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Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:46 pm

To use A Boy From Tupelo as an example of the 50s era being diminished is ridiculous. This was a book and 3 CDs that simply should not and could not have been published together at retail level. That was the mistake here. The cost of £100 was prohibitive to anyone other than Elvis's staunchest supporters, and the long list of alternate takes and poor-sounding live material would not have gone down well with more casual buyers anyway. The book should have been published separately at a more reasonable price, and then the audio material should have been issued by Sony to coincide with that in two versions: the 1st CD on its own and a 3CD set for collectors. That the item was published at a seemingly random time didn't help either. If it had taken 8 years to reach the publication stage, why not wait another two and coincide it with the 60 year anniversary where there would have been more publicity? It's just another example of poor vision on behalf of Sony.

The arguments here are ridiculous and, bizarrely, remind me of those put forward by opponents of gay marriage (of all things). In other words, there is some weird train of thought that by adding something (in this case a re-evaluation of the non-rock material) it is somehow diminishing what already exists (the established view of the rock material). Such an argument is pure lunacy.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:00 pm

Revelator wrote:
brian wrote:I mean it might not have stayed popular and been a fad
Like Disco music or the mambo.


That could be, but by 1958-9 the first generation of rock and rollers was already on the rocks--Elvis in the army, Little Richard in the ministry, Chuck Berry under arrest, Jerry Lee Lewis disgraced, Buddy Holly dead, etc. In a sense, the "fad" had lasted for four or five years, and when Elvis returned, his hits were either toned-down rock'n'roll numbers or Italianate ballads. The British invasion not only inspired a harder pop sound, but it also brought attention back to the first wave rock'n'rollers. I suspect that might have happened even without Elvis, though I'm of course engaging in counterfactual history.


I tend to think without Elvis you would have had a few rock n' roll singles by Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard.

Even though Rock around the Clock was a huge success Bill Haley was starting to fade by the time Elvis came on the national scene.

Who knows if Little Richard, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry would have stayed on the national scene for a few years without Elvis breaking it open.

Elvis was the main inspiration for so many rockers to start playing and really listening to rock n' roll music.

When Elvis popularized rock n' roll it helped other rock n' rollers get airplay.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:51 pm

Revelator wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:My perspective is not just the rise of rock 'n' roll but everything that changed with the appearance in popular culture of Elvis. Do I need to mention those who have written from a historical perspective about this, many of whom are not music critics?


Even Peter Guralnick has said rock'n'roll would have taken off without Elvis.


Again: NOT my point.


Revelator wrote:I suspect that Elvis's 50s music still sells more than his other work--certainly more than the movie and gospel music.


Your suspicions are incorrect.


Revelator wrote:But many things that we consider revolutionary are merely accidents or afterthoughts, starting with Elvis cutting up in the studio with "That's Alright." He was hardly thinking that he'd change history when he sang that. Saying Elvis was a "crooner at heart" is slightly reductive, but if Elvis was a rocker at heart, the majority of his recordings belie that.


"Slightly reductive." Again with the apologies.

Since you mention it, there is a great deal of evidence (thanks, George Smith) which strongly indicates "That's All Right" on 7-05-1954 was far from an off-the-cuff piece of material Elvis was throwing into the mix. Along the same lines, his TV performances in 1956-1957 were far from casual and spontaneous.

These are the kind of examples ignored or dismissed by our jazz critic. Food for thought.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:34 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:Again: NOT my point.


If your point is that "everything that changed with the appearance in popular culture of Elvis" then it's just an exaggeration. Rock'n'roll didn't need Elvis to give it life or prominence, though Elvis undoubtedly popularized it. There's no need for idolatry.

Your suspicions are incorrect.


Until you can quote sales figures for the general sales of Elvis's catalog, your argument will remain unconvincing.

"Slightly reductive." Again with the apologies.


Just nuance Doctor--a good quality to have when navigating between jazz and rock fanatics.

Since you mention it, there is a great deal of evidence (thanks, George Smith) which strongly indicates "That's All Right" on 7-05-1954 was far from an off-the-cuff piece of material Elvis was throwing into the mix. Along the same lines, his TV performances in 1956-1957 were far from casual and spontaneous.


