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Elvis Presley’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” Reviewed

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Album #42, and while at the time (aka as January) I gave it a “B”, there is something that’s not said much because it is hard to imagine in 2016, but the reason why we have the RCA Camden budget albums is because there are people who are poor and who can buy an album like You’ll Never Walk Alone, a set of spirituals all the more needed ny people who can’t afford mainstream releases. With that in mind…

Pray together, pray together…” so sayeth Elvis Presley on the 1971 RCA Camden Budget release You’ll Never Walk alone, all Gospel, all the time, except for a fine take on the Rodgers And Hammerstein hit off their musical “Carousel”.

Back in the early 1990s I bought a Box set of Presley’s Gospel tracks, which included everything on here and around four hours more, so listening hereto this album isn’t very satisfying: it lives in another time frame of faith where there is no real center to the center to the world. Four of ten songs dates from 1957, the other five from the mid-1960s. Some, like “I Believe” are secular faith, not songs of praise, all that “for every drop of rain that falls…” is a little out there even for godheads. The Jordainaires are on half of the songs, but they don’t leave an impression,

The majorities are borderline Hymnal Alliance without the rockisms, just Presley, who has a great voice for Gospel, you can mention his Gospel in the same breath as another seculist, Aretha Franklin, that was built to make words of praise mean even more than they state. Even a throwaway movie song like “Sing You Children”, swings very sweetly and implies more than it says. “Let US Pray” –another movie song, is exactly what it says it is.  “(There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley”  sounds like it escaped from “Love Me Tender” and is the second best song here, his baritone kinda rumbles but without rumbling, it is a trick Bing Crosby never quite pulled off.

Best of all is the title track, a song of togetherness that at the conclusion of “carousel” pulls the entire show into a higher place: the connection after life between father and daughter seems to shake the entire show out of its structure and the sentiment, of family and of faith, is gripping. This is catnip for Presley, it is what he does. The only shocker is that it wasn’t a bigger hit, it got to #68 when first released in 1967. It carries this album, you give into it with such ease, it settles the album down.

And even still, Elvis Presley has so much presence as a singer that his worship almost feels like co-equals, like he doesn’t simply sing Jesus but gets Jesus -as though through the intense Presleyness of him, he draws Jesus towards us. The same, the price, the blood, the child and the man.

Grade: B+

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