From the first towering roar ion full on power ballad “I’m hurt” by the King, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee is a great album, recorded live in his own studio at Graceland, it is the penultimate album of his career (there is a budget release between this and his final release in his life time)and unlike just about any album he has done it is of a piece. Recorded and released in an astonishing r five days in 1976, it is a stand alone.
At first glance, this is mid-70s as written, amid of country, power ballads and what we would now call Americana, from a boom to a whisper mixing current hits off the top forty and big time pop and rock also rans. Included here is a glorious “Danny Boy” as a change up.
But its consistency of tone and vision is remarkable, its ability to be tense and simultaneously at ease a wonder of skill and chutzpah. At only ten songs in length there is no filler and on his big numbers, “Hurt,” “Solitaire” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” he simply owns them. Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, pah. Adult Contemporary never gets better than this, for a lover of song Presley’s wounded defense on “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” bends the entire orchestra, the soupy strings, the backing harmonies, and you, to his will with a pained “I mean it, I mean it”. It’s a great song but you haven’t heard it till you’ve heard Presley sing it. His work on Neil Sedaka’s (a somewhat underrated singer-songwriter, though the forefather to Elton John) “Solitaire” and Presley kills the change of tempo, he is like a wave on the sea cresting and falling back not waving but drowning. A little lax on the rockers true, but it makes up for it in an astonishingly proficient way with adult pop.
Clearly, a year before his death the drugs and weight problems didn’t have him firmly in their grip yet, comfortable in his Graceland studio and recording live on tape, his skills should be the envy of everyone. There are forty two songs on the Follow That Dream” 2000 reissue, and this is a case where really, you need to hear the lot. A very late triumph and significantly better than Moody Blue for one.
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