- He Touched Me
- I’ve Got Confidence
- Amazing Grace
- Seeing Is Believing
- He Is My Everything
- Bosom of Abraham
- An Evening Prayer
- Lead Me, Guide Me
- There Is No God But God
- A Thing Called Love
- I, John
- Reach Out to Jesus
Elvis Presley’s third and final gospel album, He Touched Me, was released on April 1, 1972. While it did not chart, it resulted in Elvis winning his 2nd of three Grammy awards. The album, produced by Felton Jarvis, differed from Elvis’ previous gospel outings by featuring a more contemporary sound. The album eventually went gold in 1992, and platinum in 1999.
Having loved both of Elvis’ previous gospel releases, I was excited to hear He Touched Me. Especially given its modern, 1970s sound. What I found was an album that, while being the same quality as Elvis’ most recent studio releases, it suffered from many of the elements that plagued a lot of Elvis’ music from this period: a little too schmaltzy, a little too much Vegas, and a failure to know when enough vibrato is enough. However, Elvis has a passion for gospel music and this once again shines through, as there are indeed quite a few gems here.
*notes the songs especially recommended
- He Touched Me
A very solemn start to this album. The beginning of this song almost has a Kingston Trio vibe to it. It showcases a shimmering, beautiful piano part throughout, and an incredible ending courtesy of the backup singers.
2. I’ve Got Confidence
The modern, soulful sound of Elvis’ recent releases kicks in on this one. The chorus is very raucous and fun, but perhaps just a chorus too long.
3. Amazing Grace*
When I perused the titles before listening to the album I was excited to hear Elvis take on this classic. The backup singers add an electric intensity to this song, and Elvis’ voice is perfectly centered slightly back in the mix. While I used to prefer his vocals mixed upfront, he tends to suffer from too much vibrato on albums of this period, so this is a good thing. While not due to Elvis himself, the backing vocals are the reason this song is getting a recommendation. Their powerful performance lends the song a literal heavenly magic.
4. Seeing is Believing*
The smoky guitar provides a really nice counterpoint to lyrics about seeing and believing. The ending is a real toe tapper.
5. He Is My Everything
It’s a really pretty listen and all the right elements are there (piano and vocals especially) but the emotional impact is absent.
6. Bosom of Abraham*
Short, sweet, and just what this album needed. The stand-out of this song is the “jack-in-the-box” vocals with different vocal ranges “popping out” at different times.
7. An Evening Prayer
This song features such a grand, passionate vocal from Elvis that it feels like it could have been sung by Gordon McRae in one of the Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musicals of the 1950s. Not to mention the sentiment, praying about one’s own faults, is very touching.
8. Lead Me, Guide Me
Another one with a vibrato problem. Making this song, which already borders on the too sincere, sound overwrought. It’s a shame, since so many other parts of the song are enjoyable.
9. There is No God But God*
This song has got some country flare and some softer vocals which works much better. While the other songs have no question been genuine, this song’s sunnier disposition has been missing from this album. A really welcome change of sound.
10. A Thing Called Love*
Elvis again experiments with his own vocal range on this song, with his deeper register (with a helping of reverb) showing up here. The cheery vibes continue with this song; it sounds dreamy and is a lovely sentiment.
11. I, John*
Features the same vocal effect as “Bosom of Abraham” which I am a fan of, particularly for its contagious quality, as it can cause you to involuntarily sing and clap along. Just a really fun number.
12. Reach Out to Jesus
The album circles back around to a solemn tone for the end, which may have been a little abrupt, but I prefer this song to the album opener. It’s parting message is peaceful and gets to the point of all of Elvis’ gospel records, and is the perfect closer on his final one: “reach out to Jesus, he’s reaching out to you.” Despite the awkward final note, it’s a great closer to complete Elvis’ trio of Gospel albums.