Friday, December 17, 2010

Elvis shook it up 40 years ago for the Arizona Memorial

Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, March 23, 2001

TOM MOFFATT Elvis Presley is greeted by fans as he arrives in
Honolulu for his historic Arizona Memorial
concert in 1961.

Elvis shook it up
40 years ago for
the Arizona Memorial

The rock star's show at Pearl
Harbor got the project on its way

By Burl Burllingame

It was a quiet Sunday 60 years ago when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. This Sunday, 40 years ago, Pearl Harbor was anything but quiet. The King was in the house.On March 25, 1961, Elvis Presley made his first post-Army appearance, and he did it for the Navy. Presley performed in a charity fund-raiser at Bloch Arena to kick-start the struggling USS Arizona Memorial building fund.
It is an event largely unremembered and unmemorialized, even though a rock 'n' roll entertainer was able to accomplish something that admirals, generals and politicians could not.
More than a thousand U.S. sailors were entombed in the battleship when a bomb ripped apart the bow, splitting the hull. It sank in minutes and the bodies were never recovered.
Dozens of plans were proposed to memorialize the crew of the Arizona, the U.S. Navy's single greatest loss of life, but for nearly 20 years military efforts at raising funds were fumbling and disorganized. There was also no agreement on the size and shape of the memorial.

TOM MOFFAT Promoter Tom Moffat, left, brought Elvis Presley
to Hawaii. 

Eventually, a design by architect Alfred Preis was accepted, even though the Navy had asked for a memorial shaped like a ship's "bridge" and Preis' design was like a bridge crossing a river.Although the U.S. Navy insisted on complete control of the Arizona Memorial, they had no experience in creating such structures. The Navy's fund-raising was confused, and ineffective, even when they hired civilians to do it for them.
Hawaii journalists appealed to other newspapers to help. George Chaplin of the Honolulu Advertiser mailed something like 1,500 letters, asking for articles or editorials about the Arizona Memorial. The Los Angeles Examiner responded with an editorial, and one of their readers that day was Elvis Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker.
"The colonel read in an L.A. newspaper that the memorial-building project was not going to be finished," recalled radio personality and concert promoter "Uncle Tom" Moffatt, a friend of Parker's.
According to Ron Jacobs, another KPOI "Poi-Boy" disc jockey at the time, "Parker, a veteran of World War I, served in the U. S. Army at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki and loved Hawaii.
"Elvis did his first concerts here in November 1957 at the Honolulu Stadium. That is when Tom Moffatt and I met Elvis and Col. Parker. We were disc jockeys and the first ones to play Elvis' records. Colonel invited us to emcee one concert each. That remains one of the most exciting experiences of my life."
The benefit was also an opportunity for Presley to ease back into playing for a live audience. Presley was just getting out of the Army and he hadn't performed for a couple of years. Presley also wanted to do something patriotic for his country after serving in the military.
"Chaplin was a veteran of World War II who served on the staff of The Stars and Stripes, the official U. S. military paper," said Jacobs. "Several other Stars staff members were discharged in Honolulu and joined Chaplin."
USS Arizona Memorial historian Dan Martinez credits newspapers for keeping the memorial concept alive. "Editors of daily newspapers across the country were connected in their profession, that was how they kept the story going.
"Parker and Elvis had to go to Hawaii anyway, to film a movie they thought would be called 'Waikiki Beachboy' (it turned out to be "Blue Hawaii"), so Parker thought it would be good publicity to schedule the benefit concert that would raise well over $64,000 for the memorial.
"But the memorial needed half a million dollars. The total already raised at that time was $250,000, which was only half of what they needed. Federal money was eventually taken to finish the memorial, which means that half the money that was raised later came from the taxpayers," said Martinez.
But before the concert could go on, Parker had to convince "the brass," admirals, generals, etc., that a benefit concert would actually be profitable. The military officers were skeptical, said Moffatt.
Moffatt went with Col. Parker to "see the reaction" of the officers. "It was still the early days of rock 'n' roll, which conservative people still thought of as wild music. But Col. Parker was such a great salesman that by the end of the meeting, the colonel had the brass saluting him," Moffatt recalled.
Jacobs also remembers the summit meeting. "Moffatt and I were on hand when Parker briefed the highest military in the Pacific. Although he was an 'Honorary Colonel' from the state of Tennessee he had the authentic generals and admirals hypnotized when he spoke. As the officers left, they were each given a photo of Elvis. They had to restrain themselves from looking like excited fans."
"Our sincere thanks to Col. Parker," said Pacific War Memorial fund-raising chief H. Tucker Gratz afterward to the press. "It's hard to believe this is real."
"It is," said Parker. "You know, Elvis is 26. This last Sunday was his birthday and that's about the average age of those boys entombed in the Arizona. I think it's appropriate that he should be doing this."

