Today Elvis Presley would have turned 80. He is the most celebrated and most mocked/vilified figure in the history of American music. To this day there are three camps of thought: Those who think Elvis was an overrated joke, those who think Elvis was a cultural thief, and those who have taken the time to look deeper and appreciate his work.
The phenomenon of Elvis Presley is so HUGE that the public perception of him has it's own biography. It is as follows:
When Elvis emerged on the scene he was perceived as dangerous and an innovator. Within a handful of years he was dismissed as a sell-out. In the late 1960s after the revamping of his image and return to his soulful southern musical roots, he was viewed as a more legitimate artist again. But by the 1970s after he turned to bedazzled jumpers, helmet hair, and power ballads, he was scene as a schlocky lounge act. All the while he still had his dedicated fans.
When Elvis the man died, the life of the public perception of him lived on. Following his death a shameless opportunist published a tell-all biography with many half-truths and falsities. Specifically it included a racist quote that has since been proven to be erroneously attributed to Elvis in the 1950s. The damage from that book continues to this day (as I still hear people spreading that quote around as if it were fact). The myth that Elvis was a racist who actively sought to viciously rip off the Black community has grown and circulated over the years. People still claim that Elvis never gave credit to the artists who influenced him. If you dig deeper you'll find that in reality there is endless evidence to dispute these myths. Additionally, in recent decades, music people have been much more open to reexamining his music catalog and recognizing the merit of his efforts.
I am an Elvis appreciator. Admittedly, I too believed the myth and jumped on the Elvis hate wagon once or twice. But after years of extensive music history research, I have fully come around to love much of what he put out into the world. Also, that guy had some SERIOUS drool-worthy style in the 50s & 60s! However, I do not love the 70s schlocky ballads. Sorry Elvis.
Ultimately with Elvis there will always be a stigma. What it comes down to is this question- What matters more, Factual history or what people commonly believe to be true? Do facts even matter, or does it matter more what Elvis has come to represent to many people- the exploitation of Black artists by mainstream America. I honestly don't seem to know any more.
Nevertheless, I have a selection of the day and it is from the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack. It feels odd to say that I prefer this version to the previous by Lavern Baker and Jimmy Ricks. But it's true. Elvis and Ann-Margret steam it up with their sultry cover of this Leiber & Stoller classic. How this wasn't released as a single, I'll never know. It's pure gold.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!