It's been said many times: "There's Elvis...and there's everyone else."
When Elvis entered American Studios in January of 1969 he was still hot off the success of his NBC Comeback Special. If the "'68 Comeback" restored the sheen to a musical legacy jeopardized by a decade of recording largely fifth-rate movie soundtracks, then the album he was to create at American was to redefine him as a performer and cement his legend to near-mythic proportions. Simply put, FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS rates as the single greatest artistic rebirth in the history of popular music; it is a masterpiece!
As a young Elvis so astutely commented when he walked into Sam Phillips' Sun Studios for the very first time, "I sing all kinds," and no album offers greater validation of this claim than FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS. Clearly inspired, Elvis digs deep and delivers crunching, blues-infused rock 'n' roll ("Power of My Love," "After Loving You"), passionate, gospel-tinged soul ("Wearin' That Loved On Look"), and smart and classy pop ("Gentle on My Mind" and his exquisite cover of Burt Bacharach's "Any Day Now"). He also follows up the '68 Special's powerful "If I Can Dream" with another "message" song, "In the Ghetto," -- an instant classic.
Not forgetting his country roots, Elvis turns in a sensational performance -- and a rare harmony vocal! -- on the graceful, lilting ballad, "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road," and emotes plaintively on "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'," a traditional country and western weepie.
Still, it's the magnificent "Long Black Limousine" and its seamless and effortless blending of country, rock, gospel and blues, that takes top honours; this is Elvis at his most soulful and dynamic -- it's why
"there's Elvis and there's everyone else."
Elvis had a few more triumphs to come as he entered the 1970's, but never again would he record an album of such remarkable depth and purpose; FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS is Elvis' best.
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