elvis presley

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Johnny Devlin: How Would Ya Be (Ode)

Johnny Devlin: How Would Ya Be (Ode)

I was too young to be swept up in the fervour surrounding Johnny Devlin, New Zealand's first shirt-rippin' stage-ragin' rock'n'roll star. But my older sister certainly had a Devlin EP -- sponsored by Coca-Cola as I recall -- which I later poured over. When I think about it though my sister was more into beatnik cool in the late 50s than...

Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (Mailboat/Rhythmethod)

Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (Mailboat/Rhythmethod)

I have had dinner and drinks at Jimmy's place a couple of times -- in truth at his franchise restaurants Margaritaville which offer a fish platter so huge I have had to take a photograph of it. Buffett is a businessman/pilot/sailor and singer whose lifestyle is enviable: in his world it is permanently sunny, boatshoes constitute dressing up,...

Various artists: Dreamboats and Petticoats (EMI)

Various artists: Dreamboats and Petticoats (EMI)

It's not hard to pull together a market-pleasing collection of early rock'n'roll hits (Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and so on). This Kiwi-compiled selection manages that but goes further across two discs and pulls in a democratic cross-section which includes some of the radio novelties of the...

Elvis' Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

Elvis' Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

Nobody in their right mind would want to follow Elvis' eating regime, but every once in a while maybe you should live like a King. This was one of his favourite recipes and I got it off an oven mitt I bought at Graceland. Sharing the secret! INGREDIENTS Two large bananas Six slices of white bread Half a cup of butter A cup of...

ELVIS PRESLEY, AN ESSAY ON THE MAN 15 YEARS GONE (1992): The once and future King

ELVIS PRESLEY, AN ESSAY ON THE MAN 15 YEARS GONE (1992): The once and future King

This year, 1992, Elvis Presley - the first and only king of rock’n’roll - has been gone 15 years, yet, ironically, he often seems more alive than ever these days. Living Colour may insist Elvis Is Dead and Public Enemy rightly rap, “Elvis was a hero to millions but he never meant shit to me.” But that is now - and...

BUBBA HO-TEP a film by DON COSCARELLI, 2002 (MAGNA PACIFIC DVD)

BUBBA HO-TEP a film by DON COSCARELLI, 2002 (MAGNA PACIFIC DVD)

Twentysomething years ago an amusing little book appeared, Elvis: The Novel. I don’t remember much of it, other than Elvis killing manager Tom Parker, and at one point an overweight Elvis is performing in Las Vegas when a very drunken John Lennon arrives and is appalled by his childhood hero reduced to waddling around singing old hits....

BUDDY HOLLY REMEMBERED 50 YEARS ON: His life, his wife, his legacy

BUDDY HOLLY REMEMBERED 50 YEARS ON: His life, his wife, his legacy

It was 50 years ago, on February 3 1959, that the tail-lights of the red four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza faded into gusty winds over the airport at Mason City in Iowa. Within minutes the single-engine plane had plummeted into the snow-covered cornfields of the thinly-populated countryside. And so it was that America woke up on February 4...

FIFTIES ROCK'N'ROLL; LOUD, FAST AND OUT OF CONTROL: Rock 101, The Originators

FIFTIES ROCK'N'ROLL; LOUD, FAST AND OUT OF CONTROL: Rock 101, The Originators

Billy Joel isn't usually cited in the Elsewhere world as an insightful reference, but his feisty We Didn't Start the Fire of the mid-Nineties was a brisk, rocking historical synopsis of our time (JFK, Chernobyl etc) which was referenced a little in Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues chant-poem of three decades previous. However,...

TODAY IN HISTORY: AUGUST 16 1977: The king is gone . . .

TODAY IN HISTORY: AUGUST 16 1977: The king is gone . . .

John Lennon was only half right when, on being told that Elvis Presley had died, said, "Elvis died when he went into the army". In part that was true: before his posting to Germany Elvis was the archetype for rock'n'roll; after the songs got soft and the Hollywood movies rolled out with increasingly dreary predictability. There...

LONDON ROCK AND ROLL SHOW 1972 (Rajon DVD)

LONDON ROCK AND ROLL SHOW 1972 (Rajon DVD)

What adjectives can you apply to this 80 minute concert film? Exciting, essential, hilarious, important, historic . . .?All of those, for sure. Since its heyday, rebellious and raw rock'n'roll of the Fifites has undergone periodic revivals (around the time of Lady Madonna, the early Seventies, late Seventies again with the Stray Cats...

