Lisa Marie's singing, writing pretty good

By: Bill Ellis
Source: The Commercial Appeal
February 8, 2003

Elvis Presley Home

By Bill Ellis, The Commercial Appeal - February 8, 2003

So how is that Lisa Marie Presley record? Judging from a four-song advance, it's better than you might think.

The album, 'To Whom It May Concern', doesn't come out until April 8, though its label, Capitol Records, has fed media an EP sampler that features four tracks: S.O.B., The Road Between, lead single Lights Out and Nobody Noticed It, a song the fledgling singer premiered at last year's Elvis: The Concert event inside The Pyramid.

It's easy to see why Presley, 35, waited so long to make her splash in the recording arena. She's at a disadvantage from note one: How do you carve a niche for yourself when your pop happens to be one Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll?

In all fairness, Lisa Marie can't compete with Elvis. She isn't the vocalist, interpreter or ecumenical stylist her famous dad was (nobody is, for that matter). But to her credit, she doesn't try.

People will still be tempted to juxtapose the two - and she did have the most awkward of debuts when she sang a video duet with her late father at the Mid-South Coliseum's Elvis in Concert '97, a blase performance of Don't Cry Daddy that showed little promise.

One can see Elvis fans being both the most forgiving - Lisa Marie is the King's only child after all - and the most critical - what would Elvis have said about the profanity in her lyrics?

In the middle lies the truth. Lisa Marie is a solid singer with plenty of character in her husky voice, a cross somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Cher (though not as strong as either of those singers). And she has some good songs

Dolled up in a VH1 rock-friendly manner, the material is contemporary with a roots rock edge not unlike Crow or Shelby Lynne.

Two of the better tunes musically - S.O.B. and Lights Out - are those she co-wrote with producer/songwriter Glen Ballard, the Natchez, Miss., native behind Alanis Morissette's breakout success and the person who signed Lisa Marie in 1998 to his then Capitol-distributed label, Java Records. Ballard didn't produce any of the tracks on 'To Whom It May Concern', now a Capitol release proper; that task went instead to Tori Amos studio pro Eric Rosse and Andrew Slater (Macy Gray, the Vines), who helmed the single Lights Out.

Some have noted how Lights Out buries Presley's voice in the mix, implying that it was done perhaps to cover up her singing flaws. Bear in mind the arrangement and mix befit a rock song, not a pop tune where vocals are front and center. And for all her photo options with Pink and Avril Lavigne, Lisa Marie definitely is of a generation that prefers to rock.

What grabs the ears most, however, are the lyrics, all penned by Presley with a frankness some may find surprising. On song after song, the performer dissects relationships with her dad, herself and men (and with three marriages under her belt, she should have enough life experience to keep the albums coming for some time).

'This is me. This record is me. Every song is me', says Lisa Marie in a Capitol press release.

S.O.B. is a dark, vilifying stab that lashes both outward and inward ('You said I wouldn't rot but worms are crawling on me/Well I'm just a [expletive] no matter what you say'), while The Road Between heads into even deeper dysfunctional territory. Both Lights Out and Nobody Noticed It address her father, the former with embittered feelings ('You were a million miles behind/And I was crying every time I'd leave you/Then I didn't want to see you'); the latter in more poignant terms ('You're still lovely/You were lovely then . . . Well, they tried to make you look broken/But not while I'm living'). It's a load off her chest, this album, one that's defiant, open and confident.

The biggest question, of course, is, would this be getting attention without the big E's name attached? Maybe not. Being a chip off the old block is one thing. Being talented is another. Yet there's enough of the latter that Lisa Marie has nothing to be embarrassed about. The best songs here, in fact, suggest that she has a musical career ahead of her, if not a legendary one.

Lisa Marie Presley Interview

STAR 94FM Atlanta - February 03, 2002

Lisa Marie Presley dropped by the studios of STAR 94, to chat with The Morning Show and visit with some of our lucky listeners. The only child of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu Presley, Lisa Marie has always had music in her blood. Growing up as the daughter of the original 'King of Rock and Roll', Lisa early on developed an understanding and appreciation for music of all types. That affinity continues today, as she prepares to release her self-written debut album on Capitol Records.

Lisa's life and upbringing have been unique, to say the least. Born on February 1, 1968, Lisa split her childhood, living in Los Angeles with her mother and at Graceland with her father, after her parents divorced in 1973. Upon the universally mourned death of her iconic father, Lisa became sole heir of the legendary Graceland and its attendant activities. She currently serves as the Chairman of the board for 'Elvis Presley Enterprises', which works to preserve the name, image, and likeness of Elvis Presley.

In 1997, at the tribute concert marking the 20th anniversary of Elvis' death, Lisa roused the crowd by presenting a duet video of herself singing, 'Don't Cry Daddy' with her father. Lisa, while nurturing her budding music career, has also had some time to have some fun in the last few years. She appeared on the April 1996 cover of Vogue, in a much-discussed shot highlighting her resemblance to her famous father. Lisa did a campaign for her friend, the late Gianni Versace well as one for Gap Jeans. She's also appeared in many noted coffee table tomes - one for friend, talented makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, where he transformed Lisa into Marilyn Monroe, as well as one for prestige jeweler Cartier of which she graced the cover.

Lisa has two children, Danielle and Benjamin, with first husband, Danny Keough whom she divorced in 1994 after six years.

Personally, Lisa Marie

Elvis' daughter's bluesy, introspective single, 'Lights Out', is already on radio playlists in major markets, including in Los Angeles.

By Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times - February 10, 2003

What are the odds that the debut single by the daughter of the king of rock 'n' roll would be anything more than a fleeting novelty?

