Review #322: From Elvis in Memphis, Elvis Presley

Karla Clifton
3 min readOct 14, 2022

#322: From Elvis in Memphis, Elvis Presley

Did you see the Elvis movie this year? I thought it was a pretty fun time, even as someone who’s constantly frustrated by even the most thoughtful rock biopics. They always leave out so much, and take so many artistic liberties that ultimately just confuse people. Oh well. I guess they’re always gonna leave the stuff I care about out.

In the movie, there’s a really dorky part where one of those Stranger Things kids is Steve Binder, the producer for Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Christmas Special, where Elvis paraphrases this alleged quote: “I’ll never sing another song that I don’t believe in, I’m never going to make another movie that I don’t believe in.” This is the record he made right after this apparent revelation.

Elvis’ new philosophy mostly served him well: He started his Vegas residency and was briefly (pre-sparkly capes) sexy again. His music proves it, opening with the sly, grimy, innuendo-ridden “Wearin’ That Loved On Look” and the honky-harmonica-fueled “Power of My Love,” which made even me blush. He sounds older, of course, but that just makes his range even greater. “I’ll Hold You In My Heart (’Til I Can Hold You In My Arms)” has him in unselfconscious rock star mode, only for him to turn backwards a second later and talk about his mama in that sweet way that only Elvis can in “Only the Strong Survive.”

It’s hard to imagine a young Elvis tackling “In The Ghetto,” a song which (despite what South Park told me) is so beautiful and empathetic that it made me want to get involved in my community. Then on “Long Black Limousine,” he takes an ambitious friend and puts them in a casket. He even takes on country songs like Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” and Merle-Haggard-esque “Gentle on My Mind.” It’s bizarre to hear Mr. A-Little-Less-Conversation croon that “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road,” but it’s every bit as sincere. There’s some boyish heartbreaker ballads on here, too, like the homesick love song “It Keeps Right On A’ Hurtin’” and the passionate “After Loving You.” But those only serve to prove that Elvis hasn’t lost anything he already had.

Elvis only lived to 42, but he’s been dead for 45 years. That officially makes his posthumous legacy older than he ever was. It’s strange that someday, Elvis will be as distant to people as Mozart and Beethoven are to us. But if his legacy has already outlasted him, rest assured it will only get larger, stranger, and further from the truth.

Best Cover: “Any Day Now” by Burt Bacharach, as performed by Chuck Jackson. Elvis was cool.

Best Potential Female Duet: “Suspicious Minds,” which isn’t technically on the record but was recorded during these sessions.

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