All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

Mon Sep 18, 2006 9:33 am

It doesn't really matter if it was a review or a brief assessment. The point is he did not even deem this near common consensus Elvis classic as even worthy of interest. I'm not condemning the guy. I'm just showing that there are some subjective forces at work here.

Jimmy Miller in his rock history dismisses "Reconsider Baby" which is an even more untouchable for most Elvis fans and critics. And in Carr and Farren's book they call "Let Yourself Go"/"Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby" eighth rate. To me both sides are interesting. The B-side a nice little country glide. The A-side is one of Elvis' most underrated tracks. A near classic with a subversive vocal and lyric marred by a poor arrangement.

I am definitely, definitely not saying that we should feel free to rank "Porky's 2" or "The Blues Brothers" with "The Godfather" or "Don't Worry Be Happy" with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling". I'm just supporting room for diversity and room for movement.

A lot of stuff we consider classics today weren't always considered so. Look at "The Searchers". From the 1950s to around the early 1970s, it was considered just another western: Solid but no better than dozens of others. Yet over the years, directors like Martin Scorsese and writers, mostly French film critics, chamioned the movie. Today it is ranked with the best movies ever made. "It's a Wonderful Life" went through a similar process.

Look at Creedence Clearwater Revival. When they came out, they were dismissed as just a "hits band". I remember reading a Jon Landau contemporary review of the music scene in 1969-1970. Landau commented it was indicative of the sorry shape of the rock and roll scene that a group like Creedence Clearwater Revival is the best group around. Today they're considered not the best of bad lot but one of the true greats.

Sometimes a piece is dismissed as the most utter rubbish. Yet someone will find someting in there and its reputation is rehabilitated. When the "Exorcist II: The Heretic" hit theaters, it was considered the ultimate bad sequel. Today I often read reviews of the film that claim it is better than predecessor and use words like "poetic" describe its imagery. It's still a polarizing and by no means a consensus pick for a classic. (I hate it myself). But, it shows how diverse opinion can be on the relative worth of a piece.

For Elvis look at "Viva Las Vegas" the song. Largely ignored by Top 40 radio in its time it was considered for a long time to be at best a work of camp. At worst another bad Elvis movie song. Today, it's reputation is very strong thanks to writers like Dave Marsh, who championed the piece, singers like Bruce Springsteen, who lent an endorsement through a remake, and fans who have come to love the song over the years through viewings on television.

For that matter, what did people think of "Little Less Conversation" before the JXL remix. I personally thought it was a lame attempt at being hip. I was amazed at Elvis' commitment on the '68 special when he even sang the stuffing out of this contrived piece. For most fans though it was ignored and where it was noticed it was generally dismissed. The remix comes along and all of a sudden it's one of Elvis' better movie songs.

I don't think anyone hear is saying that "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" is the second "Heartbreak Hotel". I just hear people saying that to them it is a quality song which is not really the same as saying "Battlefield Earth" is as good as "Citizen Kane".

Mon Sep 18, 2006 2:41 pm

LTB: Speaking of Gold Vol 4, how could anyone just totally dismiss Devil In Disguise or Love Letters to name just two?

Of course, as you point out opinions are subjective.

Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:39 pm

Going back a few pages I'd like to address Midnight X's point about Elvis needing a stronger hand in the studio. I don't really think in the 1970s he would have tolerated a stronger hand. I think one of the underrated assets that Felton brought to the studio was the abillity to at least get and keep Elvis' attention from time to time. I point to six takes of "Burning Love" where Elvis really only clicked on the final take. We wouldn't have got there without Felton's cheerleading. Or later on, Felton was often able to coach an extra take out or two to try and rack up a better performance. A stronger hand might have soured Elvis completely. A less compatible and weaker producer might have gotten less.

Felton also recognized when Elvis had something special going on. He was one that saw what was up with the Chuck Berry jam that led to "Promised Land". Eventually that jam turned into a fully constructed performance and one of Elvis' best latter day recordings. He also pushed for tracks to finish "Elvis Country" without a doubt Elvis' best 1970s album, his only real LP masterpiece in the 1970s. He recognized that the June 1970 tracks were not enough. The final touches he pushed for "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Snowbird" were highlights of an album filled with highlights."Shakin'" showed the way that rock and roll had transformed country in the 1950s and "Snowbird" perfectly tapped into the rest of album's themes of regret and loss.

I was reading Dylan's autobiography recently and the impression I got from Dylan is that his on and off producer Bob Johnston was a lot like Felton. He served as a cheerleader, assembled the band, and basically encouraged the artist to explore his own vision.

Tue Sep 19, 2006 7:59 pm

LTB, you raise some very good points. In theory, he did need a stronger hand in the studio. In reality, he most likely would not have tolerated it based on the state of things at the time. Jarvis was somewhat successful at keeping Elvis' attention from time to time, at that was no small fete.

However, a complete overhaul of the recording process was needed. It wasn't as simple as just replacing Jarvis. But, also a simple replacement may have triggered a movement in a positive direction as well. A new creative personality with new ideas may have sparked a little interest and/or passion in Elvis. Going back the thought of a complete overhaul, a lot of revised aspects to the recorded process were necessary. For starters, if Parker was competent, he would have seen that a 4 album annual release schedule was impractical and not artistically sound. A new contract could have been negotiated. Next, presenting Elvis with actual album concepts versus just scheduling him for studio time with no direction and with loads of uninspiring/weak material that needed to be considered for recording would have also sparked his interest. His recording sessions were complete chaos. RCA and Jarvis simply wanted Elvis to record 2-4 albums worth of material. How crazy is that? There weren't 4 great albums worth of songs available, no matter who was composing the material.

