Monday, August 17, 2009

NME's The Last Temptation of Elvis

"Released in 1990, The Last Temptation of Elvis consists of remakes of 26 Elvis songs, most of them movie tunes. Typically, Elvis' movie tunes are trashed by critics and other performers, so it is significant that this album focused on Presley's soundtrack recordings. Even more significant was that the range of performers included on the album -from superstar Bruce Springsteen ti progressive country singer Nanci Griffith to the gritty folk rock band the Pogues". From the book Best of Elvis by Susan Doll

This hard to get double Cd, was released as a charity project assembled by the New Musical Express mag, for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy program. Now, 32 years and a day after Elvis Presey passing to the Promised Land, is cool for us to remember him in the voice of some well and other unlikely known performers, ranging from his immediate peers and also contemporaries (in a: the younger brothers way) Robert Plan and Paul McCartney, to newer sounding bands (well then in the late 80's) like Jesus and The Mary Chain, or (the most unlikely track from them all predating a decade Alec Empire's tearing apart an Elvis song in a meaningful way) on Pop Will Eat it Self, a response to back then Elvis bashing by Public Enemy on "Fight The Power".

Along with the recent: God Save The Queen: A Psychobilly Tribute to Elvis, this is one of the most meaningful (and appealing to the younger generations) Elvis Tribute Projects from them all. Enjoy and long life the King.

Track list:

1 (Dialogue) - Elvis Presley/Viva Las Vegas - Bruce Springsteen
2 (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear - Sydney Youngblood
3 Loving You - Tanita Tikaram
4 Let's Have A Party - Robert Plant
5 Got a Lot O'Livin' to Do - The Pogues
6 Love Me Tender - Holly Johnson

7 It's Now or Never - Paul McCartney
8 Mean Woman Blues - Dion
9 Guitar Man - The Jesus And Mary Chain
10 King Creole - Cath Carroll & Steve Albini
11 Young and Beautiful - Aaron Neville
12 No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car - Vivian Stanshall
13 Baby I Don't Care - The Primitives

10 Can't Help Falling in Love - Hall & Oates

15 Crawfish - The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra
16 Return to Sender - Ian McCulloch
17 Trouble - Fuzzbox
18 Thanks to the Rolling Sea - The Hollow Men
19 Follow That Dream - The Blow Monkeys
20 Blue Suede Shoes - Lemmy & The Upsetters w/Mick Green
21 Wooden Heart - Nanci Griffith

22 Down in the Alley - The Jeff Healey B
23 Jailhouse Rock - The Cramps
24 Marguerita - Les Negresses Vertes

25 Rock-A-Hula Baby - Pop Will Eat Itself
26 King of the Whole Wide World (outtakes) - Elvis Presley

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Andy Warhol: The Elvis Works

"It may be true that a mirror never lies, but does it necessarily tell the truth? Andy Warhol’s art is often described as a mirror of its time, and it is undeniable that his images, particularly those from the 1960s, rank among the defining documents from that decade. However, the silk screens of Elvis Presley should prompt us to reflect on their accuracy. By eliminating all vestiges of time or place, the repetitions of Elvis take him out of the past, where the cowboy myth originated, and even out of the west, where the figure resides in popular imagination, and returns it to the privacy of one individual acting out before a mirror.

David McCarthy, Associate Professor of Art History, Rhodes College, Memphis.

Elvis is one of a series of screenprinted paintings which Warhol made of the popular American singer Elvis Presley (1935-77).

In August 1962 Warhol began to produce paintings using the screenprinting process. He recalled that: the rubber-stamp method I'd been using to repeat images suddenly seemed too homemade; I wanted something stronger that gave more of an assembly-line effect. With silkscreening you pick a photograph, blow it up, transfer it in glue onto silk, and then roll ink across it so the ink goes through the silk but not through the glue. That way you get the same image, slightly different each time. It all sounds so simple — quick and chancy. I was thrilled with it. My first experiments with screens were heads of Troy Donabue and Warren Beatty and then when Marilyn Monroe happened to die that month (August 1962), I got the idea to make screens of her beautiful face.

That same year Warhol produced a number of works repeating copies of the head of Elvis Presley.

In 1963 Warhol established a studio in an abandoned fire station in East 87th Street and hired Gerald Malanga, a young poet, to assist him with his screenprinting. It was there that he began work on a head of film star Elizabeth Taylor and a full-length portrait of Elvis Presley. The image of Elvis was taken from a publicity still for the film Flaming Star 1960 (Twentieth Century Fox).

