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Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:03 pm

I think that Elvis doing The Fab Four was a mistake. Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles themselves, first of all. But the same goes for Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Jones and quite a few others Elvis chose to cover in the 70s. Anyway, seldom a cover is better than the original. But there are exceptions, like Dylan's All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, or Kristofferson's Me & Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin.

That said, I think Frank Sinatra did a good job with Yesterday, certainly better than Elvis' versions, and even a great job with Something (the second version he recorded in 1978).

Softly As I Leave You is another one that I think Frank did better. Just my opinion.

Sweet Caroline, Release Me, Words... I wish Elvis would have done his own stuff live on stage. Or would have performed less familiar mainstream hits.

Let it be me = I love Elvis' version, it is the definitive one, to me. Same with The Wonder of You.

Bridge Over Troubled Water: the 1977 versions touch me, but I must admit that Elvis' versions cannot compare to the original.
Same with My Way: in 1977 he nailed it, but the versions before that, can't touch Sinatra's version.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:11 pm

I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:22 pm

James27 wrote:I think that Elvis doing The Fab Four was a mistake. Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles themselves, first of all. But the same goes for Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Jones and quite a few others Elvis chose to cover in the 70s. Anyway, seldom a cover is better than the original. But there are exceptions, like Dylan's All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, or Kristofferson's Me & Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin.

That said, I think Frank Sinatra did a good job with Yesterday, certainly better than Elvis' versions, and even a great job with Something (the second version he recorded in 1978).

Softly As I Leave You is another one that I think Frank did better. Just my opinion.

Sweet Caroline, Release Me, Words... I wish Elvis would have done his own stuff live on stage. Or would have performed less familiar mainstream hits.

Let it be me = I love Elvis' version, it is the definitive one, to me. Same with The Wonder of You.

Bridge Over Troubled Water: the 1977 versions touch me, but I must admit that Elvis' versions cannot compare to the original.
Same with My Way: in 1977 he nailed it, but the versions before that, can't touch Sinatra's version.


I disagree regarding covers. It's not that the covers seldom beat the originals, but the second, third or fourth version of a song we hear seldom takes the place of the first version we hear. In other words, those who knew Gordon Lightfoot's version of Early Mornin' Rain first probably thinks his version is best, but those who heard Presley's version and then heard Lightfoot's later more than likely prefer Presley's.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:34 pm

Yes, Elvis's versions of Something, Sweet Caroline, Hey Jude, Yesterday, Words are below the originals. But My Way (to me Elvis's version surpass Sinatra even in 1977!), Never Been to Spain, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Polk Salad Annie (in Elvis interpretation) are far better than the originals. Other examples from early years: That' all Right, Hound Dog, Guitar Man, Don't Be Cruel are all the best in Elvis's version

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:17 pm

It's all a matter of taste, of course. I certainly wouldn't put Presley's Polk Salad above Tony Joe White's, but they are very different entities and difficult to compare.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:21 pm

James27 wrote:Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles ...


Very true, but in the same token nobody does Elvis like Elvis. Didn't stop them from tryin'.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:29 pm

jon_burrows wrote:
James27 wrote:Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles ...


Very true, but in the same token nobody does Elvis like Elvis. Didn't stop them from tryin'.



I dont recall the Beatles (as a group ) ever doing an Elvis song officially in a recording studio. They did a few on the BBC broadcasts but you cant count those as official studio recordings. I also dont count solo stuff as The Beatles. I agree any of those recordings are below the Elvis originals but at least they knew the lyrics. Elvis doing The Beatles, esp Hey Jude was embarrassing. I think the worst cover of all though was What'd I Say. No one touches Ray Charles although Darin came the closest. Cannot listen to Elvis' version.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:36 pm

The Beatles are terrific, no question about that. However, Elvis' 1970 version of "Something" trumps the Fab-Fours, IMHO. The arrangement, the sincerity of Elvis' voice carry the song well.
I would agree that Elvis' "Hey Jude" falls short of the original.
It is too bad that Elvis never seriously recorded "Lady Madonna." I think he could have really nailed it. I do enjoy this song even in the form we have it.

rlj

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:08 am

DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.



here, here.......

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:15 am

debtd1 wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.



here, here.......

Please name one Elvis song that The Beatles did as a group in the studio?

