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Elvis Presley’s “Good Times” Reviewed

I don’t want this review to end up a referendum on Roy Carr and Mick Farren’s “Elvis The Illustrated Record” –fine rock criticism written just five years after Presley’s death that attempts to save him  from both punk’s “No Elvis, Beatles, and the Rolling Stones” silliness and mainstream rockers “Fat Elvis” insolence, Presley’s legend was dwindling and two of England’s in their own way legendary writers, went to praise Elvis and not to bury him. At the time the book was both incendiary and risible as it made its case that today someone like me simply takes for granted.

But the year’s have been a little unkind to it, and while some of that is due to the revisionism they began, some of it is to Farren and Carr’s misreading of Matinee Idol Presley (their “Kid Galahad” take is atrocious) and of MOR star Presley. Some of it is that with a clearer reading on his many sessions, what was produced, we are more lilely to appreciate this aspect of his genius.

HOWEVER, their review of Elvis’ 56th album, Good Times,  is not simply misguided (that’s more or less a matter of opinion) but factually inaccurate, as they claim it is leftovers from the Stax July and December 1973 sessions. Hardly, since the previous album of new material, Raised On Rock, was released in October, and even the King couldn’t pull off time travel. Only two songs came from the July session, the rest were pick of the December litter for this April 1974 release.

The album is perfectly sung balladering for all American Hausfraus to get their jollies, “Spanish Eyes” might be someone elses but Presley’s representation is a flawless gift to womankind, a shimmering beauty of a song given the treatment it deserves. Husband and wife team, Felice Bryant and Boudleaux Bryant have written more than their own fair share of country pop masterpieces, “She Wears My Ring” is second tier sure, but it aint bad. Presley is so sincere it sounds like it’s a spiritual. Jerry Reed’s “Talk About The Good times” is a one part Gospel to one part rockabilly joy, “I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby” is Tony Joe White as Speedway Presley.

If Good Times is not his  greatest work, that’s about the worse you can say, Presley is committed, the performance are easy going pleasures and his mainstream audience got it to chart. I’ve reviewed nearly 20,000 albums here at rock nyc alone,  and trust me, Good Times runs circles around the vast majority.

Grade: B

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