All posts with more than 3000 Hits, prior to 2008

1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:54 pm

by reading guralnik's careless love, and to some extent even jorgensen and other writers, it's painful to see how they remark about elvis unwillingness to record, and how poor RCA "had" to gather such albums like fool, elvis now, etc.

I want to make some points:

1st - most major artists were releasing just one album per year as early as 1970. i relate to dean martin, sinatra or tom jones.

2nd. just as they have an effective collection (let's say early morning rain, for loving me, the first time, until it's time for you to go, i'm leaving, help me make it, early morning rain, fools rush in and so on) to follow elvis country, they release love letters. and elvis now

3rd - as elvis was getting ready to record on july 73 (RCA still didn't know if it was going to be a disgrace) they couldn't wait to release an album and the 2 choices, deary's fool and felton's elvis were awfull

if they were in a hurry, why not release elvis golden records 5, or wait some weeks to release raised on rock? (of course we know RAISED ON ROCK wasn't a jewel, but they still didn't know!)

4rth in retrospective, it would have been more effective just to release one live album per year (they almost did that) and one studio collection plus a catalogue item (better nothing at all) a la welcom to my world if they were desperated to release 3 albums

In conclusion: elvis almost always delivered, and it was to blame colonel for material (ok, that situation ended from 12/73 onwards) and rca for "AGONY")

Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:00 pm

But Elvis agreed to a contract to have 3 LP's a year released.

Who do we blame if we don't blame Elvis for agreeing to that ?

RCA and The Colonel had to write to Elvis and remind him of his contractual obligations when he kept crying off from recording sessions with "I don't feel too good" despite travelling to the hotel near the studio and being very up and with it to have a row with Ginger or whoever was with him at the time.

Geez, even "poor RCA" drove Big Red and parked it out the back of Graceland for him so he could practiclly record from his bed without having to lift a finger if he wanted to.

but don't blame Elvis ?

.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:12 pm

You make a good point Steve but I bet the amount of masters Elvis laid down between 70 and 76 would put most if not all other major artist to shame.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:14 pm

SORRY, but you didn't get my point. My point is that elvis had always the blame (he could always say no), but rca and colonel aren't 2 innocent sheeps, and reading through guralnik pages sometimes you get the impression that rca was a victim of elvis behaviour.

My God, wich record company managing a talent like elvis could have had the wonderful idea to ask him to record a christmas record in 1971??? did elvis specially put on his contract "yes I want to do 3 albums per year, and please, let me do a chrstmas record once in a while, I love them"


and remember rca wanted a gospel album in december 1973!!

yes, maybe I am wrong, and elvis was a fool, and RCA and Colonel were wise brains, with up to date ideas, by not means anchored in the 50's mentality. maybe they encouraged elvis to record a folk and a blues album, maybe comissioned the best writers around, and elvis didn't delivered, he maybe just wanted to record silver bells. he just recorded near 150 songs in 7 years, that lazy bastard!!!

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sat Jan 28, 2006 5:37 pm

You've succinctly refuted your own argument here:

frus75 wrote:3rd - as elvis was getting ready to record on july 73 (RCA still didn't know if it was going to be a disgrace)


Elvis was increasingly uncooperative, insular and de-enervated when it came to the issue of recording and the quality of his actual performances captured on tape. RCA is not to blame for this. Nor is The Colonel. The blame rests squarely with Elvis. If he didn't like what was requested of him - e.g. Christmas and gospel albums - then there were more appropriate and conducive ways of dealing with it than Elvis chose. It is obvious that many of Elvis' vocal performances from the 70's, increasingly so as the decade wore on, and whether in a studio or certainly on stage, are not up to the estimable standards he established for himself and popular music as a whole in the two preceding decades, and the beginning of the third decade, he recorded in.

Elvis' impulsivity and spontaneity were a boon to his greatest recordings of every year from which they originate, but more and more within the 70's, that same impulsivity and spontaneity, fuelled by drugs and failing health, gave way to negative emotions and behaviour. It's a sad tale with an infamous end that we all know only too well. The results really do speak for themselves.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 7:59 pm

Tony, yes the amount would put many to shame, but then again that's not a reflection of quality either.
Consider the other artists at that time and maybe there were a few who could muster that many masters.

