Promised Land

Promised Land
released on January 8, 1975

Track List

  1. Promised Land
  2. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel (Who’ll Take Me Back In)
  3. Help Me
  4. Mr. Songman
  5. Love Song of the Year
  6. It’s Midnight
  7. Your Love’s Been a Long Time Coming
  8. If You Talk in Your Sleep
  9. Thinking About You
  10. You Asked Me To

Promised Land, Elvis’ 21st album, was released on his 40th birthday, January 8, 1975. The record was made up of tracks leftover from the sessions of his 20th album, Good Times. While the stronger songs were thought to have gone on the previous album, Promised Land fared better on the charts, peaking at number 47 on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Billboard country charts.

While the 1975 record buying public seemed to prefer this album to his last, I think team Elvis was right in declaring this the weaker set of songs. While some of the album strengths have carried over here (namely: production prowess and incredible musicianship) the songs and vocal performances are noticeably weaker (especially concerning my personal Elvis pet peeve: way too much vibrato). Despite this, there are still a few riches to be found among this track list.

*notes key tracks

  1. Promised Land*

A cover of a Chuck Berry tune, this song perfectly blends the rock n’ roll vibes of the 50s and of the 70s; the rollicking piano is pure 50s and the rhythm section is especially groovy in a perfectly 70s way. This song was the album’s first single, and peaked at number 14 on the Billboard 100. It is easy to see why this song performed so well compared to some of Elvis’ other late career singles.

2. There’s A Honky Tonk Angel (Who’ll Take Me Back In)*

This is a song you can definitely tell was from the same recording sessions as Elvis’ last album, Good Times. While the song is a tad too long, Elvis’ voice sounds phenomenal on this country western waltz.

3. Help Me

Elvis never sounds as passionate as he does on religious songs. And this bluesy gospel number is no different. While passion is good, this song loses points for both the utterly mismatched harmony singer and Elvis going a little too far with the vibrato.

4. Mr. Songman

This song is so reminiscent of The Byrds that I had to check to see if it was written by one of the band members (it wasn’t). Despite being a perfectly nice song, it’s about 7 or 8 years behind the times, and sounds rather like a muzak version of 1960s soft rock.

5. Love Song of the Year

Oh dear. The vibrato on this is simply too much…to the point where I had to turn the song down at some points. This song is quaint in all the wrong ways, too compressed in some parts, and way too loud in others. Shoutout to Per Erik “Pete” Hallins for providing the shimmering piano in this song – which is the only redeeming part of it, and even that doesn’t do much to rescue this one.

6. It’s Midnight

What appeared at first to be a sleepy, slumbering ballad suddenly juxtaposes into an overwrought, overdramatic drama. A very disjointed track.

7. Your Love’s Been a Long Time Coming

Similarly to the last track, the chorus is way too much on this tune, and the instrumentation is not helping matters. Just another overzealous mid-tempo track.

8. If You Talk in Your Sleep*

Whenever Elvis attempts a soulful sound during this period, it’s usually a winner. This is no exception and I really enjoyed this tune. It sounds of crawling seduction and is a very sassy and fun number.

9. Thinking About You*

Nice opening filled with chill vibes that perfectly capture the ever elusive 70s aesthetic: a sunny day in southern California, driving down the highway. The verses are reminiscent of “Danny’s Song” in melody and since I have a particular inclination towards that song, I am admittedly biased in my praise for “Thinking About You”. Still, this is a simple, lovely little ditty.

10. You Asked Me To*

This romantic, fun closing track has a sparse arrangement that really works. The backing vocals are very similar to a train whistle, which gives the song a feeling of being in constant in motion. This song is given an edge by the honky tonk guitar woven throughout, which is played masterfully by James Burton.

Listen to Promised Land here

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