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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:33 am

Thank you, Johnny, for the article and additional information.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:52 am

elvis-fan wrote:
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


What I meant was... when Elvis was reinventing pop culture, smashing social mores, and bringing rock-n-roll to the forefront of teen popularity, he was doing it by singing Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and Don't Be Cruel. If you asked a bunch of random people in 1956 to name an Elvis Presley song, the vast majority of them would name songs like those, they wouldn't say Mystery Train or Good Rockin' Tonight. The Sun sides obviously laid the groundwork, but I think the songs that truly changed the world were the ones that were heard by the largest amounts of people. I'm not arguing that the 1956-57 sides were necessarily better, just that they were the tracks that had the biggest impact by dint of their popularity and hit status.

In rock criticism there is a conventional wisdom that when a band or artist leaves the indie label and signs with the major label, they are "selling out" and their work is not as good anymore. A slew of bands in the 80s and 90s were subjected to this criticism, REM and Nirvana among them. Ultimately I think there is an element of snobbery in this line of thinking, and Elvis was probably the first rock-n-roll artist to be subjected to it. The Sun sides are great, but they don't deserve to be put on a pedestal above everything else he did.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:10 pm

Thank you for the original post, John.

Marcus' book, which I first read in the mid 80s, was the first writing I'd ever found which seemed to express what I'd always felt about Presley's music: that it was important and culturally significant.

For all its occasional shortcomings, the book remains a masterpiece.

Elvis fans should be forever grateful for its existence.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:21 pm

It's been a very long time since I read that book.

It was probably the first serious analysis of rock and roll that I ever read, and awakened within me a thirst for more.

I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The chapter on Robert Johnson is, acccording to sources I have read since, probably the best piece of writing ever published on that pioneering bluesman.

The footnotes in the book are just as fascinating as the text itself, and can be somewhat surprising. I remember an analysis (in the footnotes) of the album "A Legendary Peformer Volume 1". Have a read of that and see if you don't view that record in a totally different light.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:41 pm

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


I only smell a Docs pee here. Why is it that a potential interesting topic gets a nasty tone of voice as soon as people do not agree with you? In stead of upgrading topics to a really interesting academic level you start bitching around in a very unpleasant way. I think quite some members have had it with that. Yet another potentially great topic you spoiled in the end.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:49 pm

czeskleba wrote:The Sun sides are great, but they don't deserve to be put on a pedestal above everything else he did.

I have to disagree. I believe it was the SUN recordings, particularly "That's All Right Mama" that revolutionized the rockabilly sound and laid the ground work for his later recordings. I'm certainly not suggesting that rock 'n' roll didn't exist before Elvis' early SUN tracks, but recordings like Mystery Train, Baby Let's Play House and Good Rockin' Tonight were the songs that opened the door to greater opportunities for Elvis... without those, the likes of Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel would have never happened. So I would have to place his SUN recordings at the top of the list in terms of Elvis' impact on popular music.

Image
Last edited by elvis-fan on Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:54 pm

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


I only smell a Docs pee here. Why is it that a potential interesting topic gets a nasty tone of voice as soon as people do not agree with you? In stead of upgrading topics to a really interesting academic level you start bitching around in a very unpleasant way. I think quite some members have had it with that. Yet another potentially great topic you spoiled in the end.

You might note that the post you're quoting is from more than 2 years ago...

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:43 pm

This was the first hardback Elvis type book I ever bought back in late '75. First saw it in the local library, checked it out, read it, then made up my mind that i had to own a copy! This book started me collecting other Elvis books a couple of years before he died. Thanks Doc for reminding me of this book. It's on my book shelf and I haven't looked at it in years! Now I have to take it down and re-read it. It's still in it's original dust cover and a first printing. The next book I purchased was one called "the films of Elvis Presley" followed by "The Illustrated Elvis", both hardbacks. Thanks for resparking my memory on this fine book Doc!

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:24 pm

George Smith wrote:Thank you for the original post, John.

Marcus' book, which I first read in the mid 80s, was the first writing I'd ever found which seemed to express what I'd always felt about Presley's music: that it was important and culturally significant.

For all its occasional shortcomings, the book remains a masterpiece.

Elvis fans should be forever grateful for its existence.

Agreed, and one reason I crafted this topic.


mick967 wrote:It's been a very long time since I read that book.

It was probably the first serious analysis of rock and roll that I ever read, and awakened within me a thirst for more.

I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The chapter on Robert Johnson is, acccording to sources I have read since, probably the best piece of writing ever published on that pioneering bluesman.

The footnotes in the book are just as fascinating as the text itself, and can be somewhat surprising. I remember an analysis (in the footnotes) of the album "A Legendary Peformer Volume 1". Have a read of that and see if you don't view that record in a totally different light.

Even in his more recent editions, where the end notes are are always updated, Marcus still uses that out-of-print LP as his template for reviewing the Presley career.


elvis-fan wrote:
czeskleba wrote:The Sun sides are great, but they don't deserve to be put on a pedestal above everything else he did.

