- Love Letters
- When I’m Over You
- If I Were You
- Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off of It
- Heart of Rome
- Only Believe
- This Is Our Dance
- Cindy, Cindy
- I’ll Never Know
- It Ain’t No Big Thing (But It’s Growing)
Love Letters from Elvis, released on June 16, 1971 is what some may call a dud of an album. Elvis’ 14th studio album was culled together from a mega recording session he did that resulted in 35 tracks being recorded. While the bulk of these songs had been put on his previous two releases, Elvis & Co. were going to try and squeeze one more album out of it. Bad choice. The album was critically panned, and failed to crack the top 20 on the Billboard 200.
Despite the lack of hype, I tried to listen to this album with an open mind. I really did. But sometimes the critic’s original opinions are correct. This album is by far the worst one I have heard on this Elvis journey. I should have known from the album cover. That quintessential, later years uniform that Elvis is so associated and parodied with pointed to this album being very cheesy, very schmaltzy, and very, very Vegas. The two definitive markers of this album being bad? 1. I have no song titles highlighted in my notes so that I might recommend them later; 2. I just glanced at the track list again and realized that I do not remember anything specific about any of the songs…none of the 11 tracks made an impression on me. Zero. I was just grateful it was over.
- Love Letters
Already the opening lines of this album are pure cheese (“Love letters straight from your heart, keep us so near while apart”). The piano is pretty and this is one of the songs on the album that I feel could have been fixed by better singing and production values. But the vocal is way off and the song never achieves the oomph factor.
2. When I’m Over You
Track 2 starts out with a funky sound and then for some reason transitions into a muzak sound, which unfortunately is a common theme throughout this album. Turns out muzak and Elvis do not exactly mix. I could feel this song trying to find its emotional core but it never does.
3. If I Were You
This honky tonk wannabe is decent sounding, with Elvis singing in his sometimes neglected softer tone which is very nice. However, I found myself just getting distracted here, a reoccurring issue during this listening session. Also, sorry but what are these lyrics?? “If I were you I’d know that I’d love me”…huh??
4. Got My Mojo Working/Keep Your Hands Off of It
This song was originally a long jam session that was edited into this mash-up. It feels that way since the editing is such that we are abruptly thrown into this raucous tune. It sounds like they tried to come across as rough and energetic but their goal was not achieved. Also, they should have tried to edit it down more because this song was way too long.
5. Heart of Rome
The beginning of this song feels like it might work but shocker….it doesn’t. Why are all these songs so bad?? So. Much. Cheese.
6. Only Believe
Oh. I guess Elvis found his passion somewhere?? This is the best he has sounded on this album. However, the song itself is only subpar.
7. This Is Our Dance
It’s always bad news when a singer sounds sleazy on a song that is supposed to be romantic. Elvis is just trying wayyyy too hard on this semi-waltz, and he ends up sounding leering and desperate which is honestly not a good look for him. Instead of being the charmer that he once was, he’s now the creepy guy you cross the street to avoid.
8. Cindy, Cindy
This is the first (and turns out only) song that attempts to be a rocker on this album, and Elvis’ raw vocals are nice. However, this tune was bogged down by such meh material elsewhere on the album, that the song itself did not stand out.
9. I’ll Never Know
Typical saccharine drudge of this album. I got so sidetracked during this one that it just passed me by.
10. It Ain’t No Big Thing (But It’s Growing)
Track 10 was the moment I realized that some of these songs would be so much better if some production changes were made. For example, the twangy guitar on this one is too bright and distracting, taking away from all the other elements of the song. Also, why oh why did they ever think muzak would be the right choice for Elvis Presley?? It’s a total waste of an album.
So I think on this one he is singing about the actual beginning of life on Earth?? It is just so broad and out of left field. And again some of the production choices are beyond cringe. Whoever opted to loop the woodwind instrument throughout this whole song absolutely made the wrong choice. But honestly at least the album is over.
(Caution: I wouldn’t)