Saturday, November 24, 2012

Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite Deluxe DVD, Disc 2

I finally watched the second DVD in the 2-DVD Aloha set I bought at Graceland during Elvis Week. Because the main concert material is the same as the raw footage on disc 1, I'll just concentrate on the parts that are unique to disc 2 and the U.S. broadcast version.

Post-Concert "Insert" Songs Session
January 14, 1973
Elvis looks like he's singing with his eyes closed the whole time until you see that he's reading cue cards that people are holding below the stage, so he's just looking down. I don't know why they didn't have the guy with the cue cards stand on a ladder or something that would have brought him up to the level of the stage. It just seems like not a lot of thought or effort went into these recordings, particularly because Elvis was shown singing them during the broadcast. If we had just heard him, it wouldn't have been as bad.
All of the songs from Blue Hawaii were in the wrong key and the instrumentation was corny and nothing like the arrangement for the original soundtrack. I know Elvis's voice got lower as he got older, but they could have picked a better key.

Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii NBC TV Special
April 4, 1973 Broadcast Version
I have to take a crack at the inserts in the broadcast version because they were so weird/corny.
1) Early Morning Rain
Scene: Random Hawaiian dude walking along the beach with his shirt open, clearly conscious that he's being filmed walking along the beach. It is not the early morning, nor is it raining. Eventually, he takes a yellow Jeep into a field or pineapple plantation and drives around/walks around without his shirt on. He gets his shirt back just in time to go to the airport, stand on the tarmac, and look at an airplane. Eventually he gets back in his yellow Jeep and moves on.
2) Blue Hawaii
Scene: On one part of the screen, a hula dancer dances along to Elvis's singing while on another screen, a blonde woman wearing a blue loose dress that makes her look pregnant kneels on the beach looking into a birdcage.
3) Hawaiian Wedding Song
Scene: We see two hands rubbing each other in what I can only describe as hand sex. Eventually we see the people to whom those hands belong and they're looking at each other lovingly under a palm tree.
4) Ku-U-I-Po
Scene: A young couple is on the beach, and suddenly, the girl decides to run away. The guy then chases her and catches her in something like a cliche film scene.

In one of these montages, a guy slides down a waterfall. I think this show should have been called, "Elvis, Aloha from Hawaii, and the State of Hawaii's Travel Video."

Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time: Aloha is no '68 Comeback, That's the Way It Is, or even Elvis on Tour. I'm still glad to have it as part of my collection, though, since we have relatively few films of Elvis concerts (at least of decent viewing quality).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Its not like we could have expected her to become a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist, right?

It is a credit to Lisa Marie Presley's lack of imagination that she has chosen to spend her flush life pursuing the one thing she is unequivocably unsuited for: she wants to be a singer.

I'm sorry, I cant help but be suspicious of this whim of hers to try her hand at being a singer, I cant help feeling this is a calculated gambit in the continuing fleecing of that special contingent of Elvis fans who are simple rubes, who toss away their money while clinging to some blind devotion to their hero (and that means tossing money to their hero's daughter).

I mean, really - a duet with her dad? Her dead dad, as if you needed reminding. How much can you duet with a dead man, anyway? This is electronic engineering, nothing else. And this is the second (!) such duet with her dead dad - was the first one (a team up on "In The Ghetto") such a success that fans were screaming for another one? So, it is not just a shameless enterprise to go back to this particular well again, but then to do "I Love You Because" and make a music video comprised of clips of Lisa Marie's home movies featuring Elvis to tug on the heart strings and purse strings of Elvis fans is simply unconscionable.

Lisa Marie's albums (sorry, CDs) are full of songs that she herself wrote so I do give her props for that. It doesn't matter that these songs fail to rise above the level of girls-college-dormitory-angst, they are original and she is trying to express herself. But, I guess these albums (sorry, CDs) werent selling so Lisa Marie found she must resort to tapping this Elvis well again.

Is Lisa Marie a born singer, a burning talent that will, nay, MUST, out? I have read many Elvis books, and Lisa Marie was always a tangential presence at best (the young moppet both neglected and spoiled by her absentee daddy). Still, does anyone recall any mention of Lisa Marie ever expressing any desire to be a singer when she grew up? Were there stories somewhere of Lisa Marie sitting with her dad and the two of them harmonizing together? Maile, please let me know if any stories of this sort made its way into CARELESS LOVE.

It seems strange that Lisa Marie wants to pursue something that was the very reason her dad was an absentee dad much of the time while she was growing up, and when he was around, she was witness to the fact that her dad's chosen occupation was destroying him.  You can't claim that, oh, the poor dear, she was so young so she wouldn't know what was happening: my kids who are 4+ years old and 1+ years old notice and specifically point out things like when I get a haircut or when a new bag appears under my tired eyes; how can we think Lisa Marie did not notice that her dad was getting fatter and fatter and behaving more and more strangely.