Fifty to one? Fifty thousand to one? Take that bet.

Lisa Marie Presley's first single, 'Lights Out', is a powerful, hauntingly personal work.

Capitol Records is releasing 'Lights Out' to radio stations today, and many of the nation's most powerful pop outlets, including KIIS-FM (102.7) in Los Angeles, have already added it to their playlists.

Presley's gutsy, blues-edged voice has a distinctive flair, and her lyrics on the song feature a memorable image about going through life under the weight of the Elvis Presley legacy:

Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis

That's where my family's buried and gone

Last time I was there I noticed a space left

Next to them in Memphis in the damn back lawn.

In the accompanying video, Presley, who shares her father's striking, pouty good looks, shows ample charisma and presence, and other key songs on her upcoming album also have a strong, introspective edge. That collection, titled 'To Whom It May Concern', will be released April 8.

Lots of celebrity offspring have enjoyed pop success, including the sons or daughters of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, John Lennon and Brian Wilson. But no offspring arrives with as much public curiosity surrounding her as Presley, as measured by the constant tabloid attention and her high-profile former marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage.

Far from the anonymous pop that dominates radio these days, 'Lights Out' and other songs on the album are hard-edged reflections on Presley's experiences and relationships -- and they didn't come easy. She has been exploring a music career for more than a decade and spent more than four years at Capitol working on this album before she felt comfortable with it.

'Most people want to be pop stars because they want attention, but I've already had plenty of attention', Presley, 35, said Friday by phone from Houston, where she was on a brief promotional tour of top radio stations. 'I wanted the music to be real so that people would know who I am based on my artistry, not based on what they might have read about me'.

Presley, who was 9 when her father died in 1977, began working in 1998 with writer-producer Glen Ballard, whose Java Records label was affiliated with Capitol. He's best known for his work with Alanis Morissette on the Grammy-winning 'Jagged Little Pill', another pop-rock collection with a dark, personal tone. As he had with Morissette, Ballard helped Presley gain confidence as a writer and helped shape her vision in the studio.

Presley, who was raised by her mother, actress Priscilla Presley, wrote 'Lights Out' with Ballard and songwriter Clif Magnes, but progress on the album was slow. The project was jump-started when Andy Slater took over as president of Capitol Records in 2001. He was intrigued by some of the songs, but he felt Presley's creative voice was lost in the arrangements and he helped her further shape her vision.

'I was impressed when I read the lyrics', said Slater, who had previously worked as record producer and manager with Jakob Dylan, Fiona Apple, and Macy Gray. 'I felt this was someone who was facing the real issues of her life, but I couldn't find the soul of the artist in the record.'

Slater, who produced the 'Lights Out' single, put Presley together with Eric Rosse, who produced Tori Amos' first two albums, to rework the record. Like Slater, Scooter Weintraub, who manages Presley, was also impressed by her seriousness. 'What struck me about her right away is that she is very, very honest', he said. 'There's no pretense whatsoever'.

Dan Hubbert, senior vice president of promotion for Capitol Records, says mainstream pop radio stations have been so enthusiastic about the record that he predicts it'll be a top 10 single.

'The remarkable thing about the single is that normally you try to break a new record in small markets and then hope it gets so popular that big-market stations jump on it, but the big stations are going right on it -- and it's not because she's a celebrity. That's not enough to get airplay on these stations.'

John Ivey, program director at KIIS, confirms that it takes more than the Presley name to make it onto the air in the competitive radio market.

'We wouldn't play it unless it was a good record', he said last week. 'Lots of celebrities who have made records never made it onto the radio -- except maybe once as a novelty. This record has the stamp of a serious artist all over it.'

Weintraub said the singer is already rehearsing with a band with an eye to doing live shows, but she is expected to start on a limited scale before any formal tour -- some club showcase appearances or maybe guest spots on radio station concert bills.

Presley was pleased Friday about the early radio response to the single, but she was more interested in talking about the music.

'This whole process was a great big ride for me', said Presley, who lives in Los Angeles. 'On the album, I tried to address every facet of my life, everything that is important to me or outstanding in my life. The single is my take on one part of it -- a dark, ominous look at where I've come from. I don't think I was ready, emotionally or creatively, to do that until now'.

Quick Links

Lisa Marie Presley

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Lisa Presley : The Rolling Stone Interview
Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Complete Lisa Marie Presley Playboy Interview
Elvis Presley Video Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley duet of In The Ghetto
Elvis Presley Photos Lisa Marie's Twin Girls | Finley & Harper
Interviews with or about Elvis Presley The Presley Women | Priscilla & Lisa Marie Presley

Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Rolling Stone Interview with Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis Presley Video I Love You Because | Lisa Marie and Elvis Duet at the 35th Anniversary Concert
Elvis Presley Video Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley Duet | I Love You Because
Interviews with or about Elvis Presley Interview | Lisa Marie Presley Sees Her Father's Spirit in Her Kids
Elvis Articles Lisa Marie sells Elvis rights for $100m
Elvis Presley Photos Lisa Marie Presley In Concert Australia (2004)
Elvis Presley Video Nicolas Cage talks about Lisa Marie Presley

Elvis Presleys Grandchildren

Articles about Elvis Presley Danielle Riley Keough | known as Riley Keough for her modeling work.
Elvis Presley Photos Benjamin Keough | Lisa's Son | Elvis Presleys Grandson

Articles about Elvis Presley Celebs : The Next Generation
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis lives on ... in the form of his grandaughter, Riley Keough
Elvis Presley Photos Beautiful Photos of Riley Keough, Elvis' Granddaughter in Elle Italia

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