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Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:57 am

Well Elvis never made a blues album. There's nothing I can do about that. But he did record and perform a few blues tunes in his lifetime. Surely I can discuss those, can't I? "Reconsider Baby" demonstrates just how much the Vegas shmaltz was able to creep in even into something as primitive and raw as the blues. "Steamroller Blues" is a better example: Guerico's horns arrangement (as approved by Elvis) is bloated and completely over the top. Pure Vegas.

Peter, I've respected your posts so unless I'm misreading you in your various responses here, I'm quite surprised you're taking such a black/white stance on this issue. Do I have it correctly that you believe NONE of Elvis' live material contained any over-the-top Vegas schlock? I am comfortable with my own assessment that can be found earlier in the thread when I say that while Elvis had a healthy sampling of various different genres, among them was the shmaltzy-Vegas element---- be it in song choices or in arrangements. Do I believe his entire show was plagued with the issue? I do not. Do I believe certain elements were present? Most definitely.

I assume you are arguing that Elvis' live show had absolutley NONE of it?

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:39 am

Justin wrote:Well Elvis never made a blues album. There's nothing I can do about that. But he did record and perform a few blues tunes in his lifetime. Surely I can discuss those, can't I? "Reconsider Baby" demonstrates just how much the Vegas shmaltz was able to creep in even into something as primitive and raw as the blues. "Steamroller Blues" is a better example: Guerico's horns arrangement (as approved by Elvis) is bloated and completely over the top. Pure Vegas.

Peter, I've respected your posts so unless I'm misreading you in your various responses here, I'm quite surprised you're taking such a black/white stance on this issue. Do I have it correctly that you believe NONE of Elvis' live material contained any over-the-top Vegas schlock? I am comfortable with my own assessment that can be found earlier in the thread when I say that while Elvis had a healthy sampling of various different genres, among them was the shmaltzy-Vegas element---- be it in song choices or in arrangements. Do I believe his entire show was plagued with the issue? I do not. Do I believe certain elements were present? Most definitely.

I assume you are arguing that Elvis' live show had absolutley NONE of it?


You are incorrect in your understanding. I have said repeatedly that here are elements of Vegas in Presley's live material. And I have also stated that some of that was there from before Elvis even performed in Vegas (with the exception of the 1956 gig). What is over the top to one person is not over the top to another. It's as simple as that. I'm the first one to criticise Presley's sub-par 70s performances when I feel that it is the correct thing to do. But I criticise his lack of commitment, his lack of rehearsal, his lack of vocal control, his lack of respect for his audience.

Do I think the later versions of the Mystery Train medley were a mess because of the arrangement? Of course. They were ludicrously over the top. Or, rather, they were as out of control as the performer himself. One can only assume that by that point Elvis's judgements were poor, and there was the attempt to make everything else around him bigger in order to hide his own performing inadequacies. But we can't blame that on Vegas, but we can blame it on Elvis losing a grip on what is good.

I have no problem with Elvis in Vegas, nor do I have a problem with Vegas itself or the fact that Elvis incorporated it into his show. It was always there anyway. But then perhaps I approach this in a different way. I'm not a blues fan, or a rock fan. I'm a music fan. I collect many genres (as do a number of people on here). Therefore I don't approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who lost his credibility because he added horns in a blues number. I approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who was singing songs that he liked in the way he wanted to. Elvis's shows were about entertainment, not making an artistic statement. I don't believe Elvis ever wanted to make a artistic statement - he just happened to do so at various points in his career.

But as I don't approach Elvis from the point of view of a rock or blues purist, I don't give a damn what genre of songs he sang, as long as they were good songs and he sang them well. The Doc has said in another thread that My Way was inappropriate material for Elvis. I don't believe that. That viewpoint only takes place if you view the singer from a certain viewpoint and as a singer of a certain genre. But then considering the people who I hold in highest regard musically (Elvis, Darin, Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Simone) didn't see boundaries between genres and styles, I don't see why I should either.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:43 am

