Elvis returned in early April 1972 with his third and last gospel album release. While He Touched Me sold slowly; it would continue to sell and eventually pass one million units sold. The album would also be a critical success, as it would win Elvis his second Grammy Award. He Touched Me continued Elvis’ passion for gospel music. His commitment to the recording process is evident as the songs are universally well performed and presented. Elvis’ personal life aside, he always had a respect for gospel music and it would show.
The title song, “He Touched Me,” was an old Bill Gaither tune. Gaither was one of the early and popular pioneers of American spiritual music. Elvis invests himself in this song and modernizes it. He was always able to remain true to his pop roots when singing religious songs and this style made him unique in the 1970’s. Elvis took gospel out of the church building and made it accessible to all.
Elvis also proved that gospel music could not just be up-tempo but could also be presented within a rock setting. Elvis just rocks through “Seeing Is Believing.” “I’ve Got Confidence” was originally recorded by Andre Crouch. Elvis takes his soulful orientation and turns the song into an all out rocker. It also contains one of the great lines in gospel music; “Job said honey, that’s all right.”
“Amazing Grace” is taken in an almost blues-type direction by Elvis. This song has probably been recorded a thousand or so times but Elvis’ is one of its more unique renditions. “An Evening Prayer” places a simple emphasis on his vocal with piano. “Reach Out Jesus” shows off Elvis’ extensive vocal range. He hits some of the most amazing notes of his career. Johnny Cash recorded “A Thing Called Love” as a straight country song. Here Elvis adds some brass and takes the song in a pop direction.
He Touched Me was a final gospel gem by Elvis. If only he had lived the music that he loved the most, his life may have gone differently. What we are left with is a fine album that should still be appreciated.