Frus75, i believe you about me not getting your point. I am less the wiser now than I was then, it doesn't make sense, it may be me not interpreting what you wanted to say and I'm taking the literal meaning of the words not necessarily the intent of them.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:01 pm

As far as I'm concerned Elvis held up his end of the 3 album per year contract through 1971. The slipshod manner that Parker and RCA chose to distribute the material is their fault - not Elvis.' Even at that 2 of the 3 1972 albums were winners (MSG; He Touched Me), and the material was certainly there for Elvis Now to be a much more coherent album.

In '72 Elvis was under the gun to come up with a big hit single and he delivered the goods with Burning Love, as well as the repectable sized hits Separate Ways/Always On My Mind.

The results of the July '73 Stax sessions were disappointing overall, but this was a session that the record company basically foisted on him. This session was not without it's highlights, and I personally don't think it's near as bad as it's often made out to be. In any case, he more than made up for it with the December sessions.

The '74 Live/Memphis album is the best, I repeat, the best post 1970 live lp in terms of Elvis' enthusiastic performance, and it's a funner album than either the original MSG or Aloha. The only real drawback is the repetition of material from previous live lps.

The trio of Good Times; Promised Land; and Today were solid efforts. Each could've been better had the asinine 3 lps a year contract not been in effect.

Even as late as the From EP Boulevard sessions Elvis was still trying. It's a concept album of sorts, a kind of dark underbelly to the TTWII lp.

Lastly, Moody Blue; Way Down; and the never completed There's A Fire Down Below indicate that Elvis was at least aware that he needed to rekindle his dwindling pop chart appeal with uptempo pop and contemporary rock & roll singles.

Elvis can be held responsible for blowing off the early '77 sessions (as well as never cutting the vocal for There's A Fire Down Below), but overall I'd say he did his job in the studio.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:20 pm

Elvis’ record company certainly did him no favours, but as Steve says Elvis signed the contract. My only gripe on this subject is that Elvis didn’t take more of an interest in what actually went on the albums, leaving it up to RCA to compile the collections, once he had delivered the masters.

Having said that, it would be difficult for any artist to maintain a consistently high standard with the pressure of issuing three albums per year. The ‘70’s box set proves that Elvis delivered more often than he didn’t during his final decade, but the way some of this music was originally released is always going to attract criticism.

There’s no way “Burning Love” should have ended up on a budget album with a bunch of movie songs for example, but I think one of the reasons things like this were allowed to happen, is because Elvis had a modesty that is lacking in many lesser artists, and he didn’t see the need to constantly interfere with his record company’s decisions.

The industry has changed so much these days. It’s acceptable to release one album every two to three years now, and many performers start acting like Elizabeth Taylor in a bad mood long before they have actually achieved anything.

What I do find frustrating about the way Elvis in the ‘70’s is portrayed is that there always appears to be an agenda. We all know what happened at the end, but some writers don’t seem able to praise the events that went before it, and tend to look at the whole decade as a downward spiral.

Elvis’ appearance in “On Tour” is often criticised for example, when really he was by no means overweight and was still performing excellent shows. Guralnick is a brilliant writer, but even he described Elvis as “glazed and strangely bloated” during the Aloha show, and doesn’t offer up much praise of the actual performance itself either.

It’s almost as if writers are afraid to praise Elvis during the ‘70’s because this doesn’t fit in with the perceptions (or misconceptions) of the mass music media, and the tabloids.

January 1973 may not have been quite as exciting as June 1968, but it was a major triumph. How many of today’s artists could deal with the pressure of going out with a live band and orchestra, perform to millions of people worldwide and deliver one off performances like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “American Trilogy” and “I’ll Remember You”?

This wasn’t exactly the work of has been, but if you read some writer’s comments, rather than watch the footage for yourself, you can be left with this impression.

Mistakes were made, but the good outweighs the bad by a long way.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:05 pm

to be guilty of something doesn't exonerate the others from his part of the burden!!

elvis made mistakes, but can someone explain me the philosophy of a label (RCA) that asks for his client to deliver a christmas, a gospel, and a pop record, only to get all of this (1971 sessions) AND YET RELEASES love letters from elvis, instead the pop or the gospel album??

as jorgensen said : " to reasons that to this day remain somewhat baffling, RCA, instead of using the newly recorded (and in many cases very effective) material IT HAS BEEN CLAMORING FOR, cobbles togheter..." referring to love letters from elvis.

or in november 72 (referring to burning love album): "suggest that for the first time elvis the artist has been abandoned not just by his record label but by his manager as well"

that is what I try to say. to put all the burden on elvis's shoulders is totally unfair.

he records just 8 masters in july 72 and he should have recorded 30. ok, what a lazy artist

but he records a gospel album, a christmas and a pop one and he finds them unreleased, and instead a rehearsal (hey jude), 2 outtakes (padre, love the life i lead) gets released. and his best singles from 72 end on budget albums.