There is no doubt in my mind that Vegas influenced Elvis' choice of material,style,sound and the whole package.After failing to impress the Vegas audiences at the New Frontier hotel in 1956 he knew he needed a proper "Vegas" show with all the trimmings that would overwhelm the crowds senses-orchestra,a ton of backup singers,stage wear all the glitz and glamour that a Vegas audience not necessary great Elvis fans would appreciate.The Tom Jones shows especially would have given him some sort of blue print for a successful Vegas show.Had Elvis toured in the 60's and not started his live return in Vegas it might have been a different live performer that we know he became.Maybe.

norrie

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:29 am

poormadpeter wrote:I have no problem with Elvis in Vegas, nor do I have a problem with Vegas itself or the fact that Elvis incorporated it into his show. It was always there anyway. But then perhaps I approach this in a different way. I'm not a blues fan, or a rock fan. I'm a music fan. I collect many genres (as do a number of people on here). Therefore I don't approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who lost his credibility because he added horns in a blues number. I approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who was singing songs that he liked in the way he wanted to. Elvis's shows were about entertainment, not making an artistic statement. I don't believe Elvis ever wanted to make a artistic statement - he just happened to do so at various points in his career.

But as I don't approach Elvis from the point of view of a rock or blues purist, I don't give a damn what genre of songs he sang, as long as they were good songs and he sang them well.

You can still be a music fan and still uphold the standards that a particular genre has set for itself.

If one listens to a majority of Vocal Pop as you do, I'm not surprised why you fail to put any emphasis on the music that underlines Elvis' vocal. There is lush instrumentation in other Vocal Pop acts (Sinatra, Darin, etc...) and considering most of that genre is already heavy on horns, strings and large orchestral backdrops--I'm not surprised why you're not bothered by the issues that plagued Elvis' live shows.

I'm not continuing with this conversation any further because we apparrently seem to be in some agreement that there were in fact some elements of Elvis' live show that could be labeled as "Vegas." But you are hung up on the issue that Elvis' credibility had diminished because of his association with Las Vegas and I never brought up anything of that nature.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:40 am

Don't forget to cast your Tiger or Turkey vote in this exciting new thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=73525

And to get you in that Harem Holiday mood, here's a special stereo vision of the closing number.

phpBB [video]



Would this be considered "Vegas Schlock?"

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:45 am

No,that would be Hollywood Schlock.

edit-should have mentioned that was a fun well researched topic Honeytalknelson.
Last edited by norrie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:50 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
elvis-fan wrote:
Johnny Mild wrote:Indeed. I often wonder if Presley music isn't a genre all of it's own.

Yes... and I certainly wouldn't compare him to the likes of Engelbert or Tom Jones...

I certainly would, and do.

Jones and Humperdinck are valid comparisons because Elvis worked the same turf, and considered them rivals, if not peers.

And, even more so, both clearly wielded a HUGE influence on Presley's music, stage and studio, starting with Jones immediately after Presley was blown away by his stage act in April 1968 at the Flamingo in Las Vegas (that city again!), and not long after, Humperdinck.

Interesting post... but I have to disagree with your analysis... the songs you listed in many cases had little to do with how or why Elvis recorded them. However, I do believe that Tom Jones' stage performance did have an impact on Elvis... particularly given his upcoming opening in July 1969... so I was a little off the mark there... but I don't believe TJ or EH had any HUGE impact on Elvis as it related to his stage performance or how he recorded in the studio. But as we weren't present at the time and place, we'll never know for sure... but it's always interesting to discuss...

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:59 am

Justin wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I have no problem with Elvis in Vegas, nor do I have a problem with Vegas itself or the fact that Elvis incorporated it into his show. It was always there anyway. But then perhaps I approach this in a different way. I'm not a blues fan, or a rock fan. I'm a music fan. I collect many genres (as do a number of people on here). Therefore I don't approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who lost his credibility because he added horns in a blues number. I approach Elvis in Vegas as someone who was singing songs that he liked in the way he wanted to. Elvis's shows were about entertainment, not making an artistic statement. I don't believe Elvis ever wanted to make a artistic statement - he just happened to do so at various points in his career.

But as I don't approach Elvis from the point of view of a rock or blues purist, I don't give a damn what genre of songs he sang, as long as they were good songs and he sang them well.

You can still be a music fan and still uphold the standards that a particular genre has set for itself.