Star-Bulletin columnist Dave Donnelly was a news editor at KPOI when he happened onto the interview among Moffatt, Jacobs and Parker announcing the concert. "Col. Parker waved his hands at all these kids who were sitting in the studio and said, 'You're all invited too,' and they were. He bought their tickets," Donnelly said.
The concert was scheduled for Mar. 25, 1961, in the Bloch Arena next to the Pearl Harbor entrance. The goal of $50,000 was topped by almost $15,000. Tickets were sold at stores like Sears, for a top price of $5.
The concert not only raised money, it also raised public awareness of the need for a memorial. All funds raised went into planning and building the Arizona Memorial; Elvis wasn't paid his usual fee of $25,000.
"I don't believe in part-time charities," said Col. Parker. "Elvis will not receive a cent for his evening's work."
"Parker believed that if you did a fund-raising concert that all the money made, every penny of it, went to the cause," Moffatt explained.
Even Elvis purchased tickets. Col. Parker and the admirals bought tickets to the show to increase the total amount raised. "The colonel made sure that absolutely no one got in the show for free," Moffatt said.
Many $100 tickets were sold, and Presley bought the first one.
The show was memorable. "Because it was a small indoor hall, the screaming and cheering was louder than the 1957 outdoor shows. It was literally a situation where you couldn't hear yourself think," Jacobs said.
"On the night of the show there was the electricity and excitement that was felt only at Elvis concerts. I have attended many concerts. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, 'N Synch, etc., never generated the highly charged audience reaction that Elvis did.
"I was amazed at how much music such a small group of performers could generate. Elvis' onstage moves, which have since been widely copied, captured visually what his music sounded like. To me, the most exciting moment was when Elvis ended his smash-hit song 'Hound Dog' by landing on both his knees and skidding at least 6 feet across the stage.
"Minnie Pearl, a comedy 'hillbilly' singer and star of 'The Grand Ol' Opry' radio and TV show received 'special guest' billing. Parker brought Elvis' complete road show and touring band. They were most of the original musicians and singers on Elvis' first records: D.J. Fontana on drums, Scotty Moore on guitar and the Jordanaires as backup singers."
There had never before been a high-profile fund-raising concert -- especially not one by a rock 'n' roll performer. Despite this contribution, there is no mention of Presley's special concert at the Arizona memorial itself or at the visitors' center.
There is only one plaque at the memorial that mentions Presley as just one of the many contributors to the building of the Arizona Memorial.
Elvis Presley merchandise and artifacts are viewable only within the archives at the memorial. None of it is on public display.
"Moffatt and I remained friends with Col. Parker until he died several years ago," Jacobs said. "His biggest disappointment was that Elvis never received official government credit for this contribution to Hawaii, the country and the world.
"Personally, I find this ironic and offensive. Unlike many performers and politicians, Presley and Parker made no attempt to receive preferential treatment and not join the military on active duty. Presley and Parker were both veterans who served their country."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

1961 - Wild in The Country

"...What really surprised me was the extraordinary talent  of Elvis Presley. He took to this part as if he had been a dramatic actor all his life, with particular feel for Odets' colorful and poetic dialogue". Philip Dunne 

When Elvis Presley stated that he wanted to be an actor, he didn't had in mind the musical teen exploitation comedies he became known for during the mid 60's, he had James Dean and Marlon Brando in mind, his personal idols. His first four movies during the 50's: Love Me Tender, Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole, where musical dramas, the studios needed him to do some musical numbers as that was what they where selling if they put Elvis Presley as the star of their product, yes their where teen oriented exploitation material, but as Elvis image was that of the rocker, the rebel, somehow they became enough of dramatic vehicles to start Elvis in the acting direction he wished, and the music he performed was as good as his studio material anyhow. Jaihouse Rock (1957) and King Creole (1958) where meant to be cult classics of the 50's rock era, and Elvis will be forever remember in the big screen that way.

Yet, as he returned from the army, producer Hall Wallis, had plants way different, he saw an Elvis his new Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis vehicle, this time pushed to a new and highly exploitable market: teenagers. The hard edged, sex charged, rock rebel image had to be tamed (this was a Hall Wallis production value), and no, there where no plan to direct Elvis into a career in serious acting roles. G.I. Blues (1960) was the first in that area, the teen oriented musical comedy Presley formula had been inagurated, and Elvis disliked it since he readed the script for the first time, but a 7 year contract had been signed, and he hoped that the mainstream popularity that these new kind of pictures will give him, latter will paid him with the roles he did wanted. That never happened for the sake of Elvis most bitter regrets.

But between G.I. Blues and the rest of the teen exploitation movies that followed for seven years, there were two movies, unique in Elvis filmography, that neither belong to the string of movies he did in the 50's, neither to the string of formula movies he did for the rest of the 60's. Still under contract with Fox, the company that first signed him to do his very first movie, came Flaming Star in 1960, a western with a screenplay originally written for Marlon Brando directed by Don Siegel. Elvis did it good for a young actor with not much experience, but he seemed for sure at odds in certain scenes, although he really shined in a few others. The movie was well recieved and reached #12 in Variety's weekly list of top grossing films, but was no match for the succes GI Blues had months before.

But a second movie came out of the Twentieth Century Fox lots next year, Wild in The Country, based in J.R. Salamanca's novel, was the prefect vehicle for both: to fulfill Elvis own wishes about the kind of picture in which he wanted to be, as well as the kind of role that perfectly fitted Elvis acting abilities at the time.

Wild in the Country (1961) was the kind of film drama in which Elvis Presley wanted to be, that's the closest he reached and the closest thing we got to his ideal of the acting career he pursued in 1956 when he asked his manager, Col. Tom Parker, to take him to Hollywood, as he wanted more than any other thing, to be an actor. Totally underrated, this is Elvis Presley's best movie along with King Creole, if there's still any doubt of Elvis acting potential, those two movies had to dispel that doubt or sense of mockery when Elvis the movie star topic is on the table. 

