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The Fifty Voices of Elvis Presley

By: Jim Burrows
Source: Elvis Australia
June 9, 2012 - 5:51:52 PM
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David Troedson : The concept of Elvis' multiple sounding vocals came to me some months ago, I formed the opinion that if you were to play the appropriate selection of songs to someone unfamiliar with Elvis Presleys recordings in any depth there would be a good chance they would not identify all the songs as being from the same singer. Now I have never got around to testing this, nor putting my fingers to the computer keyboard, it seemed a daunting task, but would you believe it, I have come across an article written in 2008 that reflects this exact same belief. Now I do not know who the author is, the name listed is 'Jim Burrows' and with the internet who knows? But he does list his country as Nicaragua. So on to the article.

The Fifty Voices of Elvis Presley

'Elvis' lowest effective note was a low-G, as heard on 'He'll Have To Go' (1976); on 'King Creole' (1958), he growls some low-F's; going up, his highest full-voiced notes were the high-B's in 'Surrender' (1961) and 'Merry Christmas Baby' (1971), the high-G at the end of 'My Way' (1976 live version), and the high-A of 'An American Trilogy' (1972); using falsetto, Elvis could reach at least a high-E, e.g, as in 'Unchained Melody' (1977), so, it was very nearly a three-octave range, although more practically two-and-a-half'.

No wonder Elvis is responsible for the sale of so many records, for who could do that, by sounding the same.

I've found that Presley gave us, in his twenty three year career, about fifty voices, from the bottom to the top registries. Incidentally, there is no trend, chronologically, as to why this was possible.

In other words, Elvis Presley could go to the bottom, then to the top, not just within the same recording session, but within a song, actually. It has little to to do with his aging process and a lot to do with, on the one hand, his having a highly unusual center of gravity, on the vocal registry side and, on the other, his endless search and willingness to sing better, as his career progressed.

So different are Elvis' voices, that if one could find a person who has never heard an Elvis Presley recording, and you put him, or her, on an island, then had that person listen to these fifty songs, mixed with say, those of 12 other distinctive singers, and then you then ask him or her, to classify them, to separate the singers, I could bet a million dollars that the person would never say that there are 13 singers, as would be the case, but at least 25. So below the titles of 50 Elvis Presley renditions yielding as many different voices.

The following list is from the lower, to the higher registries.

Low

He'll Have To Go (1976)
King Creole (1958)
Blue Moon (1954)
Baby, Let's Play House (1955)
Anyway You Want Me (That's How I Will Be) (1956)

Low To Middle

Lawdy Miss Clawdy (1956)
Such A Night (1960)
It Hurts Me (1964)
There's Always Me (1961)
Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
If I Can Dream (1968)
Miracle Of The Rosary (1971)
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (1956)
Milky White Way (1961)
Hard Headed Woman (1958)
Don't Be Cruel (1956)
Treat Me Nice (1957)
One-sided Love Affair (1956)
Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Middle To High

Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1960)
Guitar Man (1968)
Got A Lot O' Living To Do (1957)
Anyplace Is Paradise (1956)
Mystery Train (1955)
Milkcow Blues Boogie (1954)
Wearin' That Loved On Look (1969)
Any Day Now (1969)
In The Ghetto (1969)
Hound Dog (1956)
My Baby Left Me (1956)
Stranger In My Own Home Town (1969)
An American Trilogy (1972)
It's Impossible (1972)
I Need You So (1957)
Money Honey (1956)
I Believe In The Man In The Sky (1960)
Suspicious Minds (1969)

Highest

It's Now Or Never (1960)
Hurt (1976)
Trying To Get To You (1955)
Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Burning Love (1972)
Promised Land (1975)
A Big Hunk O' Love (1958)
That's All Right Mama (1954)
How Great Thou Art (1976)

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Readers Comments

I introduced my grandson to Elvis Presley songs by way of the cassette 'Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 4' which includes When It Rains, It Really Pours; One Night; I'm Beginning to Forget You; Mona Lisa; Plantation Rock; Swing Down Sweet Chariot; The Lady Loves Me; Wooden Heart; That's All Right; Are You Lonesome Tonight?; Reconsider Baby; and I'll Remember You. Even at age 9 my grandson had a good ear. With great surprise he blurted, 'You mean that's all the same guy?' From Kathleen L : United States.

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Elvis was a genius. He didn't express himself the way the middle classes do, which is with word play and being able to explain his actions and reactions. He acted on gut instinct and expressed himself by the way he held the microphone, by the way he moved his hips, by the way that he sang down the microphone. That was his genius ... I believe the essence of any performer is gut instinct ... Because it's all in you, it's instinct.



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