Sunday, September 15, 2013

Elvis and Stax: a match made in Heaven.

For many Elvis fans, the 1973 June and December Stax Sessions represent a high watermark in his illustrious recording career.  The set contains myriad versions of all six of the singles the label issued from 1973-1975: and there's not anything approaching a dud amongst them.  

Personal favourites include his marvellous rendition of Chuck Berry's 'Promised land,' a stalwart of his live shows at the time, and 'There's a Honky Tonk Angel (who will take me back in,) co-written by countrypolitin troubadour Troy Seals and covered by the likes of Mr Conway Twitty as well as the Elv.

The recordings exude a passion and intensity that was missing from much of Elvis's output of the time - even the country, and countrified versions of many of the songs are electrifying: you can tell that Elvis, freed from the considerable shackles of an increasingly constricting and hierarchical RCA label, and his ensemble cast of musicians, flown in for the sessions, were enjoying every God damn minute of every God damn minute.....

What, more than anything, that emerges from these fun packed, gloriously musical sessions, is a totally fearless Elvis - more than ever before willing to embrace different musics and musical idioms with a ferocity that both the 1968 performances and the American Sound Studio Sessions a year later alluded to, an Elvis Presley, shorn of the malign influences that deadlocked and stifled his talent for nigh on ten years, reborn.

Buy it now.