Friday, January 8, 2010

Funky Friday - King Size

I saw him live once. I say live, it was actually Elvis's James Burton era band gigging to festival sized footage of him (in fact it's back this year). But like any soundstage size show (this was Docklands arena), after a few songs the moving dots on stage blend away and it's all eyes on screen. Build in some song introductions, jokes and band intro's from El' himself and we were captured by the Presley spell, forgetting he hadn't, at any point, actually arrived in the building.

It's become overlooked/forgotten/rewritten, but if you grew up during the seventies, Elvis was literally everywhere. Resuscitated and resurrected by the 68 Special he ascended from cultural icon to omnipresent overlord: new hits in the charts, old hits in the parents record cabinet, poster magazines, pocket money priced (50p) tribute albums and films on TV,.

By 1970 The Beatles were a bitter, bearded broken band, and a roots level Rock 'n' roll revival started in the late sixties had set in (inspiring McLaren and Westwood to open their first shop Let It Rock). Elvis was 'now'. In widescreen. With his 2001 intro and space-age stage-wear, he towered like a white giant telegraphing his style and substance to low-level pretenders and high-end contenders: Freddie Starr, Alvin Stardust, Les Gray, The Osmonds, Evel Knievel even Bowie's early glam banging was Elvis influenced.

I was at my aunt's hairdressers in Salisbury, when the news broke that he'd died . It hit me like a blow to the solar plexus. Elvis had seemed untouchable and eternal.

So forget the silly sightings, the tackery and tribute acts, the Burger King with a cheesy film portfolio - the clunkers in the catalogue are easy targets. Instead, remember the essence of Elvis for his 75th Birthday...

One Night of Sin
Not my favourite 50s track, but worth cataloguing for it's original deviant lyrics and rarity value..

Stranger In My Own Home Town
Energised by his 68 comeback the Elvis in Memphis albums are rootsy rock 'n' roll meets Memphis soul - although for my money the 90s remixes beat the original releases

It's Only Love Alternate - Take 9
From The Essential Elvis, Vol. 4 is a selection of undubbed masters from the the early seventies. The 90 second intro eavesdrops on studio banter*, vocal harmony try outs and riff rehearsal before this live take

A King size selection of Elvis treats can be grabbed here..

Watch for the improv vamped up ending at 1:04 Pure magic.

Recommended reading - of course the Guralnick biogs should be ticked off at some point. But well worth tracking down are

Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations from the Memphis Mafia

Elvis: The Secret Files

*'Jarv' Elvis is referring to in the 'Watch out Jarv, he'll jive you' line is Felton Jarvis, the producer of Elvis sessions


chocolategirl64 said...

did you watch the presleys by the presleys prog on beeb4 last week? *iplayer if not people*
loved the old family film footage, photos & pricilla's big hair :
it included previously unaired parts of the 68special :
a precursor to 'unplugged' sessions and a whole lot better :
helped by the king looking gorgeous in leather with tan :

Mondo said...

I've been dipping into the Presleys thing on and off all week, but ordered it via Amazon last night to get entire film. Love the home movies - and what a great dresser he was, just lounging around in snappy jackets, silk shirts, scarves and hats with no sign of the stylists hand. The Black Leather show was fab, I picked this up a few years back - literally all footage from from the 68 Special. Well worth grabbing if you haven't yet. And yes bang on about unplugged too.

ib said...

The king.

Certainly royalty at the very least. I am especially fond of the Nixon era Elvis, purple paranoia and a jewel encrusted cane.

Happy New year, Planet Mondo.

lil said...

You’ve made my day Mondo -
“Elvis” is my all-time favourite!
Fantastic post, I feel so spoilt today…

markus reeves said...

the brown covered 40 greatest album was my first ever elvis the age of 7.... never looked back

Mondo said...

Showbiz Aristocracy ib, and yes 68 - 75 is his finest period. Have you seen the Elvis/Glen Campbell shots (torch not explained). I'm sure Dave Vanian must have done..

He's the kiddie isn't he Lil - I picked this up at lunchtime. I'll give you a lend when I'm done.

It was my first proper album as a child Markus - It was on my Christmas list at about the same age. But who were Arcade records, and did you ever see the pink vinyl re-release?

Ishouldbeworking said...

I went to that 'live' show too at Hammersmith, about five years ago...wasn't too sure about going but it was great (though sad to see one of the backing singers, now a very elderly and arthritic lady, having to be helped off her podium at the end.). It sounds cheesy and impossible to pull off, but I'd recommend anyone to go.

I went with my friend Del; we started infant school on the same day so knew each other from age 5, but hadn't seen each other for 20 years, so it was quite an evening. It seemed just right for Elvis to be 'there'.

Istvanski said...

Dweezil Zappa did something similar at the Albert Hall with film footage of his dad - the combination of that together with a live band playing along to Frank's isolated guitar solo track was outstanding.
I've got one of Elvis's Vegas performances with that band on a DVD. It was just before he became bloated. James Burton and the rest of 'em really rocked and they were so slick.
There was a recent interview with Burton in a guitar mag. He said how anxious he felt when Fender gave him that pink paisley Telecaster to use - at first he didn't want to use it 'cos he thought it would upstage The King! In the end though, he got Presley's blessing to use it.

Mondo said...

That's exactly it ISB I was expecting high cheeserie, but far from it. It's almost reverse Karoke with the band playing to Elvis's vox. The power of his voice and presence really came across. I can't recommend it enough..

Didn't know that about the pink tele Istv. Think that film may be Elvis on Tour. Check That's The Way It is if you haven't seen Elvis and the band are on fire..

PS why isn't there more Zappa on the blogs Peaches And Regalia is a treat..

Piley said...

i SO wanted that album Mondo!! Remember a guy in my class brought it in to school one day. The coolest album i'd ever seen!!! I finally got the next re-issue of it, withe the pink LPs and the cover containing millions of little elvis pics. This one still has fonder memories though, even though I never did own it!

Never saw the pelv live or on video... but did see Dread Zeppelin a couple of times, does that count??!



Mick said...

Brilliant post, Mondo. I think you could add Bryan Ferry to the list of high-end contenders. Just look at the picture inside the gatefold of the 1st LP.

That's reminded me - I only remember buying two records in 1972 and one was Virginia Plain, the other Burning Love. I'm quite proud of that in hindsight.

Mondo said...

I've got my original copy in the loft somewhere P. What a great comp' ~ so many overlooked rockers on there..I Got Stung, Let's Have A Party.. I was with you at one of those Dread Zep shows (Town and Country)

Too true Mick, and the For Your Pleasure sleeve. Funnily enough I started reading, Michael Bracewell's Roxy biog this weekend..

PS ~ Quality choice of tunes from 72 too..

ally. said...

business taken care of with aplomb there mond - quality selection too.

if you ever ever get even half a chance to get to gracelands then go buddy go - it's ace. and the record shopping in memphis is heavenly