In Wild in The Country he portrays a troubled young man from a dysfunctional family who pursues a literary career. The movie starts off with Glenn Tyler (Elvis Presley) getting into a fight with, and badly injuring, his drunken brother. A court releases him on probation into the care of his uncle in a small town, appointing Irene Sperry (Hope Lange) to give him psychological counselling. Marked as a trouble-maker, he is falsely suspected of various misdemeanors including an affair with Irene and his cousin (Tuesday Weld). By the way Presley began an off-screen romance with Hollywood "bad girl" Tuesday Weld but the relationship was short-lived after Colonel Tom Parker warned Presley against his involvement, fearful it would harm his image, (Weld was still underage, 17 at the time, Elvis was 25).

Wild in The Country was well recieved by the critics, but this time, it was the audiences who failed him, director Philip Dunne would later say: "Audiences who would have liked Clifford Odet's drama wouldn't buy Elvis and his songs, and Presley fans were disappointed in a picture which departed so radically from the usual: teen explotation musical formula". In fact many Elvis fans were pleased with this new direction, and the movie was a success financially speaking, but a modest one compared to G.I. Blues or his 50's movies. Then for his next movie, Hall Wallis was in charge of production, the first big budget musical in Presley filmography was in the way, this time a teenagers beach movie: Blue Hawaii (1961), all records at the box office where broken. Success was Elvis own enemy this time, all his subsequent movies were largely formula musicals which were quite lucrative but never gave him the chance to develop his potential as a serious actor that was very apparent in "Wild in the Country".

But looking back in time, and still a good movie that is worth to watch Elvis fan or not, as the movie and Elvis acting stands on its own, here it is, in modest Avi format for everybodys preview, (go and buy it if you like it): Wild in The Country: "Lonely Man... Loving Man... Singing Man..." as slogan advertising for the film readed.

Elvis not only could have been an actor at the level of Brando or Dean if he had given the chance to continue in this direction, but for a little while, in those 120 min. or so of King Creole and Wild in The Country, he was that actor he wanted to be.

Wild in The Country
Directed By Philip Dune
Screenplay by Clifford Odet
Starring: Elvis Presley, Tuesday Weld, Hope Lang 
and Millie Perkins

 More on this film, click this: 

Friday, December 3, 2010

1961 - Something for Everybody

"Something For Everybody" is the thirteenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2370, in June 1961. Recording sessions took place on November 8, 1960, at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, and on March 12, 1961 at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It peaked at #1 on the Top Pop Albums chart for three weeks.

After his military discharge from the army in March 1960, three singles had all topped the charts, and his first album, Elvis Is Back!, had gone to #2 on the album chart, any doubts about Presley's ability to recapture the momentum of his career in the 1950s had been laid to rest. "Something for Everybody" was Elvis second post-army album (well that omiting a soundtrack album: G.I. Blues, and a Gospel album: His Hand in Mine), and if "Elvis is Back!" was the perfect Elvis album, showcasing each style that makes his unique sound what it was: from rock & roll to pop, from gospel-tinged ballads to tough Chicago blues, from country sounds to doo-wop & Jazzy tones, plus delivered by an Elvis that sounded not only as good as he sounded in the 50's but better, more confident & pasionate,  more in control, with an expanded vocal range,  in a word, a more experienced musician, then its expected follow up "Something for Everybody" became a bit misunderstood, missreaded, and since, it has become one of his most underrated albums, when it is actually one of his best and most acomplished works, one that equals "Elvis is Back!" the arguably best Elvis album ever, or at least of that period in time.

"Something for Everybody" represents a 26 year old Elvis Presley that refuses to repeat himself, if "Elvis is Back!" was the sum up of everything he had ever been at the time, "Something for Everybody" was a departure from anything he had ever been as a recording artist, although a departure well grounded on the musical styles that most influenced him. With a side full of rockers and up tempos, it did satisfied the hunger of rock and roll fans expecting nothing but that of him, but it was the other side of the vinyl, what took everybody by surprise: it was a look at the future, a look into what came to be known as "The Nashville Sound". This tasteful, restrained aproach, epitomised by the sporadic flourishes of Floyd Cramer's Piano fills, came to define and dominate the world of country music during the 60's, in terms of singing. Yes in this quest, Elvis  might have put aside his rough edged explosive voice that thrilled us so much and was the forte on "Elvis is Back!", but by doing that Elvis achieved one thing about his singing: perfection.

After "Something fo Everybody" we all knew then, Elvis was not just about being a rocker, that was a phase, one of many to come, tone hat could come and go and come again, a resourse, but Elvis was, and  mainly, about being a singer, the greatest of out time.  Suddenly, "serious" musical critics that had put him dosn for whatever reasons the previous decade, where paying close attention to the man, to the guy that they once called a rancid aphrodiciac for teenage delincuents, and that one day they will call: the artist of the century.

And yet, it is not that Elvis didn't have anything to say about rock music in "Something for Everybody" L.P. and the singles that came out of the same recording sessions. "Little Sister", a  #5 hit single in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. and other countries around the time the album was released (included on the album on present editions of it) is one of Elvis Presley's best early 60's efforts in rock music land. At the time Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis where failing to chart by repeating over and over their 50's musical formulas, Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" points to the future of harder rock, with its atmospheric, bayou/blues twang rock environment and some particular heavy footed drumming it also predates the Creedence Clearwater Revival sound. With its heavy sombre rock beat, the cut is made all the more compelling by the presence of Hank Garland's swampy, roots oriented playing containing arguably the greatest post-Sun and certainly the greatest 60's guitar riff on an Elvis single. Its in one of the outtakes from this recording sessions, that we can hear how it was actually Elvis acoustic rhythm guitar who showed the somewhat at the time unusual rhythm pattern to Hank, it was always Elvis the timekeeper, even if his guitar was burried in the final mix. The result is a record that presages the "guitar hymn" kind of records that defined the 60's with bands like The Who (My Generation), The Beatles (Day Triper) or The Stones (Satisfaction).