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:24 am

I should have specified: Elvis' covers from the 70s.. A lot of Elvis' 1950s covers were in a world of their own: Mystery Train, Hound Dog, One Night, etc.

Perhaps Elvis himself would say: "can't win 'em all". :smt002

I must admit I to this point never even heard Gordon Lightfoot's version of Early Morning Rain. Since this is one of my favorite 70s songs by Elvis, it's hard to beat.

I like Elvis' version of "I got a thing about you, baby" slightly better than the original, but Polk Salad Annie in TJW's version is an all-time classic. Elvis' version is another true live highlight, but needs the visuals to have optimum effect. But he DID re-invent the song, made it his own. It's as good as he can make it, meaning the 1970 versions. My favorite would be the 13-8-70 ds version because of its incredible energy, though the show itself was lacking in just that.

Promised Land I think was done better by Elvis, than by its originator, Chuck Berry. The best version of Johnny B. Goode, to me, was done by -again- Jimi Hendrix but because of the guitar work and stage acrobatics, not voice-wise. Elvis couldn't touch The Killer's Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, or any of Little Richard's songs.

Ray Charles: the same as with The Beatles, nobody does Ray better than Ray. Ray Charles is very hard to beat, because of his soul. The guy might not have been respectful of Elvis, but damn he was talented. "You Don't Know Me" is the only one of Charles' songs that he did that I think really suited Elvis.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:58 am

I must say one thing, I love among other covers elvis version of Yesterday and Something and I think he spank most other version, he was really greai even during 70s making good covers

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:06 am

r&b wrote:
debtd1 wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.



here, here.......

Please name one Elvis song that The Beatles did as a group in the studio?

You are correct. There are none.

Their BBC recordings from 1963-64 are actually quite good, especially "That's All Right," with Paul on lead vocal, and "I Got A Woman," handled by John.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:19 am

James27 wrote:I should have specified: Elvis' covers from the 70s.

I agree that some fall very short, like "Help Me Make It Through The Night," while others are among the best recordings of the decade, such as "Promised Land." Presley's covers in his final decade were best when his passion matched the song chosen, more choice examples might include "I've Lost You," "Funny How Time Slips Away," or "I Will Be True."

In his '70s concerts, his covers were a little too obvious, with overdone selections like "Proud Mary," "Something" or "Let Me Be There." He had hundreds of his own songs that could have easily taken their place, and been far more satisfying for his audience.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:48 am

DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:54 am

vbgt wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

The Beatles did not record or release any Elvis Presley covers during their career.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:00 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
vbgt wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

The Beatles did not record or release any Elvis Presley covers during their career.



Long Tall Sally/

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:07 am

KiwiAlan wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
vbgt wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

The Beatles did not record or release any Elvis Presley covers during their career.



Long Tall Sally/


That was Elvis and then the Beatles covering Little Richard, not the Fab Four covering Elvis.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:09 am

londonflash wrote:
KiwiAlan wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
vbgt wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

The Beatles did not record or release any Elvis Presley covers during their career.



Long Tall Sally/


That was Elvis and then the Beatles covering Little Richard, not the Fab Four covering Elvis.

Yup.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:41 am

r&b wrote:
jon_burrows wrote:
James27 wrote:Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles ...


Very true, but in the same token nobody does Elvis like Elvis. Didn't stop them from tryin'.



I dont recall the Beatles (as a group ) ever doing an Elvis song officially in a recording studio. They did a few on the BBC broadcasts but you cant count those as official studio recordings. I also dont count solo stuff as The Beatles. I agree any of those recordings are below the Elvis originals but at least they knew the lyrics. Elvis doing The Beatles, esp Hey Jude was embarrassing. I think the worst cover of all though was What'd I Say. No one touches Ray Charles although Darin came the closest. Cannot listen to Elvis' version.


My mistake, I didn't mean 'them' as The Beatles but them as 'anyone trying'

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:23 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
vbgt wrote:
DEH wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of times Elvis did a better version than the originals. If anything The beatles should never have covered Elvis. their versions were not on the same planet as his.


+1

The Beatles did not record or release any Elvis Presley covers during their career.

