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Not into the hip-swinging thing or the Vegas torch song thing? Don’t worry, Elvis wore many hats. And suits. And capes, occasionally. Check out these lesser-known tracks from the back of Elvis’ cupboard.
‘In The Ghetto’
Recorded in the same batch as mega-hit ‘Suspicious Minds’, Elvis got his mojo back at the tail end of the 1960s. This self-penned tale of a desolate life in the Chicago ghettos is redolent of Presley’s own not-a-pot-to-piss-in childhood. Anyone for squirrel kebab?
‘That’s All Right (Mama)’
Here’s where it all began: the very first song recorded by Elvis Presley for Sun Records. A cover of a track by Arthur Crudup (who features, along with the song, in Elvis), ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’ was the moment of rock’n’roll’s nuclear fusion. We’ve been living in the fallout zone ever since.
‘See See Rider (Live)’
It’s no secret that Elvis took great inspiration from the gospel and blues singers he was fortunate enough to see as a child. Here, he covers the signature song by so-called “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey, subject of the Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Set to the gentle trotting of a horse, the young Elvis’ haunting rendition of the 1934 Rodgers and Hart standard is spooky and high-pitched, evoking a lonesome cowboy in a moonlit ghost town.
‘Too Much Monkey Business’
This riotously fun track was a hit for legendary rock’n’roll pioneer and unrepentant bad boy Chuck Berry when he released it as his fifth single in 1956. Elvis’s great version, released 12 years later, is something of a curio in need of a hunka your love.
‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’
You mightn’t see much common ground between Elvis and Bob Dylan, one a glowingly beautiful All-American demigod, the other a scribble-haired folkie with heavily anti-establishment ideals. Yet Elvis was fond of Dylan’s music, recording both ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ and this breezy reading of ‘Don’t Think Twice…’, initially released in edited form on 1973’s ‘Elvis’ album but since reissued as a freewheeling 11-minute version.
‘Yoga Is As Yoga Does’
If ever there was an Elvis song waiting in the wings for a modern day remix, a spiritual successor to Junkie XL’s reworking of ‘A Little Less Conversation’ that was a smash in 2002, it’s this bonkers oompah song about yoga, which – considering Elvis was an early adopter and had practised since 1964 – is oddly dismissive of it all. “You tell me just how I can take this yoga serious/When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posteriors,” it says.
‘Do The Clam’
This slice of bongo-fuelled teenbeat tropicalia appears in the movie Girl Happy, in which Elvis teaches a beach full of shaggy haired beatniks and hipsters how to do his hip new dance, the one to straighten out The Twist and bake The Mashed Potato – The Clam! Wonder why it never caught on?
‘One-Sided Love Affair’
The perfect example of a B-side overshadowing its opposite number (A-side ‘Money Honey’ only reached 76 in the charts), this short and sharp hit of skiffle-indebted romcom rock deserves its place on many an ‘unheard gems’ playlist.
‘Stuck On You’
What’s the first thing you do after getting discharged from the Army? Well, if you’re Elvis, you head straight to the studio and lay down a Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano-led belter. ‘Stuck on You’ was the ex-soldier’s first hit single after two years in Germany. It was like he’d never been away.
‘Vegas’ – Doja Cat
The all-conquering pop-rapper joins the party with a fiery, trap-flavoured reworking of Big Mama Thornton’s 1952 hit ‘Hound Dog’, featuring vocals from Shonka Dukureh (who plays Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton in the film). Presley’s 1956 cover of the song was a huge hit, expect similar things for Doja Cat’s stylish and modern makeover.
‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ – Kacey Musgraves
Where better place to announce anything than at the Met Gala? Country queen Kacey Musgraves unveiled her version of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ on the annual fashion ball’s red carpet. She was joined by the cast of Elvis, director Baz Luhrmann and Priscilla Presley.
‘If I Can Dream’ – Måneskin
Everyone’s fave Italian glam rockers gave this late ’60s ballad an initial outing at Eurovision last month. It went down a treat, with singer Damiano David’s husky vocals adding a whole new dimension to the super-smooth ballad.
‘The King & I’ – Eminem & CeeLo Green
Marshall Mathers’ music has always had a cinematic flair, but now he gets to write for Hollywood’s biggest movie of the summer too. His old pal CeeLo Green supplies the soulful licks to make this ‘Jailhouse Rock’-sampling groover a must-listen.
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