Unlike last week's Retro Roundup entry, Elvis Presley's C'mon Everybody on RCA Victor's Camden budget label, the companion album I Got Lucky did not receive five stars in the 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide, only a mere three.
Both should have received the three-star rating. The two LPs are horribly packaged with unattractive cover photos of Elvis (C'mon Everybody with the first indication Elvis was getting heavy, I Got Lucky with a better-looking Elvis in washed-out colour, since improved), both are in quite tinny mono when stereo was available for most of the songs, and while each have good songs, they are a far cry from the likes of Elvis's Sun recordings, the 1960 album Elvis is Back! and the 1969 album From Elvis in Memphis.
I Got Lucky is a companion to C'mon Everybody because it includes the songs from the movies Viva Las Vegas, Kid Galahad; Easy Come, Easy Go and Follow That Dream that the earlier album did not have. Oh, and one other song, the 1967 non-LP B-side Fools Fall in Love, originally by the Drifters. Some of the songs are quite good, but there's one elephant in the room. Also, there was a missed opportunity here — another non-LP B-side, Come What May from 1966, could also have been included. But then again, the numerous Elvis albums put out in the early 1970s were not produced with a great deal of quality control.
Here's my track-by-track take:
• I Got Lucky, from Kid Galahad: Actually one of the more pleasant tracks on this album. An extremely appealing vocal on a song that was thankfully eventually released in stereo with an extended instrumental intro. In an era when Elvis budget releases were thrown together, this works perfectly as Track 1 here.
• What A Wonderful Life, from Follow That Dream: It seems, along with King of the Whole Wide World and others, that Follow That Dream, if a few songs of equal quality were added, would have been one of Elvis's better soundtrack LPs. A very energetic performance, and too bad the stereo master is likely lost to the ages.
• I Need Somebody To Lean On, from Viva Las Vegas: While the VLV song Today, Tomorrow and Forever from C'mon Everybody was classically influenced, this song is essential nighttime listening. Too bad Viva Las Vegas only became a full-fledged soundtrack LP — with everything in stereo — just a few years ago. Before that, the movie's songs were scattered to the winds or withheld for years.
• Yoga Is As Yoga Does, from Easy Come, Easy Go: And now we come to the elephant in the room. The most ridiculous and hilarious Elvis song of all time, immortalized by the lyric "You tell me just how I can take this yoga serious/When all it ever gives to me is a pain in my posterious." Everything is ludicrous about this song, Elvis's "i don't give a s--t" vocal, the musical accompaniment, the backing vocals. This is an anti-classic classic. Someone should write a book on this song.
• Riding the Rainbow, from Kid Galahad: Pretty much as light, breezy and pleasant as I Got Lucky from the same movie.
• Fools Fall in Love: The aforementioned B-side to a supreme Elvis performance, Indescribably Blue. These two songs, along with the How Great Thou Art religious album, the single Love Letters, and the Dylan song Tomorrow is A Long Time, comprised Elvis's return to non-soundtrack recordings after some two years of just recording movie songs. Fools Fall In Love, which was great by the Drifters, gets a rather bland performance by Elvis and his musicians, unfortunately. Come What May, which has a somewhat hipper sound, might have been a somewhat better choice, although it isn't prime Elvis either.
• The Love Machine, from Easy Come, Easy Go: Just a hair less ridiculous than that yoga song, with just as committed (not) a vocal. Elvis's smirk while lip-synching this song in the movie is pathetic and priceless at the same time.
• Home is Where the Heart Is, from Kid Galahad. One of Elvis's best 1960s ballads. Some guy at RCA should have combined the Follow that Dream and Kid Galahad soundtracks to produce an excellent 1962 LP. If that had happened, we'd be hearing all the Follow That Dream master takes in beautiful stereo today.
• You Gotta Stop, from Easy Come, Easy Go: Just a hair better than The Love Machine, which is just a hair better than... you get the idea. Another "who gives a crap" vocal from Elvis.
• If You Think I Don't Need You, from Viva Las Vegas: This one's all right, but compared to this movie's better tracks, it's pretty innocuous.
In RCA's ongoing effort to over-expose Elvis, the company released numerous other albums of this ilk during and just after Elvis's lifetime — the religious collection You'll Never Walk Alone with a superlative performance of the title track and another bleh entry from Easy Come, Easy Go; the Flaming Star, Almost In Love and Let's Be Friends albums that collected stray soundtrack and singles recordings from 1960, 1968 and 1969; and the execrable Mahalo From Elvis. This was a bad album not because of the recordings, which included the first-time release of the more intimate songs Elvis recorded for the camera just after his Aloha From Hawaii concert, but because of the album cover, which has the most unattractive photo of Elvis ever featured on an RCA-sanctioned release.
Next time: The Beatles at the Star Club.