Viva Elvis - The Album

By KingCreoleDec 27, 2010
Viva Elvis - The Album

"Viva Elvis" the album mostly came and went without much impact. I love the concept of doing an album like this, obviously inspired by the Beatles "Love" album, but did they do it right?
The cover is not exactly great or memorable, but it doesn't bother me either. Album covers are kind of a lost art and even moreso with music being listened to more and more on small digital devices. It's the music that really matters, so here's what I think, track by track:
"Opening": Nice build-up and 2001 has always been an exciting opening. I personally feel some of the samples featuring Elvis kinda just making noise detract from it, as do the "That's All Right" samples. But overall, it sets a mood and creates a nice opening.
"Blue Suede Shoes": Why would anyone want the classic rock song "Blue Suede Shoes" to sound more similar to non-classic "Stay Away Joe"? And why have that "someone must have stomped on his head with those blue suede shoes" sample? I love remixes, but this badly misses the mark, in my opinion. A quick snippet of "Plantation Rock" towards the end at least shows that the folks who put this together have some knowledge of the Elvis Presley catalogue, but they missed the boat on this one I think. It is hardly unlistenable, it is even fun in places, but I'll take the spliced 1968 version they used in "This Is Elvis" over this as my personal fav version Elvis did of the song.
"That's All Right": This one is an improvement over the previous track, but not over the original certainly. But that is to be expected-we're dealing with the song that started it all; a song purists really don't want people messing around with. Nevertheless, this is a fun listen. The tiny snippet of "When it Rains." only made me want to hear more of it. I'd much rather hear a remix of a slightly obscure track like "When It Rains It Really Pours" over a major classic like "That's All Right" any day.
"Heartbreak Hotel": So they took everyone's least favorite part of Elvis' 70s live show-him endlessly sing-talking "well...well well well..well" before launching into "I Got A Woman"-and stuck it in as an intro to "Heartbreak Hotel"? When the song finally really starts, it has the 1968 comeback arrangement intro (redone) and then more or less goes into the original version of the song with minor changes during the vocal. The harmonica is a nice addition, but the big brassy horn section seems to be fighting it out with the down and dirty harmonica and Elvis' pure vocal. I LOVE the "Polk Salad Annie" part and the "going down to New Orleans." bits, though I feel they'd both have been better suited to a different song, like "New Orleans" or "Johnny B Goode" or something else from King Creole (just thematically it would make more sense to me.) Overall, not bad, but also not really worth playing over the original version.
"Love Me Tender": Here it is-the first near-total disaster on the disc. And it is also the time I will make my first really direct comparison to the obvious inspiration for this album: the Beatles "Love" album. So, how is it that someone decides the Beatles' voices can stand on their own, but for a similar Elvis project, Elvis' voice alone just isn't enough? So here we have a nice arrangement for a classic Elvis song and here comes the opening line. Wait! Who the heck is that singing?? Who cares, it isn't Elvis. This track is the first real serious disappointment of the disc. Up until now, none of it has been especially good, but this is a serious nosedive to me. When the woman (whose voice is perfectly lovely, had I wanted to hear it instead of Elvis) finally stops singing and Elvis comes on, it is pretty great. "Love Me Tender" was always a simple quiet song and the new arrangement (minus the duet part) is very nice. I was hoping for something as good as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from the Beatles album-an acoustic original with newly written and recorded string part. Instead we get a woman singing half the song. And also another big missed opportunity; the snippet of "In My Way" at the song's close was what I REALLY wanted to hear more of! Again, a nice little obscure gem like "In My Way" would have made a really great track! Plus, if we really want to expose new fans to this music, I think everyone on Earth knows "Love Me Tender"-a song like "In My Way" has a chance to win new people over far more easily than a song everybody already knows.
"King Creole": The intro is nice. It's a fun intro to Elvis' movie career on this cd. But, why all those extra voices?? I hate to keep going back to that Beatles album, but nobody thought "Hey! This song "Hard Day's Night" is pretty good, but maybe we can hire some girls to come sing loudly over John and Paul during the chorus!" That is what they did here on classic track "King Creole." Elvis' voice is totally drowned out during the "jumpin like a catfish on a pole" sections of the song. It is, in fact, recorded in a weird staccato vocal by whomever is singing, changing the whole rhythm of the chorus. There are some nice snippets of "Dixieland Rock" and "Hard-headed Woman" as well as some stuff actually from the movie, which is kind of cool. Sadly the song basically tapers off and even features an apology from Elvis about the ending being messed up. It isn't the worst, but it's a bit jumbled and suffers from all the extra non-Elvis voices drowning him out.
"Bossa Nova Baby": Now we're talking!! They got this one right! They took a very fun, obscure song, kept Elvis' voice right up front and cranked up some new percussion and beats. A little more "Hard-headed Woman" sampling starts it off. There's even a tiny bit of "Clambake" in this one. No matter how negative some other parts of my review might be, make no mistake-this song makes it all worth it to me. More fun than the original, and that's high praise!
"Burning Love": I've never found that interview quote amusing. I love Elvis, and I find him pretty funny most of the time. But the "what's your ideal girl?" "Female, sir!" just never struck me as that funny, and I think they goosed the laughter on this too. But getting to the song, once again they picked a big well-known track. I've never loved the song, and neither did Elvis as I understand it. This remix is, basically, just not terribly necessary. It isn't bad. They didn't massively botch it, but the original is as good or better, as is the 1980 remix or the remix featured in a car commercial not long ago. The "Jailhouse Rock" dialogue is totally out of place as well. This track is basically very inessential.
"Memories": All I can say is, WHY? As short as this disc's track list is already, why put something like this? Maybe this is more a part of the stage show and works better as such, but why not do what they did with "Eleanor Rigby" on that Beatles album? Long string intro, but Paul McCartney does eventually come in with the vocal. But not on this, just a minute's worth of easy listening nothingness.
"Can't Help Falling In Love": Oh good, another classic Elvis track, very nicely redone and then utterly ruined by having someone who is NOT Elvis sing half the song!! WHY? This is not a comment on the woman's voice-she sounds fine, but if I wanted to listen to her I'd go buy a cd by her and not by Elvis Presley. Also, I'm not totally sure how well I think the "Love Me" samples work here either. I'm more tempted to skip this track towards the end than anything else on the

