Elvis Presley | From Elvis in Memphis

By ZETH LUNDY  |  July 28, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars

Elvis Presley temporarily avoided the obvious (and, one could argue, tragic) destiny of a washed-up parody with The '68 Comeback Special, a TV show that lifted the retaining wall of nodding yes men and lucrative movie contracts to reveal a mythic force continuing to pulse. That performance yielded sessions, in early 1969, in Memphis, the launch pad from which Spaceship Elvis had taken off into the cultural stratosphere more than 10 years before.

In place of Sun's pragmatic Sam Phillips was hot-shit producer Chip Moman, whose gaudy æsthetic — soft-rock schmaltz, pop-band zest, and Spector-ish ostentation — loudly declared the King's return. As this two-disc collection of album tracks and singles culled from those sessions reveals, however, the Moman-Presley collabo hasn't aged all that gracefully.

There are some gems here: "Suspicious Minds" remains Elvis's definitive late-period jam, and "Rubberneckin' " and "Stranger in My Own Home Town" flash the weirdo grin that hid beneath his hunky façade. But the nouveau-crooner cuts can make you feel as if you were listening to an AM loop in an old folks' home. Still, this stuff will surprise you every now and then if you let it, whether it's the random guitar-as-sitar solo or Elvis sympathizing with poor people in "In the Ghetto."
Related: Elvis Presley | Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight, Interview: Greil Marcus, Joyride, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley,  More more >
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