If one listens to a majority of Vocal Pop as you do, I'm not surprised why you fail to put any emphasis on the music that underlines Elvis' vocal. There is lush instrumentation in other Vocal Pop acts (Sinatra, Darin, etc...) and considering most of that genre is already heavy on horns, strings and large orchestral backdrops--I'm not surprised why you're not bothered by the issues that plagued Elvis' live shows.

I'm not continuing with this conversation any further because we apparrently seem to be in some agreement that there were in fact some elements of Elvis' live show that could be labeled as "Vegas." But you are hung up on the issue that Elvis' credibility had diminished because of his association with Las Vegas and I never brought up anything of that nature.


The acts I mention peform within a wide range of settings, not just the lush settings you suggest (with the exception of Sinatra who only recorded with a small group on rare occasions). Ella Fitzgerald and most other jazz acts perform more often than not in a trio or quartet scenario rather than with lush backgrounds - it was more economical, if nothing else.

And you forget, you only see the horns etc as "plaguing" Elvis live shows because you don't like them, or, rather don't see them fitting with particular numbers that Elvis was performing. But Elvis rarely performed anything in a "pure" genre, so what's wrong with continuing with that and putting those horns into a blues number? Doing so never did Ray Charles any harm.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:40 am

norrie wrote:No,that would be Hollywood Schlock.

edit-should have mentioned that was a fun well researched topic Honeytalknelson.


Thank you, Norrie. I've just added some more material.

Don't forget to exercise your right to vote!

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:45 am

What does this:

phpBB [video]



Have to do with this:

phpBB [video]



The only thing I see is the name of the song is the same. It doesn't matter that one is from a tv show and the other is from a Vegas engagement, Tom's version would have been the same no matter where he sang it, that was the way he chose to do it. Elvis' version is an original arrangement based on what he wanted to present, he loved the song and the Righteous Brothers, but he used nothing from their arrangement.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:17 pm

ML4EP wrote:What does this:

phpBB [video]



Have to do with this:

phpBB [video]



The only thing I see is the name of the song is the same. It doesn't matter that one is from a tv show and the other is from a Vegas engagement, Tom's version would have been the same no matter where he sang it, that was the way he chose to do it. Elvis' version is an original arrangement based on what he wanted to present, he loved the song and the Righteous Brothers, but he used nothing from their arrangement.

They have a lot to do with each other, actually.

The arrangements are very close, especially the interplay between Tom and the Blossoms, quite similar to Elvis' version with the Sweets.

Some of Tom's vocal lines are echoed on the Elvis renditions.

Tom's is the first solo male vocal approach to the song in more than three years. Elvis paid close attention to things his friend did on record or in concert.

Hope this helps.

Note: The video you present is from the final episode of "This Is Tom Jones," which aired in March 1971 (UK) and September 1971 (US). His studio recording, as noted, pre-dates Elvis' by nearly a year.

phpBB [video]

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:52 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
ML4EP wrote:What does this:

phpBB [video]



Have to do with this:

phpBB [video]



The only thing I see is the name of the song is the same. It doesn't matter that one is from a tv show and the other is from a Vegas engagement, Tom's version would have been the same no matter where he sang it, that was the way he chose to do it. Elvis' version is an original arrangement based on what he wanted to present, he loved the song and the Righteous Brothers, but he used nothing from their arrangement.

They have a lot to do with each other, actually.

The arrangements are very close, especially the interplay between Tom and the Blossoms, quite similar to Elvis' version with the Sweets.

Some of Tom's vocal lines are echoed on the Elvis renditions.

Tom's is the first solo male vocal approach to the song in more than three years. Elvis paid close attention to things his friend did on record or in concert.

Hope this helps.

Note: The video you present is from the final episode of "This Is Tom Jones," which aired in March 1971 (UK) and September 1971 (US). His studio recording, as noted, pre-dates Elvis' by nearly a year.

phpBB [video]



Actually it doesn't help at all. If indeed this is March 1971 then any similarites are Tom copying Elvis not the other way around. Tom's musical arrangement is VERY similar to the Righteous Brothers, in fact as presented it's a little too tepid for my taste--there are alot of things Tom does well, this isn't one of them. Elvis' version is a very ballsy, in your face presentation. From the opening thunder of Jerry Scheff's bass line they are as different as night and day. One is asking "do you think we'll be having intercourse this evening," the other is asking "do you wanna F@#$?" Attitude is everything...

