Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:39 am

In August 1975, while Elvis sat at home in Graceland after cancelling his Las Vegas engagement, Rolling Stone published a fairly favorable review a book called Mystery Train: Images of America In Rock 'n' Roll Music, written by critic and historian Greil Marcus.

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


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Mystery Train: Images of America In Rock 'n' Roll Music (5th Edition, 2008)
http://theband.hiof.no/books/mystery_train.html


The work is almost single-handedly responsible for rescuing Elvis from the junk heap in any serious discussion of rock and roll and popular music, with Marcus' stunning final chapter, focusing on Presley's music and impact, "Presliad."

I always wished Elvis had read a copy, but it's very unlikely that he did so.

The review was written by colleague, Presley fan and fledgling Bruce Springsteen manager, Jon Landau.


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Rolling Stone - Issue 194, Aug 28, 1975


Enjoy!

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:48 pm

Great review from a wonderful book!
Let's hope marcus will come back soon to Elvis:
Greil Marcus: "Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus–Writings 1968-2010″ will be published in October by PublicAffairs. It’s a collection of most of what I’ve written about Dylan outside of books. Then a short book, after the model of "When That Rough God Goes Riding–Listening to Van Morrison," which came out this spring, on the Doors. Then a short book on blackface. Then I don’t know. I write my now 26 year old column Real Life Rock Top 10 in every issue of The Believer. I will always go back to the Elvis well, but these days there’s a lot of time between trips."

Thank you, Doc.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:17 pm

Fantastic topic, I'll have to grab myself a copy. I too often wondered about what Elvis thought about his previous life almost back in the 50's. When you listen to his 70's studio work and live shows for a while, I find I'm listening to a different guy almost, and I'm always left with the impression Elvis feels that way himself. It would have been interesting for him to read something like this about himself and the explosive music he created between 1954-1958. Something like this could have possibly rejuvenated him, to go back to his roots, clean up, treat his original's with more respect.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Sat Jul 31, 2010 4:23 pm

Is "Mystery train" still in print ? I never read it, but heard alot of good things about it

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:43 am

Rocker wrote:Is "Mystery train" still in print ? I never read it, but heard alot of good things about it

Yes! And Amazon has the newest edition for $12.00!

Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music: Fifth Edition [Paperback]
http://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Train-Images-America-Music/dp/0452289181

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:28 pm

A better context in the interpretation of Rock 'n' Roll of American Culture you will find in the books "The great American Singers" from Henry Pleasants and "Studying popular Music" from Prof. Richard Middleton.
Read in the article from:......Marcus limitation is that he is too free and.....
The book is nice to read, but not the consensus at all.

Doc, slowly I think you get a recommendation fee.. :mrgreen:

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:32 pm

Neverending wrote:A better context in the interpretation of Rock 'n' Roll of American Culture you will find in the books "The great American Singers" from Henry Pleasants and "Studying popular Music" from Prof. Richard Middleton.

Nope.

Neither of those treatises had any impact on Presley's perception as an artist, or his legacy, especially when compared to "Mystery Train."

But, have fun!

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:41 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Neverending wrote:A better context in the interpretation of Rock 'n' Roll of American Culture you will find in the books "The great American Singers" from Henry Pleasants and "Studying popular Music" from Prof. Richard Middleton.

Nope.

Neither of those treatises had any impact on Presley's perception as an artist, or his legacy, especially when compared to "Mystery Train."

But, have fun!