SINISTER SONS AND DANGEROUS DAUGHTERS (Rocket/Triton DVD)

SINISTER SONS AND DANGEROUS DAUGHTERS (Rocket/Triton DVD)

Souped up and modified cars, teens running wild in the streets striking fear into the hearts of citizens, booze'n'dope, loud music their parents hate . . .  It could only be the Fifties, right? Anyone who thinks low-riders or boy racers smoking weed and playing pounding hip-hop on their car stereos are a new phenomenon need only look...

HOOKED: ANTI-DRUG FILMS FROM THE 30'S TO THE 70'S (Rocket/Triton DVD): Marijuana to murder in 15 minutes

HOOKED: ANTI-DRUG FILMS FROM THE 30'S TO THE 70'S (Rocket/Triton DVD): Marijuana to murder in 15 minutes

Every generation thinks it invents the same two things: swearing and sex. Equally, in the Western world at least, for the past century or so every generation gets the soundtrack it needs. And the drugs. Drug education is a fraught area (more so than movies about junkies or drugs) and the tendency has been to go for scare scenarios. No one in...

Various Artists: The History of Rhythm and Blues 1952-1957 (2010 collection)

Various Artists: The History of Rhythm and Blues 1952-1957 (2010 collection)

The first two volumes in this 4-CD series which traces the history of old style r'n'b have already been acclaimed at Elsewhere here and here respectively. These multi-genre, colour-blind, cross-label and highly inclusive collections not only cherry pick the most significant artists and songs in the growth of r'n'b but also intelligently...

WANDA JACKSON INTERVIEWED (2010): The 72-year old teenager

WANDA JACKSON INTERVIEWED (2010): The 72-year old teenager

As a teenager barely out of school, Wanda Jackson – “the sweet girl with the nasty voice” as she became known – toured with and dated Elvis Presley; scored minor hits with Mean Mean Man, Fujiyama Mama (big in Japan in '58) and her signature song, the larynx-tearing invitation Let's Have a Party in 1960....

Kay Starr: The Rock and Roll Waltz (1955)

Kay Starr: The Rock and Roll Waltz (1955)

Cheap Trick scored a lot of favourable press for their Surrender (see clip below) in which the kid wakes up to find mum and dad rocking and rolling (rolling numbers) and having his Kiss records out. If that song had a forefather it was perhaps this gimmicky and safer song by Kay Starr whose chart career had taken a bit of fall until she...

Various Artists: Roll Your Moneymaker, I Smell a Rat (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: Roll Your Moneymaker, I Smell a Rat (Trikont/Yellow Eye)

Subtitled “Early Black Rock'n'Roll” these two parallel volumes (Roll is 1948-58, Rat is 1949-59) pick up some classic, dirty, thrilling rock'n'roll from the time before and through the Elvis Presley years, but often sound much more scandalising and sexualised than even The King. So across these two discs – and you need...

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Known mostly these days as the writer of Blue Suede Shoes (he sang it before Elvis' chart-topping cover), Carl Perkins was the man who was the most hillbilly cat of them all in the early rock'n'roll era. Looking like a cadaver with his sunken cheeks, and a heroic drinker, the married Carl was the Hank Williams of rockabilly . . . and Sam...

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Return of Jerry Lee (1958)

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Return of Jerry Lee (1958)

When Jerry Lee Lewis arrived in Britain in May 1958 the rock'n'roll crown was his for the taking. He was the wildman at the piano with crazy stacked-up hair, had delivered seminal, sweat-inducing hits with Whole Lotta Shakin' and Great Balls of Fire, and he was repressed sex personified and unleashed. He may have been a country boy at heart...

Various Artists: Teach Me to Monkey (Vampisoul/Southbound)

Various Artists: Teach Me to Monkey (Vampisoul/Southbound)

Chris Kenner wasn't kidding when he wrote Land of 1000 Dances in '62 – which became a minor hit for Cannibal and the Headhunters, then the wicked Wilson Pickett and dozens of others. In the early 60s it seemed like America was kicking up a new dance craze – the Monkey, the Pony, the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Watusi...

Various Artists: All We Wanna do is Rock (Bear Family/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: All We Wanna do is Rock (Bear Family/Yellow Eye)

The great thing about Fifties rock'n'roll songs is they give you more bang for your buck -- this single disc from the German reissue label Bear Family (sort of Ryko-and-Rhino out of Hambergen) delivers 36 -- yep, count 'em, 36 -- tracks "carefully selected for moondogs and hepcats". There are many familiar names here for sure and a...

