Friday, October 12, 2007

No. 190: From Elvis In Memphis

Band: Elvis Presley
Album: From Elvis In Memphis
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Widely considered to be Elvis' best proper album, "From Elvis in Memphis" had The King going back to his Southern roots. More soulful than his soundtrack work, the record had Elvis adapting to a Stax-type sound with resounding results.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm not personally a huge fan of this sort of thing, though I understand its appeal.
Best song: "In The Ghetto" is pretty great and is a signature Elvis track.
Worst song: "Gentle On My Mind" isn't fantastic.
Is it awesome?: It's not my style, but people seem to love it.

In the late 60s, Elvis Presley was stuck in a cycle of movie making that left him precious little time to record anything other than soundtrack albums. So, in 1968, he produced his Elvis comeback special and later hauled to Memphis in order to get back to his music-making roots.

The result? A much less rocking affair. certainty influenced by the Stax sound being produced from Memphis at the time, Elvis' band is much more soulful. In contrast to his rock and roll work of the '50s, "From Elvis In Memphis" shows Elvis with his lower register, destroying the songs chosen for him.

His gospel-tinged "Long Black Limousine" is moving and great, while his attempt at Stax soul, "Only The Strong Survive" is surprisingly good. The standout track, "In The Ghetto," is a great look at Elvis' voice telling a story, albeit something of a protest story.

"From Elvis In Memphis" isn't made for me. It's a cool record, but I think its audience is for someone decidedly not me.

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