Jarvis should have seen the failure of Elvis' recording sessions and done something about it. He should have fought for the artistic integrity for his artist. He knew Elvis was a big supporter. A competent producer would never have sat through these types of recording sessions. Even the great Paul Rothchild severed ties with The Doors during the early sessions of the LA Woman album because he was very unpleased with how the album was progressing, the band's lack of focus, and in his mind a lack of material. That is a big gig to walk away from and a big paycheck, yet he took his role of a producer very seriously. Jarvis should have told Elvis that he needed to tell Parker that it was artistically necessary to record an album of material outside of the Elvis-associated publishing companies in order to find high quality material. Jarvis never fought for Elvis' artistic integrity, never tried to change to recording culture and inject some life into it. He sat back and watched the recording sessions fall apart. He pushed Elvis to record Burning Love and helped shape Promised Land and those are both fantastic results. Yet, he did not build on them. Promised Land should not have been a sole Berry performance. He should have seen the potential and convinced Elvis that more material from the Berry songbook needed to be recorded and that a great project could be created.

Jarvis fell short.

Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:44 am

I think Felton's decision to work exclusively for Elvis probably lessened his inclination to fight for more quality control. It may have seemed like a good thing in 1970 when it happened but it wound up compromising Felton just as the Colonel's contracts helped compromise Elvis.

I don't necessarily disagree with you. I just think "hack" is a term used for no-talents with no interest in quality. I think "Burning Love" shows there was at least a sliver of talent there. I also think that it's pretty evident that Felton wanted Elvis to make great records. And Ernst's recollection of Felton's praise for the then un-released "Danny Boy" is kind of a good verification of this. He was really enthused. Producing Elvis wasn't just a chore for him.

I agree there is no Felton Jarvis style where you can pick out one of his records on the radio like you can a Chips Moman, or a Phil Spector or a Holland Dozier Holland or a Mutt Lange. (I would argue though that a distinctive production style doesn't translate into quality as many hacks like Stock, Aiken and Waterman have distinctive styles.)

I feel Felton was a capable producer limited by his talent but also by his artist's mood, the record company and the commercial constraints of his time. (I know music was opening up but Elvis was a Top 40 artist.) I feel many fans looking for a scapegoat dump on him unfairly. Journeyman is a better description. That leaves room to interpret that he did at least bring some positives to the table.

He has a solid place in my affections because of his rapport with Elvis. You have to admit that limitations and all, he was better for Elvis than Chet Atkins or Steve Sholes who did little more than make sure the tape was turned on.

Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:07 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Larry Dickman wrote:He also wrote (2003?) that Elvis was publically percieved to be a joke.....wasn't that long ago. (BTW, couldn't agree LESS)

Where did Marcus write this? When? Don't "quote" someone if you're really just pulling it out of your rear, you waste everyone's time.


Took me a while to find the issue in question, but it was from a 2003 edition of 'The Threepenny Review' literary magazine.
Exact quote being:

"That is why, in times to come, Elvis Presley may signify mostly as a joke (as he does today, appearing in so many stupid editorial cartoons sharing a cave with Osama bin Laden), a joke the content of which no one will be able to really explain."

Look forward to you twisting this out of context, John Boy. :wink:

Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:17 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Larry Dickman wrote:]He also wrote (2003?) that Elvis was publically percieved to be a joke.....wasn't that long ago. (BTW, couldn't agree LESS)

Where did Marcus write this? When? Don't "quote" someone if you're really just pulling it out of your rear, you waste everyone's time.


You can only dream of pulling 'stuff' like this out of your rear....would certainly make a change from you orating from this orifice.

Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:45 pm

Larry Dickman wrote:Took me a while to find the issue in question, but it was from a 2003 edition of 'The Threepenny Review' literary magazine ... Look forward to you twisting this out of context ...

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't do that.

It is apppreciated that you made the effort to respond to my query. Most here do not. I'm familiar with the piece. For those who would like to read the entire article, and not just half of the next-to-last paragraph, I'll make a new post next.

However, the only misunderstanding is yours. Even your "exact quote" shows that Marcus does NOT say Elvis is publicly perceived as a joke, only that he may be seen that way now, and in the future.

Perhaps next time you can have the courtesy to re-check and cite the source of a quote before you half-remember it.

Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:23 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Larry Dickman wrote:Took me a while to find the issue in question, but it was from a 2003 edition of 'The Threepenny Review' literary magazine ... Look forward to you twisting this out of context ...

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't do that.

You didn't, I just read the three paragraphs below....hair splitting has been taken to a new level........
:wink:
It is apppreciated that you made the effort to respond to my query. Most here do not. I'm familiar with the piece. For those who would like to read the entire article, and not just half of the next-to-last paragraph, I'll make a new post next.

However, the only misunderstanding is yours. Even your "exact quote" shows that Marcus does NOT say Elvis is publicly perceived as a joke, only that he may be seen that way now, and in the future.

Perhaps next time you can have the courtesy to re-check and cite the source of a quote before you half-remember it.