Thanks Doc, Jerry and Scatter!
Let's see if I can piece this 'thang back together...
Scatter wrote:Fragile and decaying........."Hurt" sounds fragile and decaying to you. "American Trilogy" sounds fragile and decaying. "Promised Land". No nuance to be found in "Separate Ways", or "Danny Boy", or "My Way"??
1) My remark of "fragile and decaying" was meant in a generalised, hyperbolic way - as was my contrasting remark of "heaven-sent and god-like". Neither remark applies universally to every last thing Elvis ever sang in either set of decades, but if you were to sum the two up in a handful of words, I believe my phrasing was and is a pretty accurate way to go.
2) I never claimed there was no nuance to be found in tracks like "Separate Ways", "Danny Boy" or "My Way" - I simply said that such material doesn't exhibit the same kind
of subtlety or nuance. I think that's still a solid statement, though now I look back on it after your objection, maybe the implication - that the subtlety and nuance displayed in the 70's is of an inferior type to that shown in earlier recordings - is dead wrong. Still, compare how Elvis sings "It Hurts Me" in 1964 to just about anything that was tackled in the 70's; there's a big difference - even if I perhaps lack the eloquence to adequately describe it. His vibrato is under much tighter control in "It Hurts Me" and his phrasing, timing and elocution exist on an almost totally different plane. It helps, of course, that Elvis' upper register is also at its peak.
drjohncarpenter wrote:Well, I can certainly understand your sentiment. Votes for "Burning Love" (1972) and "Promised Land" (1973) should at least be counted, although it could have been a LOT more than that.
Both are fantastic songs - but Elvis has always sounded strained to me on "Burning Love". It came as no surprise to me to learn that he struggled to get a decent take in the studio, and on top of that, was supposedly reluctant to sing it in "Aloha From Hawaii" (which is somewhat borne out in the actual footage - he completely flubs the song in the rehearsal and delivers a fairly remedial performance of it in the main event). As for "Promised Land"... Elvis' voice has always sounded too far back in the mix for it to make the impact I sense it would were that not the case.
likethebike wrote:I agree with Rockin' Rebel that some critics have blinders on in regard to the '70s. To say Elvis looked bloated in "Aloha" is way off base. He looked fabulous. I actually have some problems with the show but to criticize his appearance here is way off base.
Although I only own and have only fully read "Last Train To Memphis", I find myself inclined to agree with N880EP et al who call "Careless Love" a superficial and lacklustre treatment of Elvis' later life. Where does Guralnick get off calling Elvis "bloated" in "Aloha From Hawaii"? Where, in fact, does he get off saying or implying the only great performance from that show was "An American Trilogy"? In the words of Elvis: "what the fff---?" I don't want anyone to leave this thread with the impression that I hate or have a disdain for Elvis' latter work - I don't. I absolutely adore many of the performances from the 70's (but I still feel the cadence and energy of the 50's and 60's, and perhaps 1970, is unmatched). When push comes to shove, in spite of everything I've said prior to this moment, I'll get as irritable - and perhaps much more - than "the next Elvis fan", to to speak, when it comes to Guralnick and his flimsy appraisal of Elvis' twilight work. "Aloha From Hawaii", despite some flaws and lesser spots, is a staggering concert from the world's greatest entertainer. It's a milestone and a musical gem all on its own. Now, while I could understand Guralnick being more negative than positive about it (simply because it accurately reflects the trajectory of his tale), he clearly took things too far. It's not just about the singing or the appearance of Elvis (and yet, even on those levels, Guralnick is cynical and dismissive), but it's also about Elvis' command of the stage, his synergy with the band and how he smoothly transitions from one song to the next. Where is that same objectivity-tinged-with-love approach that he employed throughout "Last Train"?
It seems that Guralnick just gave up on Elvis past a certain point and wrote the rest on auto-pilot. Bad, very bad. While a complete biography of Elvis is probably one of the most difficult things anyone could ever write if they intended to be as rigorous as Guralnick started out being, and for that, he still deserves enormous credit, your biopgraphy's subject can only be done true justice if you stick with your man through thick and thin - even when he pushes your patience and faith to breaking point. It seems that Guralnick allowed his bitter disappointment with Elvis - and dare I say, whatever funds he procured on the side *cough* - to cloud his perceptions. I guess, like Elvis' final years, Guralnick's account has its breathtaking parts, but on the whole, it's less than it could and should have been.