Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anatomy Of A Cover Version: Special Elvis Presley Memorial Edition

It was today in 1977 that my ultimate rock 'n' roll hero whose name is not either Johnny Thunders or Iggy Pop, Elvis Presley, checked out of this sphere. (Naturally, supposed Elvis fan Michelle Bachmann wished Elvis a Happy Birthday today. *rolls eyes* Thanks for the tip-off, Wes Bingham.) Everytime I declare my love for Presley, a fleet of assholes roll-up and try to call shit on me, in some of misguided political or punk correctness. I'm not indulging the arguments this year - I like Elvis, and I like how he kicked the door open for rock 'n' roll into the mainstream by energizing a mix of black rhythms and country melodies with a shot of aggressive sexuality. The world has never been the same. It's not my fault if you can't see that. End of discussion.

Anyway, today we look at one of my fave records of his, "(Now And Then, There's) A Fool Such As I." Cut in a Nashville megasession when on leave from the Army, so RCA could have product to release while Elvis was away doing his patriotic duty, the track originated as a Hank Snow country hit earlier in the '50s:

Presley did what he did best: He gave it a big beat and pumped up the sexuality, making it hit and swing harder. Great Scotty Moore guitar work, too:

As a bonus, I include a rare live take from Elvis. Between receiving his draft notice in late '57 and the filming of his 1968 comeback special, Presley only played before live audiences three times - all charity performances in 1961. This is not actual footage, but a montage set to audio I've certainly never heard before from the third of those shows, in Honolulu on the eve of filming "Blue Hawaii." The surprisingly clear fidelity displays the man still in possession of his raw performance gifts: He's powerful and sweaty, even playful. ("You taught me how/To milk a cow!") Clearly, he's The Hillbilly Cat of old, even as Col. Parker attempts to smother his creativity in a sea of vapid musical travelogue films. Presley really shoulda put his foot down and performed more back then.....

Enjoy. And if you don't, I don't wanna hear it. Thank you. Off to work now. 'Bye!


  1. This is the Elvis I prefer - Sun and early RCA stuff for the most part. And I'll wait until the anniversary of his birth to celebrate his life - doing so on the anniversary of his death doesn't sit right with me for whatever reason.

  2. I prefer the blond Elvis myself.