"Little Sister" stands as a corner stone between the Delta blues delivered, let's say Lightin' Hopkins style, rockabilly 50's music, and the Rolling Stones latter "Street Fighting Man or Jumping Jack Flash" style,  it even crosses to the music of Van Halen, I mean check out  "Finish What Ya Started". But more than that, Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" set the mood for the undergound garage sound that was about to develop during that decade, think of "Wild Thing" for instance. Elvis Presley, once again had reinvented rock music.

Another track on this album that looks well into the future is "Put the Blame on Me", with that funky electric  keyboard fills and solo, its gritty sax licks and jazzy guitar chords, predates the sound of many mid 60's bands, this is an earlier version of the sound The Doors had in "Love Me Two Times".

Just as "Don't Be Cruel" was the fresh flip side to the racous "Hound Dog" in '56, "(Marie's The Name of) His Lattest Flame" another guitar driven song, this time by Elvis own acoustic, was  crucial at the time that 50's rock music was being looked over by the new generations that where not around back in '55, and music critics talked about rock been finally dead, Elvis delivered a refreshing unheared aproach to rock and roll music as the flip side of  the way nasty "Little Sister". After Elvis and the Band worked over and over for diffrent arrangments that springed from their version of the Bo Diddley sound, they finally landed with a sound so anew  that had little to do with Bo's, a sound that make you think the song could have been recorded and released in '64, or in '84 either way achieveing the same kind of succes that it did in '61: #1 on the UK charts, #4 on the US ones. In fact, the song was covered by alternative-rock band The Smiths (as part of a live medley with their song "Rusholme Ruffians") in the mid 80's, but its not so much that cover, but the fact that The Smiths builded their sound and half of their repertory on that opening guitar riff and peculiar rythm pattern what put things into perspective.  Yes, the single "Little Sister" / "His Lattest Flame" was as relevant for rock music development in the first half of the 60's, as "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" was to the second half of the 50's. The Beatles covered over and over those four songs in the days they wore black leather and toured hamburg and undergound UK. 

"Feel So Bad" a Chuck Willis (an Elvis favourite) original of '53, is the track that prehaps states more clearly the differences between "Elvis is Back!" and "Something for Everybody". "Reconsider Baby" the blues masterpiece that came from the "Elvis is Back" LP is everything about roughness, grittiness and hot wired energy on blues performance, while "Feel So Bad" is all about self restriction, subtleness and poetry, yes the poetry of the blues is often overestimated but "Feel So Bad" is poetry by anyones yardstick. Both tracks are paired as probably the best Elvis Presley blues performances ever, and yet they are so diffrent form each other, "Reconsider Baby" is about a nasty sound,  "Feel So Bad" is the smooth sound of blues touching Jazz performance, "Reconsider Baby" is angry, jelaous, mean. "Feel So Bad" is anguish, indecision, despair and yet movin on. "Reconsider Baby" is attack, "Feel So Bad" was emotional complexity. Both are Elvis at his best. "Feel So Bad" reached #5 in the summer of '61, #2 in the UK.

Despite all the changes in his life, Elvis kept visiting Sam Philips and the Sun gang when he got the chance, and his recording of "I'm Comin' Home" is probably as close as we can get of how would Elvis might sound if he had stayed at Sun, although the recording has that polished sound of Nashville. Another song in that situation is "Judy", with its county rock sound, piano fills, Elvis rythm guitar leading the band as it becames more evident on the outakes, this could be contemporary Sun sound in a way, but it alsk sounds as The Beatles return to countryfied sounds on tracks like "You Like Me Too Much" or "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party".

"I Want You With Me" has loads and loads of echo, bluesy piano fills and structure, and something reminiscent of Elvis early hiccup singing, yet the song is far removed either from the 50's as it is from similar tracks on Elvis is Back, as it could be "A Mess of Blues", the 60's sound is embrionic here. "Give Me the Right" is a smooth blues slow crawl that leans into some Jazzy sounds of the era, but it was "There's Always Me" the closest we might get to Elvis the Jazz crooner, well not really, what it is is Elvis leaning into the sound of his teenage crooning idols, Nat King Cole and Roy Hamilton. 

But it is with tracks like "Starting Today" that we finally meet another side of Elvis Presley, the mature singer, searchig for vocal perfection and moving smoothly into new musical directions. Musical directions that responded to his personal musical needs, an instinctive need to grow, but also to keep doing what he always did: "I just do what I feel" he declared in 1970. And growing was not only to develop as a singer, but also keep melting the musical panorama of his time as he did in '54, as he will do for the rest of his life. "Anything is Part of You" is the perfect example, and its a gem,  Elvis is so involved, a country tune, and yet so far removed from hillbilly, performed by a band that seemed to come more from the Jazz realms than from Nashville, and Elvis is neither style, it just becomes Elvis, this is when pop recording touches with making art. This was a new highly personal voice that allowed expression to a sensitivity and vulnerability that he often kept hidden from view. This was growing older with style, adapting to restrictions of adulthood and fame without shedding a fraction of his soul.