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:30 pm

ML4EP wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
ML4EP wrote:What does this:

phpBB [video]



Have to do with this:

phpBB [video]



The only thing I see is the name of the song is the same. It doesn't matter that one is from a tv show and the other is from a Vegas engagement, Tom's version would have been the same no matter where he sang it, that was the way he chose to do it. Elvis' version is an original arrangement based on what he wanted to present, he loved the song and the Righteous Brothers, but he used nothing from their arrangement.

They have a lot to do with each other, actually.

The arrangements are very close, especially the interplay between Tom and the Blossoms, quite similar to Elvis' version with the Sweets.

Some of Tom's vocal lines are echoed on the Elvis renditions.

Tom's is the first solo male vocal approach to the song in more than three years. Elvis paid close attention to things his friend did on record or in concert.

Hope this helps.

Note: The video you present is from the final episode of "This Is Tom Jones," which aired in March 1971 (UK) and September 1971 (US). His studio recording, as noted, pre-dates Elvis' by nearly a year.

phpBB [video]



Actually it doesn't help at all. If indeed this is March 1971 then any similarites are Tom copying Elvis not the other way around. Tom's musical arrangement is VERY similar to the Righteous Brothers, in fact as presented it's a little too tepid for my taste--there are alot of things Tom does well, this isn't one of them. Elvis' version is a very ballsy, in your face presentation. From the opening thunder of Jerry Scheff's bass line they are as different as night and day. One is asking "do you think we'll be having intercourse this evening," the other is asking "do you wanna F@#$?" Attitude is everything...



very aptly put............ :smt005 :smt005

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:56 pm

A lot of what some of the posters are calling being influenced by Vegas or Vegas sounding i don't feel that way.

If you don't like the material or arrangement i'd blame it on Elvis' personal taste and not a direct or profound Vegas influence.

According to James Burton Elvis told him that it had always been a life long dream to have a band set up like he had in 1969.

With the male gospel group, the rock band, and the R&B group as the background singers.

Elvis always enjoyed MOR material and the big lush ballads with big orchestration.

Some of it i think is the influence of Felton Jarvis rather than Las Vegas.

With ''Make the world go away'' and ''There goes my everything'' the Nashville musicians are just copying the arrangements from the Eddy Arnold and Jack Greene originals.

''Steamroller blues'' is the TCB band copying an obscure version by the obscure R&B group The Masqueraders.
The song was brought to him by Marty Lacker.

If Elvis had started on the road in 1969 without ever going to Vegas i still see him recording those songs with those arrangements.
Last edited by brian on Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:27 pm

Justin wrote:However one would like to describe it, you can't help but scratch your head when it came to a few of Elvis' song choices during his live shows. Even while listening all week to my new MSG reissues, a song like "The Impossible Dream" pops up and you can't help but wonder what the hell those folks at MSG were thinking when Elvis launched into that one?


Maybe the same thing Temptations fans thought when the group recorded a version of the song a few years earlier, a version that would top radio polls on the East Coast of favorite Motown songs. It was a good dramatic song and a lot of mainstream pop artists saw its possibilities.

All you need to know is that Elvis' musicians say the '70s band lineup was Elvis' dream. He wanted to explore all his musical experience on stage.

"Steamroller Blues" bad example of "a blues" being ruined by Vegas type horns. It's a fake blues in any incarnation, so the door is open.

Look at "Merry Christmas Baby" and see how untethered Elvis was from the Vegas sound in his blues.

What's also been consistently ignored in this discussion is how basically all forms of popular music were moving towards more ornate production and instrumentation. Nashville, the heart of country music had been moving like a freight train in that direction for more than a decade. One of 1971's biggest hits was Lynn Anderson's string laden rendition of Joe South's "Rose Garden," it was happening all over.

You can see it on the '68 special stand up numbers. The only difference between those arrangements and the ones Elvis used on stage are that the later arrangements are generally more tasteful.
Last edited by likethebike on Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:46 pm

I'm confused as to why The Impossible Dream is a bad song for Elvis, but If I Can Dream is a good song for Elvis? Both are highly dramatic ballads with similar sentiments, and even similar structures. The only difference is that one was written for a Broadway musical and the other for a TV show.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Wed Nov 21, 2012 11:51 pm

ML4EP wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:They have a lot to do with each other, actually.