I didn't realize we were talking of recordings only. I've heard Paul cover Elvis numerous timmes,and they all suck,imo.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:33 pm

Elvis have a good version of Early Morning Rain, but this is the first version I ever heard and this is the
number one version for me. Recorded in 1969 by a group called Rank Strangers and had a smash in 69/70.

Elvis did some very good cover versions, he's version of Release Me, Words, You Donät Have To Say You Love Me, Elvis Country adds something new to every song just to name a few.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:57 pm

James27 wrote:I think that Elvis doing The Fab Four was a mistake. Nobody does The Beatles like The Beatles themselves, first of all. But the same goes for Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Jones and quite a few others Elvis chose to cover in the 70s. Anyway, seldom a cover is better than the original. But there are exceptions, like Dylan's All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, or Kristofferson's Me & Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin.


To me there are plenty of artists who have covered the Beatles and done just as good a job or better than they did.

While Elvis' covers of those songs weren't the best ever they were okay.

Roger Miller is the artist that had the hit with Me & Bobby Mcgee and i've always liked his version better than Joplin's.

I disagree with everything you have said.

Elvis version of ''Bridge over troubled water'' is great.

who says that if a singer is going to cover a song they must always be better than the originals anyway.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:36 pm

Covers beat the originals all the time- think of "Bette Davis Eyes," "Louie Louie," Elvis' "Hound Dog," "Without You," "I Love Rock n' Roll," "Over and Over," "Twist and Shout," etc. they're all covers. Most people just don't know the originals. Peter is right in that often people accept best the first version they heard of a song. It's about familiarity and the way how a song is perceived to be done that matters to people.

In the 1940s and 1950s covers were common place. It was taken for granted that different audiences would have a different preference for different styles of the song and that a male singer might have a different take than a female singer and so on. When Elvis unified the pop audience, that pretty much went away because everyone was introduced to the same version of the song at the same time. However, that didn't eliminate the value in covers, that a singer could express something individually within the context of a song another had made famous first. To apply that standard would eliminate almost the entire mid-to later career of Frank Sinatra, most of the career of Ray Charles etc. When Ray Charles did "You Don't Know Me" it was around for a half decade plus, featured in many famous pop versions. "I Can't Stop Loving You" was not known in the pop market but was a very beloved amongst country fans.

Elvis brought something individual in terms of his phrasing and soul to almost all the songs mentioned here. Tony Joe White might have gone down as a novelty one hit wonder were it not for Elvis placing his one hit in his act. Compared to Elvis' recordings in 1970s, White's is stiff and uneven, overly played for a joke. And when Elvis recorded "Bridge Over Troubled Water" he brought out the gospel undertones of the lyric and the melody and whatever you think of Art Garfunkel's choir boy vocal, you have to admit there's no gospel there at least in the classic Southern gospel tradition. But those are opinions.

The point is though is that if there's a great song, a great singer should want to sing it, no matter where it came from or how popular the original is. It's a challenge and it's often a good vehicle for their voices. If "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is the best written song of a moment, why shouldn't the best or one of the best singers take his or her crack at it? And personally if I have to hear something I'd rather hear Elvis' full steam reading of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" than a run through of "Teddy Bear" for which he didn't care a bit.

There's kind of this idea with some rock n' roll fans who grew up listening to one version of one song, of songs so precisely individualized they couldn't be covered because they had no meaning beyond the individual writer, that covers somehow indicate a lack of creativity. And maybe they do for a James Taylor whose primary gift is writing, but for a singer that's not the case at all. The singer expresses him or herself through the use of his/her voice on a piece of material. The vocal is their form of expression. Great singers should sing great songs no matter where they originate or how associated they are with another artist. Even a Bob Dylan, a writer who can certainly generate his own material, feels compelled from time to time to lay his stamp on songs that have meant a lot to him.

It's a good thing Dean Martin didn't think about covers in the way some rock n' roll fans do or we'd be deprived of his sublime version of "Volare" simply because Domenco Modugno had a massive hit with it first. It's one of Dino's signatures and he took from a then current hit.

Re: Elvis Presley and Covers

Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:26 pm

To be sure, everyone has their likes and dislikes on covers.
As for me, I really love Elvis' cover of "Bridge....", "Mountain," "Trilogy" "Loving Arms," "He'll Have to Go" "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," "Lovin' Feeling," Sweet Caroline," and too many others to list.

rlj