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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Elvis Presley

MUSIC REVIEWS

Elvis Presley-Elvis by the Presleys (RCA)

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 vaults.

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.   (5/05)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2005 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted May 30, 2005.

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Copyright 2005 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted May 30, 2005.