. That’s also what made the success of new artists in the 60s, because the best of them came up with similar qualities as Elvis in the 50s had: vocal delivery, performance, commitment etc, plus something that become more and more key, production. If you realize what efforts went into the production of for example a Beatles song/album, including experiments in sound or not, than one has to understand why even something like Yellow Submarine (like it or not) will always be more respected than for example Queenie Waheenie or Wolf Call. Even the Elvis album covers looked duller with the years, while those of many of the 60s top artists evolved into works of art. All that seemed lost on Elvis for most part of the 60s and that’s why so many will continue to think less of him in that era.

Nice post. It's a reality-check some here will find very displeasing, though.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:58 pm

I thought the cover art for Elvis was okay during the 1960s.

It was during the 1970s that it completely sucked.

The CD re-issues or new compilations for TTWII, Aloha and Burning Love featured much better cover art than the original LP's.

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:47 pm

brian wrote:I thought the cover art for Elvis was okay during the 1960s.

It was during the 1970s that it completely sucked.

The CD re-issues or new compilations for TTWII, Aloha and Burning Love featured much better cover art than the original LP's.


You sure must like cut and paste work, Brian ;-) And what to make of that PHS cover with a pic of Elvis from three years earlier?

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:52 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
King Volcano wrote:Beauty School Dropout is not something I care about, but at least it's pretty witty. Elvis never did a witty movie song, the attempts at humour are all disastrous as far as I can recall.

True, but what is truly peculiar is that this song from 1971's "Grease" was ruefully claimed as the focus of some kind of untoward praise on this forum, when the truth of the matter is it was praised by no one, and only ever brought up by the person who complained about it. Very odd.


It sounds like the English playwrite Joe Orton, who to get people talking about his latest play, would write letters using a psuedonym to the press condemning the play, then a while later write another under a different name, defending the play & condemning the previous complaint (which was of course by him!) :)

Re: Elvis beyond the 50s.

Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:21 pm

Marc Haegeman wrote:
brian wrote:I thought the cover art for Elvis was okay during the 1960s.

It was during the 1970s that it completely sucked.

The CD re-issues or new compilations for TTWII, Aloha and Burning Love featured much better cover art than the original LP's.


You sure must like cut and paste work, Brian ;-) And what to make of that PHS cover with a pic of Elvis from three years earlier?

Most of the Presley LP designs in the 1960s were cheap, an insult to the artist and a reflection of the lack of thought put into the music inside. Most in the 1970s were no better. It is no surprise they were all designed by Tom Parker, someone for whom art direction was a foreign concept.