Did you know that tom jones recorded an album of standards in 1970 and, as it was uncompleted, the masters remain today in the can, because gordon mills and decca didn't want to go against tom jones artistry, and they forced the singer to record a complete new album (I who have nothing), instead of mixing sinatra-like standards with pop rock material, just in order to achieve a coherent album?? and that in a time when tom jones did everything his manager said.

from 1971 onwards decca offered jones the same money for just one record per year through 1975, conceding only to release 2 records in 1971 because one of them was live??

did you know that sinatra recorded a second jobim album in 1969 that included the (great) duet desafinado, and warner records and sinatra didn't release it because it could be felt a a "gay" duet?? the cover and everything was already manufacturated!!

and all for money, because that lazy elvis sold:

150000 sets of that 4 album set plus 1900000 more albums in 1970 (not counting the 6000000 xmas album would eventually sell)
50000 copies of the second 4 album set plus 1300000 other lps ( not counting the 2 million the xmas album will eventually sell)
4600000 albums in 1972 (counting the total 3000000 copies of MSG)
2400000 albums in 73


and so on...

Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:36 pm

Elvis was irresponsible with and showed no interest for the most part on the RCA releases in the 70s. He did not even know what was on the street. And even mistaked bootlegs for the real deal and vice versa. Only on a few ocasions like on the Elvis Today and probably a few others was he aware totally. He did not know Danny Boy was on an album like an FTD soundboard shows. Even forgot that he recorded The Last Farewell! So it is not that bad what came out when you consider Elvis did zero,zilch,nothing when it came to post production like Album covers songs included etc... But Elvis was ultimately responsible because the name ELVIS PRESLEY was on those records. His name and no one else's.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:41 pm

JLGB wrote:Elvis was irresponsible with and showed no interest for the most part on the RCA releases in the 70s. He did not even know what was on the street. And even mistaked bootlegs for the real deal and vice versa. Only on a few ocasions like on the Elvis Today and probably a few others was he aware totally. He did not know Danny Boy was on an album like an FTD soundboard shows. Even forgot that he recorded The Last Farewell! So it is not that bad what came out when you consider Elvis did zero,zilch,nothing when it came to post production like Album covers songs included etc... But Elvis was ultimately responsible because the name ELVIS PRESLEY was on those records. His name and no one else's.


Man, we are full of piss and vinegar tonight :x

Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:50 pm

Not really. But we tend to blame everyone else when it comes to the ones we love. Love is blind. So I think Ernst and Guralnick were nice to Elvis describing the 70s or tried to look at the half full glass when there was little water. IMO.

Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:59 pm

apart from the fact that when elvis says he hasn't heard the elvis presley blvd album can be sincere or just teasing, I believe that in every comment I have posted here I have started with the fact that elvis was guilty, and I just said that RCA and the colonel have their part too.

that long topic about the child raised in a conflictive home that goes the wrong way. the fact that he goes the wrong way is his guilt, as he could have chosen the good way. But the parents, school, etc have their own responsabilities.

if you are insecure and everybody tells you the best possible recording to do is a xmas record, and they say is bad to try to play with the things the way they are, that you have to keep doing girl happy and tickle me, that the fans want that, etc, and you end believing it. don't you see part of colonel's arguments when elvis speaks of his movie career in that 1962 press conference??

Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:08 pm

I regret saying some of the stuff because it was due to his health without having to go in what we know. But RCA,The Colonel did what they did for the good or for the bad because they were ALONE! Imo.

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:21 pm

Cryogenic wrote:Elvis was increasingly uncooperative, insular and de-enervated when it came to the issue of recording and the quality of his actual performances captured on tape. RCA is not to blame for this. Nor is The Colonel. The blame rests squarely with Elvis. If he didn't like what was requested of him - e.g. Christmas and gospel albums - then there were more appropriate and conducive ways of dealing with it than Elvis chose. It is obvious that many of Elvis' vocal performances from the 70's, increasingly so as the decade wore on, and whether in a studio or certainly on stage, are not up to the estimable standards he established for himself and popular music as a whole in the two preceding decades, and the beginning of the third decade, he recorded in.