Smith's interesting piece depends more on interpretation (conscious medley or half-remembered collage?) than hard evidence. Nor does it change the fact that the first recordings Elvis made--the ones he hoped might get him noticed--were ballads, precisely what you'd expect from someone who was a something of crooner at heart. Rock'n'roll didn't arrive until after "My Happiness," "I'll never Stand in Your Way," and the attempt at "Without You." Nor were Elvis's TV appearances designed to scandalize the press--they were hardly the modern equivalent of Miley Cyrus at the Grammys.

These are the kind of examples ignored or dismissed by our jazz critic. Food for thought.


Why should Friedwald--in an article that seeks to demonstrate Elvis's stylistic roots with pre-rock pop and to explore lesser known parts of his catalog often overlooked by rock-oriented approach--have to make note of examples that don't disprove his fundamental points? Unless one is insecure about Elvis's rock credentials, we don't need to hear them stressed yet again. It's more interesting to read about Elvis from a different perspective. I may not be into jazz, but I have nothing against jazz critics, especially when they can contextualize Elvis's music.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:03 am

I can see the line from Crosby to Dean Martin to Elvis with Harry Mills thrown in there. I think Elvis had Elements of crooning in his singing style and it colored most everything he did.

As for the author of this article, I'm not going to fault him for not getting Elvis. My uncle is a hard core jazz musician and he will never get Elvis and in some ways (from his perspective) I don't blame him. I'll tell you one thing, with all the recent Late Night TV changes here in the States; I will take Johnny Carson's big band over all the other show's bands any day!

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:12 am

Revelator wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Again: NOT my point.


If your point is that "everything that changed with the appearance in popular culture of Elvis" then it's just an exaggeration. Rock'n'roll didn't need Elvis to give it life or prominence, though Elvis undoubtedly popularized it. There's no need for idolatry.



Indeed. There is plenty of evidence that things were changing in popular culture BEFORE Elvis hit the national stage. Both Rebel Without a Cause and The Blackboard Jungle, made in 1955, show the cultural change before most of America had even heard the name Elvis Presley. The same can be said for Rock Around the Clock, which was released in March 1956, and therefore in production prior to the rise of Elvis in that year

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:37 am

poormadpeter wrote:
Revelator wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Again: NOT my point.


If your point is that "everything that changed with the appearance in popular culture of Elvis" then it's just an exaggeration. Rock'n'roll didn't need Elvis to give it life or prominence, though Elvis undoubtedly popularized it. There's no need for idolatry.



Indeed. There is plenty of evidence that things were changing in popular culture BEFORE Elvis hit the national stage. Both Rebel Without a Cause and The Blackboard Jungle, made in 1955, show the cultural change before most of America had even heard the name Elvis Presley. The same can be said for Rock Around the Clock, which was released in March 1956, and therefore in production prior to the rise of Elvis in that year


You are both missing the point guys. It was only through Elvis popularizing rock 'n' roll, crucially with teenagers, that popular culture changed.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:39 am

Revelator wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Again: NOT my point.


If your point is that "everything that changed with the appearance in popular culture of Elvis" then it's just an exaggeration. Rock'n'roll didn't need Elvis to give it life or prominence, though Elvis undoubtedly popularized it. There's no need for idolatry.



Your inability to get my point is dismaying. But, hey, what's a fanatic to do?

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:41 am

poormadpeter wrote:The arguments here are ridiculous and, bizarrely, remind me of those put forward by opponents of gay marriage (of all things).


Shane, you are to be congratulated for somehow getting the analogy of 'gay marriage' into this discussion. :wink:

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:07 am

It's all about the music!


phpBB [video]

Bill Haley And His Comets "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" (Decca 29124, May 8, 1954)
Billboard "Best Sellers in Stores" #1, July 9, 1955
Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:22 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:Indeed. There is plenty of evidence that things were changing in popular culture BEFORE Elvis hit the national stage. Both Rebel Without a Cause and The Blackboard Jungle, made in 1955, show the cultural change before most of America had even heard the name Elvis Presley. The same can be said for Rock Around the Clock, which was released in March 1956, and therefore in production prior to the rise of Elvis in that year


Again, that's not the point.

Further, you need to brush up on pop music history before your next debate. It will give your thoughts a tad more credibility.

