Music Stunt 2009

Stunt 2009: Week 4 – Elvis Presley

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

I’m a little bit torn. Should I be evaluating these songs, or should I just be evaluating Elvis Presley’s contribution to them?

This week, Lady P has helpfully generated a Spotify playlist so that you can listen along. If you use Spotify. Which I don’t.

1. **Lawdy Miss Clawdy** from Elvis Presley – only two minutes long, but after a minute of listening to this song you’ve already absorbed everything that it has to offer. It’s catchy, but shallow. I think that this song must be quite an early Elvis song, as his trademark vocal style is totally absent. It reminds me of the demo version of “Live Forever” where Liam Gallagher’s voice doesn’t sound like a sack of gravel down a blackboard.

2. **Mystery Train** from Elvis At Sun – Probably a bit better than last week’s version, but I still don’t find it terribly interesting.

3. **Long Black Limousine** from From Elvis In Memphis – I love the sentiment behind this song, the story that it tells. Nice gospel choir too. But I hate that the bass and drums have been panned hard right. I know that back then, nobody really thought that anybody would be listening to these songs through headphones, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable to listen to.

4. **His Latest Flame** from No1s – This song has been in my head quite a lot this week, but not in an annoying way. Which is quite a compliment, if you think about it.

5. **Tomorrow Is A Long Time** from Tomorrow Is A Long Time – A rather dull ballad which doesn’t have any kind of development or dynamic.

6. **Good Rocking Tonight** from Elvis At Sun – almost as brain-dead as your average song about cars. If you just wanted something to dance to then it would probably be fine, but it doesn’t bear up to any level of scrutiny.

7. **I’m Leavin’** from Burning Love – I wouldn’t say that it’s my kind of song, but I can appreciate what went into it.

8. **In The Ghetto** from From Elvis In Memphis – I wish I knew how I felt about this song. It’s a “protest” song, of sorts, and they fill me with such conflicting sentiments. On the one hand, I hate being pontificated at by a wealthy pop singer. But on the other hand, if you feel strongly about something, why should you stay silent? Anyway, leaving all that guff aside, good song. Though the bass guitar has been panned hard right again. Stop that shit.

9. **Heartbreak Hotel** from No1s – magnificent song, it’s ever so satisfying to listen to a song that’s barely over two minutes, and justifies every single second of it.

10. **One Night** from No1s – not really fussed about the song, but the vocal performance is exceptional. There’s a non-zero quantity of DaveGrohlishness in there, dare I say it.

So, in conclusion: it’s improving, and I’m grateful of the opportunity to sample some Elvis. I’m wondering if my enjoyment of these playlists is being impaired by the fact that I’m listening to them with an ear to reviewing them later. I’ve always felt that most things are spoiled by over-analysing. What can I do?

The next week’s playlist

Random number: 341
Two options, random selection is the second – Sly Stone. The book says:

> The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Temptations and James Brown may have had more hits, but no-one epitomized the late 1960s/early 70s more than Sly & the Family Stone. While other bands paid lip service to such 1960s ideals as racial integration, sexual equality and fighting the establishment, the erstwhile Sylvester Stewart and his clan of brothers, sisters and ofays put the rhetoric into practice with some of the most radical, perfectly crafted, galvanizing music ever.

5 replies on “Stunt 2009: Week 4 – Elvis Presley”

The hard-panning thing is very odd through headphones (it’s pretty odd even through speakers). But for some reason, it sounds ok on Beatles records. Thoughts?

I assume that the hard-panning wasn’t so much of an artistic decision as a “Hey! Mum! Look! I’m in stereo! I’m over here! Now I’m over here!” thing. There’s also the argument that early technology didn’t have the capability to place tracks precisely in the stereo image – you had the choice between left, right, or both.

But for some reason, it sounds ok on Beatles records. Thoughts?

If I had some Beatles songs on my mp3 player right now, I’d put my earphones in and give you my thoughts. But I don’t, so all I’ll say is that the Beatles hold a coveted position in the history of music which means that people hold them to different standards. Lots of things sound ok on Beatles records that would be unforgivable elsewhere because, hey, it’s the fucking Beatles, okay?

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