THE ROUND PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is a website that I stumbled over sometime last year. There John Ross writes about rock & roll and Elvis and books and movies and even about critics with their arses up their heads. I was impressed with writing, insights, arguments. So I sent him a message and that was more or less it.
Although I continued to read his blog, we had no real communication. Then I came across his entry from several years back on In The Ghetto, a record that I had been wanting to write about for some time. He agreed with my long-standing opinion (standing since 1969) that is was one of the most important releases in Elvis’s career and wrote an excellent article.
I emailed a request to him that I be allowed the right to reprint his piece on my site (“On the importance of In The Ghetto”) and that I would follow that up with a second piece of my own addressing both the record and his article (“The importance of In The Ghetto part 2″). 1
You had to have been there in the mid-’60s to know how embarrassing it was to be an Elvis fan when he was doin’ the clam and spinning out.
Now we have teamed up to craft a third article, this one based on emails between the two of us in which each of us responds to something that the other guy wrote. It was supposed to be a follow-up and address other aspects of the recording and release of In The Ghetto and other events of 1969, like the movie Change Of Habit, but when you get two talkers together, things happen.
But it turned into a bit of a free-for-all as we each addressed topics in ways unknown to the other, little of it addressing the topics that we had proposed to one another. And so instead of the third installment of “The importance of In The Ghetto” what happened is “It hurts me to be a kissin’ cousin”!
So indulge John and I as we indulge ourselves and actually force our aging minds to grapple with some new thoughts and some possible insights.
This may be the only opportunity I get to plug the under-appreciated 1969 movie Change Of Habit. Here, volunteer assistant Michelle Gallagher (Mary Tyler Moore) and Dr. John Carpenter (Elvis) help a neighborhood child (Lorena Kirk) through an episode that addressed autism in a movie for the first time, a diagnosis all but unknown at the time. 3
The difficulties of defending Elvis
It was difficult to admit to being an Elvis Presley fan in the midst of the British Invasion and then the Psychedelic Sixties but at least Elvis was still young and virile. I never had to consider being a fan ten years later, when Elvis was associated with old age and the phoniness of Vegas and the glitzy (and often tacky) jumpsuits and the declining potency and, well, the non-consciousness expanding drugs. 2
NEAL: Based on what I have read of yours, we have about ten years separating us. And they are a BIG ten years when it comes to Elvis. Basically, Elvis made all his fans in the ’50s, most of whom stayed with him during the first couple of years of the ’60s. Then two things happened: they got older and married and Elvis got older and predictable-bordering-on-boring. By 1968, most of his original fans were long gone.
Then there were the younger ones like me who came into it all in the mid-’60s. We were the ones that loved Elvis enough to sit through Kissin’ Cousins and Easy Come, Easy Go. I am telling you, a good dose of acid would not have made them a better viewing. I bought the increasing lousier soundtrack albums. Yada yoda blah blah blah!
The NBC special and Memphis sessions made up for it all, but you had to have been there in 1966-1968 to know how embarrassing it was to be an Elvis fan when the Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, Spoonful, Dylan, Kinks, Stones, Who, Yardbirds, etc., were making exciting meaningful music. But I can save all this for another post some other day.
You need to sit down and watch every movie from 1960’s G.I. Blues through 1969’s Change Of Habit and listen to the soundtracks albums that accompanied them. It’s an education and I don’t doubt that when you watch Double Trouble and remember that it came out with SGT. PEPPER and the Summer of Love you will have your post-psychedelic mind blown by its surreal irrelevance and near schizoid lack of connection to consensual reality.
Oh, yeah: the second BIG explosion of “new” Elvis fans in the US was in the wake of his death, but that too is another story for another time.
John and Neal force their aging minds to grapple with some new thoughts and some possible insights.
JOHN: First off, I do feel at least some of your pain vis-à-vis the difficulties of defending the uncool Elvis, especially in junior high/high school years! While I never had that issue specifically with Elvis, I did run into my own version of this in the ’70s. I was into the ’60s—Four Seasons, Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful—which was considered ‘girl’s music’ if it was recognized at all.
