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Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:46 am

Scatter wrote: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.

Well, I can certainly understand your sentiment. Votes for "Burning Love" (1972) and "Promised Land" (1973) should at least be counted, although it could have been a LOT more than that.

DJC

Sun Jan 29, 2006 12:35 pm

I would also point out that a recording like "Separate Ways" is especially artful and may very well exceed in CRAFT what he had done in previous decades. For me, Elvis' genius was always there but it became tougher and tougher for him to summon it. The difference between the '50s Elvis and the 1970s Elvis is that in the 1950s he had greater reserves of creative energy. He didn't necessarily want to record a Christmas album in 1957 any more than he did in 1971. It's just that in the earlier decade, he was at a height of creative awareness and could bring even an assignment to life. By the 1970s he had to be interested and it was often hard to get his interest. There are dozens of reasons why that would be the case.

Many good posts here. Where the intent of the thread is on solid ground is that if Elvis didn't feel like recording he shouldn't have had to record. Maybe he (or Col. Parker) should have put his foot down and insisted on a more relaxed musical schedule.

Unfortunately, Elvis was paying here for his penchant for wild spending and Parker's lack of business advice. However, you could make a case that RCA wasn't exactly using a sound business model here and that helped increase Elvis' and their financial woes. Many have pointed out here that most major artists in the 1970s released one album per year if that. What's been left out here is that this was not necessarily a concession to the artists. The labels were in the process of finding out that could make a lot more money by selling 2-10 million copies of one album than a bunch 300,000- 500,000 range. RCA seemed alone in not figuring this out. In 1970 they released something like seven albums virtually guaranteeing that none of Elvis' albums would be one of those big time sellers. And in 1973, when they had a potential super blockbuster in "Aloha" they gave up on it in a few months and insisted on a followup like it was 1960 and not 1973. Had RCA followed the industry model that was emerging they could have made more money for themselves and more money for Elvis and everyone would have been happy.

I agree with Rockin' Rebel that some critics have blinders on in regard to the '70s. To say Elvis looked bloated in "Aloha" is way off base. He looked fabulous. I actually have some problems with the show but to criticize his appearance here is way off base.

The big area where Elvis really deserves blame is in not having it out with Colonel Parker during this time. Parker was not bringing him new creative challenges (like the alleged offer from the Boston Pops, decent movie roles) and was limiting the Elvis' own creative process with the publishing deal. To read that Elvis passed up material that really interested him like Johnny Cash's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" or the Walker Brothers' hit "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" in favor of dull Hill and Range copyrights like "I'll Never Know" is heartbreaking. This more than anything could be the cause of his dilemma. If you look at Elvis' best moments and they all involved some sort of novelty or challenge. There was the creation of his musical identity on the Sun Records. There was proving himself on the national label in 1956. He followed that with the novelty of working with Leiber and Stoller and the challenge of creating convincing movie music. Then in 1958, there were the horn arrangements on "King Creole" and later that year the new band. In 1960 he had to re-establish his audience and so on.

Also, Elvis should have been making a LOT more money from RCA. Many,lesser artists were able to set up shop with their own label. His royalty rate on albums was the SAME as his initial rate way back in 1956. It was Parker's job to set this stuff up. However, it was Elvis' job to make sure he was happy with Parker's work and he didn't do that.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:46 pm

i'm very fond of the 70s ballads, so i just don't get this everything after '69/'70 is crap sentiment.

if you like ballads, you'll love elvis' '70s work. if you don't, stick to the '50s.

i really don't want to know, separate ways, unchained melody (live), my boy, burning love, promised land, american trilogy, always on my mind, etc...

so many that i love. i prefer the '70s output to the '50s, sorry. i don't judge music by 'revolutionary', i judge it by the feelings it gives me.

imo, as far as i'm concerned, ttwii and eot are the best video recorded elvis performances. both are way better than '68. eot in particular is soooo underrated. aloha is pretty mindblowing (i prefer the rehearsal actually). and i like eic, so what can i say--during the ballads and some of the deleted numbers (sacrilidge!), his voice was absolutely stunning.

it remains that my favorite elvis performance is june 21, 1977's unchained melody.
Last edited by Elvis' Babe on Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 2:22 pm

Thanks Doc, Jerry and Scatter!