The arrangements are very close, especially the interplay between Tom and the Blossoms, quite similar to Elvis' version with the Sweets.

Some of Tom's vocal lines are echoed on the Elvis renditions.

Tom's is the first solo male vocal approach to the song in more than three years. Elvis paid close attention to things his friend did on record or in concert.

Hope this helps.

Note: The video you present is from the final episode of "This Is Tom Jones," which aired in March 1971 (UK) and September 1971 (US). His studio recording, as noted, pre-dates Elvis' by nearly a year.

phpBB [video]



Actually it doesn't help at all. If indeed this is March 1971 then any similarites are Tom copying Elvis not the other way around. Tom's musical arrangement is VERY similar to the Righteous Brothers, in fact as presented it's a little too tepid for my taste--there are alot of things Tom does well, this isn't one of them. Elvis' version is a very ballsy, in your face presentation. From the opening thunder of Jerry Scheff's bass line they are as different as night and day. One is asking "do you think we'll be having intercourse this evening," the other is asking "do you wanna F@#$?" Attitude is everything...

You are not paying attention.

Tom was performing this song in concert around the end of 1969, and released his studio version on an April 1970 LP.


700400_PAS 71037_Tom.JPG
Tom Jones, Tom (Parrot PAS 71037, April 1970)
Billboard US Pop #6, May 30, 1970.


The album was another big success, making Billboard US Pop #6 in May 1970. Presley could not have missed the effect this single male vocal version had on the audience, either through TV viewing or seeing a show. And he likely had the LP as well. Elvis' August 1970 recording was issued near the end of the year. You have an unsophisticated ear to miss the similarities in the two arrangements.

Again, the point is that Elvis absorbed both indirectly and directly the influence of Las Vegas stalwarts Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. The evidence is undeniable and overwhelming. And for those who rightfully believe that Elvis spending thousands of hours in Las Vegas doing hundreds of shows was detrimental to his unique artistry, this is simply more fuel for the fire.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:18 am

poormadpeter wrote:I'm confused as to why The Impossible Dream is a bad song for Elvis, but If I Can Dream is a good song for Elvis? Both are highly dramatic ballads with similar sentiments, and even similar structures. The only difference is that one was written for a Broadway musical and the other for a TV show.

You seem to be very confused by this topic in general. Let me try to help again by outlining the differences.

"The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" is a legendary 1965 Broadway spotlight number from "Man of La Mancha."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Impossible_Dream_(The_Quest)

However, by the time it entered Elvis' musical life, it was yet another over-played, heavily-covered piece of material, sung by every singer who played the Vegas Strip. From Mathis to Goulet to Sinatra to Vale to Williams to Medley to even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, this was a mainstay number.

http://www.secondhandsongs.com/work/28687

One of the signature versions was done by actor Jim Nabors, whose TV performance of it as "Gomer Pyle" apparently thrilled millions.


phpBB [video]


Jim Nabors, "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" (Gomer Pyle - USMC, CBS-TV, November 3, 1967)
From: "The Show Must Go On" (Season 4, Episode 9)


Elvis Presley should never have covered shopworn Las Vegas ballads nailed by Gomer Pyle.

"If I Can Dream" is a stunning original ballad, deeply rooted in both the blues and gospel, two genres very close to Elvis' musical heart, and genres he used to shape what we now call rock 'n' roll.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Can_Dream

It is inspired by contemporary events (murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968), and Elvis invests every bit of his soul into every single word of this song. Musically and aesthetically it is light years away from the Broadway tune, and one of his greatest recordings.

It is my fervent wish that this post will help make clear for you why the former was a poor selection for Elvis Presley, and the latter a note-perfect, brilliant choice for Elvis Presley. And, in a greater sense, why playing Las Vegas again and again and again was artistic harakiri.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:32 am

You nail it, Doc.