You should learn to stay away from topics you don't know anything about. Middleton and Pleasants are known for their great contributions to the analysis of Elvis voice and unique singing style - see the following examples which are only examples for very elaborate interpretations that are a MUST read for anyone who is interested in Elvis music:

“What Elvis does with his voice depends on what he is singing. He has always been able to duplicate the open, hoarse, ecstatic, screaming, shouting, wailing, reckless sound of the black rhythm-and-blues singers. But he has not been confined to that one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high Gs and As that an opera baritone might envy. While he has not learned to sing comfortably and predictably in the ‘passage’, he learned early how to focus his voice when he got above it. For those who have any doubt about this, I suggest that they listen to the 1960 recording of It’s Now or Never, where he ends on a full-voiced cadence A-G-F, that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of rhythm-and-blues or country. That A is hit right on the nose. It is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B flats. Elvis is, in a word, an extraordinary voice – or many voices.”
source: Henry Pleasants: The Great American Popular Singers, page 275

“This [Heartbreak Hotel] was by origin a country song but its vocal has the shape of a typical blues shout. Nevertheless the rough tone, spontaneous irregular rhythms, and ‘dirty’ intonation that most blues singers would have used are for the most part conspicuously absent from Elvis’s performance; his tone is full, rich and well-produced, his intonation is precise, stable and ‘correct’ , the notes are sustained and held right through, and the phrasing is legato. All this is particular clear on the words ‘broken-hearted lovers’, ‘been so long on lonely street’, and ‘take a walk down lonely street’, but the lyrical spirit is important throughout. At the same time this lyrical continuity is subverted by boogification. As in boogie-woogie, the basic rhythms are triplets and, again as in boogie-woogie, the off-beat quaver is often given an unexpected accent, producing syncopation and cross-rhythm. The effect is physical, demanding movement, jerking the body into activity. Elvis, however, extends the technique. He adds extra off-beat notes not demanded by word or vocal line, often splitting up syllables or even consonants, slurring words together, disguising the verbal sense. Occasionally, when it would not really be possible to notate subdivisions of the beat, there is one ‘sustained’ note something like a rhythm vibrato (in triplet rhythm) […] Boogification is often accompanied by ‘vocal orchestration’: usually this involves deep resonant chest-tone, designed to sound erotic, but Elvis also uses simultation of physical effort and distress by means of spitting out words and gasping for breath. ”
source: Richard Middleton (prof. of popular music): Richard Middleton: All Shook Up? Innovation and Continuity in Elvis Presley’s Vocal Style. Essay in: Kevin Quain: The Elvis Reader, New York, St. Martin’s Press1992, page 5f

In comparison to Middleton and Pleasants Marcus deals more with the phenomenon of Elvis and stays on the surface of things regarding the music with nicely put remarks like: “It was the finest music of his life. If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it." (source: Greil Marcus: Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music, 5th edition 2008, page 127).

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:29 am

patricia66 wrote:Middleton and Pleasants are known for their great contributions to the analysis of Elvis voice and unique singing style ...

Yes, that's why their "great contributions" are usually found on an Elvis Presley internet forum, posted in color-coded style by a single, anonymous member.

You should avoid commenting on the many topics where history is not on your side.

There is no need to call up the scores of writers and music fans influenced by "Mystery Train." My comment stands, as noted:

drjohncarpenter wrote:Neither of those treatises had any impact on Presley's perception as an artist, or his legacy, especially when compared to "Mystery Train."


P.S. Do us all a favor and quit pissing on my topics. Thank you.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:37 am

Ah, 1975, the year when Elvis did the ultimate version of the "Mystery Train" / "Tiger Man" medley. Those were the days.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:39 am

Ken Jensen wrote:Ah, 1975, the year when Elvis did the ultimate version of the "Mystery Train" / "Tiger Man" medley. Those were the days.

You're off by six years.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:57 am

Those early versions are fantastic too, but Elvis never rocked [that medley] quite as hard as in 1975. Too bad it wasn’t recorded professionally.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:10 pm

Ken Jensen wrote:Those early versions are fantastic too, but Elvis never rocked [that medley] quite as hard as in 1975.

Again, you're off by six years. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Marcus' work -- it's an incredible read.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:19 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
patricia66 wrote:Middleton and Pleasants are known for their great contributions to the analysis of Elvis voice and unique singing style ...

Yes, that's why their "great contributions" are usually found on an Elvis Presley internet forum, posted in color-coded style by a single, anonymous member.

