Friday, 8 November 2013

"The Nation’s Favourite Elvis Song" is on ITV tonight at 9PM - if it's "The Wonder of You", I'm committing suicide

I’ll be watching, but I'm not expecting a sensible result. My own top ten would probably contain six of Elvis's greatest Sun sides: "Mystery Train", "Baby Let’s Play House", That’s Alright Mama", "Blue Moon of Kentucky", "Good Rockin’ Tonight" and "Trying to Get to You". But if I left out all of those in order to concentrate on the rest of his career, my top ten would look more like this:

1. "Jailhouse Rock" (his greatest straight rock ‘n’ roll – as opposed to rockabilly – performance)

2. "I Got Stung" (because it’s funny)

3. "Big Hunk of Love" (as raucous and aggressive as rock ‘n’ roll got)

4. "Little Sister" (that Hank Garland guitar riff - lordy!)

5. "His Latest Flame" (though when I was nine I couldn’t figure out how Elvis could ever lose a girlfriend)

6. "If I Can Dream" (his TV Comeback Special rendition is probably The King’s finest-ever vocal performance)

7. "Return to Sender" (ruthlessly professional pop outing)

8. "Don’t Be Cruel" (The King’s personal favourite – who am I to argue?)

9. "My Baby Left Me" (sounds like a Sun track, but was recorded in New York in January 1956)

10. "Heartbreak Hotel" (how very weird this must have sounded back in 1956)

The next ten:

11. "All Shook Up" (the debate over what exactly a “fuzzy tree” might be still rages)

12. "Bossa Nova Baby" (excellent cover of the witty Leiber and Stoller-penned Clovers classic)

13. "American Trilogy" (yes, it’s ridiculously overblown, but it always gets to me – probably because he meant it)

14. "I Feel So Bad" (lovely, yearning vocal)

15. "Guitar Man" (triumphant 1967 return to form on this version of a Jerry Reed composition – they had to ask Jerry reed along to play the guitar part, because even the legendary James Burton couldn't nail it: the disgusting 1981 remix, which was a much bigger hit than the original, is to be avoided at all costs, and those responsible should be hunted down and executed)

16. "I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water" (band on top form, and you can hear Elvis's enjoyment of their performance in his voice)

17. "One Night" (what a great, rasping bluesman he was - this cover of a Smiley Lewis original was sensational, and decidely dirty for the time)

18. "Such a Night" (bouncy pop perfection from the 1960 Elvis is Back LP)

19. "Gonna Get Back Home Somehow" (terrific, moody rocker from the excellent Pot Luck album, which also contains “Suspicion” and “Night Rider”)

20. "Follow That Dream" (for sentimental reasons)


  1. I think it may be 'American Trilogy.'

    1. I suspect an American audience might have voted for it, but it only managed 15th here

  2. ZZ Top can't be wrong:'Viva Las Vegas' at number 6 or 7.

    1. Only managed 17th - which surprised me

  3. No surprises by the Great British Public.'Always On My Mind' one felt all along would win,either that or another smaltzy number.ZZ Tops 'Viva Las Vegas'(forgive me Elvis for I have sinned) helped by the witty video is as good as The King's version.

    1. Inevitably, the top three songs - Always on My Mind, Can't Help Falling in Love and Suspicions Minds - have all been hits for other artists, which is probably why they ended up on top. Elvis does a good job on "Always on My Mind", but I've always hated the phony, self-serving sentiments - there's no point in someone always being on your mind if you can't be arsed to show her that she is.

      As for Viva Las Vegas, I share your guilt - I prefer Bruce Springsteen's mighty live version - and I'm not even a Springsteen fan!

      The Wonder of You came in at 11 - everyone who voted for it should have their television licence revoked.

  4. Guilt-I felt like Judas everytime I disowned his sequined Las Vegas period,
    and feel like a schmuck for leaving the 'h' out of shmaltz.

    1. It was the ridiculous little cape I couldn't stand.

  5. It's a good rule of thumb that almost anything he did after 1959 is on a journey to Parkerville, that elusive nirvana of highly paid family entertainment where the phoney Colonel hoped that Elvis's appeal would live beyond the temporary diversion down the Rock and Roll cul de sac, and therefore should be marked "Listen but expect to be disappointed". I am surprised none of your correspondents made a pitch for songs from Clambake or for Elvis's version of Old Macdonald's Farm. I really don't get most of the late period, particularly "American Trilogy". I'll make an honorary exception for "In the Ghetto". Neither of them is worthy to sit alongside "I got stung".

    1. Next you'll be telling us you don't like the 1963 classic "No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car" from Fun in Acapulco!

      The best thing Elvis did in the '60s was to tell Parker what to do with his cigar when the old huckster tried to turn his Comeback Special into a TV version of all those crappy films.

  6. ex-KCS,I think most of the correspondents were for a brief mawkish minute trying out the shoes of the British public,and trying to come up with what the great unwashed would come up with-and they were true to form.I agree with you,but put it slightly another way:Everything he did before 1959 was blessed with the true hand of rock n roll,oh alright with some country and western influence too.

  7. ex-kcs.By the way nice to see you back.

  8. I totally agree, Anonymous. I still find the Sun recordings thrilling as well as subversive. They were never bettered.