Regardless of how well Elvis performed this song, it no doubt caused a few eye brows to raise when he announced it that evening at Madison Square Garden. Elvis liked a wide-ranging, eclectic show but that didn't mean that he was not guilty of having a few soft numbers here and there. This is the same guy who would go on to perform Olivia Newton-John songs on stage, for crying out loud. It's not rocket science to see that Elvis liked cheesy songs and wasn't shy to perform them. "The Impossible Dream" was a well worn-song by the time Elvis got hold of it and the over-the-top showcase/show-stopping arrangement stunk of Vegas. I don't see the harm in admitting that.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:06 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:I'm confused as to why The Impossible Dream is a bad song for Elvis, but If I Can Dream is a good song for Elvis? Both are highly dramatic ballads with similar sentiments, and even similar structures. The only difference is that one was written for a Broadway musical and the other for a TV show.

You seem to be very confused by this topic in general. Let me try to help again by outlining the differences.

"The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" is a legendary 1965 Broadway spotlight number from "Man of La Mancha."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Impossible_Dream_(The_Quest)

However, by the time it entered Elvis' musical life, it was yet another over-played, heavily-covered piece of material, sung by every singer who played the Vegas Strip. From Mathis to Goulet to Sinatra to Vale to Williams to Medley to even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, this was a mainstay number.

http://www.secondhandsongs.com/work/28687

One of the signature versions was done by actor Jim Nabors, whose TV performance of it as "Gomer Pyle" apparently thrilled millions.


phpBB [video]


Jim Nabors, "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" (Gomer Pyle - USMC, CBS-TV, November 3, 1967)
From: "The Show Must Go On" (Season 4, Episode 9)


Elvis Presley should never have covered shopworn Las Vegas ballads nailed by Gomer Pyle.

"If I Can Dream" is a stunning original ballad, deeply rooted in both the blues and gospel, two genres very close to Elvis' musical heart, and genres he used to shape what we now call rock 'n' roll.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Can_Dream

It is inspired by contemporary events (murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968), and Elvis invests every bit of his soul into every single word of this song. Musically and aesthetically it is light years away from the Broadway tune, and one of his greatest recordings.

It is my fervent wish that this post will help make clear for you why the former was a poor selection for Elvis Presley, and the latter a note-perfect, brilliant choice for Elvis Presley. And, in a greater sense, why playing Las Vegas again and again and again was artistic harakiri.


What you fail to realise is that a song normally gets covered so often because it is a good song. The Impossible Dream is a good song. Presley clearly liked it because of its drama and the fact that he could effectively turn into a gospel number. To suggest that the The Impossible Dream was not inspired by contemporary events would be folly - Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was given in 1963 - the time at which the Broadway show was written. His speech, and the Civil Rights movement in general, inspired not only a generation but also a cavalcade of songs about hope, individuality and striving to overcome one's difficulties. The Impossible Dream is clearly one of those songs. You seem considerably more interested in who sang what, rather than what Elvis did with the material when he got his hands on it.

It's odd how you have a problem with an oft-covered song such as The Impossible Dream, but not oft-covered songs such as Yesterday or Hey Jude, the former being regarded as the most covered song of all time, and by 1969 Hey Jude had been sung by the likes of Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones and others. Ah, but they're fine, right? Despite being Vegas fodder by the time Elvis got to them, they were by the Beatles, so we can all relax.
Last edited by poormadpeter on Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:12 am

Justin wrote:You nail it, Doc.

Regardless of how well Elvis performed this song, it no doubt caused a few eye brows to raise when he announced it that evening at Madison Square Garden. Elvis liked a wide-ranging, eclectic show but that didn't mean that he was not guilty of having a few soft numbers here and there. This is the same guy who would go on to perform Olivia Newton-John songs on stage, for crying out loud. It's not rocket science to see that Elvis liked cheesy songs and wasn't shy to perform them. "The Impossible Dream" was a well worn-song by the time Elvis got hold of it and the over-the-top showcase/show-stopping arrangement stunk of Vegas. I don't see the harm in admitting that.

Thanks. Nor do I.

But some people here can't see the forest for the trees, and will never admit to reality even when presented with fact after fact after fact.

And, frankly, I'm tired of putting a good hour of research (or more) into a post and seeing a 30-second, superficial dismissal in reply.

"You can lead a horse to water ..."

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:21 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
And, frankly, I'm tired of putting a good hour of research (or more) into a post and seeing a 30-second, superficial dismissal in reply.



Aww, you poor hard-done-by old thing. :roll:

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:27 am

poormadpeter wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
And, frankly, I'm tired of putting a good hour of research (or more) into a post and seeing a 30-second, superficial dismissal in reply.