You should avoid commenting on the many topics where history is not on your side. ]


So, what you are posting is history while you at the same time deny contributions of people whose essays you simply don't know, Mr.Google aka Wikipedia? Interesting indeed. It may surprise you but these contributions are well-known, although not on this board where a certain Doc Carpenter rules. :smt001. One reason might be that certain things are simply not to found on the Internet where random single quotes are multiplied and separated from their original source. I gave the original source to my quotes - anyone who is interested can easily convince himself if these quotes are real - btw, both books are still available through Amazon :smt001 .

drjohncarpenter wrote:There is no need to call up the scores of writers and music fans influenced by "Mystery Train." My comment stands, as noted:

drjohncarpenter wrote:Neither of those treatises had any impact on Presley's perception as an artist, or his legacy, especially when compared to "Mystery Train."


Your topics? Someone who is commenting on your quotes on this public board and who is challenging your opinion - which btw is very easy - is "pissing on your topics"? Apart from that, it may surprise you, but there is in fact a whole school of writers out there which opposes Marcus' and Guralnick's overall "rise-and-downfall" theory as a myth - musically, and that's what they discuss, his music. They do so in a very elaborate way on a high standard. Instead of refusing to deal with the writings of these people you simply say, "MY COMMENT STANDS AS NOTED" plus "THERE ARE SCORES OF WRITERS INFLUENCED BY MT". I don't deny that there are scores of people who are influenced by them, you certainly are (for better knowledge) - who screams the loudest, is heard the most. But there is also this musically very well educated group of people from the academic field of popular music that see things differently. You can't stay credible and deny their existence.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:22 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Ken Jensen wrote:Those early versions are fantastic too, but Elvis never rocked [that medley] quite as hard as in 1975.

Again, you're off by six years. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Marcus' work -- it's an incredible read.


Ken, pick it up and don't you forget to read Henry Pleasants "The Great American Popular Singers" and Middleton's fine essay on Elvis vocal style as well :wink: . There are always two side to a coin - it's better to find that out by oneself.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:40 pm

patricia66 wrote:Your topics?

Check out the login name under "Author" at the top of the page.

patricia66 wrote:Someone who is commenting on your quotes ... is "pissing on your topics"?

This was a post about a great, vintage review I pulled from my personal archive to share with the forum.

You have since turned it into something ugly, and not for the first time. You devote a lot of bandwidth to jumping on other people's efforts, but it's far and few in-between where we see your login under "Author."

Give that path a whirl, expend all that excess energy, and quit ruining it for the rest of us.

Thanks.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:00 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
patricia66 wrote:Your topics?

Check out the login name under "Author" at the top of the page.

patricia66 wrote:Someone who is commenting on your quotes ... is "pissing on your topics"?

This was a post about a great, vintage review I pulled from my personal archive to share with the forum.

You have since turned it into something ugly, and not for the first time. You devote a lot of bandwidth to jumping on other people's efforts, but it's far and few in-between where we see your login under "Author."

Give that path a whirl, expend all that excess energy, and quit ruining it for the rest of us.

Thanks.


Why don't you quit, Doc? To call yourself "author" is ridiculous in itself. You open up new threads every other second but seldom reveal anything new, even less substantial. If you are challenged on a topic, you tend to be offensive to other users and often lack to substantiate your initial claims. That's cheap and it shows that you are not interested in discussion but only in displaying your ego. Your ego already goes so far that YOU stands for WE, i.e. you think you ARE the board. Ugly indeed is your attitude.

Why don't you follow your own advice and spare your excess energy on topics you really know something about? That would be a real contribution worthy of an author :wink: .

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:16 pm

I knew my challenge was so daunting you would not even address it in reply.

Move on.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:38 pm

The A-G-F at the climax of It's Now Or Never mentioned by Pleasants are actually G# - F# - E.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:57 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote: [Nope.
Neither of those treatises had any impact on Presley's perception as an artist, or his legacy, especially when compared to "Mystery Train."

