After staying up far too late and writing far too much about a couple of 12″s yesterday, I’ll let you off with a brief bit about a double LP tonight.
Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite is the only Elvis Presley LP I have ever bought; okay so that’s cheating, I later inherited a few of his movie LPs, but you see what I mean. I love some of Elvis’ early singles and I appreciate him as a galvanizing force on so many other artists I love, but I’ve never been and never will be a fan of Fat Elvis, this LP confirms that. It was billed as a concert seen by 1.5 billion people worldwide on 14 January 1973, which was so clearly such a bit fat PR lie it almost defies contradiction (for example it wasn’t even shown in the US until 3 months later). Elvis playing to 7000 people in the flesh, for charity – the tickets given out for free and the attendees asked to make whatever donation they could afford*.
It starts promisingly enough with Richard Strausss’ ‘Thus Sprach Zarathustra’ (the 2001:A Space odyssey music, you ignorant wretch!), morphing into ‘See See Rider’, the band all perfect on cue and Elvis, well there’s the rub. It’s not an original thought of mine but there is something oddly robotic about Elvis’ performance on this LP (I’ve never seen the film), especially if you compare it to the ’68 Comeback Special, which I have seen. His voice is there, it’s not shot but there’s no real power, or range to it here. You can see this clearly on Side 2’s medley which sees him doing battle with ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and a perfunctory almost contemptuous ‘Hound Dog’, it saddens me because if you go back to the originals, they just burn, this doesn’t even smoulder.
Even the later tracks I do like, ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘Can’t Help falling In Love’, ain’t much good here, there’s no feeling, no soul at all. It’s no reflection on the band** at all, who are all really good, if a bit on the bland side, it’s the big man. The Beatles’ ‘Something’ was never going to be a good choice of tune though, ditto ‘My Way’, which apart from the Sex PIstols’ version, I loathe and despise in every version ever recorded, or indeed yet to be recorded.
This was a chore tonight, which makes me a bit sad. So to cheer myself/yourselves up I leave you with an Elvis Christmas tree decoration improvised by Mrs 1537 and I from a toilet roll – how can this not make you feel festive, even in mid-September?
*and thus inventing Radiohead’s In rainbows into the bargain.
**featuring Jerry Scheff, of L.A Woman fame.