Aww, you poor hard-done-by old thing. :roll:

What an ungracious, pathetic comment.

Good luck with being the kind of person you are.

Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:31 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:You have obviously never seen a major artist perform in Las Vegas. It is artistic death. Period.



And the Wizard has spoken.... :lol:

I saw Tom Jones play Vegas in February of 2009 while I was there for a business trip.

It was fantastic.

I also enjoy Englebert Humperdink from time to time, although I'm just as likely to cue up Albert King or
Muddy Waters or George Jones and so on.

I don't buy the rock world critique of MOR acts, Las Vegas or even Elvis. That is a legitimate perspective
but ultimately one of many.

Speaking of horn sections, many hear "Vegas" when they hear horn sections but many a legit R&B / soul and
blues acts added horns in the '60s and '70s (often to excess, I'll admit) but it seems one more way to dismiss a whole era / genre / and sensibility.


Justin: as with many people who dismiss "Las Vegas" (to me, I think of the great Sammy Davis, Jr.; Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, etc.), they throw around
words like "cheesy" but what they really mean is that they either just don't like it, don't know it, etc.

It's simply a different sound and sort of music. Name some of your favorite acts: I'm sure I could figure out a way to say they "stink" of Deep Purple,
or Kurt Cobain or "Rush" or whatever it is you champion. It strkes me as a generational issue, as well, and usually a bit of a cheap-shot.

I rather like Elvis' cover of "Impossible Dream" but I agree he was probably barking up the wrong tree. But he pulled it off. Especially in NYC, as the
show otherwise is very well-paced, exciting and samples a lot of his legacy, as opposed to the more ballad-heavy, recital-like ALOHA in '73.

likethebike wrote:
Justin wrote:However one would like to describe it, you can't help but scratch your head when it came to a few of Elvis' song choices during his live shows. Even while listening all week to my new MSG reissues, a song like "The Impossible Dream" pops up and you can't help but wonder what the hell those folks at MSG were thinking when Elvis launched into that one?


Maybe the same thing Temptations fans thought when the group recorded a version of the song a few years earlier, a version that would top radio polls on the East Coast of favorite Motown songs. It was a good dramatic song and a lot of mainstream pop artists saw its possibilities.

All you need to know is that Elvis' musicians say the '70s band lineup was Elvis' dream. He wanted to explore all his musical experience on stage.

"Steamroller Blues" bad example of "a blues" being ruined by Vegas type horns. It's a fake blues in any incarnation, so the door is open.

Look at "Merry Christmas Baby" and see how untethered Elvis was from the Vegas sound in his blues.

What's also been consistently ignored in this discussion is how basically all forms of popular music were moving towards more ornate production and instrumentation. Nashville, the heart of country music had been moving like a freight train in that direction for more than a decade. One of 1971's biggest hits was Lynn Anderson's string laden rendition of Joe South's "Rose Garden," it was happening all over.

You can see it on the '68 special stand up numbers. The only difference between those arrangements and the ones Elvis used on stage are that the later arrangements are generally more tasteful.



Well said, although I've always liked Elvis' Steamroller , and I say that as a huge fan of "real" blues. I hear those big horns and think
of that which back or backed Bobby Blue Bland, Big Joe Turner or Little Milton.

I will concede that they over-used the "Vegas" ending as a friend of mine says ....on this and many others. But I'm so used to it I can't complain.

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Re: I actually found schlocky Vegas---it wasn't Elvis!

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:49 am

For the many here who fail to see the manner in which Las Vegas shaped Elvis' musical world, and not for the better, I have found an apt example. No doubt the same minority will find some reason to besmirch my effort, but it is no matter. In the end, the truth always prevails.


Elvis - 1950s (pre-Vegas entrenchment)

phpBB [video]


"Trouble" (January 1958 studio master)


Elvis - 1960s (pre-Vegas entrenchment)

phpBB [video]


"Trouble" (June 1968 live vocal over studio backing track)


Elvis - 1970s (post-Vegas entrenchment)

phpBB [video]


"Trouble" (August 1973 live performance)


The aesthetic has completely changed. In the '70s, Vegas arrangements rule.

Case closed.