I have to disagree. I believe it was the SUN recordings, particularly "That's All Right Mama" that revolutionized the rockabilly sound and laid the ground work for his later recordings. I'm certainly not suggesting that rock 'n' roll didn't exist before Elvis' early SUN tracks, but recordings like Mystery Train, Baby Let's Play House and Good Rockin' Tonight were the songs that opened the door to greater opportunities for Elvis... without those, the likes of Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel would have never happened. So I would have to place his SUN recordings at the top of the list in terms of Elvis' impact on popular music.

Sun Sessions 1976.JPG

One of the points of "Mystery Train" is that the Sun sides are unique in the Presley canon, and remain as fresh as the day they were released. Now, since 1975, they have not been as hidden away in the marketplace, but the assessment still applies.


czeskleba wrote: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 ...

In the main text his focus is primarily on the Sun sides, and Elvis' small combo recordings from 1968. In the book's end notes is where he discusses the rest of the career. Marcus rightfully dismisses the Hollywood garbage 1962-1969 Presley produced, and searches for those cuts that showed Elvis was still worthwhile as an artist. Now, you are not much of a fan of the Sun sides, which is unfortunate, but the book's title should have given you a clue as to where the author was headed.


sgoodyear62 wrote:This was the first hardback Elvis type book I ever bought back in late '75. First saw it in the local library, checked it out, read it, then made up my mind that i had to own a copy! This book started me collecting other Elvis books a couple of years before he died. Thanks Doc for reminding me of this book. It's on my book shelf and I haven't looked at it in years! Now I have to take it down and re-read it. It's still in it's original dust cover and a first printing. The next book I purchased was one called "the films of Elvis Presley" followed by "The Illustrated Elvis", both hardbacks. Thanks for resparking my memory on this fine book Doc!

If you can pick up the newest edition, to learn what he thinks about all the releases on Elvis since 1975.
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Re: Landau --> "'Mystery Train': Right on Time" (1975)

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:36 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
sgoodyear62 wrote:This was the first hardback Elvis type book I ever bought back in late '75. First saw it in the local library, checked it out, read it, then made up my mind that i had to own a copy! This book started me collecting other Elvis books a couple of years before he died. Thanks Doc for reminding me of this book. It's on my book shelf and I haven't looked at it in years! Now I have to take it down and re-read it. It's still in it's original dust cover and a first printing. The next book I purchased was one called "the films of Elvis Presley" followed by "The Illustrated Elvis", both hardbacks. Thanks for resparking my memory on this fine book Doc!

If you can pick up the newest edition, to learn what he thinks about all the releases on Elvis since 1975.


What do you exactly mean by that? Other books on Elvis? And/or movies? Thanks in advance.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:55 pm

epf wrote:What do you exactly mean by that? Other books on Elvis? And/or movies? Thanks in advance.

You must not have the book. Each edition includes extensive end notes that run down all of the music discussed in each chapter, what he thinks of it, and where it may be found. He also includes some books, where appropriate.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:03 pm

Doc:

I have never read the book. Thanks for the topic. I have a question, though: one has to have both first and last editions to "have it all" or just the last one will do? I ask this because I'm interested in buying an used copy of the first, with the hardcover, but it seems that it is worth to read the last one too for the notes. Are there any other differences?

Thanks!

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:05 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
epf wrote:What do you exactly mean by that? Other books on Elvis? And/or movies? Thanks in advance.

You must not have the book. Each edition includes extensive end notes that run down all of the music discussed in each chapter, what he thinks of it, and where it may be found. He also includes some books, where appropriate.


That is a totally correct deduction. Thanks for the answer. With tidbits like this, it becomes an even more interesting object to focus on. For now and the near future it will be A Boy From Tupelo, though. But i will keep this one on my wish list.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:52 pm

czeskleba wrote:
elvis-fan wrote:
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


What I meant was... when Elvis was reinventing pop culture, smashing social mores, and bringing rock-n-roll to the forefront of teen popularity, he was doing it by singing Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, and Don't Be Cruel. If you asked a bunch of random people in 1956 to name an Elvis Presley song, the vast majority of them would name songs like those, they wouldn't say Mystery Train or Good Rockin' Tonight. The Sun sides obviously laid the groundwork, but I think the songs that truly changed the world were the ones that were heard by the largest amounts of people. I'm not arguing that the 1956-57 sides were necessarily better, just that they were the tracks that had the biggest impact by dint of their popularity and hit status.

In rock criticism there is a conventional wisdom that when a band or artist leaves the indie label and signs with the major label, they are "selling out" and their work is not as good anymore. A slew of bands in the 80s and 90s were subjected to this criticism, REM and Nirvana among them. Ultimately I think there is an element of snobbery in this line of thinking, and Elvis was probably the first rock-n-roll artist to be subjected to it. The Sun sides are great, but they don't deserve to be put on a pedestal above everything else he did.