Bill Haley's indelible single was released in May 1954 to little chart reaction, then found new life when used in the 1955 film "Blackboard Jungle." The single reentered the charts on May 14, 1955, and soon hit the top.


540508_Decca 29124_Bill Haley.JPG


phpBB [video]

Bill Haley And His Comets "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" (Decca 29124, May 8, 1954)
Billboard "Best Sellers in Stores" #1, July 9, 1955


... "Rock Around the Clock" was first issued in the spring of 1954 as a B-side to "Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town)." While the song did make the American Billboard music charts (contrary to popular opinion that it was a flop), it was considered a commercial disappointment. It was not until 1955, when "Rock Around the Clock" was used under the opening credits of the film Blackboard Jungle, that the song truly took off.

Many versions of the story behind how "Rock Around the Clock" was chosen for Blackboard Jungle circulated over the years. Recent research, however, reveals that the song was chosen from the collection of young Peter Ford, the son of Blackboard Jungle star Glenn Ford and dancer Eleanor Powell. The producers were looking for a song to represent the type of music the youth of 1955 was listening to, and the elder Ford borrowed several records from his son's collection, one of which was Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" and thus was the song chosen.

On July 9, 1955, "Rock Around the Clock" became the first rock and roll recording to hit the top of Billboard's Pop charts, a feat it repeated on charts around the world. The song stayed at this place for eight weeks. The record was also no.1 for seven weeks on the Cashbox pop singles chart in 1955. The Bill Haley version also hit number three on the R&B charts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Around_the_Clock#Slow_road_to_classic_hit_status



You shouldn't jump to conclusions - I was talking about the film of the same name, hence my reference to the production rather than the recording. Read more carefully and it saves people dotting the i's when they shouldn't have to. It's interesting, though, that you are compelled to jump on what you thought was an "error" rather partaking in intelligent debate about the point I was making.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:29 am

::rocks
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Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:40 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:You shouldn't jump to conclusions - I was talking about the film of the same name, hence my reference to the production rather than the recording. Read more carefully and it saves people dotting the i's when they shouldn't have to. Having said that, your post ironically proves my point. Things were already changing before Elvis.


And as I've said over and over, that is not the point.

As for your correction, most who enjoy music know that records are produced as well as films. For example, "Strawberry Fields Forever" is quite a production, perhaps the greatest in the storied career of the Beatles. Thus, your statement was vague, not to mention unconvincing. Hope this helps.

It must be said, it is odd you tout your education on these forums, but are often incapable of clearly presenting your thoughts.

Again, correcting these deficiencies will only serve to elevate those thoughts you try to convey. ;-)


My thoughts were quite obvious. A paragraph generally involves a number of sentences about the same subject. Therefore the link to film was obvious anyway. What's more, the vast majority of people refer to music being "recorded" especially in 1955. A producer produces, a singer records. You are an intelligent man, I think you already know this. But go ahead, quote me a book that says "in 1956, Elvis produced Hound Dog" and I'll eat my words. But I think that is unlikely.

Alternatively, we could discuss the sudden return of your animosity towards me and why that might have occurred?

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:51 am

::rocks
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Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:57 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:My thoughts were quite obvious. A paragraph generally involves a number of sentences about the same subject. Therefore the link to film was obvious anyway. What's more, the vast majority of people refer to music being "recorded" especially in 1955. A producer produces, a singer records. You are an intelligent man, I think you already know this. But go ahead, quote me a book that says "in 1956, Elvis produced Hound Dog" and I'll eat my words. But I think that is unlikely.

Alternatively, we could discuss the sudden return of your animosity towards me and why that might have occurred?


My bad, I thought the discussion was a jazz critic reassessing Elvis' post 1950s music.

And I always thought that a producer produces, and a singer sings. How did you miss that?

Also, to seize your example, if you are unaware that July 2, 1956 is the first RCA session where Elvis is in essence the producer, one wonders what you are doing here.

You should revisit my Haley post, it offers the best sounding YouTube clip of that seminal New York production.

::rocks


My post stated that "rock around the clock" was "in production" prior to March 1956. A song might have been produced (at a push), but no-one would say a song was "in production".