Yes, the Beatles/Stones/Dylan triumvirate was still cool and so were Hendrix and the Doors—not so much anyone else from that time. I realize this is different because I was defending past greatness no longer recognized as such while you were forced into putting up with being an Elvis fan when Elvis was making a lot of bad music and worse movies at the same time so many other artists were producing works of genius on an almost daily basis.
I do envy your generation’s choices, though: by the time I came along, the Beatles’ equivalent, at least for boys, was Led Zeppelin—fair enough, but still a grade down. And the real fights were over, say, Kiss and Boston! Still, as you say, it must have been excruciating for Elvis fans your age in those late ’60s years before the Comeback.
I haven’t seen anywhere near all of Elvis’ ’60s movies but I’ve seen seven or eight of them—the worst being Kissin’ Cousins—and I have heard (and own) most of the soundtracks, including that infamous bootleg ELVIS’ GREATEST SHIT, which I really, really only needed to listen to once. I do intend to watch all the movies sometime and the manner you suggest would probably be as good a way as any.
Incidentally, I loved those American Studio photos that you used, especially the one demonstrating the point about the white background singers! Racial confusion in “the revolution” is something I’ve been putting a lot of thought into lately with an eye toward a post or two on the subject.
The concept of ELVIS’ GREATEST SHIT, a bootleg album from 1980, is just fine: it is a collection of some of the worst tracks that Elvis recorded during some of the worst movies of the ’60s. It also included some previously released outtakes. Unfortunately, the album was ruined by the unbelievably tasteless front cover. 4
Let’s get past all this
NEAL: Well, the first thing anyone heard from the Memphis sessions was In The Ghetto and it sure sounded like black “chick singers”! Sounded the same on FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS, where the band sounded like black players. Since the Colonel would not allow RCA to give any credits, we didn’t know until years later that it was an all-white cast.
Not that it matters, but it was cool thinking that Elvis had returned to Memphis and was cutting sides with the first black musicians that he had worked with. This carried some cool cachet with a lot of rock aficionados in 1969, the types who would not normally give a Presley platter a hearing. The subtleties of racial stereotyping know no boundaries.
JOHN: I really want to do a long post someday on racial confusion in rock music: Buddy Holly and the Shangri-Las booked on the assumption they were black, the Coasters booked on the assumption they were white, most people thinking the white singers on Elvis’s Memphis records were black and the black singers on Sweet Home Alabama were white, etc. Like you say, it shouldn’t have mattered, that was one of the points of Elvis’s own music. You know, “Let’s get past all this!”
Unfortunately, it did and does still matter. Seems like the chance to reach a much better place was there and we didn’t take it. Settled for a slightly better place instead, though perhaps that’s just the cynic in me (lol). I don’t think we can emphasize too much the significance of In The Ghetto being written, produced, sung, and played—with utter conviction—by southern hillbillies. I don’t think this was near as ‘coincidental’ or ‘ironic’ as many intellectuals would have us believe.
Even more than music, the one great binding tie between southern blacks and poor southern whites is New Testament Christianity and In The Ghetto is about as deeply rooted in those shared ethics as any song could be. And Elvis blended black gospel and white gospel as deftly as he did black blues and white country.
This Top 100 charts for Billboard and Cash Box looked similar in their design, the listings were often very different: as the former included radio spins and jukebox play along with actual sales, records topped the Billboard chart that weren’t the best-selling records in the country at the time they were the #1 record in the country.
Cash Box vs. Billboard
There is no questioning Billboard as the go-to source for almost every “historian” who writes a piece about hit records of the past. But for decades Cash Box was a near equal rival and when Billboard combined their three surveys (best sellers, jukebox play and radio airplay) into their Top 100 in 1958, things got a little crazy.
The record that sold the most did not normally make the #1 spot, as jukebox play (a nickel a side or six-for-a-quarter) and DJ spins actually influenced chart position!
Cash Box remained rooted in sales and many writers such as myself refer to Cash Box positions as well as Billboard. In my articles, I always note the record’s “peak position” regardless of the magazine. So John and I briefly talked about this.