"Good Luck Charm" was the perfect pop song of the day, leaning a bit on Ska or Motown, and unlikely sound for Elvis back then and yet it became the staple for singles to come and for his next album sessions. Today is not unlikely from Elvis but one of his best known all time number one hits. Yes, he was changing, he was not going to do "That's All Right" all his life, although he will return to that rocking sound for sure in the future. "Surrender" was a return to "It's Now or Never", and he sang with  such remarkable vocal control and range as he was born to cut this kind of material, his die hard rock fans might be a bit confused, but  he sang so passionately and intensely, all that raw sex energy right there as no other crooner might, that this was in a way as dangerous as his harder rocking sides. 

I've never like the title of this album "Something for Everybody", or "Beatles For Sale", or "Rolling Stones Now", they where more like selling catch phrases thant titles, but the diversity of styles on this Elvis album, form "Little Sister" to "Surrender", from "Feel So Bad" to "Any That's Part of You", it kind of makes sense. More to that case, around the time the album was about to be released, one of Presley's finest films was being released too, "Wild in The Country", and one track from the movie was included on the album: "I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell", also some other tracks from the film where released as B sides for the "Something For Everybody" accompanying single releases.

"Wild in the Country" was probalby the only movie along with "King Creole" that did represented the kind of pictures in which Elvis wanted to develop and acomplish himself as a dramatic serious actor, sadly this romance was short lived, the movie didn't made the kind of money that musical comedies like "GI Blues" or "Blue Hawaii" did, movies that Elvis actually hated to do, but Elvis would soon be trapped in those kind of pictures as he had already signed a 7 year or so contract, and producer where not willing to make a hundred apples if they could make a ton. The movies soon took most of his time, and the soundtracks, that rarely represented Elvis real musical interests did took over the market leaving less and less space for his studio work that ultimately was cut out in '64. In the end the movies became so formulatic, and the soundtracks so poor quality, that people lost all interest in them. Elvis carreer was in deep trouble. Despite a follow up album sessions in ''62, some spare studio sessions in '63 and '64, and the marvelous  gospel sessions in '66, we had to wait until late '67 "The Guitar Man Sessions", to see Elvis displaying the kind of artistic development that he displayed in '60-'61. 

As a bonus to the original "Something for Everybody" 1961 release, we have included here, all the singles, and the complete "Wild in The Country" soundtrack, as it was released around the same time and definetively  is in the same artistic mood. The soundtrack is builded basically around tracks recorded with Elvis alone with his guitar, there is this sheer poignancy on tracks like "In My Way" or "Forget Me Never", that take us right to '53 when Elvis entered the Memphis recording service to cut his firts demo. Maybe "Lonely Man" is the most revealing cut in that sense. Another bonus here in Yeah Elvis! blogspot is the best of the studio sessions of  the album, so you can witness the way in which Elvis and the band developed their ideas until the final cut was done. 

This is one fine Elvis album, enjoy! And remember if you like it, go buy Elvis music ; ) well this album is out of print so...

Cd 1
"Something For Everybody"

1. (Marie's The Name) His Lattest Flame
2. Little Sister
3. Feel So Bad
4. Im Comin' Home
5. Give Me The Right
6. I Want You With Me
7. Put The Blame On Me
8. There's Always Me
9. Starting Today
10. Sentimental Me
11. In Your Arms
12. Anything That's Part of You
13. Judy
14. Good Luck Charm
15. It's A Sin
16. Surrender

From "Wild in The Country"

17. Wild in The Country
18. Lonely Man
19. Forget Me Never
20. In My Way
21. Lonely Man (Solo)
22. I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell


23. Gently
24. I Met Het Today
24. I Can't Help It If Im Still In Love With You

Cd 2
The Album Sessions

1. Interview Excerpt
2. I'm Comin' Home (Take 2)
3. His Lattest Flame (Rehearsal)
4. His Lattest Flame (Take 2)
5. Little Sister (Take 1-3)<+div>
6. I'm Coming Home (Take 4)
7. Feel So Bad (Take 1)
8. I Want You With Me (Take 1)
9. Give Me The Right (Take 2)
10. Put The Blame On Me (Take 1-2)
11. Judy (Take 1)
12. Anything That's Part Of You (Take 1)
13. His Lattest Flame (Take 4)
14. I'm Comin' Home (Take 3)
15. Little Sister (Take 6)
16. There's Always Me (Take 4)
17. Starting Today (Take 1)
18. Judy (Take 5-7)
19. Judy (Take 3)
20. Good Luck Charm (Take 2-3)
21. Little Sister (Take 7-9)
22. His Lattest Flame (Take 5)
23. Good Luck Charm (Take 1)
24. Surrender (Take 1)
25. Little Sister (Fragment)
26. I'm Beginning To Forget You (Informal recording)

Cd 3
Wild in The Country 
Recording Sessions

1. I Slipped, I Stumbled, I Fell (Alternate Master)
2. Wild in The Country (Takes 1-2)
3. Lonely Man (Take 4)
4. In My Way (Take 1)
5. Forget Me Never (Take 1)
6. Lonely Man (Solo Take 2-3)
7. In My Way (Take 4-8)
8. Wild in The Country (Take 13)
9. I Slipped I Stumbled I Fell (Take 11)
10. Husky Dusky Day


Elvis Presley: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano.
Scotty Moore: Lead Guitar.
Hank Garland: Lead Guitar.
Bob Moore: Upright & Fender Bass.
D.J. Fontana: Drums.<+span>
Murrey "Buddy" Harman: Drums.
Homer "Boots" Randolph: Saxophone.
Floyd Cramer: Piano & Electric Keyboard.
The Jordanaires & Millie Kirkham: Backup Vocals.

