Saturday, 12 July 2014

The two best Elvis sound-alike records ever released


When I heard that song the other day, I assumed it was some Presley classic from the early '60s which I'd somehow overlooked. Turns out it was written and recorded by a Georgia-born singer called Marvin Benefield in 1962 under the alias Vince Everett, which you no doubt recall was the name of the sulky-bad-boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks character played by Elvis in Jailhouse Rock. According to the On the Record blog (here), the backing vocals were supplied by The Jordanaires, the same singers Elvis himself regularly used, and Marvin claimed that his session musicians included Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens, Floyd Cramer and Boots Randolph, which would explain how they managed to match the quality of musicianship heard on such early '60s Elvis LPs as Elvis Is Back!, Pot Luck, and Something for Everybody.  

What's truly remarkable about "Don't Go" is that it wasn't even the A-side. That was a spookily accurate recreation of "Such a Night", the Drifters number already recorded and released by Elvis on Elvis Is Back! in 1960 (and subsequently released as a single in 1964). "Such a Night" is my second-best Elvis soundalike record of all time. Okay, Everett's voice is lighter than Presley's, but I reckon you'd have to be concentrating very hard to tell the difference:


I suspect that the later Elvis's deeper, vibrato-laden voice is easier to imitate - mainly because he began to sound like a parody of himself towards the end. Nevertheless, I enjoy Irish singer James Brown's take on how Elvis might have sounded tackling some famous songs he never got around around to recording. Here - recorded as The King - is one that was around during Elvis's lifetime and which he really should have tackled: 


I'll leave you with the slightly surreal experience of Brown channeling Elvis channeling Nirvana:


13 comments:

  1. The canned production on Sweet Home Alabama is giving me heartburn...it sounds just like a promotional song used by a local minor league baseball team.

    These are great though...who doesn't love Elvis impersonators.

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  2. Such a Night - indistinguishable. Well done Mr Gronmark for digging out such nuggets. I'm guessing but I assume Elvis is the most impersonated artiste ever.
    Sad that Pickettywitch ('That Same Old Feeling', 1970, fronted by the delightful, saucer-eyed Polly Brown) has no such following.
    I can't hear that tune without smiling and singing along - it may have to be one of my Desert Islands Discs - sad, but true.
    YouTube, I am sure, will supply a cheerful recording.

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    1. I expect you're right about Elvis - but a Norewgian cousin of mine was married to a dentist who has since retired and spends his time doing Frank Sinatra impressions at local venues. I'm relieved to say that I have never witnessed one of his performances.

      I've just found the Pickettywich song on YouTube and really wish I hadn't. That's not just sad, Riley - it's utterly tragic. But I salute your courage in being so honest. Are there any other terrible secrets you'd like to share with us? Are you a Freddy and the Dreamers fan? Herman's Hermits? Bobby Crush???Richard Claydermann???? What were yout taking back then?

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  3. Don't take it personally, Riley. I once offered Gronners the chance to expand his horizons a bit by recommending to him a tune by the excellent Prefab Sprout and got a similar trashing. Same Old Feeling is a catchy, uncomplicated pop song. There will always be a place for those. I am not sure that a desert island is one of them but to each his own.

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  4. Gentlemen: Pickettywitch? Tragic? Some way from that Glam Rock crap we had to endure. Whilst I am baring my soul I will admit that my musical compendium does contain LPs by John Denver, Leo Sayer and The Corgis. There must have been good reasons for buying them in the first place but for the life of me.....I daresay Wimbledon High School gals may have been at the root of it.
    I am pleased to report that none of my relatives has ever embraced Karaoke as a raison d'etre but as a huge fan of Frank Sinatra....if I could croon...

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    1. Glam Rock crap? T Rex, Roxy Music, Sweet, Mud, Susi Qatro and (don't tell anyone - this will be our little secret) Gary Glitter - "Hellraiser", "Rock 'n' Roill Part 2", "Devil Gate Drive", "Tiger Feet", "Get It On"... Glorious stuff. And this from a man who OWNS A JOHN DENVER LP??? (You are forgiven for being brave enough to admit - I will admit to once owning a Peters and Lee album, although, in self defence, I'm not sure how it got into my possession - I'm not sure I've ever admitted that to anyone - and okay I'll admit to rather enjoying Leo Sayer's first two singles, but that's all you're getting out of me.

      My insistence on playing Creedence Clearwater and Little Richard albums to girls might account for my lack of success with the opposite sex until I realised Simon Garfunkel and James Taylor were a much better bet.

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  5. The good reason for buying the Korgis LP might be because it included "Everybody has to learn sometime", another good pop song which no doubt the Blog Supremo will shortly regret having listened to. However, I am not sure that in this instance you can blame the Wimbledon High School gals unless you were still hanging around there when the song came out in 1980.

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    1. I have now listened to it - and , yes, I now am filled with cosmic quantities of regret.

      FFS, as I believe the young folk say.

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  6. 1980? No, I wasn't waiting outside the High School gates then, crikey, I was, 28 years old, but those gals still had, and indeed still have, a huge influence on my life. Actually, I'll dig out the Korgis LP and listen again to that song - you're right, it was v good.
    I'm somewhat intrigued to know your true identity....

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    1. I know the masked man's identity, Riley - and I will be tempted to reveal it should he ever again mention Prefab Fucking Sprout.

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    2. Never heard of them.

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  7. Mud, Sweet, Suzi Quattro - all ghastly, noisy, yelling, stamping crap although I have to acknowledge the catchy tunes of the impish Marc Bolan.
    Gronmark - you're right, when it comes to seduction James Taylor and Paul Simon should always be on the turntable, as should Carly Simon and Carole King - even Neil Young at a pinch.
    While rummaging through my rather dusty stack of LPs
    I did come across a record by Barry Manilow. It took a while for the remaining grey cells to work out why it was there: a then girlfriend had a cousin who was a song-writer and Manilow recorded one of his ditties. So, Peters and Lee? Any such reasonable explanation?

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  8. There are a number of plausible theories as to why a Peters and Lee LP found its way into the Gronmark collection. One possibility is that, confused by Lennie's sunglasses on the cover, he thought he was buying a Ray Charles LP - an easy mistake to make. Another is that purchasing the LP meant that he wouldn't have to sit through the whole of the Mike and Bernie Winters show waiting for the P and L guest spot. However, I think it more likely that, like James Taylor, it was purchased to appeal to females, along the lines of: "Make yourself comfortable. I'm just going to change into my smoking jacket. Help yourself to a Babycham. Have you heard Welcome Home by Peters and Lee? It moves me, representing as it does all the domestic comforts that I hope one day to share with that special person in my life."

    OK. As confession is good for the soul, I'll admit to having bought a couple of Leonard Cohen LPs for exactly the same reason. Funny thing is that about 30 years later, Laughing Len produced some cracking CDs -The Future for example - which I am proud to own up to. Discretion prevents me from commenting on the success or otherwise of the ploy.

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