But, have fun!


Are you joking? Is this really your opinion, that neither Middleton nor Pleasants books have a perception on Elvis legacy?
But Greil' book "Mystery train" has? Are you sure that you read Landau's Article as well as you should?
As Landau stated in his review:

Marcus's lirnitation is that he is too free and promiscuous with his theories and observations. Too often he comes up empty-handed, and his tedency to overdramatize become annoying. Marcus doesn't seem particularly interested in the purely musical aspects of rock. He falters when trying to deal with the music in particular and his judgements can be irritatingly arbitrary.

For example, George Plasketes give in his book "Elvis Presley in American Culture 1977-1997" an insightful exploration of America's overwhelming and enduring cultural fascination with the expanding and elusive Elvis myth. This book combines historical, textual and sociocultural analysis with a wide range of resource materials to examine the many images of Elvis in American culture.
In his scholary work "Race, Rock and Elvis" Tennessee State University professor Michael T. Bertrand examined the relationship between popular culture and social change in America and these allegations against Presley. Prof. Bertrand postulated that Presley's rock 'n' roll music brought an unpredented access to African American culture that challenged the 1950s segregated generation to reasses ingrained segregationist stereotypes.

The American Historical Review wrote that the autor (Bertrand) "convincingly argues that the black-and-white character of the sound, as well as Presley's own persona, helped to relax the rigid color line and thereby fed the fires of the civil rights movement".

And all this books/authors has no impact of Elvis's perception? But Greil's book has this impact? Sorry, your statement ist the joke of the year! You should read other books too, not only EWH, Dead of Elvis, Mistery train, Revelation of the Memphis Mafia etc.

An when I read your answers to Patricia 66 postings - this demonstrate once again my impression that you are the "one and only" here on board who is pretending to know nearly everything. But this appear to be an error.

For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy. His body may have failed him in 1977, but today his spirit, his image and his myths do more than live on: they flourish, they thrive, they multiply - Gilbert B. Rodman, Professor of communication science.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:01 pm

Pete Dube wrote:The A-G-F at the climax of It's Now Or Never mentioned by Pleasants are actually G# - F# - E.

Well, as we have been informed, Pleasant is from a "musically very well educated [sic] group of people from the academic field of popular music that see things differently."

Thanks, guys!

BACK ON TOPIC -->

Anyone else find Landau's review interesting?

In spite of, or because, Landau was a friend, it is not fulsome in its praise.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:32 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:In the meantime, pick up a copy of Marcus' work -- it's an incredible read.


Indeed.

I read this about 30 years ago and was fascinated by the discussion of Elvis' Sun recordings and other Sun artists like "Harmonica Frank" Floyd and Jerry Lee Lewis. I seem to recall that Sun producer/artist Jack Clement was interviewed.

This book was an early scholarly effort to explain the Sun Records phenomenon and, in particular, The Boy From Tupelo.

The discography in the back references the classic Bopcat import "Good Rocking Tonight" and discusses Jerry Lee's argument with Sam Phillips about the religious significance of "Great Balls of Fire", as well as the studio dialogue that accompanied Elvis' slow version of "Blue Moon of Kentucky".

I unreservedly second your recommendation and will have to look into rereading this classic.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:25 am

I remember enjoying this book quite a bit when I read it years ago. My one quibble, if I'm remembering correctly, was that Marcus was overly dismissive of Elvis' post-Army work, and had a tendency to put the Sun material on too much of a pedestal relative to everything else. Which is fine, he's entitled to his opinion, but I think his bias influenced a lot of others and that is unfortunate. The Sun material is revolutionary, but it's not the Elvis music that changed the world or reshaped popular culture.

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:44 am

czeskleba wrote:The Sun material is revolutionary, but it's not the Elvis music that changed the world or reshaped popular culture.

It absolutely is

Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:39 am

I just bought the 4th edition......look forward to reading it THANKS Doc!~ :lol: