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Good Times

Sun Jan 08, 2006 5:47 pm

It primarily came from what was arguably Elvis' best post-1970 recording sessions (December '73 Stax studio Memphis). It contained several strong performances. The material was a decided improvement over the previous studio lp. Elvis' voice was in it's best shape since 1970. It contained one of Elvis' most popular and successful singles of the 70's (My Boy), and one of his most charming and critically acclaimed (I've Got A Thing About You Baby). Yet despite all this the album climbed no higher than #90 in the Billboard U.S. top 200 album chart, making it Elvis' least successful studio lp of the 70's. Ironic considering it's better than Love Letters From Elvis; Elvis Now; Elvis; and Raised On Rock, all 4 of which achieved much higher chart positions.

The record begins with Take Good Care of Her (recorded at the previous July Stax sessions). Elvis sounds truly despondent. This performance/song is a companion piece to the low-keyed, wistful ballads Elvis cut in March '72.

Next is Lovin' Arms, one of Elvis' finest ballad performances of the 70's. The musical accompaniment is contemporary with a bluesy edge, and Elvis' voice has a wonderful fluidity and vibrancy to it that was so often missing from his 70's work. When he sings the line "dreaming of the arms that held me tight" he sounds sublime.

I've Got A Feelin' In My Body is a gospel-rocker with a funky feel. Penned by Burning Love writer Dennis Linde, Elvis sings this with much the same higher-pitched, breathlessly exuberant voice as he did the classic single. In particular the second go-round of "I gotta, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta" is exciting, as is the subtle tempo shift at the ending where Elvis ad-libs "I wanna know, I wanna know right now" and other lines.

The next track, If That Isn't Love, is a gospel number sang in a full-bodied manner by Elvis with heavy feeling. A very distinctive piano colors this song throughout.

The pretty ballad She Wears My Ring is well-performed by Elvis. On the original Good Times release this track (and others) was marred by excessive plate echo and background vocals, which all but smothered Elvis' emotive reading. The undubbed version on the Our Memories of Elvis vol. 2 revealed the beauty of Elvis' vocal, and the tastefully remixed version on the Promised Land upgrade also allows one to appreciate Elvis' singing.

To be continued .........

Sun Jan 08, 2006 6:35 pm

Excellent review Pete. One of my favourite albums from my teen years.

I look forward to the continuation


Mon Jan 09, 2006 12:22 am

Good Times review continued .......

Track #6, I've Got A Thing About You Baby, is another number from the July sessions. This Tony Joe White (Polk Salad Annie) penned song was a radio-friendly record that inexplicably failed to hit the U.S. pop chart top 20 as a single. The record is one of Felton Jarvis' most tasteful productions, featuring a subtle less-is-more arrangement, and an easy-paced vocal by Elvis.

My Boy is a number in the big, dramatic, orchestrated ballad style that became Elvis' forte in the 70's. Elvis turns in a tour de force performance, an emotional powerhouse that is as compelling as You Gave Me A Mountain.

Elvis and company go south of the border for the standard Spanish Eyes. James Burton's Mexican-styled mandolin licks add a touch of an Italian flavor, and Elvis handles the classic melody well, singing with feeling but controlled.

Next Jerry Reed's Talk About The Good Times is a fun, jaunty performance that is close to rockabilly. The lyric is unusual in that it's a bit of social commentary with Elvis pining for the simpler times of his youth. One can picture Elvis and friends sitting down by the riverside having an old-fashioned sing-along.

The album closes with the bluesy Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues. Musically, this track is similar to Loving Arms in overall feel. Interestingly Elvis omits the line about having pills to ease the pain. It's a melancholy way to end an album entitled Good Times, but it is nonetheless one of Elvis' best, and most memorable 70's tracks.

In closing Good Times, along with Promised Land and Today, rank as Elvis' best post 1970 studio lp's.

Mon Jan 09, 2006 12:53 am

Very enjoyable read Pete.


Tue Jan 10, 2006 9:52 pm

Thanks for great review. I bought it as a kid in 75 and thought it was like a gold record collection because of the title in a gold record! :? :)

Fri Jan 27, 2006 1:47 pm

I have always liked that record. Elvis sounds great and the songs are not the worst either.


PS: Good review!