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Presley Duet: Mildly Moving

By Baltimore Sun/ Rashod D. OllisonAug 19, 2007
She probably could have done it years ago, but the timing seems perfect now.

Singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of rock 'n' roll king Elvis Presley, has finally connected her musical skills with those of her legendary father. On "In the Ghetto," a "departed duet" in the vein of Natalie Cole's 1991 Grammy winner "Unforgettable," Presley adds her vocals to a slightly reconfigured version of Elvis' famed 1969 recording.


The song and video were released this week to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death, and all proceeds from the project will benefit a new Presley Place transitional housing campus in New Orleans, one of the late singer's favorite cities.

"It's a creative and unique way to pay homage to her late father, and I don't think it's a bad move for her career," says Chris Anderson, a manager with Davie Brown Talent, a talent agency based in Dallas. "It will create some significant buzz around her career and the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death."

British-born director Tony Kaye, best known for his work on the movie American History X, produced the video in black and white, interspersing images of a tearful, lip-syncing Presley, vintage Elvis performance footage and close-up shots of doe-eyed infants lying in cribs, surrounded by handguns.

Though the concept and execution of the video are awkward, the song is mildly affecting. Renowned music producer David Foster finely preserved the integrity of the original while incorporating Presley's sensitive, albeit indistinctive, vocals.

"I could have done this ages ago," the artist said in a recent interview with spinner.com, the music and pop culture Web site that premiered the video. "I always find it necessary to make my own path and not ride on [Elvis'] coattails, which I have not done."

That's true -- in a sense. Having the last name Presley certainly didn't close any doors when the artist started her pop career about seven years ago at age 32. But her debut album, To Whom It May Concern, wasn't released until 2003. A surly, over-produced pop-rock affair, the CD still managed to showcase Presley as a promising artist. It went gold. But the follow-up, 2005's slightly contrived Now What, didn't deliver on Presley's promise and it bombed.

Presley, whose resemblance to Elvis is uncanny, was perhaps overly cautious in crafting an individual style sans any musical elements of her father. In the process, the former wife of Michael Jackson and actor Nicolas Cage didn't achieve a standout sound or establish much of a music career. She surely didn't come close to matching the musical accomplishments of Natalie Cole or Roseanne Cash, two other artists with iconic fathers.

This new release features a more relaxed, naturalistic sound than Presley has shown before -- but some critics, distracted by the buzz it's generating, may overlook its musical merits.

"I do think it's somewhat of a shameless plug that she would use her father's death and this 30th anniversary to help sell her music," Anderson said.

Beyond Presley's flagging pop music career, some see the digitally enhanced duet as a way for CKX, the company that controls the rights to the name, image and likeness of Elvis and the operations of Graceland, to further capitalize on the Memphis star's legacy.

"At the end of the day, they want to exploit the catalog," says Ryan Schinman, president of Platinum Rye Entertainment, an entertainment consulting firm in New York. "Everybody's looking to cash in. But they're smart in the way they're doing it. Pull at a few heart strings. But it's all about how to make the most money off the legacy."

And if the song and video become hits, others suspect that more Presley dad-and-daughter duets will come.

"The fact that Elvis Presley Enterprises [mostly owned by CKX] is now run more professionally and expanding will only help Lisa Marie," says Robert Tuchman, founder and president of TSE Sports & Entertainment, a New York-based marketing company. "I expect to see much more of her and her dad in these types of situations. With technology emerging in ways we never thought, this will make it a lot easier to do."
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Reactions