I have no interest in revisiting your post - I have much more interest in you commenting on my earlier post about the films that quite clearly detailed the change in popular culture associated with Elvis and rock n roll BEFORE he was even a household name.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:47 am

::rocks
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Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:03 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I have no interest in revisiting your post ...


And, really, why should you? It's all about the music, and you're all about the rancor.

Have fun.


This is the problem. We're not talking about music at this point in time, we're talking about effects on popular culture and history. No amount of recycled wikipedia articles are going to help your cause unless you can put together a case for yourself. That, my friend, is where you fail. Again.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:45 am

::rocks
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Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:45 am

It's a simplification to say that Elvis was "a crooner at heart". He was moved by many genres and vocal styles. The enthusiasm with which Elvis sang some R&B and rock 'n' roll material makes it clear that, when in the mood, he loved to perform it. Elvis had "That's All Right" in his arsenal because it was material that he performed in private alongside the more sedate stuff.

To say that Elvis' rock voice had nothing in common with later rockers is also a little dubious. Yes, the more low-key material revealed traces of the crooner influence (including the likes of "Here Comes Santa Claus" which had been performed by Bing and others), but Friedwald seems to ignore the power and vocal rasp present in the likes of "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," and "A Big Hunk O' Love". That has nothing to do with Bing or Dean Martin, but plenty to do with the harder rock that followed.

Elvis was influenced by and enjoyed singing a broad range of styles, which means that he'll appeal to different people for different reasons. We see it on this board all the time. If there was a poll, you could probably find someone who would prefer "Girl of Mine" to "So Glad You're Mine" - not me I hasten to add :-) Friedwald isn't a rocker at heart, so has been drawn to the elements of Elvis' musical personality that most appeal to him. In doing so, he's downplayed some of what made Elvis great in my opinion, but it's still a good thing that he experienced an Elvis epiphany.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:06 am

TJ wrote:It's a simplification to say that Elvis was "a crooner at heart". He was moved by many genres and vocal styles. The enthusiasm with which Elvis sang some R&B and rock 'n' roll material makes it clear that, when in the mood, he loved to perform it. Elvis had "That's All Right" in his arsenal because it was material that he performed in private alongside the more sedate stuff.

To say that Elvis' rock voice had nothing in common with later rockers is also a little dubious. Yes, the more low-key material revealed traces of the crooner influence (including the likes of "Here Comes Santa Claus" which had been performed by Bing and others), but Friedwald seems to ignore the power and vocal rasp present in the likes of "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," and "A Big Hunk O' Love". That has nothing to do with Bing or Dean Martin, but plenty to do with the harder rock that followed.

Elvis was influenced by and enjoyed singing a broad range of styles, which means that he'll appeal to different people for different reasons. We see it on this board all the time. If there was a poll, you could probably find someone who would prefer "Girl of Mine" to "So Glad You're Mine" - not me I hasten to add :-) Friedwald isn't a rocker at heart, so has been drawn to the elements of Elvis' musical personality that most appeal to him. In doing so, he's downplayed some of what made Elvis great in my opinion, but it's still a good thing that he experienced an Elvis epiphany.


Friedwald states Elvis was a crooner at heart, not that crooning was what he did best, or what was most important - simply that he was, by instinct and within his heart, a crooner or ballad singer.

When Elvis entered Sun Studios, he could have recorded anything. What did he record? Rock n roll or rockabilly? no. His first six recordings were ballads. That was how he saw himself. A ballad singer. Yes, rock n roll made him famous, but anyone who looks at the list of hundreds of studio masters will know that he recorded far more ballads than rock n roll, and when he had a choice between the two genres, it would be ballads he would choose to record or sing in concert.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:08 am

TJ wrote:It's a simplification to say that Elvis was "a crooner at heart". He was moved by many genres and vocal styles. The enthusiasm with which Elvis sang some R&B and rock 'n' roll material makes it clear that, when in the mood, he loved to perform it. Elvis had "That's All Right" in his arsenal because it was material that he performed in private alongside the more sedate stuff.


Certainly. But "That's All Right" was not even close to the first item in his arsenal when he tried to get noticed at Sun, though we're all glad that he eventually reached for it. And I think most of us are disappointed that Elvis didn't record more rock'n'roll during the 60s or 70s. But the fact that he didn't suggests that perhaps he wasn't fully a rocker at heart. That doesn't bar him from being one of the greatest rock'n'roll performers of all time. It just means that like many performers he had gifts that he took a little lightly.