Elvis' impulsivity and spontaneity were a boon to his greatest recordings of every year from which they originate, but more and more within the 70's, that same impulsivity and spontaneity, fuelled by drugs and failing health, gave way to negative emotions and behaviour. It's a sad tale with an infamous end that we all know only too well. The results really do speak for themselves.

A terrific post is worth repeating. This is a superb, irrefutable summation of the topic.

DJC

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:27 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Cryogenic wrote:Elvis was increasingly uncooperative, insular and de-enervated when it came to the issue of recording and the quality of his actual performances captured on tape. RCA is not to blame for this. Nor is The Colonel. The blame rests squarely with Elvis. If he didn't like what was requested of him - e.g. Christmas and gospel albums - then there were more appropriate and conducive ways of dealing with it than Elvis chose. It is obvious that many of Elvis' vocal performances from the 70's, increasingly so as the decade wore on, and whether in a studio or certainly on stage, are not up to the estimable standards he established for himself and popular music as a whole in the two preceding decades, and the beginning of the third decade, he recorded in.

Elvis' impulsivity and spontaneity were a boon to his greatest recordings of every year from which they originate, but more and more within the 70's, that same impulsivity and spontaneity, fuelled by drugs and failing health, gave way to negative emotions and behaviour. It's a sad tale with an infamous end that we all know only too well. The results really do speak for themselves.

A terrific post is worth repeating. This is a superb, irrefutable summation of the topic.

DJC


Yes it is...

And it was a two way street, and some good tunes did made it to vinyl. For The Heart, Moody Blue, Way Down, Pledging My Love and most of the Today album.

His charisma came through even in the weaker tunes from the 70's...

Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:28 pm

JLBG, the issue is that when you read guralnik's book, it seems elvis was a burden to RCA. from 1965 on, he treats the subject as if RCA were paying elvis and losing money. you get that impression, and elvis wasn't sick in 69. or in 66. he does an amazing set of recordings in may-june 66 and you see Guralnik pointing that RCA wasn't happy at all. Yet they kept extending his contract-options...

I am sure that RCA and colonel could have done a better album out of the stax sessions, could have told jarvis and elvis to hell with that fool album, to hell with some of those ill covers, etc. RCA aplied the 50's philosophy to the late sixties and 70's market.

RCA and Colonel only looked for money. remember that larry geller (of course all geller stories are a bit suspicius) but when he says he found elvis collapsing in his hotel room in march-april 77, he seemed near to death. When the colonel appeared Geller thought "thanks God", but all he said was "be sure he gets ready for the show"

Truth or not, Elvis was guilty, but to stand in front of him on those last concerts doing nothing!! If the colonel had retired of the scene at least he would have saved his face. As well as he wrote those letters teaching elvis about fullfilling his contracts, he could and should have done one resigning from his position, out of human dignity. maybe he didn't have to help, but he kept putting his hands for the checks.

and RCA, just the same. if they were so exasperated, and so "alone", why not end the contract?? release that lazy artist and re-start perry como career along the success of and I love you so. (BTW, I am not a como fan, but I have listened to perry como's LP's from the 70's, and they apllied the same ill-production, ill covers, ill thematic etc)..

Of course elvis SHOULD have done something, but nobody will convince me that RCA and that old fat bastard did the best they could. No way.

And I completely agree with the fact that from some point on, elvis didn't react as it was expected from an artist as unique as him. he is then the only one to take the ultimate blame. I just try to say that RCA just didn't cooperate enough, from the poor mixes elvis hated as early as it's now or never (and he complained until the end), to the covers, to the contents that made things even worst than they were), etc.


so my whole point could be resumed in this question

Given the material elvis recorded during his lifetime, and in spite of his multiple mistakes, could RCA and colonel have managed it quite better, with better covers, better tune selections, better sound etc? for me the answer is yes.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 12:16 am

frus75 wrote:Given the material elvis recorded during his lifetime, and in spite of his multiple mistakes, could RCA and colonel have managed it quite better, with better covers, better tune selections, better sound etc? for me the answer is yes.
That is true I agree. But the Product was himself. And for the reasons we know and or not know Elvis did not look after the product.

