- Raised on Rock
- Are You Sincere
- Find Out What’s Happening
- I Miss You
- Girl of Mine
- For Ol’ Time’s Sake
- If You Don’t Come Back
- Just a Little Bit
- Sweet Angeline
- Three Corn Patches
Raised on Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake was released on October 1, 1973 and is the nineteenth studio album by Elvis Presley. The album was recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis and Elvis’ home in Palm Springs, and featured some songwriters with whom Elvis had previously worked. Unlike his previous efforts this album failed to chart in the UK.
If I had to pick two words to describe my thoughts on the album those words would be: perfectly adequate. This album is not an album you listen to deeply but rather an album that you put on in the background on a sunny Saturday afternoon while you clean your living room. And we all need an album for that. While it does suffer from the typical problems Elvis had in this era *cough* too much vibrato *cough*, the understated, breezy production helps to reign in some of those issues, making this a nice, light listen.
*notes the songs especially recommended
- Raised on Rock
This song is a weird one. This is mainly due to the fact that he is singing, from a first person point-of-view, about being a child in the 1950s when rock n’ roll first started to take over. He keeps listing his favorite songs and artists, and yet…he was at the forefront of the rock n’ roll movement? This discrepancy makes it very hard for me to take this song seriously. Add to that the clunky arrangement and corny (even for Elvis) lyrics, and you’ve got a bit of a dud to start the album.
2. Are You Sincere*
Arranged like other ballads in the early 1970s, the lush instrumentation of this song is serene and calming in the best way. It also marks the first time in many albums where Elvis has managed to make my heart skip a beat. Despite losing some points for an awkward spoken word portion in the middle, this is a lovely tune.
3. Find Out What’s Happening
A hybrid of ’70s soft rock and ’50s rockabilly, the bass and backing vocals make this song a fun toe tapper. Despite the good parts of the song, Elvis himself fails to match the energy.
4. I Miss You*
Hazy, dreamlike production. If I had to paint a movie picture based on this song it would go something like this: a dream sequence (of course) wherein someone finds themselves in an old-time country western saloon, having a drink and reminiscing of times with their loved one. Also shoutout to the key change that arrives towards the end of the song. It elevates the track while still keeping the mellow sentiment in tact.
5. Girl of Mine
The chill, honky tonk vibes of this song are graciously provided by piano player Bobby Wood. However, Elvis is singing like he is trying to win the award for most vibrato on a single song ever recorded. Elvis also tries to belt here, which adds to the song’s suffering.
6. For Ol’ Times Sake*
Elvis sounds worn and tired here, which fits with the pleading yet plaintive tone of this song. I very much enjoyed the understated arrangement, which keeps Elvis’ sometimes wobbly voice in check.
7. If You Don’t Come Back
The music sounds like a Motown song from this era, which is totally groovy. I think Elvis is trying to sound menacing on this song. It never fully goes there though, making the half baked vocal attempt diminish the power of the rest of the song. Major applause to the real stars of “If You Don’t Come Back”: the backup singers (Mary and Ginger Holliday and Kathy Westmoreland) for bringing the power to this song.
8. Just a Little Bit
Elvis must have recorded “If You Don’t Come Back” and this song on the same day, because he is yet again trying to sound vaguely mysterious and yet it doesn’t quite come to fruition, and because he only puts about 50% of the effort in, the song never goes anywhere. However, as in the previous song, others are stepping up to bring the energy. This time it’s the rhythm section (Tommy Cogbill and Ron Tutt) who put the work in.
9. Sweet Angeline
Such a “sweet” opening! This is a lullaby ballad with backing vocal arrangements very reminiscent of Elvis’ past collaborators, The Jordanaires. A very quaint and wistful number that I was originally going to recommend. However, the clumsy vocals by Elvis at the end nixed that idea.
10. Three Corn Patches
Sounds like it could have been a fun rockabilly number. Unfortunately it is tarnished by two things: a.) too much vibrato and b.) Elvis sounds hoarse and like he is losing his voice. Another shoutout to Bobby Wood for supplying a rollicking piano part, and bringing some much needed spirit to this closing track.