JOHN: I’m really interested if you know a good main source on Cash Box. The main reason I’ve relied on the Billboard record so much is that it’s readily available. I would love to know if there are any published or online sources that do for Cash Box what Joel Whitburn does for Billboard.
JOHN: Definitely will do. I had no idea Whitburn had done a Cash Box book so that will go on the ‘to acquire’ list immediately. Now if he’ll only do one for the R&B charts! Oh, and your link in my email sent me on a hunt for other resources and it turns out William and Mary have put most of the actual Cash Box issues online. I can’t seem to access it right now—probably due to my very slow Internet speed—but if you google “Cash Box William and Mary” you should be able to pull up the site.
The only artist to arguably outsell the Beatles in the American LP market was Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. Their fourth album, WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS, was issued in 1965 with one of the most outlandish—and to some, provocative—covers ever put on a major release. The album was an enormous seller: almost two years after its release, Billboard’s Top LPs for 1966 ranked it #1, ahead of the Beatles’ YESTERDAY & TODAY and REVOLVER and the Monkees’ debut album. By the end of ’66, it had sold more than 4,000,000 copies in the US and would sell several million more. 5
Collecting in the ’60s vs. the ’70s
As I bought my first 45 with my own money about a hundred years before John, there was a huge difference in our experiences—a lot of it having to do with the types of music that were popular at the time. And money: singles could often be found for 79¢ in the ’60s and (regressive) sales tax almost didn’t exist. (We were still riding high on the progressive taxation of Ike’s years, even though Kennedy had lowered the marginal rate a bit.)
In the ’70s, they were a buck or more in a lot of places and state sales taxes were on the rise as Nixon lowered the rate on the extremely wealthy even more. Of course, by the ’70s I was too hip to be buying 45s and I only bought LPs—except for Elvis singles, because you never knew where they would end up album-wise.
JOHN: I’ve got a great love for record collecting stories and your perspective certainly adds a new dimension to my original take on this record and its impact. I didn’t buy my first 45 until 1976, so I missed the ’60s entirely. I was about eight years old and not in a house where anybody really bought records or listened to the radio even though my mom was a huge Elvis fan.
In the ’60s, there was a sense of comradeship, especially among those fans of the ‘new rock music’ and the latest albums by the Beatles and Dylan were highly anticipated and celebrated!
NEAL: The whole process of buying records was different in the ’60s than after. By the ’70s, the industry had regained control of “artists & repertoire” and much of the music at the same time that sales of LPs were skyrocketing. In the ’60s, the only artists to consistently sell LPs at a platinum level (1,000,000 domestic sales) were the Beatles and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. In the ’70s, everybody sold millions of everything!
So in the ’60s, buying certain records by even name artists could mean that you were one among a few hundred thousand, and therefore others in your neighborhood who bought the same records were seen as somewhat akin. There was a sense of comradeship, especially among those fans of the ‘new rock music.’ The latest albums by favorite artists—especially the Beatles and Dylan—were highly anticipated and celebrated. And I am not referring to idol-worshipping teenyboppers here!
By the time I had reached my mid-teens, Elvis aficionados were a rarity. We were mocked for Elvis’s recordings of such dumb records as Do The Clam and Frankie And Johnny and Spinout. The mocking ended not with the triumph of the 1968 NBC-TV special but before: by 1967, Elvis was such a non-presence in the world of ‘serious rock fans’ that read Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone and Dune and Stranger In A Strange Land and The Crying Of Lot 49 and that weird trilogy about lords and rings that Presley wasn’t even worth mocking—he was mostly just ignored.
JOHN: Yeah, the ’70s couldn’t have been more different. My tastes were so different from my generation’s that I was definitely an outsider anyway. And outsiders—those who didn’t love Kiss or Zeppelin or the Eagles (or the Bee Gees, for that matter)—were supposed to just love punk. Punk was going to free us. Alas, I wasn’t the least bit interested, then or now, in punk as either music or politics and I certainly wasn’t ‘scared’ or ‘liberated’ by its scatology.
