An Elvis res­cue ef­fort, an in­die re­vival

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - LISTENING LOG -

Elvis Pres­ley

(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.

Snow­globe

(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.

Chris Her­ring­ton

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