Tracklisting

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Reactions

RobIreland (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 28, 2011report abuse
Cant understand anyone complaining about these mixes actually ... apart from the throw away instrumentals !! .. What were they about anyway ???? i love how they incorporated other bits of Elvis songs into another songs main mix as Clambake into bossa nova baby ! just brilliant. Alot of care and imagination has gone into these mixes but sorry to say not into the album ! Once again what could have been was not to be !
KingKreole (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 7, 2011report abuse
Reviewing something is hard. I like to be an optimist and I like to see the glass as half full. All these years after Elvis Presley dies, we're still lucky enough to be getting new material, redone material and stage shows! Part of me is thrilled about this!
But when you review something--anything really--you cannot be an optimist and legitimately critique something. You don't have to be overly negative, but you do have to be critical. A woman famously write to TV guide years ago asking how they could possibly criticize ANYTHING that came on TV, as she was so happy and grateful to have any entertainment she was blind to any flaws.

There are many types of Elvis fan, and the ones who love and appreciate every scrap we get, my hat is off to you. You have a greater capacity for enjoyment and are satisfied with experiments with Elvis' voice and music. And while I seriously applaud continuing experiments with Elvis' voice and music, I truly cannot see how a CD so limited--only 7 real full Elvis tracks--could be looked at in a fully positive light.