I have a running joke that nobody raised on Tanya Tucker singing “Daddy left them both, soaking up the sawdust on the floor,” was ever going to take Johnny Rotten seriously! But the main thing was that the ‘edgy’ music was actually on the fringes—and the corporate takeover you mention had a lot to do with that. Man, I would have loved to have bonded over Beatles and Dylan records!
Execrable by his previous standards, Kissin’ Cousins nonetheless peaked at #10 on the Cash Box Top 100, although all we ever hear about today is its reaching #12 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Kissin’ Cousins vs. It Hurts Me
I think that for both John and myself, this is the most interesting part of our conversation, even if much of it is based on hindsight and speculation. One thing we did not and will not discuss is the influence of Elvis’s medication on his career at this time. (Although I want to say that I have spoken with people who swear they can tell whether Presley was on uppers or downers on any given scene based on how he delivered his lines.)
JOHN: I do take your point, though, about Elvis’ career being in real jeopardy in 1967-1968, with neither the records nor movies doing well. When I wrote the piece, I was really thinking about the whole 64-‘68 period in the sense that the movies at least gave Elvis some sort of cultural presence during the mid-’60s cataclysm (compared to this ‘50s contemporaries) which I do think made a comeback a bit more plausible. Debatable maybe but that was how I saw it when I wrote the piece.
NEAL: My point is that Elvis was so far beyond where his ’50s contemporaries ever got that comparisons are pointless. Same goes for the Beatles: fans of the Beach Boys or Stones may think otherwise, but there simply is nothing comparable to Elvis and the Beatles until Michael Jackson. The people who paid for most of the tickets for Elvis movies in the mid-‘60s were older than the normal rock & roll record-buying teenager.
Many were holdovers from the ’50s and as they got older got married got children the only movies they went to were dollar-a-carload nights at the drive-in. And the major argument against Presley Product of the mid-‘60s was that it had no cultural presence or relevance or value.
JOHN: Here we get into what I think of as the eternal debate: How would Elvis have fared in that maelström of creativity from 1964-1967 if he had concentrated solely on music—or even divided his time between music and serious acting? I mean, which path would he have taken? Really, really hard to know the answer.
The way I see it, his career really was two-pronged in this period: the first 45 Elvis released in the Beatles-era, coming literally the month they were on Sullivan, had Kissin’ Cousins on the A-side, one of his very worst records, and on the B-side, It Hurts Me, a non-soundtrack song which was one of his very greatest vocals.
Coincidentally or not, Elvis didn’t record any more non-soundtrack music for over two years. That last might be more than symbolic, because when Elvis did the 1968 Comeback Special, he skipped a dozen or two really big hits, which he might have added to the dozen or two he sang, and pulled out It Hurts Me, which was as buried at that point as any record he had ever made.
I think that says he very much knew its quality and wanted to, in effect, say, “Are you ready for this now?” So maybe the great question in the debate is “What would have happened if the public had bought It Hurts Me” even to the extent it bought Kissin’ Cousins?”
My own guess is that at the very least, it wouldn’t have been two years before Elvis picked up the thread. You can argue he should have been bolder, more assertive. I, in fact, would very much argue that. But then we would probably be talking about a different guy!
NEAL: Are you saying that had It Hurts Me been a hit Elvis would have been motivated to record more such material in 1964-1967?
JOHN: Well, there’s no way to know for certain. But I think it’s very possible. I try to look at it from his point of view: “I made a great record that I really believe in.” His coming back to it when he had no other incentive but belief shows that I think.
“My record company released it as the B-side of a crappy movie song.”
“The public didn’t exactly respond to it.”
There’s not much incentive to keep doing it at that point.
I really hear that record as the first flowering of what became his mature style—and nobody got it. Add the weight of the contractual obligation to keep making those bad movies and the physical and psychological toll that was already taking and, well, you get what you were having to put up with in those years.
So, yeah, to me the timing of that one record and the lack of response to it could have made a difference. Wouldn’t have made all the bad stuff any better, of course, but it might well have kept him going in regular recording dates, where he at least had a measure of control.