The King: Come As You Are (1998)

The King: Come As You Are (1998)

Although there aren't Elvis sighting in gas stations and supermarkets any more -- Presley would be in his late 70s -- there is still no shortage of lookalikes and impersonators around. While there seems no great call for Kurt Cobain and Mama Cass impersonators, those who swish their hair back and sneer a little seem to be always out there....

DOWN AT THE END OF LONELY STREET by PETER BROWN and PAT BROESKE: The rise and fall of the King

DOWN AT THE END OF LONELY STREET by PETER BROWN and PAT BROESKE: The rise and fall of the King

With the second volume of Peter Guralnick’s definitive two-part biography of Elvis, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley there would seem little reason to be interested in this more modest paperback subtitled with blunt literalism The Life and Death of Elvis Presley. However, Brown and Broeske have done their homework and...

Elvis Presley: Always on My Mind (1972)

Elvis Presley: Always on My Mind (1972)

Unlike the Beatles -- especially John Lennon and often George Harrison -- we rarely think of the Rolling Stones writing autobiographical songs, or lyrics which have come from some deep emotional place in their lives. And even less so with Elvis Presley who, after all, didn't write and would pick up anything from a Christmas carol to a raw...

The Erica Miller Experience: Reconsidered (Universal)

The Erica Miller Experience: Reconsidered (Universal)

Obviously there is a curiosity factor at work here: 63-year old Erica Miller is the woman Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits/Dimmer) calls "Mum" and so the album comes with acquired cachet in some circles. That it is also an album of covers of songs first recorded by Elvis and arrives on the anniversary of Presley's death adds...

Roy Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (1955)

Roy Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (1955)

The origins of some songs are lost, but often a definitive version will stand out. So it is with Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On which exists in the minds of most as the Jerry Lee Lewis hit in '57. Most would even think that Lewis wrote it. He didn't, although his whipped-up version is almost a different song than the one which existed...

Jerry Lee Lewis: Mean Old Man (Verve Forecast)

Jerry Lee Lewis: Mean Old Man (Verve Forecast)

In a You Tube comment someone said Jerry Lee looked a little rough for someone only 74 years old. In his defense -- he's actually 75 now -- they were pretty full years, especially in the late Fifties, and he wasn't called the Killer for nothing, the man gave it all on the night. And of course there were the tragic (and slightly mysterious,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Jim Jones Revue: Burning Your House Down (Liberator)

You really gotta love the JJ Revue who deliver hotrod rock'n'roll which draws from the Fifties (Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis) as filtered through the most wild and dissolute of Rod Stewart/Faces (or the Quireboys with more rocking honky-tonk blues in their soul) with the kind of trash energy of Grinderman. Produced by Jim Sclavunos (who...

Pat Boone: No More Mr Nice Guy (1997)

Pat Boone: No More Mr Nice Guy (1997)

When the cleanest white-bread rock'n'roll singer of the late Fifties sings "no more Mr Nice Guy, no more Mr Clean" you know he's well in on the joke -- and that if you bought the album this came from (In a Metal Mood) then the joke was on you. First, they might have been hard rock songs he was covering (Smoke on the Water with...

PAT BOONE INTERVIEWED (1995): Still the same Mr Nice Guy

PAT BOONE INTERVIEWED (1995): Still the same Mr Nice Guy

If conventional wisdom and the rock'n'roll history books are to be believed, Pat Boone was one of the villains - simply because he was so nice. He was the square when his contemporaries were the sneering, hip-swinging Elvis, the outrageous Little Richard and the adult, knowing Chuck Berry. Boone – who turned down a film role...

Various Artists: Viva Elvis, The Album (Sony)

Various Artists: Viva Elvis, The Album (Sony)

Let's be very clear here, this astonishingly awful album has very little to do with Elvis Presley -- the man, as these people have forgotten, who recalibrated popular music and culture. This has a whole lot to do with a Cirque du Soleil show which sampled Elvis' vocals and then pasted them over backings which, in most instancers, sound like...

Eden Kane: Boys Cry (1964)

Eden Kane: Boys Cry (1964)

When Peter Sarstedt had his smash hit single Where Do You Go To My Lovely? in '69 some unfairly asked . . . where did his brother Richard go? Richard, who used the stage name Eden Kane, had enjoyed some chart success in those pre-Beatle days (hence the name change, he was in there with Adam Faith, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury et al) but had...

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original Wanda Jackson get some serious attention. Expect then for rockabilly -- the up-tempo white country-based music which was a precursor to rock'n'roll in...