Of course I know it comes down to opinion. I'm especially surprised by the "King Creole" love considering they just recorded women's voices drowning Elvis totally out of the "jumping like a catfish on a pole" sections of the song. For me, it ruins the track, and only "Bossa Nova Baby" really managed to get it "right". But positive or negative, thanks for reading this review (I wrote it, even though I accidentally spelled King Kreole correctly with the "C" in my username.)
LonElvis (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 7, 2011report abuse
Waydown - regarding Suspcious Minds, while I don't like it better than the original I might can say I like it almost as much. What sells me on this version of Suspicious Minds is that Elvis' voice is so clear and up front and as a result it sounds better than ever. Viva Elvis is a fun album. Again - it's not earth shattering. But it's a lot of fun. Even the little mixed-in snippets that were a little annoying at first sort of grow on you as you listen to the album a few more times. The intro of the Heartbreak Hotel mix sort of reminds me of the 1968 standup show version.
WayDownUnder (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 7, 2011report abuse
MikeE, LonElvis, tigerprawl and especially JGP. I totally agree with your opinions. If you give the album a chance, as I did (despite some opinions) you may just enjoy the ride. This will offend some but I prefer Suspicious Minds to the studio original (Aloha / TTWIS aside of course!!) which I never really cared for as his voice was, I believe not captured as it should have been.
MikeE (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 6, 2011report abuse
Couldn't agree more WayDownUnder. The only argument is does it provide a pleasurable listening expreience or two.The answer is yes, the 2001 opening is great. LMT, KC and BNB are better than the originals imo. I also like the Elvis style piano snippet of YNWA. Roll on Vol. 2.
WayDownUnder (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 6, 2011report abuse
Having read some of the opinions in relation to this album, I wasn't going to buy but I did. So I started listening to it but thinking I was going to be disappointed. All that negativity went away very quickly and this is why, I have probably listened to King Creole half a dozen times in my life as it never took my fancy. That changed today when I heard this version of King Creole on this album, it's quite good, in fact it's fantastic. Bossa Nova Baby is another gem and I was going to say it's the highlight on the album however for me King Creole is just in front. I should get around to rating the other songs, listening to them again would be a good start but I can't stop playing these 2 songs. They are worth the price of the CD alone and if they were the only tracks on the album I'd gladly pay triple the amount.
LonElvis (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 5, 2011report abuse
I finally listened to the album today. I received it as a late Christmas present. I think the album has been misrepresented. It's not a remix album in the same vein as Guitar Man. This is a soundtrack to a Vegas show. This is not updated Elvis music as much as it is a glitzy take on Elvis music (again, the soundtrack to a Vegas show). Once you make this distinction it's a fine experience. The CD is a little bit short, and I hate that Memories is just a musical bridge with no vocals. But it's a fine soundtrack and it's fun. And having fun with music is what Elvis was all about. He often said that his goal was to simply make people happy, and I think he does that with this album.

I read it somewhere else that this is not really an album where you pick out a song or two - it's really an entire experience and I think that's true. This is a start to finish type of album. It's very enjoyable - especially King Creole, Bossa Nova Baby (which is the closest thing to an actual remix on the album on par with the non-duet songs on the Christmas duets album which were all great), and Suspicious Minds. Blue Suede Shoes is a lot of fun on this CD in the context of it being the soundtrack to musical stage show. My recommendation is to buy this album and enjoy it for what it is. It's not earth shattering but it's a lot of fun. You won't go and throw away your orginal versions after listening to it. But it's a fun audio experience when you have an hour drive in the car.
tigerpawl (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 2, 2011report abuse
I believe King Creole has hit the nail on the head as far as his review of Viva Elvis. He did not mention Burning Love and that is my favorite on the CD. There are very few good ones such as Bossa Nova Baby and Suspicious Minds. What they did to the ballads is awful they probably should have left them off the CD. My whole family has listened to this CD and our ages range from 14 to 50 and its pretty unanimous that the ballads were not given much thought. I can hear Elvis saying again they are messing with my music.
Jamie (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 2, 2011report abuse
Hello, thanks for your feedback, Marty. The 'Elvis '56' DVD captures the King just perfectly. 'Viva Elvis'? 'FTD Elvis Now'? Come on...'Baby Let's Play House vis-a-vis Perry Como's 'Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity'. When you TRULY understand the contrast between those, then you truly understand Elvis Presley.
jimsayshello (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 1, 2011report abuse
It's almost as though I wrote the review (if I could actually type and I wasn't so lazy). Bossa Nova Baby is clearly the standout and worth the price of admission, the duets are agony and my only slight variation is that I actually really enjoy That's All Right - the build up and layering of the music with the DJ talking about the very beginning almost makes me weep - I know it makes others weep too but for completely different reasons.
Jesse Garon Presley (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 31, 2010report abuse
It's plain obvious to me that a lot of you don't understand this album at all,and how you hate this album which you expressed on this website many times allready,really it's your loss and not to for the fans who like this album , like i do. If you don't like it? fine.. then just don't buy it rather then hear all the time : " i hate this album" i don't like remixes" etc your reactions od some of you on how you dislike this album will not change my mind on how i think of this album.
marty (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 31, 2010report abuse
To me this CD is truly awful! I can understand the remixes being done as part of the show but a CD? Bringing Elvis to a new generation of fans? If they need remixes to like him then they do not really like Elvis at all! And why remix Elvis songs? If you like the 'modern' sounding music then there are a lot of contemporary artists to choose from...