"Something For Everybody" 1961
Produced By Elvis Presley and Steve Sholes
RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elvis en el corazón de las tinieblas. Por Sergio Monsalvo C. "La mosca en la pared. Año 4. No.42 México D.F.".

"Nothing really affected me until Elvis. it was Elvis who got me hooked for beat music. When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I thought -this is it-, and I started to grow sideburns and all that gear".
John Lennon. New Musical Express 1963

Well since my baby left me
I found a new place to dwell
It's down at the end of lonely street
At Heartbreak Hotel

En 1956, la muerte entró como tema en las canciones del rock and roll y lo hizo por medio de quien haría de ese año su año: Elvis Presley. La figura de Elvis, desde el momento de su aparición en la escena musical, se constituyó en un icono cultural generador de tópicos. El de la muerte fue uno que se sumó a los del peinado, el movimiento de los labios, el uso de la ropa, el micrófono, la postura en el escenario, la guitarra como escudo, lanza y estandarte, los movimientos corporales, la estridencia del rock and roll star y la vida como tal. Con él comenzó prácticamente todo y de él derivó también prácticamente todo. Las leyendas surgidas del género en uno o varios aspectos lo tienen a él como referencia definitiva. El es el hito y el mito por excelencia.

El 10 de enero de 1956, sólo dos días después de haber cumplido veintiún años, Presley entró a los estudios de la compañía RCA en Nashville para grabar sus primeros los tracks para su primer L.P.  Aquella primera sesión produjo un tema que haría época, "Heartbreak Hotel", una de las piezas mas impactantes del rock que se hayan editado jamás. La canción había sido compuesta entre Mae Axton, Tommy Durden y Elvis, (inspirada en un encabezado en el periódico acerca de un cadáver no identificado  en un hotel y una nota suicida junto a él: "I walk a lonely street", sin que él publico conociera esta historia, "Heartbreak Hotel" lanzado como sencillo en Febrero de  1956)*, evocaba una desesperanza sepulcral absoluta.

Nada en el horizonte musical de aquel tiempo insinuaba siquiera un grado de desolación semejante. La interpretación de Elvis resultó extraordinariamente madura y conmovedora, pues evitaba de manera resuelta cualquier actitud histriónica para aceptar, con dolor y resignación, una soledad equivalente a la muerte. Sólo el trabajo escueto pero enfático de Floyd Cramer en el piano, enriqueció el ambiente de la pieza, captada por una producción minimalista muy apropiada.

En forma independiente a sus logros posteriores, Presley se reservó un lugar en la historia del rock por uno de los mejores discos debut realizados por artista alguno con una disquera de tal magnitud en ese entonces. En el mismo mes que grabó "Heartbreak Hotel", Elvis apareció por primera vez en televisión estadounidense a nivel nacional, para mostrar sus movimientos abiertamente sexuales a un eufórico público adolescente y aun confundido público adulto cuya indignación llevó a los productores a realizar, en posteriores apariciones de Elvis en la televisión, solamente tomas de la surgiente estrella, de la cintura para arriba. Lo demás se volvería historia.

And although its always crowded
You still can find some room
Where broken hearted lovers
Do cry away their gloom

En los dos años siguientes, el rock and roll se consolidó como genero y se extendió como nueva contracultura por todo el mundo. Elvis Presley fue su adalid y la imagen constitutiva del movimiento, e impuso sus huellas por doquier. Sinembargo el Status Quo, no se iba a resignar tan fácilmente ante la avasalladora presencia. La ideología dominante, el talón de Aquiles Presleyano, necesitaba someter al héroe, y como en cualquier choque cultural, lo puso en la palestra: en 1958 fue llamado a filas por dos años durante la intervención norteamericana del momento.

Elvis no murió al frente, pero se desvaneció; y a su vuelta, el rocanrolero primigenio, el esencial, el que se elevó a la categoría de guía parnasiano desapareció -salvo magnos instantes recién su retorno del ejercito*- del mapa. De ahí en adelante, como personaje mítico sería sacrificado una y otra vez, (en otros cuerpos, con otros nombres), en castigo por haber incendiado los espíritus. Mientras, Elvis -el humano-  sería poco a poco domesticado, convertido en un cantante de variedad y películas lastimosas. Este hecho se constituiría de forma metafórica en la primera "muerte" ritual del genero, pero no del rock mismo, este ya había trascendido a los individuos. 

"El rock and roll llegó para quedarse y no morirá nunca" cantaron Danny Rapp y los juniors en 1959, luego de las inesperadas y trágicas muertes de Buddy Holly, Big Bopper y Ritchie Valens en un accidente aereo, -de que paralelamente Little Richard renunciaba al rock para volverse un predicador, de que Chuck Berry sería llevado pronto a la cárcel y Jerry Lee Lewis sería quemado vivo por los medios de comunicación*. Danny Rapp deseaba crear algo parecido a un llamado a cerrar filas, a un himno para la generación. Sin embargo, aunque no se erigió en tal himno, dentro de su candidez se puede denominar una auténtica declaración de fe, producto de una era caracterizada en igual medida tanto por su inocencia  como por su ardor. La muerte era ya una presencia concreta. 