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 12:44 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:A terrific post is worth repeating. This is a superb, irrefutable summation of the topic.


Thanks, Doc.

paulsweeney wrote:And it was a two way street, and some good tunes did made it to vinyl. For The Heart, Moody Blue, Way Down, Pledging My Love and most of the Today album.


There are indeed many song cuts I enjoy listening to from the 70's - both studio masters and live recordings. However, with some exceptions, there is little that approaches the fire, passion or intensity that Elvis frequently invested and infused in his recordings from the 1950's, 1960's, and just tipping into the 70's, 1970. Absolutely none of the later recordings exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance of Elvis' pre-70's work, either.

If I compare the way Elvis sang "White Christmas" in 1957, with all of that addictive vocal playfulness and boundless energy, to how he sang "Winter Wonderland" in 1971, where his singing is far less inventive and the texture of his voice thin and distant, there is simply a world of difference. Is there stronger material from the 1970's that compares more favourably with material from the 1950's and 1960's? Yes - but nothing matches or exceeds that earlier material. Titles like "Hurt" and "Moody Blue" may be sung with considerable honesty and verve, for example, but they don't feature the same delicacy and complexity of texture inherent to much that came before. The Elvis of the 1970's, in a more ideal universe, should have continually aspired to prove himself as the Elvis of 1968 and 1969 did. His voice should have continued to sound heaven-sent and god-like; not fragile and decaying.

The humanity of the 1970's Elvis does indeed shine through and is thrilling in its own terms - but it's a world away from all of that earlier potential. Think of the tanned Elvis of the "Comeback Special" striking rock god poses in his black leather suit, perfectly trimmed sideburns and coiffed hair framing his angular face, sensuously gesturing with his lean and balletic body, practically ripping the vocal chords from his throat singing "Jailhouse Rock", then compare it to the lax and bloated Elvis of "Elvis In Concert", strolling aimlessly and lazily around on stage, crudely swaying to the softened beat of his TCB band, barely managing to articulate the words in time let alone imbue them with anything approaching power or conviction. It could all have been so different.

What we have, of course, is what we have. At the risk of turning my response into a desert, I will say again that there are many cuts from the 70's that I enjoy a great deal. There are parts of Aloha, as well as parts of other shows from that era, that simply blow me away. Elvis just nailed "An American Trilogy" in Aloha, for example, much as he nailed "The Green, Green Grass of Home", when he layed down his studio vocal in 1975. But all of that material, be it strong or weak, good or bad, exists in the shadow of a much greater artist who lived and performed two decades earlier. It all went downhill far too quickly. The Colonel and RCA made good and bad decisions in every decade - but Elvis' work, as it has since been re-assembled and is now available to us, shows where Elvis himself started going wrong. It'd be so much easier to blame someone else, and it would certainly be more desirable to do so, but at the end of the day, who was the one that kept shirking his obligations, who was the one that shocked and dismayed the more objective fans at his concerts, who was the one that the media started shying away from, who was the one that alienated several of his friends enough for them to publish a book about him and who was the one hopelessly addicted to drugs that wrecked his near flawless and enviable body, altered his moods and took him away, in a most unflattering and oft-satirised manner, before his time? You can fool with history and make multiple copies of the same or different lies all you want - but the truth is a one-of-kind entity that is completely unbendable, unbreakable, and ultimately, inescapable.

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 5:17 am

Cryogenic wrote:


There are indeed many song cuts I enjoy listening to from the 70's - both studio masters and live recordings. However, with some exceptions, there is little that approaches the fire, passion or intensity that Elvis frequently invested and infused in his recordings from the 1950's, 1960's, and just tipping into the 70's, 1970. Absolutely none of the later recordings exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance of Elvis' pre-70's work, either.

Your criticism here seems to me to be somewhat unfair, and disregards the direction pop music had taken.While I agree that Elvis' 70s work was not imbued with the same sort of ethereal magic he infused some of his greatest work in the 50s and especially the early to mid 60s with, much of that is due to the change in the predominant musical styles.

The structure, and therefore the delivery, of pop music had evolved. Wouldn't he have sounded like a perfect twit infusing "Burning Love" with the playful nuances which enervated his earlier performances??

Let's leave that embarrassment to the Wayne Newtons and Tom Jones' of the world, shall we?



