Elvis’ comeback 40th anniversary
Don’t call it a comeback …
It’s Elvis week in Memphis, but another significant date slid by earlier in the year without much notice. It’s been four decades since Elvis Presley (arguably) made his last stand as a vital recording artist.
As AP reports here , there’s isn’t much to commemorate American Sound Studios now, just an empty parking lot where once stood the house of hits that was home to BJ Thomas, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond and Presley’s last undeniably great run of recordings — including “Suspicious Minds,” “In The Ghetto” and memorable covers of John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind,” Bacharach and David’s “Any Day Now,” Dallas Frazier and A.L. Owens’ “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road,” Butler, Gamble and Huff’s “Only The Strong Survive” and “Kentucky Rain” by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard.
The studio may no longer be there, but the recordings have been well represented over the years, in multiple reissues. Although the original From Elvis In Memphis LP has been reissued, I prefer the “naked” alternate takes found on the 1999 set Suspicious Minds, which stripped away the strings and horns and backup vocals and really gave Presley a chance to shine as a singer.
These recordings, combined with Elvis’ volcanic performance on the 1968 Singer TV special should have triggered Presley’s late career resurgence, but the momentum was not sustained, and while there were some glorious moments in his later years, it would be hard not to conclude that everything after this was a slow, sad slide and that this music represents a musical lion’s last roar.