Elvis Presley is undoubtedly the single most
re-packaged artist of the rock era. (Only Jimi Hendrix probably comes
close.) With so many compilations of the King's music out there, it
keeps getting harder and harder to come up with original ways to raid the
Elvis by the Presleys is an interesting angle
to take. It is made up of songs picked by Elvis' ex-wife Priscilla
Presley and his only daughter Lisa Marie. They chose songs which they feel are
definitive performances by the King. Therefore, you don't just get the typical hit
singles that you've bought several times before. Instead, some more
obscure performances get the chance to shine.
Also, because Lisa Marie was not alive during most of
Elvis' hit-making years, this compilation tends to skew more towards the
later stages of his career. Therefore, it does cover his brilliant
late-60s/early 70s hit trifecta of "Suspicious Minds," "Burning Love" and
"In the Ghetto." However, only one of his fifties classics is here in
its original form, the admittedly wonderful "Heartbreak Hotel." Other
standards include "Always On My Mind," "Trouble" and the dance remix of "A
Little Less Conversation" (JXL vs. Elvis Presley) which became a surprise hit
in Europe a few years ago.
There are also some interesting covers – in fact,
there are an awful lot of remakes on display here. Elvis' take
on the song "Got A Lotta Livin' To Do" from the Broadway musical Bye Bye
Birdie is an ironic choice because the play was loosely based on an
Elvis-type teen idol. He also does a rocking take on Ray Charles'
"I Got A Woman" and a surprisingly unsappy cover of Simon and Garfunkel's
"Bridge Over Troubled Waters." The live cover of "My Way" (which was
released as a single right after his death) is a little ragged,
though; I still can't get over the memory from the time of a bloated Elvis
singing this song and having to read the lyrics off of a cheat sheet.
The second disk is more for the completists – demo
and alternate takes of several songs which have already been released in
studio versions. It can get to be a little much in the short-term.
Do you really need to hear three straight versions of "Jailhouse Rock?"
However, a private recording of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
is heartbreaking and a live version of "Blue Christmas" from 1977 (the year
Presley died) is much more assured than you'd expect with the image of the
drug-addled rhinestone Elvis from the later years.
Is this the best Elvis compilation? No, that
would probably still be Fifty Worldwide Gold Award Hits. It's
definitely worth having, though, if for no other reason than that it gets
you to look at this icon from a different viewpoint.