If I compare the way Elvis sang "White Christmas" in 1957, with all of that addictive vocal playfulness and boundless energy, to how he sang "Winter Wonderland" in 1971, where his singing is far less inventive and the texture of his voice thin and distant, there is simply a world of difference. Is there stronger material from the 1970's that compares more favourably with material from the 1950's and 1960's? Yes - but nothing matches or exceeds that earlier material. Titles like "Hurt" and "Moody Blue" may be sung with considerable honesty and verve, for example, but they don't feature the same delicacy and complexity of texture inherent to much that came before. The Elvis of the 1970's, in a more ideal universe, should have continually aspired to prove himself as the Elvis of 1968 and 1969 did. His voice should have continued to sound heaven-sent and god-like; not fragile and decaying.



Fragile and decaying........."Hurt" sounds fragile and decaying to you. "American Trilogy" sounds fragile and decaying. "Promised Land". No nuance to be found in "Separate Ways", or "Danny Boy", or "My Way"??

Just because he didn't hiccup a path through "The Impossible Dream" doesn't mean that there wasn't subtlety and nuance.........it simply means he knew enough to infuse subtlety and nuance APPROPRIATE to the contemporary pop scene and the material chosen.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 5:44 am

Songs like Hurt are excellent for any decade. And Unlike Roy Orbison Elvis' voice changed almost on a yearly basis. And to be fair that grit in his voice from 68 special was due to being hoarse and reaching for notes that came much easier when his vocal register was higher. Also in 69 with Wearin' That Loved On Look for example that grit was also product of his voice changing and hoarseness (due to a cold). Listen to the outtakes and you will find plenty of "frogs". So Elvis singing from the soul on a lot of those 70s songs cannot be played down. It was the inconsistency and not taking care of the final product like I stated before. But Elvis was at fault because he did not complain or do anything about the way his 70s albums were released for the most part. He seemed on the ball for Elvis Today (at least in the sound,mix department) but for the 76 Graceland sessions it was not the case. So I repeat it was not that bad considering after Elvis layed down his vocal tracks what RCA did without any input from its artist.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:04 am

Elvis's studio albums started falling content wise right after Elvis country, thats when the albums just became all mixed up and a lot of albums were just left overs, look at 'love letters' and 'now' for example, they did not have a certain flavour like the past few albums had, and i mean, 'hey jude' was recorded in 1969, and was a poor cut i don't think Elvis should've made. i think that Elvis's albums went down hill until the late 73 stax albums, but it only picked up for a while from those albums. the only albums that really kicked arse were the live albums, oh and the gospel album 'he touched me', i mean it don't kick arse, but a hell of a lot better than the other ones being put out at the time. i wish that Elvis had've made that 'folk album' instead of doing 'love letters' and 'Elvis now', and done a half studio/live album, but hey, we can't change history

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:59 am

Cryogenic wrote:There are indeed many song cuts I enjoy listening to from the 70's - both studio masters and live recordings. However, with some exceptions, there is little that approaches the fire, passion or intensity that Elvis frequently invested and infused in his recordings from the 1950's, 1960's, and just tipping into the 70's, 1970. Absolutely none of the later recordings exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance of Elvis' pre-70's work, either.

If I compare the way Elvis sang "White Christmas" in 1957, with all of that addictive vocal playfulness and boundless energy, to how he sang "Winter Wonderland" in 1971, where his singing is far less inventive and the texture of his voice thin and distant, there is simply a world of difference. Is there stronger material from the 1970's that compares more favourably with material from the 1950's and 1960's? Yes - but nothing matches or exceeds that earlier material. Titles like "Hurt" and "Moody Blue" may be sung with considerable honesty and verve, for example, but they don't feature the same delicacy and complexity of texture inherent to much that came before. The Elvis of the 1970's, in a more ideal universe, should have continually aspired to prove himself as the Elvis of 1968 and 1969 did. His voice should have continued to sound heaven-sent and god-like; not fragile and decaying.

The humanity of the 1970's Elvis does indeed shine through and is thrilling in its own terms - but it's a world away from all of that earlier potential. Think of the tanned Elvis of the "Comeback Special" striking rock god poses in his black leather suit, perfectly trimmed sideburns and coiffed hair framing his angular face, sensuously gesturing with his lean and balletic body, practically ripping the vocal chords from his throat singing "Jailhouse Rock", then compare it to the lax and bloated Elvis of "Elvis In Concert", strolling aimlessly and lazily around on stage, crudely swaying to the softened beat of his TCB band, barely managing to articulate the words in time let alone imbue them with anything approaching power or conviction. It could all have been so different.