Jimmie John: Solid Rock (1959)

Jimmie John: Solid Rock (1959)

Rockabilly is a genre that seems to enjoy the fact that it doesn't change or grow, develop or move too far from a simple template of a backbeat and the invitation to dance. It is shamelessly self-referential (in truth it just borrows or steals from itself) and back in the early Fifties when it emerged it didn't take it too long to establish...

Elvis Wade: Professional Lovemaker (1977)

Elvis Wade: Professional Lovemaker (1977)

In an alternate lifetime, singer Wade Cummings could have been Elvis Presley, the man he resembled and came to impersonate. He was born into a poor but musical family in rural Tennessee (his dad a moonshiner) and he was the youngest of nine children. That's the kind of almost mythical backstory we like in our rock stars. As a kid he saw...

Unknown artist: The Spelling on the Stone (1989)

Unknown artist: The Spelling on the Stone (1989)

Of the innumerable "Elvis is Alive" hoaxes, this song has to count as having one of the best/funniest back-stories. So let's get this right: Elvis wanted you to believe he was just pretending to be dead . . . but he really wanted you to know he was alive by singing this song? That just like, sooooo, doesn't work. Right? ...

ELVIS, a film by JOHN CARPENTER (Shout/Shock DVD)

ELVIS, a film by JOHN CARPENTER (Shout/Shock DVD)

The lives of musicians (The Jazz Singer, The Glenn Miller Story, Till the Clouds Roll in 1946 about Jerome Kern) were an early fascination for film makers -- but most bio-flicks skirted lightly around any failings the central character may have had. This 1979 film, two years after the death of its subject, didn't exactly dig deep in...

WANDA JACKSON INTERVIEWED (2011): Still ready to have a party

WANDA JACKSON INTERVIEWED (2011): Still ready to have a party

Wanda Jackson – at 73 – has had a number of careers: in the Fifties she was a rockabilly star and touring with (and dating) Elvis Presley while delivering belters like Fujiyama Mama and the classic throat-tearer Let's Have a Party; in the Sixties she went back to her country roots as rock'n'roll faded; by the Seventies she had...

Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over (Third Man)

Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over (Third Man)

The first Jack White-produced single from this album -- a shuddering Shakin' All Over and a discreetly revised version of Amy Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good -- were hints that White wasn't going to simply reheat the career of this 73-year old rockabilly star with some rock'n'roll nostalgia. In an interview with Elsewhere for this album...

Bill Haley and His Comets: Oriental Rock (1958)

Bill Haley and His Comets: Oriental Rock (1958)

There are a few views of rock'n'roll pioneer Bill Haley whose Rock Around the Clock provided the revolutionary soundtrack to the '55 Glenn Ford movie Blackboard Jungle: that he was the rebel voice of a post-war generation . . . or that he was the accidental John the Baptist to Elvis' rock'n'roll Jesus. There is the view that Haley -- who...

LaVern Baker: Voodoo Voodoo (1961)

LaVern Baker: Voodoo Voodoo (1961)

The sudden revival of Wanda Jackson's career - courtesy of Jack White and the album The Party Ain't Over in early 2011 -- has singled her out as a great female rock'n'roller at a time (the late Fifties) when she was out there on her own amongst all the boys. Not exactly true. There was also -- albeit briefly -- Janis Martin (whose...

Peter Lewis and the Trisonic: Four City Rock (1960)

Peter Lewis and the Trisonic: Four City Rock (1960)

Outside of folk songs (eg this droll one), New Zealand has had no great history of name-checking local places in rock music. But back in 1959 Jack Urlwin of the Christchurch label Peak scribbled down some words and handed them to young singer Peter Lewis and his guitarist Pat Nihonihoni. The scribble didn't have a title but they were words...

JUSTIN BIEBER: TEEN IDOL, a doco by MAUREEN GOLDTHORPE

JUSTIN BIEBER: TEEN IDOL, a doco by MAUREEN GOLDTHORPE

When Justin Bieber seemingly appeared out of nowhere to the soundtrack of cute r'n'b pop and screaming girls, people who should have known better -- especially those media commentators who had been there for Beatlemania in their own youth -- just seemed idiotic in their damning and condescending comments. They came off as more silly than...

ELVIS PRESLEY (2007): Merchandising, marketing and maybe some music?

ELVIS PRESLEY (2007): Merchandising, marketing and maybe some music?

