- Take Good Care of Her
- Loving Arms
- I Got a Feelin’ in My Body
- If That Isn’t Love
- She Wears My Ring
- I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby
- My Boy
- Spanish Eyes
- Talk About the Good Times
- Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues
Well we have come to Elvis’ 20th studio album, Good Times. Released on March 20, 1974, Good Times was largely made up of songs recorded during a single session at Stax Studios in Memphis in December of 1973, with two tracks (“Take Good Care of Her”, “I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby”) being recorded at Stax Studios in May of the same year. While the album did spawn two hit singles, “I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby” and “My Boy”, it failed to make an impression on either music journalists, who gave the album meddling reviews, or the record buying public, and so the album was relegated to the discount bin fairly quickly.
I think it was a mistake for listeners to dismiss this album. While it is typical of his mid-70s releases, and does get off to a slow start, this album absolutely has its moments. Felton Jarvis did a superb job producing this time around, and the colors of the instruments and vocals are vividly realized. I find myself really digging Elvis’ mid-70s soulful, country, and sometimes dance-y vibes. I was in a meh mood when I pressed play, and by the end of the album I was toe tapping along to songs I had never heard before. Seems like a worthwhile listen to me!
*notes the songs especially recommended
- Take Good Care of Her
This song comes blazing in chorus first. The music to this tune has a gospel like tone to it. While it does feature a pretty piano part played by Bobby Wood, the song tends to ramble on and never goes to a place where it achieves real meaning.
2. Loving Arms*
I was very intrigued by the opening and its soulful groove. Elvis’ smooth yet weathered vocals showcases a voice defined by hard living and heartbreak. He sings very passionately and, in a rarity for this era, manages to keep his vibrato in check on this ballad.
3. I Got a Feelin’ in My Body*
The harmonies on this song are very much in the style of ABBA, meaning we are fully into the 1970s. This swampy blues number features a fine vocal performance that is backed by a smoking hot band. I found myself tapping my feet almost immediately, and the back and forth vocal play between Elvis and his backup singers really pushes the energy of this number over the top. This song was born to be an extended jam onstage, and it is very easy for me to visualize this 3:37 song being stretched out to 10 minutes during a live performance. When a studio cut manages to capture that spontaneous energy, you know you’ve got a good tune (and a great band) on your hands.
4. If That Isn’t Love*
This is a lovely tune. However, in lieu of analyzing this simple song, I want to give a shoutout to longtime Elvis producer, Felton Jarvis. The way he produced Elvis’ vocal performance on this album is phenomenal. Rather than getting ready to cringe when Elvis reaches for a high note, Jarvis was able to harness Elvis’ more wobbly musical impulses and showcase that iconic voice, all the while framing it with impeccable musicians and background vocalists. He manages to really let Elvis hang loose and shine vocally. And that is very apparent on “If That Isn’t Love” as he sounds both powerful and smooth in a way only Elvis can.
5. She Wears My Ring
Elvis sounds like he might be singing with a cold on this light country shuffle. And although expressing the significance of a commitment made by his loved one wearing his ring is an honorable one, this song fails to make a big impression. It’s just a simple little romantic ditty.
6. I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby*
This song, which began side B of the original record, shoots the album’s energy right up to 10. Frankly I found it impossible not to dance in my chair at least a little. Elvis’ understated vocals work brilliantly for this exasperated, fun tune.
7. My Boy
Speaking of ABBA, this song would fit in perfect sequence with their seminal mother/daughter track, “Slipping Through My Fingers”. It is extremely dramatic and show tune worthy. The song, a message from father to son, is heartfelt in its vulnerability. The problem is it borders on histrionics at times, and there is no musical center to ground the very loud emotion coming from Elvis.
8. Spanish Eyes*
This flamenco inspired track makes me feel like I should be enjoying an elegant dinner on a beach somewhere. It’s smooth ocean vibes, especially the gorgeous musical interlude, lend the song a gentle spirit that is so soothing.
9. Talk About the Good Times*
The title track of this album is a very jaunty country jam, with bombastic backup vocals that turn this song into a BOP! The infectious toe tapper rating of this song is at about an 8.8, and it keeps building into an excited frenzy.
10. Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues*
While this track features a hypnotic guitar part, and a stunning Elvis/guitar solo duet on the chorus, the lyrics are sobering. At the center of this tune is a peter pan type who can’t get over his partying ways, and it is hard not to make the comparisons to Elvis’ own life. He would be gone three years after this album was released. It’s a shame he did not take this song’s heed to maybe slow his life down a little. Despite the darker context, the threads of this song are intricately woven together to create a somber, quiet closer to this album.