What we have, of course, is what we have. At the risk of turning my response into a desert, I will say again that there are many cuts from the 70's that I enjoy a great deal. There are parts of Aloha, as well as parts of other shows from that era, that simply blow me away. Elvis just nailed "An American Trilogy" in Aloha, for example, much as he nailed "The Green, Green Grass of Home", when he layed down his studio vocal in 1975. But all of that material, be it strong or weak, good or bad, exists in the shadow of a much greater artist who lived and performed two decades earlier. It all went downhill far too quickly. The Colonel and RCA made good and bad decisions in every decade - but Elvis' work, as it has since been re-assembled and is now available to us, shows where Elvis himself started going wrong. It'd be so much easier to blame someone else, and it would certainly be more desirable to do so, but at the end of the day, who was the one that kept shirking his obligations, who was the one that shocked and dismayed the more objective fans at his concerts, who was the one that the media started shying away from, who was the one that alienated several of his friends enough for them to publish a book about him and who was the one hopelessly addicted to drugs that wrecked his near flawless and enviable body, altered his moods and took him away, in a most unflattering and oft-satirised manner, before his time? You can fool with history and make multiple copies of the same or different lies all you want - but the truth is a one-of-kind entity that is completely unbendable, unbreakable, and ultimately, inescapable.

And again, right on the money and so eloquent. It feels like you're reading my mind ...

One point that should be emphasized is that, depsite the limitations of his later career, the great material is still worthy. It's just has to measure up to -- or fall below -- the incredible work done between 1954 and 1970.

DJC

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:11 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Cryogenic wrote:There are indeed many song cuts I enjoy listening to from the 70's - both studio masters and live recordings. However, with some exceptions, there is little that approaches the fire, passion or intensity that Elvis frequently invested and infused in his recordings from the 1950's, 1960's, and just tipping into the 70's, 1970. Absolutely none of the later recordings exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance of Elvis' pre-70's work, either.

If I compare the way Elvis sang "White Christmas" in 1957, with all of that addictive vocal playfulness and boundless energy, to how he sang "Winter Wonderland" in 1971, where his singing is far less inventive and the texture of his voice thin and distant, there is simply a world of difference. Is there stronger material from the 1970's that compares more favourably with material from the 1950's and 1960's? Yes - but nothing matches or exceeds that earlier material. Titles like "Hurt" and "Moody Blue" may be sung with considerable honesty and verve, for example, but they don't feature the same delicacy and complexity of texture inherent to much that came before. The Elvis of the 1970's, in a more ideal universe, should have continually aspired to prove himself as the Elvis of 1968 and 1969 did. His voice should have continued to sound heaven-sent and god-like; not fragile and decaying.

The humanity of the 1970's Elvis does indeed shine through and is thrilling in its own terms - but it's a world away from all of that earlier potential. Think of the tanned Elvis of the "Comeback Special" striking rock god poses in his black leather suit, perfectly trimmed sideburns and coiffed hair framing his angular face, sensuously gesturing with his lean and balletic body, practically ripping the vocal chords from his throat singing "Jailhouse Rock", then compare it to the lax and bloated Elvis of "Elvis In Concert", strolling aimlessly and lazily around on stage, crudely swaying to the softened beat of his TCB band, barely managing to articulate the words in time let alone imbue them with anything approaching power or conviction. It could all have been so different.

What we have, of course, is what we have. At the risk of turning my response into a desert, I will say again that there are many cuts from the 70's that I enjoy a great deal. There are parts of Aloha, as well as parts of other shows from that era, that simply blow me away. Elvis just nailed "An American Trilogy" in Aloha, for example, much as he nailed "The Green, Green Grass of Home", when he layed down his studio vocal in 1975. But all of that material, be it strong or weak, good or bad, exists in the shadow of a much greater artist who lived and performed two decades earlier. It all went downhill far too quickly. The Colonel and RCA made good and bad decisions in every decade - but Elvis' work, as it has since been re-assembled and is now available to us, shows where Elvis himself started going wrong. It'd be so much easier to blame someone else, and it would certainly be more desirable to do so, but at the end of the day, who was the one that kept shirking his obligations, who was the one that shocked and dismayed the more objective fans at his concerts, who was the one that the media started shying away from, who was the one that alienated several of his friends enough for them to publish a book about him and who was the one hopelessly addicted to drugs that wrecked his near flawless and enviable body, altered his moods and took him away, in a most unflattering and oft-satirised manner, before his time? You can fool with history and make multiple copies of the same or different lies all you want - but the truth is a one-of-kind entity that is completely unbendable, unbreakable, and ultimately, inescapable.