So Elvis is back in the building? That’s the impression we must draw on the 30th anniversary of his death with the announcement of plans to expand the visitor’s centre in Memphis. As part of some grand design the current centre will be bowled and a new one -- seven times the size of his home of Graceland across the road -- will be...

ELVIS PRESLEY, UNVEILED BY ROBERT GORDON (2002): The King inside his fragile Kingdom

ELVIS PRESLEY, UNVEILED BY ROBERT GORDON (2002): The King inside his fragile Kingdom

The young man was very much in love, but uncertain whether she loved him any more. He had been in the American army in Germany for more than a year and she was home in Memphis. So he poured his heart out in a letter and addressed his doubts. "I have had feelings that in the last few months something has happened as far as you're...

Jimmy Patton: Okies in the Pokey (1959)

Jimmy Patton: Okies in the Pokey (1959)

Jimmy Patton (1931-89) was never really a rockabilly singer although this, his biggest hit, was certainly a rave-up in that style. But Patton's heart had always been in hillbilly country, right up until Elvis came along. Like so many others he grabbed a backbeat and made the shift sideways into rock'n'roll, and specifically the rockabilly...

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

Cleveland, Ohio has a formidable reputation as a rock'n'roll city -- today it is the home of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- but you'd have to guess there was more to it than just that old adage about "something in the water". Back in the Fifties there, as everywhere, the emerging musical culture was fed by radio,...

Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

It's entirely possible Chubby Chcker knew his time was up when Parkway released his album Twist with Chubby Checker. On the back cover he looks alarmed. Maybe he'd seen the inner sleeve where five other of his Twist albums were advertised -- Your Twist Party with the King of Twist Chubby Checker, Don't Knock the Twist, Let's Twist Again, For...

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, THE TRACKS BOX SET (1998): The creation, rise and redemption of the Boss

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, THE TRACKS BOX SET (1998): The creation, rise and redemption of the Boss

For Bruce Springsteen -- born in the unpromisingly named town of Freehold, New Jersey, in the promised land of America -- rock 'n' roll was the redemptive force which delivered him from his working-class existence in the "20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift" world Bob Dylan once sang of. Springsteen is a Horatio...

TEN SONGS WHICH CONJURE UP A MYTHICAL PACIFIC: From Blue Hawaii to the mean streets of urban Auckland

TEN SONGS WHICH CONJURE UP A MYTHICAL PACIFIC: From Blue Hawaii to the mean streets of urban Auckland

Auckland, the city with the largest Polynesian population in the world, has an annual Pasifika Festival to celebrate this cultural diversity. But the songs picked here conjure up a mythical Pacific, the one of palm trees waving in the wind on a white sand beach, waves lapping on the side of the outrigger, lands where beautiful maidens and...

JERRY LEE LEWIS, THE LEAN YEARS 1965-69; The singer not the song

JERRY LEE LEWIS, THE LEAN YEARS 1965-69; The singer not the song

Given the amount of death and damnation which has attended Jerry Lee Lewis' life, it seems remarkable that in 2012 -- at age 76 -- he is still with us. He has seen off wives, children, cousins, friends, the FBI, prison sentences, more liquor and amphetamines than we can imagine, honkytonk nights, rivals like Elvis . . . And he's still here....

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

The cliche and joke about Nashville, the country music capital of the world, is that every bus driver, real estate agent, waitress and desk clerk is an aspiring songwriter. Spend more than a minute in their company and they will be pressing their demo tape on you just in case you can be useful to their career. I'm not sure what Roger thought...

Holly Springs, Mississippi: A Little Less Conversation

Holly Springs, Mississippi: A Little Less Conversation

Holly Springs in north Mississippi has some interesting historic attractions. Probably. I wouldn't know. I didn't bother looking for them. Holly Springs is a bit out of the way even if you happen to be in the state, but this picturesque town -- which apparently changed hands 62 times during the Civil War -- is a useful midpoint on...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Elvis Presley; The 1950s

THE BARGAIN BUY: Elvis Presley; The 1950s

With songs from the rock'n'roll era coming out of copyright and record companies shoving out old catalogue as CD sales decline further, you can expect to see many more collections like this. In fact this four CD collection (48 songs which might have actually fitted on a double disc) is subtitled The Box Set Series, and that self-same imprint...

Elvis Presley, The Memphis Record (1969)

Elvis Presley, The Memphis Record (1969)

The consensus on Elvis Presley's genius among rock critics settles on two periods: his Sun Studio days in the mid 50s when he fused black blues and white country, and his famous '68 television special when he appeared wrapped in leathers for a menacing and sweaty performance which proved, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he still...

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