What a great piece! I’ve also enjoyed the many great comments. I was particularly pleased to see you give “”Elvis Country” it’s due. I agree that it may be the definitive version of “I Really Don’t Want To Know”, I’m also very fond of Jason and The Scorchers version. His version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” is also about as good as it gets, and the one take rockin version of “Whole Lot Shakin’ Goin’ On” is spectacular, especially the scream towards the end.
I blame much of this confusion about the greatness of Elvis’s post army output on people of my generation on this infamous John Lennon quote “Elvis died in the Army,” he said when learning that Presley had died on August 16, 1977.”
This quote has always annoyed the hell out of me becuase for years it was used by many in an attempt to lessen Elvis’s stature among the Gods. Elvis, The Beatles, and Dylan are three artists who were literally bigger than rock and roll and could not be confined, or defined, by any preconceived limitations. They wrote then re-wrote the rules of the game many times, therefore the usual rules and judgement of of the “rock ‘n’ roll justice league” are not applicable..they are their own genres.
I don’t think that Lennon would have made such a ridiculous statement had he thought it through a bit. He looks foolish in retrospect. I’m a big fan of John Lennon and he obviously loved Elvis from the first time he ever heard him — as did all The Beatles, for, as we know, they referenced him many times in interviews. Lennon even paid homage by wearing his diamond studded “ELVIS” pin on the lapel of his tux during the world wide broadcast of the Grammy award show that he was part of in 1975. Also, a few years earlier, his famous shout out “Elvis I love you” during the middle of his performance of “Hound Dog” at MSG in 1972 proved his allegiance to The King.
We all know the many Elvis career lows but the best of his work from the 60’s is only eclipsed by the greatness of his 50’s recordings, but so is pretty much everything else in the history of pop music. And, of course, most rock historians — and I suspect Lennon himself — would agree that the magnitude of “The 68 Comeback Special” probably hasn’t been equaled by anyone. The sheer exeburance of witnessing an artist not just resurrect his career, but tap into the raw power of his own legend from a by-gone era then successfully plug it into the energy of contemporary pop culture, went way beyond anyone’s expectations. In doing so he wiped the slate clean of all of his creative offenses of the so called “lost years” by the end of the opening number, which makes it one of rock’s seminal events. During the course of the evening, he hit the reset button on his own legacy and began to write a new chapter of greatness which lead to “Suspicious Minds” but many other classic recordings. By Lennon’s timeline, Elvis had already been dead for a decade, but clearly the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. The ’60’s Masters” is essential Presley, as is to a lesser extent but still surprisingly powerful, the 70’s box set “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”.
Ok, I’ve raved enough..but thanks for writing this Adam!