The new studio, according to Warhol: was pretty scary You literally had to hopscotch over holes in the floor And the roof leaked. But we didn't really notice all that much, we were busy getting the Elvises and the Liz Taylor silkscreens ready to ship out to California [for the exhibition at Ferus Gallery Los Angeles]. One night that summer there was a terrible thunderstorm and when I came in the next mowing, the Elvises were sopping wet — I had to do them all over again.

The image was screenprinted twenty-eight times in black paint onto a roll of silver-painted canvas in various combinations — singly, superimposed doubly and triply, and in pairs.

The whole roll of printed canvas was sent off to the Ferus Gallery with a set of stretchers, all of the same height, but of three different widths. In the absence of instructions from Warhol, Irving Blum of Ferus Gallery matched the stretchers to the images, producing five single images, six superimposed images and two diptychs of paired images — one panel of each diptych having additional colour to the screened images.

Warhol visited Los Angeles to attend the opening of his exhibition: it was thrilling to see the Ferus Gallery with the Elvises in the front room and the Lizes in the back. Very few people on the (West) Coast knew or cared about contemporary art, and the press for my show wasn't too good. I always have to laugh, though, when I think of how Hollywood called Pop Art a put-on! Hollywood ?? I mean when you look at the kind of movies they were making then — those were supposed to be real???'

In 1963 the Elvis in the Australian National Gallery's collection was damaged on the left-hand side. According to Jan van der Marck, a former owner of the painting, 'it was attacked with a penknife by a maniac at the Castelli Gallery and subsequently restored'.

Sixty-five Elvis artworks, including a number of Warhol works, were exhibited as Where Is Elvis? The Man and His Reflection at the Andy Warhol Museum in mid 1973. The collection of painted and photographic works also included seminal offerings from Alfred Wertheimer, Bill Avery, Bill Ray, Ernest Withers and Roger Marshutz. One of the Warhol was "Elvis (Eleven Times)", a 1962 silkscreen variation on the artist's Elvis from Flaming Star image.

In "The Genius of Andy Warhol," out in November from Harper,
Tony Scherman and David Dalton say Bob Dylan's six-minute take in front of the cameras -- "acting cool, pretty much keeping his mouth shut" -- came with a price. Playwright Bob Heide, a Factory regular, tells the authors that when the audition was over, Dylan "got up and walked over to one of [Warhol's] panels of Elvis with a gun and said, 'I think I'll just take this for payment, man.'

That was the only the time I ever saw Andy blushing, just kind of cringing. Somebody demanding payment!" Dylan never made it into one of Warhol's flicks.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Elvis Presley is #3 on Rolling Stone's Greatest Singers of all Time. Review By Robert Plant

There is a difference between people who sing and those who take that voice to another, otherworldly place, who create a euphoria within themselves. It's transfiguration. I know about that. And having met Elvis, I know he was a transformer.

The first Elvis song I heard was "Hound Dog." I wasn't equipped with any of the knowledge I have now, about the Big Mama Thornton version or where all that swing was coming from. I just heard this voice, and it was absolutely, totally in its own place. The voice was confident, insinuating and taking no prisoners. He had those great whoops and diving moments, those sustains that swoop down to the note like a bird of prey. I took all that in. You can hear that all over Led Zeppelin.

When I met Elvis with Zeppelin, after one of his concerts in the early Seventies, I sized him up. He wasn't quite as tall as me. But he had a singer's build. He had a good chest — that resonator. And he was driven. "Anyway You Want Me" is one of the most moving vocal performances I've ever heard. There is no touching "Jailhouse Rock" and the stuff recorded at the King Creole sessions. I can study the Sun sessions as a middle-aged guy looking back at a bloke's career and go, "Wow, what a great way to start." But I liked the modernity of the RCA stuff. "I Need Your Love Tonight" and "A Big Hunk o' Love" were so powerful — those sessions sounded like the greatest place to be on the planet.
At that meeting, Jimmy Page joked with Elvis that we never soundchecked — but if we did, all I wanted to do was sing Elvis songs. Elvis thought that was funny and asked me, "Which songs do you sing?" I told him I liked the ones with all the moods, like that great country song "Love Me" — "Treat me like a fool/Treat me mean and cruel/But love me." So when we were leaving, after a most illuminating and funny 90 minutes with the guy, I was walking down the corridor. He swung 'round the door frame, looking quite pleased with himself, and started singing that song: "Treat me like a fool. . . ." I turned around and did Elvis right back at him. We stood there, singing to each other.
By then, because of the forces around him, it was difficult for him to stretch out with more contemporary songwriters. When he died, he was 42. I'm 18 years older than that now. But he didn't have many fresh liaisons to draw on — his old pals weren't going to bring him the new gospel. I know he wanted to express more. But what he did was he made it possible for me, as a singer, to become otherworldly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1960 - Elvis is Back!