A Little Less Conversation was a success partly because it retained the original feel of the song. Remixes by VIVA Elvis, Spankox etc are awful because they contradict everything that Elvis was trying to achieve in the studio. He wanted to record live in the studio with all (or most) of the musicians playing with him to get the right 'feel' in the song. And now they try to 'improve' this using a computer? It's a bad joke... PS Spot on Jamie
benny scott (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 29, 2010report abuse
Not my cup of tea at all ! But for those who like it : enjoy !!! Always El.
Jerome (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 29, 2010report abuse
glad I skip stuff like this..
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I listened to the entire album TWICE. Except for "King Creole" I didn't care it at all. I don't think of this as an Elvis release. It's the soundtrack to a musical stage show which happens to be about Elvis. It might have improved the album if all the soundtrack songs had been included from first to last instead of just selected ones.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I think the review is spot on. The only song I cared for was Bossa Nova Baby. The others? No thanks.
KingKreole (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I wanted to mention that I AM a big fan remixes. I loved Little Less Conversation and I love what they did with Bossa Nova Baby! I am, in fact, a firm believer in remixing Elvis and I thought the Beatles Love cd was one of the best discs I'd listened to in a long time. This review was in no way meant as a condemnation of Elvis remixes. In fact, I think Bossa Nova Baby is done so well it almost makes up for badly the rest was done. I hate duets, and the two here are as bad as anything on that awful Christmas cd. I didn't start out to write a negative review, but when I listened to the disc again, slowly track by track, I realized how much of it was frustrating and/or disappointing.

