Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Elvis 30 years on

It's 30 years since Elvis died and the Elvis industry is bigger than ever. I heard the news of his death as an 'And finally' on News at Ten. Shocked, I tuned into Radio Luxembourg for some reason and it seemed the right thing to do. Tony Prince was rabbiting on about how the King had died and got Jimmy Saville among others to eulogise. Apparently Big L got its biggest audience of the year that night, but in those days where else could you go to find out the really important news of the day?

So much has been written about him since then that there's really nothing left to say. I was ten when Heartbreak Hotel was released and it made an indelible impression. My sister bought the blue HMV-label 78 and later Blue Suede Shoes, I Want You I need You I Love You, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender and Blue Moon and I was hooked. His tracks for Sun were classics, but so too were many of his early RCA sides. The first few films showed potential, but as Colonel Tom Parker's influence grew, Elvis was shunted towards mediocrity. Then he joined the Army and things were never the same again.

I recall awaiting his first post-Army 45 with excitement and was only mildly disappointed with Stuck on You. The double sider of Mess of Blues and Girl of My best Friend promised better things ahead, but it proved to be a false dawn. Under RCA's and Colonel Tim's direction things went downhill fast. The records. with the odd exception, were bland, and the films tedious. Despite his revival in the late 60s Elvis never recovered his early excitement. Yet the legend goes marching on. I, like thousands of others, have paid homage by visiting Graceland (and been sickened by the tackiness of it all). I've even visited the two room house in Tupelo where he was born (allegedly). So Elvis is alive and well, in financial terms at any rate.

He will never be forgotten, even though his genuinely creative period lasted little more than three years. So here are my top 20 favourite Elvis tracks (in no particular order) - and funnily enough all but one are pre-army: That's all right, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Mystery Train, Money Honey, My baby left me, Trying to get to you, Blue Suede Shoes, I got a woman, One sided love affair, Heartbreak Hotel, All shook up, Hound Dog, Don't be Cruel, I want you I need you I love you, A Fool such as I, One night, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock, Treat me nice, King Creole, Mess of Blues.


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