Elvis 68ComebackSpecial 50thAnniversary 1500 crop

“sixties elvis” versus “seventies elvis”

THE QUESTION ON QUORA was “Which was better, 60s Elvis or 70s Elvis?” I was sur­prised to see that the first two an­swers were “70’s” as I can’t imagine any se­rious stu­dent of Pres­ley’s recorded output would prefer his de­clining years over his ma­ture middle years. Oh well, that’s why Wholly Grom­mett gave us free will and in­di­vidual taste.

My ini­tial an­swer was, “I wouldn’t trade Elvis Is Back and From Elvis In Mem­phis for Elvis’s en­tire ’70s cat­alog.” Then I thought of a better idea: List the 10 Best Elvis Al­bums of the ’60s and ’70s and let the readers figure out what I meant and argue with my choices and what they imply.

So here are the best Presley al­bums 1960-1977 with the year each was recorded in paren­theses:

1.   Elvis Is Back (1960)
2.   Elvis – NBC-TV Spe­cial (1968)
3.   From Elvis In Mem­phis (1969)
4.   Golden Records Volume 3 (1960–1962)
5.   Elvis Country (1970)
6.   That’s The Way It Is (1970)
7.   His Hand In Mine (1960)
8.  How Great Thou Art (1966)
9.   He Touched Me (1971)
10. Elvis Live On Stage At The In­ter­na­tional Hotel (1969)

I think of 1, 2, and 3 as a tie so I listed them chrono­log­i­cally. That said, From Elvis In Mem­phis is my fave of the three. 

I also think of 7, 8, and 9 as a tie so I listed them chrono­log­i­cally, too. That said, His Hand In Mine is my fave of the three.

 

FromElvisInMemphis LP 180gram 600

This is the 180-gram vinyl LP reissue of From Elvis In Mem­phis. It was re­leased in 2003 for the still-growing market for records and prob­ably re­tailed for $29.99.

Honorable mention

One of the first fan let­ters I re­ceived as a pro­fes­sional writer was in re­sponse to my 1985 book Elvis Presley Price Guide. An older fan took me to task for sug­gesting that From Elvis In Mem­phis was a better album than G.I. Blues! While that 1960 sound­track album has some fine mo­ments, I’d never heard anyone ac­tu­ally de­fend it be­fore, as it is usu­ally con­sid­ered the first Presley album to will­fully step down from the lofty heights Elvis had scaled during the ’50s.

I can see an ar­gu­ment for Blue Hawaii (1961), which was the pin­nacle of Pres­ley’s sound­track al­bums of the ’60s and a spe­cial album that has held up very well in­deed in the en­suing decades.

I can see an ar­gu­ment for On Stage – Feb­ruary 1970 (1969–1970), which would have made a mar­velous two-record album com­bined with Elvis Live In Stage At The In­ter­na­tional Hotel.

 

Elvis MoodyBlue LP AFL 600

Elvis’s final album was Moody Blue, a hodge­podge of tracks recorded in the home studio set up in Grace­land and some live record­ings. At the time of its re­lease, it was ac­cepted as a good but un­ex­cep­tional Presley album. Now there are fans who con­sider it a great album. Death will do that.

Good times in the promised land

I can’t see an ar­gu­ment for any of Elvis’s later studio al­bums from the ’70s, in­cluding what were prob­ably the strongest ti­tles from his de­clining years: Good Times and Promised Land (both recorded in 1973) and Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Mem­phis (1974). 

While the ’50s sides will al­ways be his greatest sides (for a va­riety of rea­sons, one of which the kid was in­fused with magic), I think the ma­ture Elvis Presley peaked as a recording and per­forming be­tween June 1968 and June 1970, both in the studio and on stage.

Then the drugs started ex­erting their in­ex­orable and in­evitably fatal ef­fects.

 

Elvis 68ComebackSpecial 50thAnniversary 1000 crop

FEATURED IMAGE: In June 1968, Elvis spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time at NBC-TV’s studio sound­stage in Bur­bank, Cal­i­fornia. There he tape-recorded hours worth of ma­te­rial for his first tele­vi­sion spe­cial. In prepa­ra­tion, he worked out and di­eted, giving him a taut and lean frame. He built up a deep but not George Hamilton-ish tan and grew his side­burns (sculpted cour­tesy of Larry Geller).

Broad­cast on De­cember 3, 1968, the spe­cial was simply ti­tled Elvis, al­though it is also known as “Singer Presents Elvis” and the “NBC-TV Spe­cial.” In the sixty min­utes al­lotted him, Presley res­ur­rected a flag­ging ca­reer and es­tab­lished him­self as the King of Rock & Roll.

Amen …

 

 
 
 
 
 
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