But, ok, for the time being, lets not question her motives, lets just agree she wants to be a singer.

What exactly is it that she wants to sing? Pop music? Pop music is disposable so that seems fitting for her. Rock 'n Roll, like her daddy? I know rock 'n roll music and what comes out of her mouth is not rock 'n roll.  Blues? Please - she doesnt have the passion to be a blues singer and outside of being witness to her unconscious dad being worked on by paramedics who are trying to revive him, I don't think she has experienced any kind of heartbreak trauma to come out and sing the blues (busted relationships / marriages to certifiable freaks like Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage (one or more of which was probably some kind of publicity stunt), hardly give you the right much less the material to sing the blues). Country? Well, country music and it's fans tend to embrace even the most untalented of individuals.

But, ok, for the time being, lets not question her motives, lets just agree she wants to be a singer and, yes, pop music is her thang. 

Does she have the instrument, a voice? Having listened to some tracks from her albums, I find her voice to be toneless, without any range of expression, it's too low, too husky, lacking in any musicality (Maile, being a singer herself, can help me out with using more technical jargon to describe the mechanics of Lisa Marie's voice). 

But, ok, for the time being, lets not question her motives, lets just agree she wants to be a singer and, yes, pop music is her thang but she has no voice - the history of pop music is filled with arena-filling no-talents with no voice who still manage to release hit singles (a good producer can hide anything with enough mixing and over-production). 

Does she have a "look" to fall back on? Remember Madonna in her early years? It can be argued that Madonna wasnt much of a singer in the beginning, and she specialized in pop confections like "Borderline" but, man, did she have a look. Well, Lisa Marie looks like Elvis, which would be great except she is a woman, and the result is that she looks like a drag queen (the aforesaid low voice adds to the illusion of a drag queen).  I like to think that I have learned to appreciate Woman (with a capital "W") in all sizes and shapes (I love Chagall's ugly women, Rubens' fat women, Botticelli's beautiful women and Degas' shapely women) but I have to say Lisa Marie just...doesn't do it for me. I myself do not find her attractive and an offer from her to come to her hotel room for bountiful sex would raise nary an eyebrow on me. We all know of Elvis' ability to dress with style (not only were those Vegas jumpsuits awesome looking, but check out what Elvis wore, say, to the JayCees Ten Outstanding Men 1970 ceremony and elsewhere in his private life). Lisa Marie, by contrast, has no discernible style in clothing or appearance. She has no presence or personality at all, she is just there although you would be forgiven for not noticing her.

But, ok, for the time being, lets not question her motives, lets just agree she wants to be a singer and, yes, pop music is her thang but she has no voice and she has no style and the issue of her looks, while not appealing to me, is a purely subjective assessment on my part.

Does she have talent of any kind? One need only look at this clip of Lisa Marie's recent appearance at the Grand Ole Opry to provide an answer to that:question:

What stage presence! Look how she works that stage! Look how she works the crowd! 

In the end, I know Lisa Marie will never amount to even a blip in the world of music (pop music, country music, whatever) but, perhaps because I am an Elvis fan, I find that her cash-in attempts (these duets in particular) promote values that deaden the sensibilities of a great democracy.  


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mourning the loss, yet again

I just finished Careless Love and have posted a brief review on Goodreads, which I'll also repost below. I will follow up with a more lengthy review soon.

An unapologetic look at Elvis for the second half of his life, written seemingly without an agenda. You see the weaknesses and the strengths of the man; Guralnick doesn't paint a rosy picture, but he doesn't go out of his way to kick Elvis when he's down. Probably the most balanced version of Elvis's life story that I've read. The end will always be so tragically sad, no matter who the author is, and that's why the book gets 4 stars instead of 5. Guralnick ended the book with respect and with a tribute to Elvis's spirit and his music, and with a great quote from a 1962 interview:

Well, I've tried to be the same all through this thing, you know, he declared early on. Naturally, you learn a lot about people, and you get involved in a lot of different situations, but I've tried to be the same. I mean, the way I was brought up, I've always considered other people's feelings; I've never - in other words, I didn't kick anybody on my way. I don't just sign the autographs and the pictures and so forth to help my popularity or make them like me. I do it because I know that they're sincere, and they see you and they want an autograph to take home, and they've got an autograph book, or they've got their little camera. They don't know the kind of life you lead, they don't know what kind of person you are. And so - I try to remember that. That's all. It's simple. It's just the way I was brought up [by] my mother and father to believe and have respect for other people. We were always considerate of other people's feelings.