Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Big Hunk of Sh*tty Elvis Tribute Albums - Part Two

Happy new year! I'm celebrating Elvis's birthday a bit late here, but he's dead so I doubt that he's going to mind. I figured I'd bring you three more Elvis tribute albums for fun. These things accumulate quite quickly, so I'm trying to keep on top of them. It's not working too well.

Alan Presents The Elvis Presley Story

Alan? Alan? Who the fuck is Alan???

I'd be more than happy to tell you what Alan's last name is, but unlike the rest of the band members, it's nowhere to be found on the album credits. With regards to how closely our three contenders sound like Elvis, this Alan guy wins hands down. The record is an interesting piece of work in itself. Between songs (which are NOT marked by blank spaces on the record, making each song impossible to find) Alan gives you little pieces of his Elvis knowledge.

The band's renditions are... well... okay for the most part. Apparently, "Treat Me Nice" is Alan's favourite song, but the rendition on here sounds like everyone downed a six pack before recording. The lyric "make me heel at home" is evident that drunken Alan was expressing his foot fetish during the recording. However, I have no clue what "piss off a head of cheese" means. Feel free to listen for yourself.

Listen to Treat Me Nice

CMG Music - Hits Made Famous By Elvis Presley

HOLY SHIT, look at that cover art! Must have taken the art department WEEKS to come up with that.

I have a number of cassettes manufactured by CMG Music. I haven't really touched upon them because they're sitting in my personal cassette collection. I bought most of them in the 1990s brand new at K-Mart at a price somewhere between $1.99 and $2.99. CMG Music uses shitty artwork, shitty tape stock, shitty editing, and pretty much shitty everything when they make these cassettes. They *usually* print a warning on the back of the cassette that says the recordings are NOT by the original artists, but they seem to have forgotten about it on this one. So the person who originally purchased this thought he was getting genuine Elvis. Poor guy.

These songs were recorded in 1974 which means that CMG Music likely bought them from some other ass-crack recording company for the price of a blowjob. If I ever find the original release of this, I'll be sure to let you know.

Anyway, the songs here are very dry. There's just something wrong with them, complicated by the fact that I couldn't get a good azimuth alignment on the tape head for the highest quality playback. CMG also has a history of being the cheapest bastards on the planet when it comes to actual tape usage. The beginning of Return To Sender on side one is slightly chopped off by the leader. This is certainly not the first time I've seen this from CMG.

The tape is full of dropouts, with the exception of the intentional one near the end of Suspicious Minds. The song quickly gets faded out and leads right into the cue tone to stop the duplication machine from wasting the cheap tape stock (which disintegrates significantly every time you play this cassette).

If someone out there happens to find a copy of this with my lost chunk of "Return to Sender", please let me know. In return I will give you a reward...  A sealed Glen Campbell tribute 8-track.

As for the performance of Suspicious Minds, all I have to say is that it was a nice try.

Listen to Suspicious Minds

Various Artists - Tribute To Elvis Presley

It's always a treat when they label the tape as "Various Artists" and it's the same group of nobodies performing throughout the entire album. They used a cheap echo feature on the recordings which makes it sound... well... cheap.

As for the cover? I don't know what to think of that. It's like a bastardized American flag with a picture of... ummm.... city landscape and an ocean liner???  It's not even the square shape of an album cover. Perhaps they cropped it to save on the cost of colour ink.

So I've brought you two songs: "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" and "Heart Break Hotel" (sic). Nobody seems to be able to spell the name of this song correctly. My last Elvis entry contained an error with this song title as well.

"I Want You" is just a terrible performance. This song will give you an idea of what Kermit the Frog would sound like if he was an Elvis impersonator.

"Heart Break" starts off with the wrong lyrics. Way to go Various Artists! How could you guys fuck this one up? There should be at least ONE guy in the band who knows how the lyrics go, and you would think he'd pull the singer aside and say "Hey buddy, you fucked up the first verse!" But then again, these guys were out to make a quick buck and probably didn't care that they got parts of the song wrong. After all, there's good money to be made in 8-tracks.

