Friday, October 12, 2007

AN ELVIS SIGHTING!!!
Maybe he HASN'T left the building...

No, no, no...don't listen to the guy who writes this blog! OF COURSE Elvis has left the building, and he did so 30 years ago, and he ain't comin ' back anytime soon. But...there he is, right there on the TV screen...only this time, Elvis is still young, but his band members, his original band members, are OLD. How can this be? Well, right now, as I type this, I'm watching a fairly bizarre DVD called "Elvis Lives", and for a while, it was fairly believable, but it got old kinda fast. It seems that Elvis' vocals were edited from old concert footage and isolated, and then, the original band members (his '70s band, that is), got together and played "live" to Elvis' vocals, and to their credit, yeah, I guess they did a pretty good job. The drummer and the band conductor were listening to a "click-track" that kept them on time, and the rest of the band fell in, and it's a tight concert performance.

Elvis' concert footage was displayed on a HUGE screen at the center of the stage, with his band members on stage with Elvis' concert footage smack dab in the middle. Bizarre, yeah, but plausible to a point. The whole thing was actually quite believable as long as footage from one concert (the DVD begins with footage from "Aloha From Hawaii", the 1972 concert), but then the footage captures a slightly shorter-haired (and a little bit lighter) Elvis with footage from his Las Vegas early 70's concerts. Then, the footage hops back to 1968, with a slicked-back-and-sides Elvis during his 1968 NBC concert special. And while all this is going on, his original band members, who are all old and wrinkled and gray, are onstage, supplying the background music for this spectacle. And why have I lost interest in all this? I don't know. Phony? Maybe. Making money off a dead guy? Could be. Ultimately unbelievable? Well, yeah.


I guess this is one concert where Elvis didn't have to worry about being mobbed...

Elvis had the best stage band in the universe, but, curiously on this DVD, it's as if the sound has lost all its "punch"...what with the sterility of super-ultra-dandified-digital-audio processing, somehow, the dynamics of the music all fall in the mid-range, and the sound is just bland. And yet, this spectacle was presented live, and I can't believe the stadium in which it was held was full of rapt onlookers who still can't get enough of The King. And, at the end of this "concert", a stage announcer announces that "Elvis has left for Graceland". Hmmm, he's buried there, ain't he? Makes me wonder if he gets out often...I don't know; this whole deal feels kinda cheesy to me. Why did I buy the DVD? Out of curiosity. And it's good in a generic sort of way, but for my money, I'd rather just watch one of his old concerts; they're more exciting and "feel" more genuine. Even the late '70s "fat Elvis" concerts were more exciting (and more genuine) than what I witnessed tonight.

I got the same feeling from this Elvis thing as I did when I heard the Beatles' "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" singles, featuring the late John Lennon's vocals with the three surviving Beatles plunking away in the background. It's the Beatles, for sure, but it really isn't. Usually, all the members of a group are alive when the song is finished. In these instances, crude cassette recordings of Lennon and his piano were overlaid with backing from the "Threetles", as they were known...since there were only three of them alive at the time. I think John Lennon would've felt sold down the river by Yoko Ono, who provided the tapes, and had he not been cremated, he probably would have been spinning in his grave (at Mach 3), had he known his songs would become Beatles records, because The Beatles were something he didn't want to go back to.

Back to Elvis...Admittedly, the technology is very, very good in this advanced era, but good technology doesn't necessarily mean better sound. Good rock and roll has always had a bit of "dirt" in it, and when the sound gets cleaned up too scientifically, somehow, the music just doesn't ring true; it's as if something in the "spirit of creation" was laundered and hung out to dry. And I'm sorry, guys, but Elvis has sounded much better than what was presented here. Admittedly, I questioned my sanity, and that question took form thusly: "Why did I buy this Elvis DVD? I coulda lived without it". But I'm not really insane. I know I'm not. I mean, really. If I'd been insane, I would've had an Elvis sighting like THIS...


Hey, there, pass me one o' them fried banana sandwiches...thank you...thank you very much...
____________________

I can think of an instance where technology made an album sound very good. George Harrison's "Brainwashed" album, released a year after he passed away, was produced so sympathetically that it sounds like George was still alive when the record was finished. He recorded vocals & guitar for all the songs, and left instructions on how he wanted it to sound. I was surprised, really I was, by how "natural" that record sounded.

2 Comments:

Blogger raymond pert said...

This is a fantastic post. I think you just might be my favorite analyst
of music made in our youth. I always learn a lot from your writing and it helps me hear the Beatles or Elvis or whomever you write about in new and better ways.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Thanks, Mr. Pert...I don't really feel I'm all that intelligent about this; rather, it's a case of, if you're really interested in something, you'll dive into it and find out everything there is to know. So some of what I write about music may be "echoes" from many other rock writers, but then I apply all that stuff to how I feel. I can't believe, for instance, how many record reviews I disagree with. The part I wrote about "Free As A Bird" was based on my own conclusions of what I'd read about Lennon's solo days and how he'd felt about the Beatles. So some of it is insight, some of it is conjecture, and quite possibly a lot of it is general foolishness, but I think it's fun to write about. Anyway, thanks for your faithful readership and comments...you're the most faithful of my 3 regular readers...

6:07 PM  

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