And so it ends, nearly two years after reviewing Elvis Presley’s debut album, on January 5th, 2016, we arrive at the final album of his life, album # 6, Moody Blue. We’ve waded through every single movie album, all the greatest hits, all the budget releases on Camden, the live albums, to arrive here tonight. The lesson, if you’ve been following closely, is that Elvis is even better than you thought. Twenty odd years of the greatest rock star and the greatest pop vocalist, and a top gospel singer, all in one, finds me in greater awe of the man than ever before.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on Presley’s solo career , but, like most FANS I really didn’t.
This I knew:
1 – The Sun Singles
2- The early albums and EPS up to Elvis Is back.
3 – GI Blues and Blue Hawaii
4 – The 68 Special
5 – Those late career singles.
So, yeah, some, but all those mid-70s albums passed me by, the way they didn’t pass Barry Holdship, and only by going back and listening seriously one more time, could I testify and clarify the greatest pop artist of the 20th century.
Moody Blue was a typical late 70s Elvis: a handful of live songs added to holdovers from his final two recording sessions. He swung out two hit singles, the title track and “Way Down,” covered both Jim Reeves on “He’ll Have To Go” and George Jones’ “She Thinks I Still care,” -top songs by both. Plus a couple of 50s hits, “Unchained Melody” and “Little Darkling”. Four songs were recorded on tour, six were from the final Graceland sessions. The album doesn’t quite hang together, even by Presley standards, but it includes at least four songs you really want to hear him cover, and the two smash hits. While “Way Down” was a hit after his death, it is strong enough to have been a shoo-in under any circumstance.
And it is over.
Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 years -the victim of a fame so powerful it was toxic, so powerful it defies our ability to empathize with it, and now, 40 years after his passing, a catalog of songs that remain signature for the world post WW2.
Until you go back and listen again you may be able to convince yourself he was a meaningless phenomenon, not that much different from Adele or Justin Bieber, but he really was that great -I’ve done this album for album reviews for Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Prince, and Elvis was the most consistently excellent act. I’ll miss re-discovering and discovering the giant of American Entertainment, a once in a lifetime embodiment of an America becoming a memory.
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