Wearin' that loved-on look....
Released May 1969
After seemingly years of movie soundtrack albums (five), Elvis returned to Memphis after his successful 1968 "comeback tour" rejuvenated and, at last, produced a totally credible album worthy of a "king". It is widely regarded as his finest album, along with his eponymous 1956 debut album. It is considered one of the finest white soul albums as well. Presley, reared on the black gospel voices of the Deep South always had a voice supremely geared to soul anyway, so it was not a difficult task to deal with these Memphis soul songs. Having said that, there is a strong country feel to some of the songs too. It is definitely not a full-on soul album by any stretch of the imagination.
From an artist who produced some of the greatest singles of all time, it was nice to get a quality album from him, which was something of a rarity.
1. Wearin' That Loved On Look
2. Only The Strong Survive
3. I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)
4. Long Black Limousine
5. It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'
6. I'm Movin' On
7. Power Of My Love
8. Gentle On My Mind
9. After Loving You
10. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road
11. Any Day Now
12. In The Ghetto
"Wearin' That Loved On Look" is a gospelly, soulful organ-powered opener, with a great vocal Presley and a deep, melodious bass line. "Only The Strong Survive" starts slowly before it bursts into a Motown-esque chorus. This is some of the best material Presley had done for years and years. It almost sounds Northern Soul-ish at times. "I'll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)" is a more typical slow bluesy ballad crooned by Presley in his recognisable style. Again, though, the bass backing is just sumptuous.
"Long Black Limousine" is a tragic tale of a singer's (possibly, possibly not but that is how I have always imagined her/or him) death that in an awful way, presaged Elvis's own demise. These sort of tear-jerkers are always too much for me to listen to too often, I'm afraid. "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'" is a country ballad of the sort that Elvis Costello covered on "Almost Blue". "I'm Movin' On" is a delicious piece of country/soul/rock with excellent backing throughout the track, particularly the brass.
"Power Of My Love" finds Elvis visiting the blues on a cookin' burner of a track. It is full of punchy horns and seriously good blues guitar. "Gentle On My Mind" is another country crooner of the type Presley does so well. "After Loving You" is a throwback to the early sixties in a "One Night" fashion. "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road" is a slightly soulful ballad with again more of a country air about it. "Any Day Now" is a lively piece of pop/soul. Then we get a true Elvis classic to finish in the iconic "In The Ghetto", much loved of a million Elvis impersonators. It needs no description from me.
This was a good album, a "proper" Presley album for a change, but it is not really a true soul album. It is a very good soul/country album, for me.