I think there's nothing wrong with minimally comparing the remixed versions of songs to the original ones. For example, on the Beatles Love cd, I prefer the version of "while my guitar gently weeps" featured on Love over the one from the White Album. All they did was take an acoustic song (long story is that it's a demo George Harrison did, only acoustic guitar and even has an extra verse) and compose a new string section for it. And it came out beautiful and more than that--it was TASTEFUL, and there's a word we Elvis fans hardly ever hear. Yet I think "The First Noel" is proof that it can be done with Elvis correctly sometimes. I wish we'd have gotten a full version of "In My Way" or "Forget Me Never" or something more obscure. Also "remix" doesn't have to mean fast, dance music. Spankox, for example, is a terrible terrible remixer from what I have heard. But just because they keep screwing up the remixes doesn't mean they can't be done right. I'm all for them to keep trying.
albion73 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I think the cd is just great! The opening is making you curious and the sound is building up en then: blue suede shoes starts and its loud, lots of bass and rockin'! I think they did a great job. I really like the mixed in Elvis oneliners and bits of different Elvis songs added to the originals. I have played the cd for 2 days now and everytime I hear different sound effects. I think the other singer on Can't help falling in love is really good, and it makes the song really up to todays standards. Songs like King Creole, Burning Love and Susupicious minds are really pounding: lots of bass/drumms and guitars which make the songs really dynamic. If you are a little open minded and want to hear our favourite singer with some modern backing, this is the cd for you! And I also think this cd is great promotion for (younger) people who are not familiar with Elvis his music. The sound quality is great, and I can imagine the show in Vegas in a showroom would be really awesome! VIVA ELVIS!
Natha (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
And it keeps right on hurting (my ears) while listening to it. Guess it fits the show as there is something to see too. It did not give me any listening pleasure.
circleG (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
except for the 'female sir!' joke. i actually got it !lol!
circleG (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
Good review. agree with you 100%
Lex (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I am glad another victim reviewed the album, so I don't have to listen to it completely :-)
ranskal (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
I think they did an amazing job with the songs! I really enjoy the album and I wish they would do additional songs.
Dan (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 28, 2010report abuse
Please don't try to dissect this album and compare it to the original songs, this is NOT what this is. It is an album of remixes, either you like remixes or you don't. I love the fact that multiple songs were used in most of these to create single versions with a different approach. Most tracks contain layers of Elvis music and voice magically sewn together to create fresh, new sounding tracks. The music on all the tracks really rocks and elvis is always up front and center. So much care and effort went into this release that, in my opinion, it will be noticed. Maybe not now, but soon it will be. Try and listen to the radio special that is on the web, with the producer talking about how he made the album and what went into it...as the king would have said himself, Totally TLC! I live in Las Vegas (impersonator capitol of the world) and Several of them had no idea the album even existed. If they don't know about, how is the general public gonna know? It is a sleeping giant, with great tracks, great sound and even though it is shorter than most albums, packs a real punch. Now for the Cirque show compared to the album..two COMPLETELY different sounds. The album consists of studio versions, the live show a much looser, rock concert feel with different arrangements. One of my friend's wife dances in the show, so he has seen it at least a dozen times. When he played the album for the first time he said "what did they do? It's not the same versions!" I agree, the live show is way different. I can only imagine what type of impact this would have if they went on "tour" with this instead of "Elvis the Concert". Would the audience like it? Would they want the original versions? I would love to sit in on that one for the reactions! The musicians are absolutely top notch and the music retains Elvis' energy and feel, but with a modern up-to-date touch. I love it, and I know some hate it....but hey, that's why they make neopolitan ice cream, right?
Jamie (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 27, 2010report abuse
Hello, the notion that Elvis's music can be remixed using state-of-the-art technology and contemporary musical mores to inspire an army of younger fans is not a new one, and it was given credibility by the success of 'A Little Less Conversation'. The 'Viva Elvis' CD emphatically demonstrates that the whole idea is a fallacy. These remixes are as witty and as adept as one could hope for. Yet none of them are remotely as good as the original versions. To understand Elvis's genius one has to understand the musical and social norms that were prevalent in America in the mid-1950s, and how Elvis's persona and music made teen culture and the acceptibility of so-called 'race' music possible. Reconfiguring 'Love Me Tender' as a country duet or mashing up 'Blue Suede Shoes' if anything distracts the listener from ever getting at Elvis's greatness. 'A Little Less Conversation' was unique - a witty, cheeky song that had been over-looked. No body of similarly undiscovered gems exists. The follow-up remix 'Rubberneckin' failed because the song is nowhere near as good as 'Conversation'. The same is true of 'Edge of Reality', 'Clean Up Your Own Backyard' and all the others. They'll never do well for Elvis because the songs aren't good enough. Better to educate people about Elvis's impact in the '50s than to caricature him as a '70s cabaret artist or to present his music mashed up now. The Beatles' 'Love' album continued the experimentation that was critical to the Beatles' music in the late '60s. No such flow exists between Elvis's recordings and those on 'Viva Elvis'. Consequently, 'Love' is a credible if inessential release; 'Viva Elvis' is a transient novelty record.
VivaLasDavies (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 27, 2010report abuse
This is the best review I've read yet of this album - totally nails it - I agree with EVERY WORD! Bossa Nova Baby is also my favourite, the only worthwhile track on the whole album IMO. Had this gone out as a single with the right promotion, it could have been another ALLC. One other point, what happened to It's Now Or Never, featured on Youtube prior to the albums release?

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