Well said, czeskleba !

Steve Morse

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:21 pm

billyblues wrote:Doc:

I have never read the book. Thanks for the topic. I have a question, though: one has to have both first and last editions to "have it all" or just the last one will do? I ask this because I'm interested in buying an used copy of the first, with the hardcover, but it seems that it is worth to read the last one too for the notes. Are there any other differences?

Thanks!

It depends on how much you are interested in learning how Marcus' tastes changed since he was 30, when he wrote the book, and 63, when the fifth edition was published. I would get the newest printing, because reading this magnificent work is the most important thing. It will blow your mind about Elvis, and all the other artists he writes about (Sly Stone, Harmonica Frank, Robert Johnson, the Band).

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:28 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:Now, you are not much of a fan of the Sun sides, which is unfortunate, but the book's title should have given you a clue as to where the author was headed.


I'm not sure how you are coming to the conclusion that I'm not much of a fan of the Sun sides... I did say "the Sun sides are great" in my earlier post. I just think those recordings are critically overrated relative to Elvis' other recorded output, kind of like how Pet Sounds is overrated relative to everything else the Beach Boys did. The Sun recordings are amazing and groundbreaking, but I think he did better, more fully realized work later, particularly the stuff from the first half of 1956, the Elvis is Back sessions, and the American stuff. It doesn't mean I don't love the Sun stuff too, though.

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

Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:42 pm

czeskleba wrote:I'm not sure how you are coming to the conclusion that I'm not much of a fan of the Sun sides... I did say "the Sun sides are great" in my earlier post. I just think those recordings are critically overrated relative to Elvis' other recorded output, kind of like how Pet Sounds is overrated relative to everything else the Beach Boys did.

Neither are overrated at all. Each is a perfect example of a unique, high-water mark in the respective artist's career.

Again, all of your comments indicate your regard of the Sun period is not what it could be. And you also seem miffed that Marcus was instrumental in bringing the greatness of Elvis' Sun period to the general fan's attention. That's not our loss.

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:22 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:It depends on how much you are interested in learning how Marcus' tastes changed since he was 30, when he wrote the book, and 63, when the fifth edition was published. I would get the newest printing, because reading this magnificent work is the most important thing. It will blow your mind about Elvis, and all the other artists he writes about (Sly Stone, Harmonica Frank, Robert Johnson, the Band).


Thank you! I'll see if I'm able to put my hands on a copy one of these days. Looks like an interesting read.

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:02 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Again, all of your comments indicate your regard of the Sun period is not what it could be.


Well, I guess that is more accurate than your earlier misstatement that I am "not much a fan of the Sun sides." Since I merely love the Sun recordings, but don't view them as the absolute pinnacle of Elvis' creative achievements, then you can indeed say my regard for them is "not what it could be." I'm not sure how useful a statement like that is, though. Let's say hypothetically you view the Sun recordings as the best material Elvis ever did. Another person who views them as the finest music ever in the history of recorded sound could come along and say your regard for them is "not what it could be" and be completely accurate too.

And you also seem miffed that Marcus was instrumental in bringing the greatness of Elvis' Sun period to the general fan's attention.

"Miffed" infers a level of anger that was not my intention. I am merely disappointed when Elvis' Sun material is praised at the expense of the post-Sun material.

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:14 am

billyblues wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:It depends on how much you are interested in learning how Marcus' tastes changed since he was 30, when he wrote the book, and 63, when the fifth edition was published. I would get the newest printing, because reading this magnificent work is the most important thing. It will blow your mind about Elvis, and all the other artists he writes about (Sly Stone, Harmonica Frank, Robert Johnson, the Band).


Thank you! I'll see if I'm able to put my hands on a copy one of these days. Looks like an interesting read.

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

Only $12!

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:14 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
The review was written by colleague.....Jon Landau.


I'm genuinely intrigued. Please elaborate.

Chris

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:18 am

ChrisM wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
The review was written by colleague.....Jon Landau.


I'm genuinely intrigued. Please elaborate.

Chris

They were both editors at Rolling Stone.

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

Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:24 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:They were both editors at Rolling Stone.


Ah! I read it to mean Landau was your colleague, hence my intrigue.

Chris

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

Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:14 am

Marcus' book was a great read many years ago...it's one of the "Elvis" books that remains on the shelf for easy access. This latest version for only $12.00 sounds like it might make a welcome addition to my third edition from 1990.

To quote from the back cover, "Gets as close to the heart and soul of America and American music as the best of rock 'n' roll" - Bruce Springsteen

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

Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:15 pm

It absolutely is


No, it really isn't, but it's the music that helped create the music that DID change the world, in RCA studios in 1956.

The world sat up and took notice in 1956 - it's only with hindsight that the Sun material gains importance. Most of the world heard Heartbreak Hotel long before they heard That's All Right, which was only a modest hit in the south at the time.

Great post Doc, and a great reminder to anyone who's not read the book. $12 is something of a bargain!