Listen to I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Listen to Heart Break Hotel

And now we close off another batch of Elvis tribute albums. I have more, and you'll get to hear them eventually.


Reimer said...

This stuff sounds dreadful.

Thanks for your generosity.


Chris Sobieniak said...

I live for this, thanks!

Erich Reinhardt said...

Actually Ben, the "cue tone" that you hear at the end of the tape actually signals the splicing machine to cut the tape being threaded into the cassette. The actual recorded tape is on a large pancake reel and the tone is recorded at the end of each loop of the program. Perhaps the missing chunk of "Return To Sender" was a miscue for the splicing machine. I dunno.

Hepcat B said...

I'm not really "into" ETA's (understood as the "PC" Elvis Tribute Artists to anyone walking the Graceland grounds,) but I'm surprised you didn't know about Alan, or from Part 1, the TV Movie Elvis, if you'd bother to give coverage to some crappy tribute albums, though maybe it was strictly for comedy purposes (and successful I might add.)

To wit: Alan was the first ETA (known only as impersonators then, though even then Alan prefered "tribute artist") to gain national attention, and the only one during Elvis' lifetime. He was playing extended engagements at the Tropicana hotel on the vegas strip, overlapping the real Elvis' final stints at the Hilton International. (Or was it the MGM Grande by then? Slips my mind.) According to Alan legend Elvis saw a clip of him on Vegas TV and called to give him the thumbs up. He got national TV coverage on several shows including Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve. Of course after E's death ETA's formed a cottage industry. Alan took a rather laughable high horse stance and supposedly being above the throng in both talent and sincerity, but he was credible in his claim of being first.

My parents took me and my brothers to see Alan at a supper club in Cincinnati around '75 when I was 9 years old, and as a big fan from age 5, I was enthralled. I did get to see actual Elvis in '76, though I must admit, the Alan show was more electric to me then because we were seated right near the stage instead of a mile away like at the Riverfront Colloseum, and because even then I already liked 50's Elvis best. In hindsight I cherish the real Elvis experience more, especially since he'd be dead in little over a year. Come to think of it being right near the stage might have been disturbing as he was well into his health spiral in '76.

As for the movie, though the soundtrack is no classic, the TV movie is. In 1979 it pulled a big rating for ABC during sweeps week, beating out Gone with the Wind and the premiere of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest on the other two networks. Speaking of Dick Clark, he produced it. What it's truly famous for however is that it starred Kurt Russel, who won an Emmy for it, and saw the relaunch of his career as an adult, having formerly been a teen star in Disney flicks, with then rapidly fading chances of not rapidly fading from showbiz. Amazingly it was also a post-Halloween directing gig for John Carpenter, who would keep Russel as leading man for Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and the Escape sequel set in L.A. (I don't think I'm missing one. Pro wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper was clearly a Russel stand-in for They Live, which would have been even better had Kurt been available.)

Anyway, Russel's performance is still widely considered the best performance as Elvis by fans and Elvis' circle of friends and family, several of whom participated as consultants, one (Charlie Hodge) even played himself. And Ronnie McDowell's vocal work basically cemented him as the go-to guy for nearly every TV movie for the next 15 or so years, even a short lived ABC series around 2000. He WAS good, but personally I got tired of hearing him on every soundtrack. One impersonator named Rick Saucedo who was around almost as early as Alan would have been a great alternative - just as good on the 70's material, and better on the 50's material. YouTube search his Hound Dog or C'mon Everybody and tell me he didn't nail it. Heck if he could act he should have played him once or twice; he couldn't have been worse than Don Johnson or most of the ohters. Anyway...

Geek out,

Hepcat B said...

Oh, footnote, Ronnie McDowel first acheived notice by putting out a tribute single VERY shortly after Elvis' death called The King is Gone. The original song hit the top 40. It's a trifling bit of treacle of course, but he did sound shockingly like 70's E., including in his spoken intro.