There is simply nothing comparable to Elvis in the ’50s and the Beatles in the ’60s until Michael Jackson in the ’80s and nothing since.
NEAL: No argument with your hind-sighted (sic) opinion but there are three things in the way of making it so: first, it is common knowledge that Elvis picked his singles and left the albums (EPs and LPs) to Parker and Victor. It may have been Parker’s idea to focus on releasing records that supported and promoted the movies (as the movies supposedly supported and promoted the records), but there is no argument that Elvis did not concur with this reasoning—and that reasoning would have been faultless had the record and the movies been deserving of support and promotion.
Second, the January session that produced It Hurts Me was apparently done so that Elvis could master Memphis Tennessee, a side he wanted as a single. Less than satisfied with the results (it was his second attempt at the song), he hemmed and hawed and RCA needed a new single and Kissin’ Cousins was due for release to theaters in March and why not go with the flow and choose or allow to be chosen the title tune to this new movie and oh by the way we need a B-side and there was It Hurts Me which despite its amazing vocal performance by Elvis had not been seen as singles material in 1964 any more than Suspicion had been seen as a single in 1962 (and Suspicion was equally passionate and also a look forward to Presley’s “mature” style and eventually a BIG hit in a soundalike version by Terry Stafford).
Third, I no more like laying the blame for the lame records released and the good records not released (like a Viva Las Vegas soundtrack album with a few cuts by fellow Victor recording artist Ann-Margret) on Colonel Parker and/or faceless execs and accountants at RCA than I like assigning all the credit to Presley’s great records to Sam Phillips or Bill Porter or Steve Binder.
The magnificent It Hurts Me—one of Presley’s finest recordings in the lost years between the first Comeback of 1960 and the second Comeback of 1968—was relegated to the flip-side of Kissin’ Cousins. Because Billboard counted radio and jukebox play, it was able to reach #29 on their Hot 100. On the more sales-oriented Cash Box Top 100, it only found its way to #48.
Three potential hit singles
NEAL: So my take is that Elvis recorded three potential hit singles in January 1964—It Hurts Me, Memphis Tennessee, and I’m Yours—but he failed to select any as an A-side that year. Then he sat back and made the worst movies and music of his life for the next few years and watched the Beatles, Beach Boys, Dave Clark Five (let’s not forget the DC5!), Johnny Rivers, Tom Jones, and others have the hits. That is, Elvis made bad decisions regarding his music and his records began to flag in quality and sales and chart performance.
JOHN: All good points. I didn’t mean to imply that Elvis didn’t deserve the blame for what he did release; even if he didn’t have control, he could have fought much harder to get it, especially on the albums. Also wasn’t aware that he had sufficient control over the singles releases that he could decide A/B sides, especially where the title song from a movie was concerned. I was thinking in terms of control over what he recorded and how he recorded it.
You’re much better versed in that area than me so I’ll tuck that away as stored knowledge! Also agree on your point about the Colonel, as I’ve never been big on “It was all the Colonel’s fault” theology. As you say, any artist as great as Elvis needs to get both the blame and the praise for his results.
So I agree with your implied rebuttal that, yes, Elvis should have released Suspicion (very big mistake), maybe shouldn’t have let Johnny Rivers beat him to Memphis (weird story there, with Johnny hearing it while hanging around and getting right on it!) and definitely should have released It Hurts Me as an A-side, and probably I’m Yours as well.
Would it have done enough to reassure him he was on the right track, movie contracts or no movie contracts? Would these have really been big hits in the teeth of the British Invasion coming from Elvis? Those are the questions that intrigue me. But the hard fact is there’s just really no way to know: those movie contracts were still there, alas. Energy was going to be drained, in any case, and it’s pretty clear Elvis had given up on any thought that he could bend either the Colonel or the studios in his direction there.
Incidentally, since this all got swirling around in my head, I spent last night listening to the FROM NASHVILLE TO MEMPHIS – THE ESSENTIAL 60’s MASTERS box for the first time in a few years. (Definitely gonna be a post in there somewhere, someday, maybe a detailed one on how Elvis’ vocal style was developing throughout the early ’60s.)
