Elvis Presley – [Box Set]

Friday, 23 August 2013

It's funny how, as time has passed, the public's perception of Elvis Presley has changed. Outside of the singer's most devout supporters (of which there continue to be a staggering number), everyone knows Elvis as the hip-swingin' King of Rock n' Roll first, and then as a fried banana sandwich-eating, pasty, bloated codfish at the end of his life. There's no question that both of those images are historically appropriate, but that they're the only two that the average Joe on the street can call to mind does the singer a significant disservice. Condensing a twenty-year career down to just two images is maddeningly simplistic.

Part of the reason that those two images are the most readily accessible for many people is because, midway through his career, Elvis was releasing a lot of records with a lot of different sounds on them – so many, in fact, that his artistic development got really difficult to chart. Because of the way his contract with RCA was written and due to the fact that the number of records which bore his name was so great, fans never knew what to expect next. It was (in part) because of that sort of business that, at the age of thirty-eight, Elvis Presley took control of his own life and livelihood. The singer sold his pre-1973 catalogue (all of it) to RCA, secured a new, seven-year contract and started a new publishing company; for the first time in a long time, Elvis would be able to do whatever he chose.

Even now, Elvis' Stax period remains a fantastic one in the singer's catalogue (for those who know to look for it) but Legacy has sweetened the deal by taking all the leg- and looking work away for listeners, and assembled a fantastic, in-depth look into the time period with the Elvis At Stax set. Here, listeners might be surprised at how light and fun the music is (more on that later) as well as how focused Presley could be when the tape would begin rolling.

The upbeat and happy air of the sessions is apparent most obviously on the demo discs in this set. Before the songs really start playing, the tape is already rolling and listeners will get to hear just how personable and funny Elvis could be as he shares laughs with bandmembers and back-up singers before they get into takes of “I Got A Feeling In My Body,” “Find Out What's Happening” and a simply awesome tale of “Promised Land” (on disc one) but, as soon as the wheels start whirring, the singer is right on top of the vocal cues and sounding as though he's really feeling the music when he has to start singing. Because of that presentation, the demos are loose but poignant and really live up to the TCB mindset that Elvis was promoting at the time; there is a power and force in the performances here – even though it's just the demos for a record which would end up coming out in 1975 (Promised Land). Anyone listening will be able to recognize and respect that.

Because listeners can monitor the progress and development of the songs from the demo tapes through the masters and then ultimately to the finished product of Promised Land, there is no complaint with the Elvis At Stax set that anyone could have which might hold water. Incredible care was taken to present this period in the singer's career here. The image this set presents is true to history and takes care to make sure that listeners get the most complete portrait possible; the results are fantastic and awe-inspiring..



The Elvis At Stax box set is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.