Casi un cuarto de siglo mas tarde, en 1983, no quedaba nada de aquella inocencia y ardor. Danny Rapp se encerró en la habitación de un motel en Arizona y se dió un tiro en la cabeza. El rock continuó. Rara vez es posible observar una ironía tan rica en dolorosas implicaciones. No tiene caso analizar la muerte de Danny Rapp, es un tópico. El rock cobró otra victima y expresó una verdad en forma tan sobrecogedora que se convirtió en un cliché más que evidente. Además del sexo, las drogas y los cortes de pelo, la muerte a dado el tono para el rock desde sus comienzos y tanto como otras decenas de aspectos cualesquiera, vincula a Elvis Presley con los Rolling Stones, los Beatles, los Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Nirvana.

El rock sigue vivo, pero muchos de sus dirigentes puntuales no. La mayoría han muerto jóvenes, en condiciones absurdas, víctimas del abuso de las drogas, el alcohol, en accidentes automovilísticos y aéreos, por depresiones severas, y otras causas inimaginables. Es ya una tradición añeja. El blusero Robert Johnson y el cantante country Hank Williams, quizá los dos totems más influyentes con relación a todo lo que habría de ser el rock, no alcanzaron los treinta años de edad: ambos murieron antes de que Bill Haley pudiera instar a todos a rocanrolear alrededor del reloj.

Well, the bell hop's tears keep flowinp
And the desj clerk´s dressed in black
Well they been so long on lonely street
They ain't ever gonna look back.

Elvis Presley supo dar los toques finales a lo iniciado por Johnson y Williams, al ocupar el lugar de Prometeo en una especie de concatenación del mito. Elvis fue el heredero del fuego, el primogénito y a su vez puso los ejemplos para casi todo lo sucedido a continuación. Sin él no hubieran existido John Lennon y Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, por no hablar de Sid Vicious o Kurt Cobain. Presley rebasó los treinta años, pero murió joven de cualquier manera,  y convirtió a los 42 en un coto legendario como el de los 27 o los 33.

Uno se pregunta entonces que diablos ocurre. ¿De entre los atavíos del rock -las drogas, el alcohol, las obsesiones de los fans, la vida de las giras-, hay algo que de manera inherente sea fatal o peligroso? ¿O será que las personas elegidas por el rock de antemano poseen una línea de vida debilitada, destinadas a una muerte prematura sin importar los avatares? La historia dice que sí. Medio siglo de cultura ha servido un festín de muertes para el análisis, una para cada momento y algunas para ocasiones que no sabíamos que existieren. Aunque supusiéramos que los lideres políticos, las celebridades de cine, y los pilotos de vuelo acrobático están expuestos a los mismo peligros y tasas de mortalidad, los diversos contextos en los cuales se mueven jamás han incluido la misma invocación desenfrenada de la muerte, ese desafío escalofriante dirigido no sólo contra las limitantes físicas, sino también las metafísicas.

Es difícil escapar de la muerte en el rock. En el de a de veras, en el auténtico, en el que el arte y la vida se confunden. Como sea, la propuesta se sostiene. Dedicar la vida al género desde siempre ha entrañado una decisión en esencia de carácter religioso, resultante en vidas plenas de rito y misterio. Desde sus comienzos se han insinuado en el rock visos de muerte y visiones del más allá, los cuales en muchos casos adquirieron bastante fuerza. Si no se quiere remontar hasta Robert Johnson ahí está "I´ll Never Get Out of This World Alive", de Hank Williams, un éxito de 1952. De no vastar con esto, están la mencionada "Heartbreak Hotel", o "Mystery Train" y "Long Black Limousine" de Elvis, "I Put A Spell on You" de Screamin' Jay Hawkins, "Great Balls of Fire" de Jerry Lee Lewis o "Folsom Prision" de Johnny Cash.

En el rock, la extraña y obsesiva fascinación con la muerte y el poder sobrenatural se mantuvo bajo la superficie, si bien transluciéndose de manera bastante clara hasta mas o menos 1968, fecha en la cual se manifestó plenamente. Lo que antes había sido objeto de sombrías alusiones, en importante medida debido a poderosos tabúes, de súbito se convirtió en un punto focal y rasgo principal de muchos grupos y carreras, o al menos en su imagen dominante: los Rolling Stones, los Doors, Iggy Pop, el Velvet Underground, y un sin numero mas. (1968, año en que Elvis Presley resucita de entre los muertos; olvidado, explotado, ridiculizado, reducido a ídolo de matiné, deja Hollywood y la gran máquina, sin nada que perder vuelve a sus raíces, vuelve al rock, pálido y vestido de cuero negro reclama su trono: el rey no estaba muerto, solo estaba dormido se dijo en la literatura del rock. Luego vuelve a Memphis y en los siguientes dos años graba material comparable a sus primeros años, vuelve a las giras, vuelve a encarnar y a definir la parafernalia del rock star, pero también se lanza a una carrera de excesos y auto destrucción casi sin paralelo que lo llevaron a la muerte en Agosto de 1977, antes de ésta, la definitiva, otra muerte ritual: en 1973 cuando decidió dejarse morir, morir esta vez, lentamente por sus propias manos)*.

En 1977, los Sex Pistols y el punk hicieron de la automutilación y el exceso verdaderos, un espectáculo rutinario y afirmación de buen tono como forma de autodestrucción. Sid Vicious resultó entonces el sacrificado. Al llegar los ochenta, John Lennon fue asesinado a los cuarenta años por un fanático desquiciado,. En 1981, las obsesiones con la muerte profesadas por personajes como Ian Curtis de Joy Division, quien se ahorcó, se consideraban románticas. En 1994 Kurt Cobain se voló la cabeza con una escopeta. El siglo XXI apenas comienza.  

