Tag: elvis presley

MUSIC REVIEW | Carl Perkins – Dance Album (1957)

Carl Perkins

Who is Carl Perkins? Until now, my answer would have been a blank stare, and some straw clutching to say that I think he might be an old time country singer. Well, I would have been kind of right. Bu more than that, he was one of the key artists at the legendary Sun Studios in the 50s, along with people like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. He even beat those dudes and a few more, to be Sun’s first gold record selling artist. That milestone alone makes me think he’s worth my time and attention. Which he got, when I listened to the quaintly titled Dance Album.

Dance Album comes from a time when studios owned a catalogue of songs and that’s what their artists recorded. There wasn’t much of bands and singers only playing and singing their own songs. So it wasn’t uncommon for a song like Blue Suede Shoes to be a single for more than one artist. Obviously, the quintessential version belongs to Elvis Presley, but Perkins puts his own spin on the classic. It’s a little more country than the King’s, and just as toe tappable. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Jailhouse Rock (1957)

“No, you ain’t gonna hate me. I ain’t gonna let you hate me.”

Singers acting… Actors singing… I think most people’s default prediction is that if you’re famous for one, you’re probably gonna be a bit shit if you try the other. In the old days, before cinema, if you couldn’t act, sing, dance and do physical comedy, maybe even write and direct, you had no business being on the stage. But by the mid 20th century, as vaudeville became a more and more distant memory, most stars were an actor, or a dancer, or a singer, or a comedian, or a director, or a writer. Less and less were pulling multiple duties. It was also around the middle of the 20th century that the king of Rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley, churned out his first three movies, and he did it in just two years. The third of that trifecta was Jailhouse Rock.

Having your dreamboat hero kill someone with his bare hands and go to the big house for manslaughter is certainly an interesting way to setup a story of redemption. Especially when that story is told via a jukebox musical. But that’s what we get, as Vince Everitt (Presley) is sentenced to more than one, not less than ten years in the pen. His cell mate, Mickey Shaughnessy as Hunk Houghton, teaches him a few chords on the guitar and Vince soon gets to perform on a prison based, TV talent show. ‘Coz that’s a thing. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Viva Las Vegas (1964)

When I was a kid, it seemed like the weekend midday movies on TV always fell into two categories, westerns and Elvis pictures.  I was never a big fan, but with four channels to choose from, you couldn’t be too picky.  Which is why I’ve seen Elvis movies like Kissin’ Cousins, Clambake and Roustabout…  The last one, I think I’ve seen like three times.  But I’ve never seen any of the big ones, until today when I watched Viva Las Vegas.

As Lucky Jackson, Presley is a wannabe race car driver.  After a good run in a Vegas casino, he finally has enough money to buy en engine for his custom built car so that he can enter the Las Vegas Grand Prix.  At the racetrack, he meets Cesare Danova’s Count Elmo Mancini, a European driver and playboy, and the two immediately begin a bit of a bromance.  It’s here where they both also meet Ann-Margaret as Rusty Martin, a smokin’ hot local who they both decide to have a red hot crack at.

When Presley discovers she works at the hotel he’s staying at, we get a bit of a song and dance number where he lets his intentions be known and ends with her pushing him the pool.  Underwater, his bankroll for the new engine falls out of his pocket and ends up sucked into the pool filter.  Now he has no money for the engine or to play the bill for his room.  Sohe’s stuck working as a waiter at the hotel to pay off his debt.

Later, there’s a talent show which Presley and Margaret both enter, which is were Presley performs the title track.  There are a couple of times in this song where I realised that the signature droopy-eyed Elvis look may not have been about looking cool or seductive, and more than likely has everything to do with the handful of pills he’d chewed on before the camera rolled and was, what is technically known as, high as shit.

Obviously, he eventually makes the money for the engine, because you know Viva Las Vegas has to end with the big race.  Can the homemade car and small town gumption of Lucky Jackson beat the suave European money and resources of Count Elmo Mancini?  I won’t spoil it, but I’ll give you a hint.  YES, OF COURSE ELVIS WINS.  AND GETS THE GIRL TOO.  THIS IS AN ELVIS MOVIE!  IF YOU THOUGHT ANYTHING ELSE WAS EVEN AN OPTION, YOU’RE MENTAL!

As predictable as the vast majority of Viva Las Vegas is, the relationship between the two male rivals was a bit of a surprise.  It never tries to make Danova the bad guy or anti-Elvis.  The two hit it off immediately, then spend the rest of the movie almost more into each other than Elvis and Ann-Margaret.

Viva Las Vegas is light, simple, predictable fluff.  But it’s entertaining and fun light, simple, predictable fluff.  The songs are great, all the actors are having fun with it and Ann-Margaret really is smokin’ hot.

Viva Las Vegas
Directed By – George Sidney
Written By – Sally Benson