One of the greatest understatements in the history of rock and roll albums titles, Elvis is Back declared in no uncertain terms that Elvis Preslsey wasn´t as good as he was in the 1950's, he was better. From rock to pop, gospel-tinged ballads to tough Chicago Blues, Elvis Presley made magic in less than an hour.
Johnny Savage -To read this article in its entirely click here-
Elvis Is Back! is the tenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2231, in April 1960. Recording sessions took place on March 20 and April 3, 1960, at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Presley's first album to be released in true stereo. It peaked at #2 on the Top Pop Albums chart. The first album by Presley after his military discharge from the army, the first day of its sessions were attended by the Colonel, his assistant Tom Diskin, and representatives from RCA in a show of interest regarding whether or not Elvis still "had it" after two years in uniform. His long-serving guitarist Scotty Moore, pianist Floyd Cramer, and drummer D. J. Fontana had returned, along with his back-up vocal quartet The Jordanaires, but the other musicians had only played on one previous session with Elvis. One new face at the sessions whom Presley had befriended while in the service, Charlie Hodge, would become a Presley regular, member of the Memphis Mafia and a mainstay in his return to live performance at the end of the decade. Pressure aside, the sessions were successful, the album a highlight of the entire decade and a declared favorite by Presley regarding his own work. He moved beyond his standard rock and roll8/a> sound of the 1950s, combining doo-wop,gospel, blues, and even jazzy tones from his version of "Fever". Along with "From Elvis in Memphis" in 1969, and the famous Sun Sessions in the mid 50's, this is Presley at his finest.

Elvis is Back! encapsulated everything that Elvis had been, and everything that he would be, yet, he never exposed his teasing, inviting sexuality as blatantly as he did on "Fever" or the sizzling cover of the Johnnie Ray hit "Such A Night", he never cut (on a formal studio setting) grittier blues tunes than "Reconsider Baby", "Like a Baby" and "It Feel So Right",  and he never sang pure pop songs with the playful glee which he invested in "The Girl of My Best Friend" or "Dirty Dirty Feeling". On the ballad field, he made plain that he could out sentimentalise anyone in showbusiness without ever sounding an iota less than utterly sincere, at his point nothing was beyond his grasp. "Are You Lonesome Tonight" was nominated next year for a grammy award as both record of the year and best R&B performance, lost both to "Georgia on My Mind" by Ray Charles, oh well, fair enough.

Track list:

Cd1 (The Album & The Singles)
Reconsider Baby
It Feels So Right
A Mess Of Blues
Stuck On You
Fame & Fortune
Make Me Know It
Soldier Boy
I Will Be Home Again
It's Now Or Never
Girl Of My Best Friend
Like A Baby
Girl Next Door Went A'Walking
Such A Night
I Gotta Know
Thrill Of Your Love<+span>
Dirty, Dirty Feeling
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Stuck On You (Live)
Fame & Fortune (Live)
Love Me Tender/Witchcraft (Live)

CD2 (The Sessions)
Make Me Know It (Takes 1, 9, 10, 11, 17 &18)
Soldier Boy (Takes 2, 3, & 7)
Stuck On You (Take 1)
Fame & Fortune (Takes 4 & 5)
A Mess Of Blues (Takes 1, 2 & 3)
It Feels So Right (Take 1, 3 & 4)
Fever (Take 1, 2 & 3)
Like A Baby (Takes 1, 2, 3 & 4)
It's Now Or Never (Takes 1, 3 & 4)
Girl of My Best Friend (Takes 2, 4, 5 & 9)
Dirty, Dirty Feeling (Takes 1, 2, & 3)
Thrill Of Your Love (Takes 1, & 2)
Such A Night (Takes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5)
Girl Next Door Went A'Walking (Takes 1, 2 & 3)
Are You Lonesome Tonight (Takes 4, 3 & WP 1-2 SP)

CD3 (Elvis is Back: The Interviews)
Dick Clark phone interview with Elvis for American Bandstand, Aug 1959.
News Broadcast 1960.
Paris AFN Radio Interviews Elvis, 1960.
We Want Elvis
Elvis is Back!, Press conference at Elvis Presley's home: Graceland Memphis, Tennessee. March 1960.

The Musicians:

Recorded at RCA's Studio B, Nashville Tennessee. March-April, 1960.