Ruthie (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 25, 2007report abuse
I am glad to see that some of the people on this site get it. Yes, it was hastily done but that's because she didn't decide until the last minute to do it. In her position (particularly in the past) she has always been damned if she does & damned if she doesn't. She wanted to do something & felt she should but the decision as to what to do & how to do it came at the last minute. After being in New Orleans, it confirmed her wishes that this was the best way to pay tribute to her Dad's music & his financial generosity at the same time. No one is perfect, this wasn't perfect, but the sincerity came through & thankfully most of the sold-out audience at FedEx Forum could see that & appreciate it. None of us could have done a better job in the time frame this was accomplished. I appreciate Lisa, I appreciate what she wants to do for her Dad's legacy, both musically & socially. Thankfully, I am in the majority!
Elvisnites (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 25, 2007report abuse
Very well put TupeloJak, I agree with you 100%, and welcome to the site.
TupeloJak (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 24, 2007report abuse
Big hello to all...I`m new!......I`d been looking forward to seeing this duet since I heard that it was being done but...well....found it pretty disappointing in the end.It all seemed a bit rushed and amateurish...great song,great man,and the best of intentions from Lisa,but unfortunately in the end it doesn`t hit you like it could have.Elvis would have been well pleased about the charity aspect though...hope it does a lot of good for the people who need it.Doesn`t Lisa sometimes seem unbearably sad?..pity,`cos when she smiles she lights up like Elvis.
Wolfy (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 24, 2007report abuse
Like some of you, I agree that the babies and guns are unnecessary[the lyrics/music/soul of this song speak for themselves] and the video looks rushed - but I do have to concede that Lisa Marie sounds better than I have ever heard her sound on this project. Scrap the vid, give us something more sincere - as sincere as the sound of Elvis' and Lisa's voices. Bad video - great use of musical talent.
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 21, 2007report abuse
I just love it ! And I was there in Memphis to see it on the screen, great !
Rob Wanders (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 20, 2007report abuse
To me it makes the impression of a hasty job. they could have done much better; and I agree its too sentimental; a crying Lisa Marie; does she cry because of the idea that so many people grow up in poverty and without any prospect of a better future??? Or does she cry because she sings with her father??? In both cases it's, although humanwise understandable, artisticly not interesting; therefore false-sentiment. A rule in Art is: let the people feel emotion from your message/art, but don't let the emotion get control over you (as an artist). People start (in this case) feel sorry for you instead of be touched by the art and/or message. By the way, I forgot, I love it music-wise, so I will buy the cd for sure. And the money will serve a good purpose and that's maybe the most imported thing.
KingKreole (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
Wow. I really thought that was awful. And I am not one of those people who is down on Lisa Marie. I like her. And being someone who lives in New Orleans and had actually lost a lot during Katrina, I am grateful, but....it just isn't very good. I loved the duet of Don't Cry Daddy and thought it should have been released. I despised that horrid Celine Dion thing, but this is not so good either. The babies with guns is utterly stupid. This really doesn't look like it was done by a professional. I have seen people put things together on YouTube far superior. It is a shame the video is so so bad, but the duet isn't really very good either. The song itself just doesn't seem to work too well as a duet. I wish it well though...I truly do.
Mofoca22 (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
i think the author of this article is a jerk. the presleys aint making money off of this this going to presley place. shows how much this dweeb pays attention. i swear he has a hard on for lisa marie and everyone involved. if your gonna write an article on someone or something you do the proper research on it and dont make bad statements.
PaulFromFrance (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
I don't know what to do with this. She is not bad, but the video embarasses me. And really... those tears seem so faked...
garnet (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
I really thought this would have been much better. As previously stated the guns were totally unnecessary and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And the videos of Lisa were not the best. Plus the tears seemed fake. Sorry. I do like Lisa Marie and the song sounded great. Too bad for the video.
Jacqui (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
Loved the Father and daughter duet. Tho' I must say I don't think the babies and guns were really necessary. "In the Ghetto" has always been one of my favourite Elvis songs and this version is fab.
colnago (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
It's growing on me.Really enjoyed the song today,more than yesterday.
Ciscoking (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
The action of the video should follow the lyrics of the song and not just showing babies handling with guns...looks a bit "funny"..
kbd (profilecontact) wrote on Aug 19, 2007report abuse
They sound great together and actually this is the first time I really liked how she sounds. She seems to have developed a style of her own. Unfortunately the vodeo is so bad. Its choppy, slow and the shots of lisa are just terrible. the video will only detract from the sales. I cant beleave this video made it out the way it is. You would think it would have gone through some type of process nto be approved for realease. Compared to todays videos this rates a 2 out of 10. the song a 7 for content, 10 the finally a new concept that unfortunately was not followed through to anywhere near its video potential.

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