And again, right on the money and so eloquent. It feels like you're reading my mind ...

One point that should be emphasized is that, depsite the limitations of his later career, the great material is still worthy. It's just has to measure up to -- or fall below -- the incredible work done between 1954 and 1970.

DJC




Well said, Cryogenic & DJC. I am in total agreement.

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:33 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Cryogenic wrote:There are indeed many song cuts I enjoy listening to from the 70's - both studio masters and live recordings. However, with some exceptions, there is little that approaches the fire, passion or intensity that Elvis frequently invested and infused in his recordings from the 1950's, 1960's, and just tipping into the 70's, 1970. Absolutely none of the later recordings exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance of Elvis' pre-70's work, either.

If I compare the way Elvis sang "White Christmas" in 1957, with all of that addictive vocal playfulness and boundless energy, to how he sang "Winter Wonderland" in 1971, where his singing is far less inventive and the texture of his voice thin and distant, there is simply a world of difference. Is there stronger material from the 1970's that compares more favourably with material from the 1950's and 1960's? Yes - but nothing matches or exceeds that earlier material. Titles like "Hurt" and "Moody Blue" may be sung with considerable honesty and verve, for example, but they don't feature the same delicacy and complexity of texture inherent to much that came before. The Elvis of the 1970's, in a more ideal universe, should have continually aspired to prove himself as the Elvis of 1968 and 1969 did. His voice should have continued to sound heaven-sent and god-like; not fragile and decaying.

The humanity of the 1970's Elvis does indeed shine through and is thrilling in its own terms - but it's a world away from all of that earlier potential. Think of the tanned Elvis of the "Comeback Special" striking rock god poses in his black leather suit, perfectly trimmed sideburns and coiffed hair framing his angular face, sensuously gesturing with his lean and balletic body, practically ripping the vocal chords from his throat singing "Jailhouse Rock", then compare it to the lax and bloated Elvis of "Elvis In Concert", strolling aimlessly and lazily around on stage, crudely swaying to the softened beat of his TCB band, barely managing to articulate the words in time let alone imbue them with anything approaching power or conviction. It could all have been so different.

What we have, of course, is what we have. At the risk of turning my response into a desert, I will say again that there are many cuts from the 70's that I enjoy a great deal. There are parts of Aloha, as well as parts of other shows from that era, that simply blow me away. Elvis just nailed "An American Trilogy" in Aloha, for example, much as he nailed "The Green, Green Grass of Home", when he layed down his studio vocal in 1975. But all of that material, be it strong or weak, good or bad, exists in the shadow of a much greater artist who lived and performed two decades earlier. It all went downhill far too quickly. The Colonel and RCA made good and bad decisions in every decade - but Elvis' work, as it has since been re-assembled and is now available to us, shows where Elvis himself started going wrong. It'd be so much easier to blame someone else, and it would certainly be more desirable to do so, but at the end of the day, who was the one that kept shirking his obligations, who was the one that shocked and dismayed the more objective fans at his concerts, who was the one that the media started shying away from, who was the one that alienated several of his friends enough for them to publish a book about him and who was the one hopelessly addicted to drugs that wrecked his near flawless and enviable body, altered his moods and took him away, in a most unflattering and oft-satirised manner, before his time? You can fool with history and make multiple copies of the same or different lies all you want - but the truth is a one-of-kind entity that is completely unbendable, unbreakable, and ultimately, inescapable.

And again, right on the money and so eloquent. It feels like you're reading my mind ...

One point that should be emphasized is that, depsite the limitations of his later career, the great material is still worthy. It's just has to measure up to -- or fall below -- the incredible work done between 1954 and 1970.

DJC


Agreed Doc........but the blanket assessment that NOTHING recorded post 1970 rises to the level of his former work, and lacks subtlety and nuance, rings pretty hollow.