If you turned Robert Gordon, longtime cohort Chris
Spedding and The Jordanaires loose on fifteen Elvis
tracks, wouldn't you expect some blistering rockabilly? How is
it then that there's no significant guitar work for the first
ten songs? Spedding, who replaced Link Wray in the Gordon
camp, is a world-class player with credits from Paul Mcartney
and Elton John to The Vibrators and Nina Hagen.
But here he lets the keyboard work from Johnny Neel overshadow
him handily. Neel is accomplished and thrilling on boogie woogie
piano and Hammond organ, but even though he shares top billing,
Spedding doesn't even try to keep up. The Jordanaires' incredible
harmonies feel warm, as tight as a virgin in winter.
Except the title track, which is accurate down to the arrangement,
Gordon doesn't imitate Elvis, but does mimic the hiccupping style
set forth by Carl Perkins, Johnny Burnette and Charlie
Feathers. A fine line to the casual observer, but in many
ways Gordon is a superior singer to the The King with a lower
range akin to Johnny Cash. His rich tone and timbre feel
more comfortable, where Elvis had the advantage when it comes
to drawled delivery and vibrato. Gordon's pure version of "Peace
In The Valley" is so convincing and convicting that you'll
be looking for the altar, while Elvis presented it as a last-ditch
recompense for playing the Devil's music. The Jordanaires are
particularly enjoyable on this one.
"Trying to Get to You" finally showcases Spedding's
prowess in nasty guitar manipulation so that he often sounds like
two guys. Sick string-bending and clever phrasing plays off Gordon's
chest-deep vocals. There are great interpretations of mostly lesser
known Presley numbers on here - "It Feels So Right,"
"Don't Leave Me Now, " "You're So Square"
are all immaculately executed. But the question arises, to what
end? Elvis fans would rather hear it from the source. Robert Gordon
fans will love it, but why not put the effort into originals?
Chris Spedding fans get screwed. PS: Fix that pompadour, you look
like a sleestak.
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