An Elvis rescue effort, an indie revival
(RCA) I’m prone to calling foul on repackaging of music from studio albums into different configurations. But this year’s primary Elvis Presley release (every year now has one) is less scam than rescue effort.
I have childhood memories of the blue vinyl of 1977’s “Moody Blue,” Elvis’ final studio album, but it’s no classic, and the configuration of it and most proper Elvis albums was fairly slapdash.
The better half of the two-disc “Way Down In The Jungle Room” takes the six songs from “Moody Blue” that were recorded at Graceland’s most famous hangout spot and pairs them with the entirety of the 10-song 1976 “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee,” all of which had been recorded there during the same sessions. (The second disc are the kind of excess alternate takes that only completists and scholars really need in their lives.)
Elvis was near the end and well past his prime during these sessions, so this is uneven, and even the best of it falls short of greatness. But much of it is good and worthy of a corner of his canon.
Elvis was as big a singer as George Jones, but the gravity he brings to “She Still Thinks I Care” lacks the same commitment. Similarly the standard “Danny Boy” and Neil Sedaka’s “Solitaire” tend toward the schlock and mawkishness some find inseparable from the Big E. But when he brings a lighter touch to bear on the material, it charms. There’s the shag-carpet boogie of “Way Down.” A relaxed reading of the Johnny Ace R&B classic “Pledging My Love.” A fun take on the future country hit “For the Heart.” And the thoroughly modern “Moody Blue,” which pointed toward a future on the charts.
(Super Sonic Sounds) One of the more celebrated — at least among locals — Memphis indierock bands of the early and mid-2000s, Snowglobe returns this summer with its first new album since 2010. The collection was recorded at High/low Studios in Crosstown and unites all of the principal players from Snowglobe’s primary lineup: Cobandleaders Brad Postlethwaite and Tim Regan, drummer/singer Jeff Hulett, guitarist/singer Luke White, bassist Brandon Robertson and trumpet player Nahshon Benford. It finds the band undiminished, their mix of sounds, voices and personalities blending in a pop-wise classic-rock variation that feels friendly and inviting. It’s especially nice to again hear Postlethwaite, an earnest but level-headed and unfussy songwriter who has been the least likely Snowglober in recent years to pop up his musical head outside of the band context.
After a planned show late last month was rained out, the band has rescheduled at the Levitt Shell on Saturday, Sept. 24.