|A REVIEW: VIVA ELVIS - THE ALBUM
By Brian Quinn
I have just listened to 'Viva Elvis' - The Album which was very kindly sent to my by SONY(UK) and I am not afraid to say I am in tears. It is PHENOMENAL
and the sound AMAZING. Truly a listening and emotional experience and genuinely revolutionary in concept which should give it an excellent chance for a
Grammy Award next year. This is truly Elvis for the 21st Century.
The whole album is built around a biographical theme with comments from Elvis, Ed Sullivan, Bill Black, Milton Berle etc. and snippets of other Elvis songs
apart from those listed on the album cover. This is one album that I will be playing a lot and not just once or twice. Yes, we would have liked more tracks but
the ones on the album are longer than usual apart from 'Memories' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone' which are linking themes as shown below. I would also
have liked to have had the names of the individual female singers featured on the duets.
The album cover is very colorful, contemporary, and features a booklet containing many scenes from the 'Viva Elvis' show with details of the cast etc. Now
on to my review:
The album opens with the strains of what is commonly known by Elvis fans as 'The 2001 Theme' together with females screaming and chanting "We Want
Elvis". Great drums featured in the background. Elvis himself comments 'If You're Looking For Trouble'. There are also historical comments from Ed Sullivan
and track 1 commences a countdown into track 2. A fitting start to the album.
2. Blue Suede Shoes
Heavy version with drums and harmonica up front. Has a distinct Bo Diddley feel to it and again comments from Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle. Lots of sound
3. That's All Right
Has a great feel to it and commences with a similar opening to 'I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine' with comments by Horace Logan and Bill Black.
Screaming girls add to the atmosphere. Also snatches of 'When It Rains It Really Pours'.
4. Heartbreak Hotel
This track has a great powerful Blues feel to it and starts out with Elvis doing his famous 'Well, Well Well' routine. A really heavy version follows which quite
literally bounces along with great Harmonica/Sax/Brass/Drums and Piano. Snippets of 'Stranger In My Own Home Town' (informal rehearsal) as featured on
'The Essential 70's Masters Box Set. 'Polk Salad Annie' even gets a mention.
5. Love Me Tender
A beautiful duet with a really great female singer and a very contemporary arrangement with acoustic guitar adds up to a real winner. Elvis closes the duet
by singing a snippet of 'In My Way' from the movie 'Wild In The Country'. In my opinion this would make a great single release.
6. King Creole
This track commences in a similar fashion to the opening of the film of the same name with strains of 'Crawfish'/'Gumbo'. Slower than the original version
with the cast singing along. Elvis also sings a snippet of 'Hard Headed Woman'. The track ends in the same fashion as the beginning with 'Gumbo'. 'Elvis
also sings a snippet of 'New Orleans'.
7. Bossa Nova Baby
Commences with Elvis making comments in the recording studio to Hal Wallis. We are then treated to an excellent version of this well known track featuring
drums/sax/piano/bass and organ. During the song a part of the arrangement is reminiscent of 'Barbara Ann' by The Beach Boys. Elvis comments "It's Hot In
Here". Ends with a great Boots Randolph style sax. A contemporary version without losing the original feel. This would be a great track for the programme
'Dancing With The Stars'.
8. Burning Love
Commences with the famous comment made by Elvis (on the 'Elvis sails' EP) to the Press Corps on joining the U.S. Army. On being asked "What's your idea
of the ideal girl?" Elvis answers with much laughing '"Female Sir". A heavy version follows with guitar/drums and guitar to the fore. There is also a piece of
dialogue included from the movie 'Jailhouse Rock' where Elvis has just kissed Judy Tyler (Peggy Van Alden) and she turns to him in disgust and states "How
dare you think that such cheap tactics would work with me?" and Elvis replies "That ain't tactics honey, its just the beast in me".
A short orchestral piece of 'Memories' which is really a means of segueing into
10. Can't Help Falling In Love
This is a really fine contemporary version of this classic track and sung as a duet with a great female singer similar in style to Mariah Carey. Elvis opens the
track accompanied by acoustic guitar. Very melodious. Interestingly the track fades out with Elvis repeating part of the song 'Love Me'.
11. You'll Never Walk Alone (Piano Interlude)
A beautiful short piano solo played as if it were Elvis himself and segues into the final track.
12. Suspicious Minds
Great up tempo closer for the album which is heavy on drums/piano/bass and guitar. Similar type female backing group as the Sweet Inspirations. A very
melodious version with Elvis urging everyone on near the end shouting "C'mon, C'mon, C'mon".
Finally, I would like to make this important point. To fully appreciate this album one needs to treat it as a whole and not just a conglomeration of unrelated
tracks. As stated earlier it is truly a unique 'listening experience' and one that is linked biographically to cover all Elvis eras from 'That's All Right' to
'Suspicious Minds' taking in the 50's, the Movies, the Army, the 68 TV Special and Vegas.
Special thanks go out to Erich van Tourneau and his team for this innovative concept in recorded music and to EPE and Sony Music Entertainment for their
support for the project.
This album will whet the appetite of fans worldwide to go and see the show 'Viva Elvis' when it eventually goes on tour and bring back fond memories for
those who have already seen it. I personally cannot wait.
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