Now, If your baby leaves you
and you got a tale to tell
Just take a walk down lonely street
to Heartbreak Hotel

Elvis Presley murió solo, y fue encontrado tirado en su baño,  como Janis, como Hendrix, como Morrison, ¿Qué siginifica todo ello? Vivir escribió alguna vez Ibsen, es combatir contra los seres fantasmales que nacen en las cámaras secretas de nuestro corazón y de nuestro cerebro. Para el rock, a partir de "Heartbreak Hotel" -la canción angular en este sentido-, la estancia en lo tenebroso significó un acercamiento a la muerte: juzgarse a sí mismos frente a ella y poetizar al respecto. ¿Cómo? Al llevar al extremo lo que acosa a la mente de nuestro tiempo: la propia vida y en ésta el aspecto más hedonista de la permanencia: sex & drugs & rock and roll, el lema (creado como tal por Ian Dury) que surge en todas partes cuando se habla de esta escena musical. Son palabras mágicas con las cuales el roquero prometeico reta a los dioses, quienes en venganza lo encadenan al final prematuro que se repite ad infinitum. El castigo definitivo. Sin embargo, a las deidades les sale el tiro por la culata, al tornarse su víctima en un semidios, en un mito a su nivel.

Elvis puso altos los parametros del sexo, -el irradiado y el consumido- , de las drogas: era una auténtica farmacia (encontraron sangre en su torrente de drogas dijo George Harrison al respecto*), y del rock and roll (lo modeló a su imagen y semejanza. En ello invirtió su vida, (misma que cristalizó en un tópico), y previó su muerte (otro).

You make me so lonely baby
I get so lonely
I get so lonely I could die.

*Notas agregadas por el autor del blog.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God Save The King: A Psychobilly Tribute to Elvis.

As August 16 2010, 33th anniversary of Elvis Presley leaving this world is around the corner, and before all the ridiculous impersonactors gatherings, the nauseouas american idol (idiot) tributes, the tons of cheap and pointless memorablia that had little to do with the Real Elvis, and Presley own embarrassing movies on TV that might give you anything but Elvis (although a few might do), well here at yeahelvis.blogspot, before you get mad for not seeing Elvis treated as he deserves, we would like to remember you just one thing: Elvis Presley influence is alive and well in today's rockabilly and psycobilly scene. 

Here is: "God Save The King. A Psychobilly Tribute to Elvis". A Master Piece for any Elvis fan  that actually do understands what is Elvis really about.

Track list:
1. Blue Moon of Kentucky - Nigel Lewis with The Tombstone Brawlers
2. (You're The) Devil In Disguise - Spellbound
3. (Now And Then) There's A Fool Such As I - Batmobile

4. Milk Cow Blues - Lucky Devils
5. Bossa Nova Baby - Cosmic Voodoo
6. King Creole - Memphis Morticians

7. Long Black Limousine - King Sleaze with Batmobile
8. CC Rider - Guitar Slingers

9. That's Alright Mama - Monster Klub

10. Viva Las Vegas - Spinballs
11. Little Sister (Live) - Asmodeus<+span>

12. Crawfish - Ripmen
13. Happy Endings - Thee Flanders

From Hellbilly Wreckhouse:<+span>
"God Save The King is easily in my top must have's of the year! How could you go wrong with an Elvis tribute cd done up the psychobilly way? I dare you to not sing along as the legendary Nigel Lewis along with The Tombstone Brawlers do "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Try not to sway your hips too much as theMemphis Morticians cover "King Creole". This compilation is so good that Cosmic Voodoo went and recorded for the first time in 10 years just to be on it, then you know you need to have it!"
Bibb-Hellbilly Wreckhouse
Rue Morgue

September 2007
Issue 74
Four Skulls out of Five:
"Content-wise, Elvis is usually about as far from Psychobilly as ya can get. But in terms of Sound, he helped shape and popularize rockabilly, so a comp of psycho bands covering The King makes sense. And this thirteen-track, fast-paced bass trip though the Presley catalogue is a bigger blast than popping pills and shooting TV sets. Howlin' highlights include Memphis Morticians adding just the right touch of sinister soul to "King Creole," Guitar Slingers' breakneck version of "C.C. Rider" and a sincere, appropriately twangy take on the funerary "Long Black Limousine," courtesy King Sleaze and Batmobile. However,thecrusty, high-energy live version of "Little Sister" best demonstrates the virtues of tearing The King off his throne and dragging him through the gutter. Time to add some sideburns to that pompadour."

From Rockabilly Monthly:
5 Stars
"One counsel Elvis Aaron left is that youthful ferment can lead to musical acting up -- what the world calls rock 'n' rollHere, international buzzsaw psycho cells including Batmobile, Guitar Slingers, Memphis Morticians, and Monster Klub re-gard Kingly classics with splenetic favor."

From Big Cheese:
'God Save The King'

(Rockin' Raven)

"What's that whirring? It's Elvis spinning in his grave. A nice little compilation of Psychobilly bands paying their musical tribute to the King. Fittingly there are Psychobilly royalty in the shape of Nigel Lewis and Batmobile holding court has well as a plethora of young pretenders. There are some interesting unholy intercontinental alliances here including super group The Guitar Slingers which makes the album well worth tracking down. Not just your average cobble it together compilation but one that would getthe King in a twist for sure."

Simon Nott.


Elvis Presley