This is the picture sleeve for the Compact-33 single Viva Las Vegas/ What’d I Say from Brazil in 1964. It is one of my favorite Elvis sleeves of all time.
One long dry spell
It Hurts Me certainly didn’t spring from nowhere—for “flowering” above I should have written “full flowering”—but I do hear it as the culmination of some techniques he had been working on in bits and pieces since he got out of the army. It’s a shame we don’t know how he really felt about any of this at the time. I think how he ultimately felt about It Hurts Me is indicated by his picking it up for the 1968 NBC-TV special. I mean, it obviously meant something.
Did he think he had put himself out too far, vocally, emotionally? Especially given that he wasn’t exactly on a commercial winning streak and his confidence in either himself or his public may have been a touch shaken?
In that case, sticking it on a B-side would be sort of logical. Get it out there at least: maybe the radio will pick it up, as it had done with so many of Elvis’s flips up through about the fall of 1961. If not? Well then, wait a while. Maybe another chance will come along.
All this is my own ten-cent psychology of course. Very Southern-working-class/evangelical style fatalism, to which I do think Elvis was more than a little prone, for better and for worse.
All I can say is that the stretch between It Hurts Me and the gospel album more than two years later is one long dry spell for a singer who had been so incredibly and consistently committed—at least to the stuff he wanted to record—up to that point. And I sure wish I could explain it somehow!
The scene here is from the original version of the 1968 NBC-TV special Singer Presents Elvis. It was a narrative involving a straggling guitar man, a bordello, a badass big boss man, and a virgin prostitute—played by the incredibly beautiful Susan Henning. It also had big production values, big dance scenes, and none of the immediacy and intimacy that made the second version so amazing. In fact, it is doubtful that the original version of the show would have had the impact that the final version had. 6
Elvis in Hollywood in the ’60s
I grew up as an Elvis fan paying my saved-up allowance to pay to see what were already referred to in Hollywood as “Elvis movies.” It is not a part of being a fan that I recall with fondness (although it does make for interesting anecdotes and helps to put things into perspective, especially when discussing his near-miraculous comeback of 1968-1970). John has yet to sit experience the slings and arrows of outrageous fan-ness with Elvis in Hollywood in the ’60s.
JOHN: One additional thing I have to confess is that the ’60s movies are a weak area of my Elvis education. I’ve seen (and mostly love) the ’50s movies and the ’70s concert films. But I’ve only seen a handful of the movies and one I haven’t seen is Change Of Habit, which is something I obviously need to correct post-haste!
I actually had no idea it addressed the themes you discuss and you make some excellent points about the opportunities missed by both the suits (including the Colonel) and the period critics. I’ll link to this from my site in the morning so you can get both of my readers over here, too. We might be launching a movement!
Choosing the Worst Elvis Movie of All-Time is difficult: I might argue for G.I. Blues, as it set the tone for all that followed.
NEAL: I suggest that you start with the ’50s movies and watch them again, in order. Then take a break (like, y’ know, pretend that Elvis is off in Europe somewhere looking for jailbait) and then come back and start with G.I. Blues and work your way through each movie in chronological order through Change Of Habit.
Do like one movie a week and listen to the soundtrack recordings that accompanied each film. Immerse yourself in Elvis in Hollywood and watch as each film cheapens the product until we reach 1964-1965 and Roustabout (perhaps his worst movie and soundtrack up to that point) and then Girl Happy (perhaps his worst movie and soundtrack up to that point) and then Tickle Me and Harum Scarum (definitely his worst movie and soundtrack up to that point) and then Frankie And Johnny and then there was Paradise, Hawaiian Style with a soundtrack so exciting that Presley didn’t even bother to turn up for the sessions (a first) and then it gets worse.
JOHN: That sounds like a good approach. Now all I need is money and time—two things I tend to be notoriously short of! One thing I really wish is that the movies were released in some affordable, coherent packages but if I finally get a faster Internet, maybe I can look into streaming possibilities.
