Sunday, August 19, 2012

Elvis Presley The Memphis Record 1990

In 1968, after years of shoddy film soundtrack records, Elvis Presley made a fine showing on a "comeback" TV special that proved he still had vital music to make. Shortly thereafter, he went back to Memphis and recorded the twelve-track From Elvis In Memphis 1969, one of his better records, and the best thing he had produced in ten years.

The Memphis Record 1990, is a CD repackaging of the original record plus eleven tracks that were recorded at the same sessions. It is out of print, but widely available, or similar sets can be had in the form of From Elvis In Memphis Remastered 2000 (18 tracks) and From Elvis In Memphis Legacy Edition 2009 (34 tracks on 2 CDs, a bit of overkill).

The songs are carefully selected, and of consistently high quality. This entire set is designed to be top quality, from the studio musicians and orchestra, to (and especially) Elvis himself. This is the best singing he'd done in a long time, and he had material that was easy in which to loose himself. Stranger In My Own Home Town, Power Of My Love, Suspicious Minds, After Loving You, True Love Travels On A Gravel Road, You'll Think Of Me, and In The Ghetto all feature Presley vocals of the highest caliber. He sounds like he has something to prove, which of course he did in 1969, and as it turns out, he proved it.

There isn't a non-compilation record he made that's as good as this one. The original Sun sessions recordings, in one of the many versions (2004's Elvis At Sun is good), are great to hear, raw and nervy, before RCA turned him into product. Any of the one or two CD Best Ofs is worth having around. I've got the 1987 2 CD The Top Ten Singles collection that pretty well sums up the 50s and 60s RCA hits, and the 2007 The Essential Elvis Presley hits most of the same territory. But for a single record that was actually released during his lifetime, From Elvis In Memphis stands up to any other, and shows the 34 year old Presley out to prove he's worth more than the world ever expected of him in 1969.

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