Elvis Presley - 30 Years On and Still The King
It is also 30 years since I first heard his name.
I was on a small island, Coochie Mudlo, in Queensland. My grandmother mentioned the news. The news meant little to me as I had never heard the name before.
Within weeks of Elvis' death on August 16 1977, there were eleven Elvis Presley albums simultaneously in the Australian top 100 Albums chart.
On the week of September 5 there were the 11 Elvis albums in the top 100.
The new release, Moody Blue was #8, Rock 'N' On #43, Rock 'N' On Vol. 2 #47, Elvis In The 70's #54, Welcome To My World #58, Blue Hawaii #68, G.I. Blues #72, The Elvis Tapes #80, Elvis' Golden Records Vol.1 #82, A Legendary performer Vol.2 #87 and Elvis In Demand #89.
I can recall each January 8 and August 16 for a few years the radio stations in Melbourne playing his music nonstop for 24 hours and the newspapers always had a commemorative poster.
This is really when I got hooked. I can remember having the radio on all day and staying close to listen to each new sound. Songs I had never heard before.
Up until this time I had been listening to The Eagles and Australia's Little River Band but It was not long before I got my first Elvis record, Roustabout. I can still clearly recall playing that over and over again for months. It was a little un-cool to like Elvis but that didn't bother me. (Well it did a bit)
This Is Elvis was released at the cinema in Australia in 1982. I turned 18 on August 12 of that year, got my drivers licence the same day and drove into the city the next night to see the film. I don't recall a lot, but I did love it. I still have the ticket stub (right) - I remember more driving home in the dark, not easy on your first day behind the wheel. Although flawed by the silly impersonation sequences - to this day no documentary has been released that is as good as 'This Is Elvis'.
With the film came the This is Elvis double LP soundtrack which just made the charts peaking at #84. I purchased this set along with the albums Rock 'n On, and Rock 'n On Volume 2. Later in the year the double LP All The Best was released, reaching a peak of #17 on the charts.
Along with the three previously mentioned albums, This is Elvis was a favorite of mine.
There were 4 sets released over several years with the last set unintentionally ending at 1970 - The next volume was never released - I think the introduction of CD stopped the series being completed. A shame really but I later appreciated the better quality of the 50s, 60's and 70s masters box sets.
In 1984 came Elvis Blue - A collection of songs with blue in the title - and released on blue vinyl. It reached #6 on the Australian charts. A real collector's item today.
Also in 1984 I discovered the Elvis Aron Presley - Silver Anniversary 8 LP box set in a record shop in Sydney's Macquarie shopping centre. This was released in 1980 but I did not know this at the time (Later I subscribed to Elvis Monthly and was better informed). I could not believe what I heard - the version of Unchained Melody in this set is still my favorite Elvis performance today. And the soundboard concert was just a delight. At the time it was unheard of to have a new Elvis concert to listen too. Before this concert wise, we had Madison Square Garden, Aloha From Hawaii, Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis and the Elvis in Concert soundtrack. That was it.
In 1986 I purchased my first CD player. My first CD was Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love. There were no Elvis CDs available in store. However I was able to order Elvis' Gold Records Volume 5.
For the 10th anniversary in 1987, Words And Music was released. (It reached #8 on the album chart) I can recall walking through a shopping centre in St Ives NSW and being stunned by the display of Elvis at the front of the Brashs music shop. I purchased a cassette tape - being on holidays this was the easiest. There was something wrong with the tape; I think it was in backwards so I had to exchange it.
I loved the format, using Elvis talking between the songs. Later I purchased the CD.
In 1991 Presley - All Time Greatest Hits was released and I followed the chart progress weekly. Keeping each chart, from the first listing of 'bubbling under' through to it reaching #7 which I thought was just incredible.
Better was to come on the chart front with From The Heart reaching #5 in 1992 and then The Romantic reached #4 in 1994. The two highest chart albums between 1995 and 2004 were The Essential Collection #20 and Elvis : 50 Greatest Love Songs #23.
The 1990s saw the release of three box sets covering Elvis' career, from the 50s to the 70s.
The King Of Rock 'N' Roll - The Complete 50s Masters, From Nashville To Memphis - The Essential 60s Masters and Walk A Mile in My Shoes - The Essential 70s Masters. The last set is still very special, It actually contained new studio songs, and good ones too - For The Good Times and My Way along with some great outtakes of I Shall Be Released and It's Diff'rent Now.
In 1996 I made my first website, just a single page, with a few pictures of Elvis. Either late that year or into 1997 I decided I wanted the Australian Elvis domain name.
I wanted to represent Elvis in Australia online. At the time in Australia you needed to have a registered business name in order to be able to claim the domain name. My first attempt failed. It was not legal to register a business name with Elvis Presley included due to copyright. So I tried with just Elvis. My application was rejected again on the same basis. I did not give up - I tried again and argued the Elvis did not necessarily have to be connected with Elvis Presley and the associated copyright. I was successful and was now the proud owner of the www.elvis.com.au domain. (So this year 2007 is probably the tenth anniversary.)
1996 saw the first good quality Elvis bootleg soundboard concerts released. The Diamond Anniversary series was a revelation. We had soundboards for the first time, not audience recordings, and these were of a quality you could really appreciate - a joy to listen too. Sure we had one soundboard from RCA with the Silver Anniversary box in 1980 but now we had them coming out by the handful. It forced BMG's hand and in 1999 they finally gave us the real gem - The Follow That Dream Collectors label.
BMG announced the creation of the Follow That Dream Collectors Label "To make artistically and historically important material available for the dedicated collector and to steer fans away from buying illegal (bootleg) product". And since then we have really been looked after with many quality releases thanks to FTD and Ernst Jorgensen. Another reason given was 'This will allow RCA's main retail focus to be maintained and ensure that the general public does not confuse Elvis' actual masters for general release with his substantial outtake material and other specialty material'.
Maybe it worked because it was to be only another 3 years until Elvis was top of the singles charts worldwide. In 2002, a remix of A Little less Conversation was featured in a Nike TV ad. Public demand preceded a single release. Titled Elvis Vs JXL the single reached #1 on the singles charts worldwide which was just unbelievable and ELV1S 30 #1 Hits reached #1 on the album chart, again worldwide, and sold more copies than any previous Elvis album.
Suddenly Elvis was cool again.
Why is he still popular today?
In my opinion - the same reason he was popular at all. He was a great performer and he had a great voice. He had a unique style and an interesting personality. No one has ever come close to his ability. Almost every major recording artist acknowledges Elvis is the King. His movies although not usually acclaimed are still screened on TV and making new generations aware of the artist we all love.
It was live on TV in the 50s that Elvis showed America what he could do.
Paul Simpson gives us ten more reasons in Why Elvis?
Specially for the 30th Anniversary ;
+ Elvis Presley & The Events of 1977 By David Troedson
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Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet.
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.