Let's see if I can piece this 'thang back together...

Scatter wrote: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"??


Two points:

1) My remark of "fragile and decaying" was meant in a generalised, hyperbolic way - as was my contrasting remark of "heaven-sent and god-like". Neither remark applies universally to every last thing Elvis ever sang in either set of decades, but if you were to sum the two up in a handful of words, I believe my phrasing was and is a pretty accurate way to go.

2) I never claimed there was no nuance to be found in tracks like "Separate Ways", "Danny Boy" or "My Way" - I simply said that such material doesn't exhibit the same kind of subtlety or nuance. I think that's still a solid statement, though now I look back on it after your objection, maybe the implication - that the subtlety and nuance displayed in the 70's is of an inferior type to that shown in earlier recordings - is dead wrong. Still, compare how Elvis sings "It Hurts Me" in 1964 to just about anything that was tackled in the 70's; there's a big difference - even if I perhaps lack the eloquence to adequately describe it. His vibrato is under much tighter control in "It Hurts Me" and his phrasing, timing and elocution exist on an almost totally different plane. It helps, of course, that Elvis' upper register is also at its peak.

drjohncarpenter wrote:Well, I can certainly understand your sentiment. Votes for "Burning Love" (1972) and "Promised Land" (1973) should at least be counted, although it could have been a LOT more than that.


Both are fantastic songs - but Elvis has always sounded strained to me on "Burning Love". It came as no surprise to me to learn that he struggled to get a decent take in the studio, and on top of that, was supposedly reluctant to sing it in "Aloha From Hawaii" (which is somewhat borne out in the actual footage - he completely flubs the song in the rehearsal and delivers a fairly remedial performance of it in the main event). As for "Promised Land"... Elvis' voice has always sounded too far back in the mix for it to make the impact I sense it would were that not the case.

likethebike wrote:I agree with Rockin' Rebel that some critics have blinders on in regard to the '70s. To say Elvis looked bloated in "Aloha" is way off base. He looked fabulous. I actually have some problems with the show but to criticize his appearance here is way off base.


Although I only own and have only fully read "Last Train To Memphis", I find myself inclined to agree with N880EP et al who call "Careless Love" a superficial and lacklustre treatment of Elvis' later life. Where does Guralnick get off calling Elvis "bloated" in "Aloha From Hawaii"? Where, in fact, does he get off saying or implying the only great performance from that show was "An American Trilogy"? In the words of Elvis: "what the fff---?" I don't want anyone to leave this thread with the impression that I hate or have a disdain for Elvis' latter work - I don't. I absolutely adore many of the performances from the 70's (but I still feel the cadence and energy of the 50's and 60's, and perhaps 1970, is unmatched). When push comes to shove, in spite of everything I've said prior to this moment, I'll get as irritable - and perhaps much more - than "the next Elvis fan", to to speak, when it comes to Guralnick and his flimsy appraisal of Elvis' twilight work. "Aloha From Hawaii", despite some flaws and lesser spots, is a staggering concert from the world's greatest entertainer. It's a milestone and a musical gem all on its own. Now, while I could understand Guralnick being more negative than positive about it (simply because it accurately reflects the trajectory of his tale), he clearly took things too far. It's not just about the singing or the appearance of Elvis (and yet, even on those levels, Guralnick is cynical and dismissive), but it's also about Elvis' command of the stage, his synergy with the band and how he smoothly transitions from one song to the next. Where is that same objectivity-tinged-with-love approach that he employed throughout "Last Train"?

It seems that Guralnick just gave up on Elvis past a certain point and wrote the rest on auto-pilot. Bad, very bad. While a complete biography of Elvis is probably one of the most difficult things anyone could ever write if they intended to be as rigorous as Guralnick started out being, and for that, he still deserves enormous credit, your biopgraphy's subject can only be done true justice if you stick with your man through thick and thin - even when he pushes your patience and faith to breaking point. It seems that Guralnick allowed his bitter disappointment with Elvis - and dare I say, whatever funds he procured on the side *cough* - to cloud his perceptions. I guess, like Elvis' final years, Guralnick's account has its breathtaking parts, but on the whole, it's less than it could and should have been.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:24 pm

Between June of '70 and June '71 Elvis recorded 80 masters in the studio. EIGHTY MASTERS! That's an incredible amount of recording. Has any other act since then even approached those numbers? I seriously doubt it. 80 tracks is enough for six 12 track lp's, and four independent singles. Had he been on even a 2 lp per year schedule this amount of recordings should have taken him through 1973 (if the live lp's are factored in). In actuality the bulk of this material was exhausted by spring of '72. That's 73 of the 80 tracks in under 2 years!