To say that Elvis' rock voice had nothing in common with later rockers is also a little dubious.


Perhaps it's an overstatement, but it has some truth to it. I don't hear much Elvis in the vocal approach of, say, the Beatles, whereas I can hear a lot of Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard. For a many of the later rockers Elvis was a gateway figure into rock'n'roll and blues, and they tended to more clearly imitate the figures beyond the gate.

Friedwald seems to ignore the power and vocal rasp present in the likes of "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," and "A Big Hunk O' Love". That has nothing to do with Bing or Dean Martin, but plenty to do with the harder rock that followed.


True, though I would add a few qualifiers (and Friedwald also lists Ray Charles and Louis Jordan as influences on Elvis's raucous side). Those three songs--which qualify as hard rock by Elvis's standards--make up a rather small part of Elvis's catalog, even if you factor out the later movie material. Elvis never rocked as hard again as he did in "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock," which again suggests that his commitment was not that of someone who saw rock as his calling. Lastly, plenty has already been written about Elvis as a rock'n'roller, to the point where the music he recorded outside that genre sometimes gets short-shrift in the eyes of critics and the public. Friedwald's article is a useful corrective, even if the pendulum swings slightly to far in the opposite direction.

Friedwald isn't a rocker at heart, so has been drawn to the elements of Elvis' musical personality that most appeal to him. In doing so, he's downplayed some of what made Elvis great in my opinion, but it's still a good thing that he experienced an Elvis epiphany.


Definitely a good thing, and what's downplayed can easily take care of itself.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:20 am

Elvis liked rock and roll until the end. Burning Love, Promised Land, T.R.O.U.B.L.E, For the Heart proves that he never forgot his roots. Sam Phillips convinced him that rockabilly and later Rock and Roll was the best style for him.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:20 pm

jurasic1968 wrote:Sam Phillips convinced him that rockabilly and later Rock and Roll was the best style for him.

...to perform if he wanted to make it in the business. Elvis soon realized that it was riding atop the rock and roll wave that was sweeping the world that would put money in his pockets, cars in the driveway and girls in his arms. So that's what he performed, and better than anybody else. However, he never forgot his roots and the music he truly loved: gospel, country and, yes, MOR/crooner music. That's why, when the 70s came along, he naturally returned to those roots when he decided that he was going to damn well sing what he wanted to sing. That he found more pleasure in singing Olivia Newton-John covers than anything from his own repertoire only seems to confirm this.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:32 pm

The silliness of some of the arguments can be found via a quick look at a much-admire work on Elvis. Friedwald is criticised for saying that Elvis was a crooner at heart, and yet Ernst Jorgensen says much the same thing in his book at the top of page 17: "it was natural to allow the young singer to start with what he loved best: ballads". Two writers putting over the same message, but one is apparently unacceptable because he happens to like jazz. Go figure.

Re: "Elvis at 70" in American Heritage Magazine

Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:36 pm

Just my 2 cents: I can see why Doc feels like he does. But having read Friedwald Sinatra book, his review and change of opinion really amazed me. Here's a guy who IS harsh when he does his critic thing, calling Bono contribution to Sinatra's I've Got You Under My Skin (from 1993's Duets) "he sounds like a punk drunk in a karaoke". I won't reveal more pearls though, but he reminds me of Tom Jones comments about Mick Jagger, Phil Collins or others.

And he attacks Sinatra's bad work (bad for Friedwald of course) with the same passion.

But don't be fooled, his review of Sinatra's career is INCREDIBLE to the point of essentialness.

One of the clues that he hadn't heard much Presley is in that same book, where he dismisses Elvis a few times, most notably citing him as an example that fame and talent don't always come in the same lot, but he doesn't go far, he sounds as he hadn't really heard Elvis (certainly like most critics)

That such a harsh credited guy had the balls to actually do his homework and listen to Elvis and admit his mistake is to his credit.

Remember Elvis is the only artist not accepted by those who came before (see how Elvis and the establishment officially reacted to Beatles and how everybody reacted to Elvis in the 50's), and not accepted by those who came after (that Elvis died before he went to the Army thing).