This short review proves that Elvis' lesser work, according to many, was still received pretty positively when it was released.
In 1974, when the album was originally released, Billboard wrote:
"It hasn't been too long since RCA released a historical package of vintage Elvis and now here's the latest featuring slow ballads "Take Good Care of Her," high pitched hip swayers "I Got a Feelin' In My Body" and full bodied tear jerkers like "My Boy." There's a sad tinge in Presley's voice, which gives the works an emotional coating. The addition of J.D. Summer and the Stamps lend a legitimate gospel quality to such tunes as "Talk About the Good Times." The latter tune has some bouncy two-handed piano playing. The LP shows the multifaceted vocal skills of the headliner."
This short review proves that Elvis' lesser work, according to many, was still received pretty positively when it was released. After listening to it once more we can only agree with Billboard. The album showed Elvis' diversity perfectly. There weren't too many vocalists who could handle all those different styles. At the same time this diversity causes that Elvis' albums aren't rated well in general. The lack of consistency in the songs seems to turn off most critics. Listening through the ears of a fan (we hardly can do something else) we can only conclude that we still enjoy it, 27 years after its original release.
"Take Good Care of Her" is not Elvis' strongest song but one can live with it easily. After the relatively weak start the beautiful "Lovin' Arms" shows up and this song deserved much more than being only the flip side of a single (in Europe). After two ballads "I Got a Feelin' in My Body" rocks like not many Elvis-songs did in the 70's, without any doubt one of the best studio performances of Elvis in those years. "If That Isn't Love" is somewhat heavy, but it shows Elvis' love for religious music well. "She Wears My Ring", a classic that appealed to Elvis in the early 60's already, is a bit boring. This is made up by "I've Got a Thing about You Baby", another Tony Joe White song and very close to White's original. It's one of the two songs of the July 1973-sessions ("Take Good Care" being the other) and sung very relaxed. It gives you the feeling Elvis could have done more with it, but still it is very enjoyable. The dramatic "My Boy" is one of the highlights of the album and of Elvis' singles in the 70's. We wonder if anyone else was, is or will ever be able to put so much emotion in 199 seconds. "Spanish Eyes" has the difficult task to follow "My Boy". The fact that somebody is disturbing Elvis' vocal doesn't help very much (indeed, we are no fans of the singing saw). "Talk about the Good Times" is swinging and should have been longer than only 2'22. "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" is a perfect final for the album: beautiful arrangement, perfectly sung.
The songs recorded in December 1973 are all released on the re-issue of "Promised Land" in 2000. Unfortunately BMG decided not to include the two others, "Take Good Care of Her" and "I've Got a Thing about You Baby".