In '72 Elvis recorded 7 studio masters, and live recording produced a further 5 performances previously unrecorded by Elvis (American Trilogy; It's Impossible; Never Been To Spain; The Impossible Dream; For The Good Times).

1973 produced 30 studio masters, plus 8 live performances of songs previously not recorded or released by Elvis.

1975 produced a 10 track album, a bare minimum to be sure, but one that met the industry standard of the time.

1976 produced 16 studio recordings.

Granted the quality of both material and Elvis' vocal performances were sometimes not up to par, but even as late as '76 he for the most delivered the goods. what's more, the bulk of this work was produced by a man struggling with addiction, depression, and some health issues.

For Chrissake how much more could we demand from the guy? We practically expected him to squeeze blood from a stone!

Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:37 pm

I'd agree with Guralnicks view.

He doesn't say Elvis was bloated at all, put into the context overall where he says the opposite:

"...and for all of his dramatic weight loss, Elvis appears strangely bloated, his expression glazed and unfocused."


Bold and italics mine.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:42 pm

I must confess that for all the "brilliance" that seems to be attached to Aloha, that wasn't the dazzling performer I saw in TTWII.

Spectacular for sure, strangely impersonal though.

JMHO

Geoff

Sun Jan 29, 2006 6:50 pm

I've said it before and despite it being very much against the view of many, Aloha is boring to me. A standard set and performance with little or no passion, but no less than what I would expect for a global broadcast, a very "safe" performance.

There are no moments in it on par with "Tryin' To Get To You" from the 68 Special, nor anyting to line up with something like "Just Pretend" from TTWII.

What they could have done was broadcast the never before seen entire show from Hampton Roads april 9th 1972 instead and saved a wedge of production costs :lol:

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:03 pm

Oh, Steve!

The version of "You Gave Me A Mountain" from that show is staggering.

Aloha still rocks, though. Yes, his attitude is not at its peak, and the whole thing really marks "the beginning of the end", but it's still a damn fine show.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:06 pm

While it's mostly true that in Aloha Elvis is noticeably less physically dynamic than he was in TTWII, and his vocals not as impassioned on some of the ballads or vigorous on the rockers, Aloha is still a fine performance. You Gave Me A Mountain; It's Over; What Now My Love; and American Trilogy can stand with the best from TTWII, and I'll Remember You is a beautiful rendition. Steamroller Blues is well executed and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry is one of Elvis' best country offerings of the 70's.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:08 pm

It doesn't move me at all, if anytihng I would go as far as saying I like the June 21st 1977 version better! Yes, tha tis saying something I guess.

I bought the DVD set the other year, after I'd watched it i said "Thank goodness I've got that over and done with". Whereas the 68 special, TTWII SE and V1 and out takes as well as the On Tour out takes get multiple plays from me.

I'm hooked on a Hampton Roads DVD I made at the moment, there's something addictive about it, dunno what, but it is very more-ish. :wink:

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:35 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Scatter wrote: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.

Well, I can certainly understand your sentiment. Votes for "Burning Love" (1972) and "Promised Land" (1973) should at least be counted, although it could have been a LOT more than that.

DJC
To be fair If there is a decade where Elvis' artistic recording legacy is tainted it is the 1960's. More garbage (soundtracks) was recorded by Elvis in sheer numbers than his entire 70's output. So Elvis could have done a LOT more in the 60's specially.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:39 pm

There are, however, many underrated gems from the 60's. That goes for some of the movie songs, too.

Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:09 pm

Cryogenic wrote:There are, however, many underrated gems from the 60's. That goes for some of the movie songs, too.
Can't argue with that. :)

Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:43 pm

Pete Dube wrote:Between June of '70 and June '71 Elvis recorded 80 masters in the studio. EIGHTY MASTERS! That's an incredible amount of recording. Has any other act since then even approached those numbers? I seriously doubt it. 80 tracks is enough for six 12 track lp's, and four independent singles. Had he been on even a 2 lp per year schedule this amount of recordings should have taken him through 1973 (if the live lp's are factored in). In actuality the bulk of this material was exhausted by spring of '72. That's 73 of the 80 tracks in under 2 years!

In '72 Elvis recorded 7 studio masters, and live recording produced a further 5 performances previously unrecorded by Elvis (American Trilogy; It's Impossible; Never Been To Spain; The Impossible Dream; For The Good Times).

1973 produced 30 studio masters, plus 8 live performances of songs previously not recorded or released by Elvis.

1975 produced a 10 track album, a bare minimum to be sure, but one that met the industry standard of the time.

1976 produced 16 studio recordings.

Granted the quality of both material and Elvis' vocal performances were sometimes not up to par, but even as late as '76 he for the most delivered the goods. what's more, the bulk of this work was produced by a man struggling with addiction, depression, and some health issues.

For Chrissake how much more could we demand from the guy? We practically expected him to squeeze blood from a stone!


Didn't he do that in 1977 :wink:

Mon Jan 30, 2006 3:58 am

Elvis' Babe wrote:... i just don't get this everything before '69/'70 is crap sentiment.

Neither do I, as no one on this topic has expressed such "sentiment." Do you need glasses?

DJC

Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:16 am

i meant after. :roll: you knew what i meant.

Re: 1971 onwards. the tendency to blame elvis

Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:56 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Scatter wrote: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.

Well, I can certainly understand your sentiment. Votes for "Burning Love" (1972) and "Promised Land" (1973) should at least be counted, although it could have been a LOT more than that.


We should give a little credit to some of the 1976 recordings. Way Down is a very good song and deserves recognition.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:01 am

Elvis' Babe wrote:i meant after. :roll: you knew what i meant.


Don't mind him, he likes to play Spellbinder II every now and then.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:57 pm

tupelo_boy wrote:I must confess that for all the "brilliance" that seems to be attached to Aloha, that wasn't the dazzling performer I saw in TTWII.

Spectacular for sure, strangely impersonal though.

JMHO

Geoff


He was under a lot of pressure for this show. The rehearsal show saw a more loose and smiling Elvis, and a few mistakes aside, was great itself. If we use TTWII as a measuring stick, we would always be disappointed because EP was on a level that no man has ever been, that's how great he was in 1970.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:23 pm

Steve_M wrote:I've said it before and despite it being very much against the view of many, Aloha is boring to me. A standard set and performance with little or no passion, but no less than what I would expect for a global broadcast, a very "safe" performance.

There are no moments in it on par with "Tryin' To Get To You" from the 68 Special, nor anyting to line up with something like "Just Pretend" from TTWII.

What they could have done was broadcast the never before seen entire show from Hampton Roads april 9th 1972 instead and saved a wedge of production costs :lol:


Well, I wouldn't say it was boring exactly !

But different.

On all of his other filmed performances, they filmed a few shows, and then selected the highlights.

So Elvis had space to make a few fluffs [they could always use a different version from another show if he fouled up].

He could relax a tad, or give an impassioned performance if he felt like it.

But here, he was being beamed out live [and recorded for an album].

Everything had to be right 'first time' !

This meant he had to concentrate on giving a focussed, disciplined performance; and some of the spontaneity, verve and passion of his 'normal' show was lost.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:21 pm

I can't even begin to imagine the pressures he was under. A live show - beamed live, or held on delay, and ultimately seen by upwards of one billion people in countries around the world. It might not be the "best" show Elvis ever gave, but all things considered, I think it's a remarkable achievement. Elvis and The Colonel made history once again.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:10 pm

"Elvis and The Colonel made history once again."

The Colonel made history ?........................nahh, dont think so.

Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:27 pm

:roll:

Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:56 pm

The Satellite show was the Colonels baby. His idea. That he profited personally? Yes. But nevertheless a hell of an idea.