Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nothing but blues and Elvis

So today is the 29th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Think about that for a second. 29 years since he died. That's a lifetime ago but I remember it like it just happened. I remember it being a big deal but I was way too young to understand why it was.

My father was always bitter about him. Saying that he had the talent to do anything but pissed it all away. At this point Elvis has basically become either a punch line for people who just remember the fat, cheesy Elvis or focus on people believe that he was a racist by taking black music and making it palitable for white people.

Really, this was the brainchild of Sam Phillips and his record company Sun Records. Phillips saw something that he could turn into something that white people would like and he could make money on.

The funny thing is that Phillips should be considered a moron as he sold Presley's contract in 1955 for the sum of $35, 000. To me, this was an even stupider decision than the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees for money to finance a broadway play named No No Nanette.

If you want a good early memory of Elvis. Here is him on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show in his first television appearance doing a version of Ray Charles' I Got A Woman.

I highly recommend picking up any version of his Sun Sessions recordings from that era. As long as it has Milk Cow Blues, Baby Let's Play House and Mystery Train, you will have all the early Elvis music you need.


Top 5 Elvis Movies
1. King Creole
2. Jailhouse Rock
3. Frankie And Johnny
4. Viva Las Vegas
5. Flaming Star

I know King Creole is not a movie many people think about it when it comes to Elvis but it is easily the best looking of his films and features his best performance. Shot in crisp clear black and white, it is directed by Michael Curtiz, best known for directing a little known film called Casablanca (he also directed Errol Flynn's best movies Captain Blood and The Adventures Of Robin Hood). Plus the cast of King Creole includes Walter Matthau (was he ever actually young looking in his career?) and Carolyn Jones (you know her as Morticia Addams from The Addams Family TV show).

Here is a clip from Elvis singing the title theme from King Creole from the movie.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a huge Elvis fan. I just thought a note about his passing and a memory of what was good about him was something important to write about on this day.



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