I should probably go ahead and confess my fondness for Girl Happy, which is actually reminiscent of the goofy lowbrow Disney movies I grew up on (and which constituted most of the movies I saw until I was about sixteen!) It’s all rooted in cheap nostalgia and I wouldn’t bother defending it but I refuse to be ashamed!
The only other movies you mention I’ve seen are Tickle Me and Roustabout. Those? Well, let’s just say I do NOT look forward to visiting them again.
As I was clueless about uploading any kind of image, even this outline of a square—effectively a blank space—is more than my original blog posts featured.
On blogs without photos
It took me a while to get past my trepidation of learning yet another new trick regarding Internet and blogs and website: finding, copying, cropping images and placing them on my sites. I finally did and it was well worth the price I had to pay and now I have to convince John to do the same to his site.
JOHN: I have very much enjoyed this give and take—especially love your visuals. (Man, I didn’t even know E made the cover of Rolling Stone in the comeback period!)
NEAL: It took me 18 months of blogging to stop being afeared of learning to post images on my sites and just do it! It’s been fun and my posts look so much better now.
JOHN: Hey, I think it took me at least eighteen months to figure out how to post an image. I start ignorant and learn very slowly!I should probably go ahead and confess my fondness for Girl Happy, which is actually reminiscent of the goofy lowbrow Disney movies I grew up on! Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: Was Colonel Parker the only manager in history who had the opportunity to exploit and promote this—the looks and voice of Ann-Margret and the obvious chemistry between her and Elvis—and not exploit and promote it? A soundtrack album from the movie Viva Las Vegas with the Elvis sides, the Ann sides and the Elvis/Ann sides would have been the best Presley movie album since the inimitable soundtrack for Blue Hawaii. Alas, the narrow-visioned Colonel was not about to allow another artist to share his boy’s spotlight.
POSTSCRIPTUALLY, there is a coda from Mr. Ross: “One thing I didn’t address above was just how I became an Elvis fan myself. I was one of those you mention who came on board after he died—actually the day he died. I’ve written a long post on the subject at my site—not sure if you’ve read it but anyone who would like to do so can search for “When Elvis Moved On” at my site.”
1 I was going to title this article “Not the importance of In The Ghetto part 3” or “Son of the importance of In The Ghetto” but that’s getting too silly even for me, a confessed Rockahula Baby!
2 Yeah yeah yeah we look back now with nostalgia in our place of astuteness but back then Elvis was old, most people were smart enough to know Vegas was phony, Elvis’s jumpsuits went from the minimalistic black modified karate gi of 1969 to the still tasteful all-white suits of 1970 to the increasingly Vegasy outfits that we associate with bad impersonators, and Elvis didn’t carry his copy of the Physicians Desk Reference book alongside his Bible wherever he went for the narrative.
3 “Just how seriously misunderstood autism continued to be in the United States at the end of the 1960s can be seen in the 1969 release of one of the first feature films ever to deal with the disorder, Change Of Habit. [Rage reduction] is essentially a version of an approach which came to be known as holding therapy and continued to be widely used on autistic children for many years around the world.” (Adam Feinstein, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers, 2010)
4 I was in a guy’s store who had just received three copies of this album for his store and he showed them to me, thinking the album funny. Knowing he was a major Beatles fan, I asked, “If this was called JOHN LENNON’S GREATEST SHIT and had a picture of John lying dead in front of the Dakota, would you put this on your shelves?” He never showed the album to anyone else and returned the three to his wholesaler.
5 The only Elvis long-player that sold like this in his lifetime was BLUE HAWAII (1961)4. It is possible that ELVIS’ GOLDEN RECORDS (1958) and G.I. BLUES (1960) sold numbers like this, but since bragging about album sales wasn’t that big of a deal until the Beatles and given RCA’s horrendous loss of its paperwork through the years regarding Presley Product, we cannot be certain.
6 There are some amazing stories about why this version was dropped and a whole new story/show shot, at considerable expense. And they have absolutely nothing to do with the ‘official’ story (you know, Elvis and Binder weren’t happy with it and wanted a more ‘real’ Elvis. Uh uh. But I will hold that for another post. (Oh yeah—the guitar man rescues the prostitute.)